Low Cost and Industrial 3D Printers: The Key Differences
Additive manufacturing, over the years, has grown so much that numerous manufacturers of both low-cost and high-end 3D devices, or as we tend to call them, desktop 3D printers and industrial 3D printers, have emerged on the market.
The main differences between the 3D printers that we can find on the market concern the size of the print bed, the type of movement, single or multi-extruder with 45° solutions, open or closed printing chamber with heating systems and temperature control, as well as the applied technology. Indeed, the market presents different 3D printing solutions based on the applied technology, and in an article we can take a look at the three main 3D printing technologies in comparison.
Of course, each low cost or industrial 3D printer aims to meet different needs. So let’s read the main differences:
Low Cost (Desktop) 3D Printers
Desktop 3D printers are not intended for professional use, but rather to meet the needs of individuals: from modeling to DIY to creating small components for everyday use. So, students, individuals, hobbyists or, in general, those who have a passion for mechanics and the world of 3D printing can find desktop 3D printers on the market at very affordable costs. We’re talking about machines with a modestly sized print bed to be placed in small spaces, and easily maneuverable by a single user due to their light weight.
Low cost 3D printers have a very limited range of printable materials. PLA is the most widely used because it is easy to print and has a very low cost. However, it has low mechanical and temperature resistance. ABS is also often used with these types of machines: this material is more resistant than PLA, but it has a high printing difficulty because it is subject to shrinkage and deformation if used in uncontrolled open environments or in open 3D printers that do not have a heating system for the chamber and the print bed. Furthermore, another popular material is PETG, which has similar properties to ABS.
Industrial 3D Printers
We are talking about professional and high-end 3D Printers developed to meet the needs of companies that want to create high-performing and customized components for their customers, reducing time and costs both in prototyping and in production. Industrial 3D printers are ideal for being easily integrated into complex production systems, thus optimizing the entire supply chain.
These machines have a much higher cost than their desktop counterpart because they have totally different technical features: an industrial 3D printer, such as the MK 333 developed by Mark One, has a higher production capacity that allows to produce components quickly, in large dimensions and in series on a much larger print bed equipped with temperature control sensors. In addition, the industrial-grade 3D printers have a closed chamber to keep the printing environment under control from external agents and enable to print PLA, ABS, PETG, technopolymers, superpolymers, and many other materials, ensuring extreme performance. Furthermore, many materials mentioned are filled with certain additives that alter technical characteristics such as chemical resistance, resistance to traction, impact, and compression, as well as thermal stability and biocompatibility, making them ideal for all the needs of the manufacturing and medical world.
Once the file has been sent to the printer, the machine’s complex analysis algorithms allow automatic calibration of the print bed and adaptation of the extrusion system for process optimization, eliminating human error. The final result will be a high-quality finished component.
Guarantee of reliability and repeatability, these professional machines allow continuous production, perfect replicas of components made with low shrinkage of the material, excellent geometric and dimensional tolerances, and ease of use.