Your First 3D Printer

Congratulations! If you have arrived at this page you are probably considering the purchase of your first 3D printer. This page has been formulated with the first time consumer in mind. If you are looking for a 3D printer for commercial or Industrial application please (click here).

3D printing has been around longer than you might think. The first 3D printer debuted in 1985 where the laser printer was introduced in 1986. 3D printing technology has come a long way since then. Before we get started here is a blog post with common 3D printing terminology.  

 Terminology post (coming soon)

 

How does 3D printing work?

3D printing works much like a hot glue gun. A hot glue gun heats the nozzle so that it melts the glue. When you squeeze the trigger hot glue is pushed out the nozzle. If you squeeze it harder more glue comes out. Instead of glue 3D printers use (filaments) and stepper motors push the molten filament through the nozzle. The next time the nozzle passes over the same spot it builds on top of the last layer until your model is complete. This process is known as Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM), the general concept as Additive Manufacturing.

There are actually many types of 3D printers used industrially to print everything from prosthetics to parts 3D printed aboard the ISS. It's much cheaper to design a tool or part for the ISS and essentially email it to the space station where it can be 3D printed out of a variety of materials.

 

 

 Here's a look at a 3D printer in action.

 

 

Why buy a 3D printer?

Did you know that over the past decade the demand for employees with 3D printing or design experience is up 11,500%.

Everyday we see new postings for companies looking for people with 3D printing or design experience. Having a 3D printer in your home well help prepare you and your family for lucrative jobs in the future.

Today many classrooms and schools have 3D printers and encourage students to learn and understand the technology. Having a 3D printer at home gives any child an advantage.

If you are  budding artist, 3D printing is a fantastic tool that allows you to express your ideas in all dimensions. There is a $50 accessory that is essentially virtual reality goggles that allow the user to start with a giant digital block then chisel away much like a Sculptor. When your Masterpiece is complete, you will have the satisfaction of being able to print your model immediately.

Whether you are interested in designing parts or just 3D printing some of the 500,000 free 3D printable designs on Thingiverse.com or similar sites, you owe it to yourself and family to invest in a 3D printer today.

 Designing 3D printable things blog post (coming soon)

 Using Thingiverse post (coming soon)

  

Buying Your First 3D Printer

If you live in Ottawa, you have one of two choices when shopping for a 3D printer. You can go online to sites such as Amazon, they offer a large selection of 3D printers. The problem with online shopping is the lack of customer support. Many online e-commerce sites add items to their stores then simply have them drop-shipped from AliExpress.  Often the seller has no 3D printing experience or for that matter, has never seen a 3D printer in operation. All they can do is direct you to the manufacturer's technical support. This means you are dealing with a company in China. It often takes days and sometimes weeks to sort your issues out.

Alternatively you could shop locally at Envirolaser 3D. We are a brick and mortar store located at 199 Colonnade Road in Ottawa that specializes in 3D printing and related equipment. When you visit us, we would be happy to demonstrate a 3D printer in operation. If you find the right printer, you can take it home with you the same day. Envirolaser 3D is the only company in Ottawa that stocks and sells 3D printers (scanners & laser cutters), filaments and all the accessories necessary to get you up and printing as soon as you get home. If you have any questions about set-up or operation of your new printer, simply call us at (613) 225-4726. Our technical team will have you up and running in no time.

 The cost of 3D printers have decreased dramatically in recent years. A printer you might have paid $2,000 or $3,000 a few years ago can now be purchased for less than $500. If you have the technical expertise you can purchase a 3D printer kit that you assemble from scratch for about $300. We don't recommend 3D printer kits for the first time user. There are just too many things that can go wrong if you don't understand the technology.

 

Choosing the Right 3D Printer

There are several factors you should consider when choosing your first 3D printer.  Most consumer level 3D printers can be categorized as open build area verses enclosed build area. 

A 3D printer with an enclosed build area will generally produce a higher quality print and are easier and safer for children to use.  

3D printers with open build areas generally offer a considerably larger build volume and are less expensive.

When buying your first 3D printer we usually recommend one of three models. The ADIMLab gantry 3D printer the Dremel Digilab 3D20 and the Dremel Digilab 3D40. These three printers provide excellent value and affordability. They are easy to set up and will allow you to start 3D printing right away.

 

The ADIMLab Gantry 3D Printer

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The ADIMLab gantry printer offers a huge build area, 12" X 12" X 16". With this printer you can print useful household items without the need to glue pieces together. They are a little more complicated to use but provide better flexibility when it comes to printing options. And certainly the large build area makes them more practical.

 The ADIMLab Gantry Blog Post (coming soon)

 

The Dremel Digilab 3D20

Most students will be familiar with the Dremel line of printers as they are used in the classroom. If you have children who will use the printer we usually recommend an enclosed printer such as the Dremel Digilab 3D 20. It is pretty much Plug and Play. The Dremel Digilab 3D 20, offers a print volume of  6" X 6" X 9".  All of the mechanics are enclosed and it is simpler to operate then many of The Open Build Plate models. Enclosed 3D printers usually start at $900.

