Our previous article gave you the lowdown on what 3D printing technology is, how it works, and its neat applications. By now, we are sure you’re convinced that this is no longer just a futuristic innovation limited to a high-tech lab but a reality at our fingertips. We already live in a world where 3D printed houses are no more just fantasy. Due to advances in additive manufacturing technology, this technology is more accessible than ever! Sounds exciting, right? Let’s discover whether you should buy a 3D printer, what it has to offer, and whether you can afford it.
Can I buy a 3D printer? How can I use it?
3D printers are no longer super-niche or expensive, and they are also readily available on most e-commerce websites. A good, rudimentary 3D printer with all the basic features and specs would only cost roughly AED1,500 (US$400) now! This might encourage you to wonder if 3D printing should be your next hobby. While a 3D printer is not yet a common household item like the traditional printer, many creative souls have discovered its varied uses.
1. Your at-home genie
Surely we have all had moments when we thought of the perfect object that would make our lives easier, only to realise it doesn’t exist? Thanks to 3D printing, you can now “print” it into existence with just elementary CAD (computer-aided design) skills. What about owning a cool gizmo that you saw in the latest sci-fi film or a superhero figurine which is too expensive to buy? Owning a 3D printer lets you build one—layer by layer at that!
2. Your interior decorator
With your home 3D printer, you can print various household objects, accessories, and designer items. Furnish your home with customised effects. Decorative pieces like bookends, lampshades, and pen stands can take any shape you choose; functional tools and parts like hinges, centre-finders, and carabiners can be printed in your own garage, free of cost.
3. Your creative muse
With a 3D printer at your disposal, the possibilities are endless. Even the tech-shy ones will find themselves tinkering over this nifty machine, exploring new ways to maximise its creative uses. If you are a fledgling artist or a designer, you can 3D print your art, designs, and models and sell them. It also gives you the freedom to control the process of making your art while ensuring its quality.
4. Your earth-conscious buddy
For those of you who care about the environment, 3D printing is one of the more sustainable manufacturing methods. By design, 3D printing regulates the amount of material used in printing, discouraging overuse, and limiting waste. The materials used in 3D printing are called filaments. They are plastic threads that are loaded into the 3D printer. When the printer activates heating, the filament melts and gets spewed out by the nozzle in layers, to form the 3D model. To put it simply, filaments are the equivalent of glue sticks in hot glue guns. By recycling these filaments, you can also significantly reduce the environmental impact of your printing process. And let’s not forget, by 3D printing various items, you can immediately conserve the vast resources that go into manufacturing, packaging, and shipping store-bought versions.
3D printers you could consider buying
As an enthusiast, you want the most bang for your buck. Therefore, a fun, durable, and sturdy 3D printer with several exciting features that let you experiment and don’t cost an arm and a leg would be ideal. The Monoprice voxel 3D printer and the Creality Ender 3 may be the choicest options. Costing about AED1,500 (US$390) and AED900 (US$190), respectively, these 3D printers have several specs that make them the rightful winners. Both offer speed, efficiency, precision, and pollution-free ways to indulge in your newfound pastime.
Apart from these, the market also offers several industrial quality printers at relatively affordable costs. The price of FDM printers, for example, starts at AED1,000 (US$280). In contrast, the SLA and DLP printers are considerably more expensive, with some costing upwards of AED 20,000 (US$6,500). So the choice one makes truly depends on budgetary and use considerations. While we cannot be sure which printer would suit you best, we do think it might be an investment worth making. Not just for its various benefits but also for the joy of exploration, experimentation, and chance discoveries!