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 The Dremel Digilab 3D 20. Blog Post (coming soon)

 

The Dremel Digilab 3D40

The 3D40 comes fully assembled from the factory and includes everything you need to go from unboxing to printing in ten minutes. The reliable assisted leveling process takes all the guesswork out of leveling the bed on your printer. The hassle free intuitive touchscreen allows you to easily control the printer. This fast and high quality printer gives you peace of mind when running it for hours. Its fully enclosed space and 3rd party safety certification leaves you without a worry. 

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Side-by-Side Comparison

 Printer

ADIMLabs

DigiLab 3D20

DigiLab 3D40

Price 

$499.95

$895.95

$1,699.00

Print Volume 

310*310*410 mm

230*150*140 mm

255*155*170 mm

Enclosed Build Envelope

No

Yes

Yes

Heated Bed

Yes

No

Yes

Auto Bed Leveling

No

Assisted

Yes

Available Filaments 

PLA, ABS, Wood, HIPS, PC, TPE, Flexible PLA

PLA

PLA, ABS, HIPS, PC, TPE, Flexible PLA, & more

Filament Out Sensor 

Yes

No

Yes

Illuminated Build Plate 

Yes

Yes

Yes

Accuracy

Z 0.04mm, XY 0.01mm

N/A

N/A

Print Quality

100 Microns

excellent bridging, overhangs and supports in up to 100 micron resolution

100–300 microns

Setup

2 sub assemblies

Full Assembled

Full Assembled

Ease of Operation 

Moderate

Easy
-Full-colour touchscreen control panel
-Removable build platform

Easy
-Full-colour touchscreen control panel
-Removable build platform

Best Suited for Children

No

Yes

Yes

Connection

SD card or USB

SD card

Connect to your Wi-Fi or Ethernet

 

 

The 3D Printing Workflow

Once you have chosen the right printer for your application and have set it up, now what. Well it's time to start 3D printing. Printing a 3D model is a little different than printing a document. To start with you will need to decide if you want to download objects or design your own models. If you choose to download objects to print, you can go to websites that offer free or paid 3D models. Most people use Thingiverse.com to find objects to 3D print. There are many other sites available to download things. It is discussed further in this blog post.

 Using Thingiverse y Blog Post (coming soon)

If you choose to design your own objects for printing, there is an array of design software available to you. Many of which are free or at least have free trial periods. One of the easiest to learn is a website called Tinkercad.com. It is very easy to use and will help you understanding how the 3D printing process works. Some of the free 3D design programs include Tinkercad, Meshmaker or Blender. Are discussed in the following blog post.

 Designing 3D Printable Things Blog Post (coming soon)

Once you have downloaded or designed your 3D model you will need to prepare the model for 3D printing. This step is referred to as slicing. There are several options for slicing software. Your 3D printer will always include a slicer with presets for that specific printer. The two most common slicers are Cura and Simplify3d. Cura is free and simply 3D sells for $150.00 USD

Slicing software simply takes your model and slices it so your printer is able to print layer after layer. You're slicing software is where you decide how much infill you want, wall thickness, supports and dozens of other settings.

 Slicing Software Blog Post (coming soon)

 

Your First 3D Print Job

Once your model is properly sliced, you will need to preheat your printer and level the bed before starting to print. The slicing software will generate a G-Code file that is sent to the printer and includes all the parameters you have chosen for your model.

You are now ready to start 3D printing. The first or initial layer is of greatest importance. You should keep an eye on the printer until it has printed a couple of layers. If the initial layer is not properly adhered to the build plate your model will fail at one point or another. If the first layer isn't perfect, you are best to restart your print.

Once your model has been printed, wait for your build plate to cool before removing your model from the build plate. Once it has cooled, remove your model and examine it. If you are using supports, you will need to remove this material. Keep in mind that 3D prints take hours and sometimes days to print. You should periodically examine your print as it is progressing to ensure everything is printing properly.

If you have purchased your 3D printer from Envirolaser our staff are always be happy to guide you through the 3D printing process and answer any questions you may have about the setting-up your new 3D printer.

 

 Recommended Blog Posts:

 Terminology Blog Post (coming soon)
 Designing 3D Prints Blog Post (coming soon)
 Using Thingiverse Blog Post (coming soon)
 The ADIMLab Gantry Blog Post (coming soon)
 The Dremel Digilab 3D 20. Blog Post (coming soon)
 Using Thingiverse Blog Post (coming soon)
 Slicing software Blog Post (coming soon)

 Post Printing Blog Post (coming soon)

 Printer

ADIMLabs

DigiLab 3D20

DigiLab 3D40