FAQ – Frequently asked questions
What is 3D printing?
3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing (AM), refers to processes used to synthesize a three-dimensional object in which successive layers of material are formed under computer control to create an object. There are many different methods of 3D printing, but the most widely used is a process known as Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) or Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF). FDM printers use a thermoplastic filament, which is heated to its melting point and then extruded, layer by layer, to create a three dimensional object.
What types of 3D printing technology are available?
The technology behind 3D printing continues to grow as companies engineer new methods to produce layers of different materials. Recently Nano Dimensions introduced the Dragonfly 2020 which can print working printed circuit boards up to 10 layers deep.
Some technologies used in 3D printing include:
• Stereolithography (STL)
• Digital Light Projector (DLP)
• Continuous Liquid Interface Production (CLIP)
• Colorjet (CJP) and Multijet (MJP)
• Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
• Selective laser melting (SLM)
• Electronic Beam Melting (EBM),
• Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM)
• Selective Lamination Composite Object Manufacturing (SLCOM)
• Selective Scan and Spin (3SP)
As experts in additive manufacturing, we also do unbiased consulting on choosing the right equipment for your needs. Call us for a free 15 minute consultation at (214) 725-6154
What can I make with a 3D printer?
The thing you hear most about 3D printing is that complexity does not cost extra. Because you are working in a 3 dimensional space, just about anything you imagine can be produced. Different technologies have different limitations but all in all, 3D printing can produce items not able to be manufactured in other ways. Today we can print with materials including plastics, metals, ceramics, glass, carbon fiber, composite materials, concrete, bio-matter, stem cells, hydro-gels, conductive inks, sandstone, sand and even food product.
What is the best 3D printer for $300?
Without a doubt, the best printer to buy for $300 is……not one we are going to suggest here. Unless your a tinkerer, a hobbyist or a kid younger than 12, a 3D printer in this price range will not hold up to regular use. If you don’t believe me, check out the comments in the review sections of these low cost printers.
If you’re willing to build your own printer from a kit, do your own upgrades and modifications then maybe you ‘ll be happy with a printer at this price point. Otherwise, consider something better that will work right out of the box.
What is the right 3D printer for me?
It would be great if we could suggest the best printer based on your budget but there is no one size fits all solution. The choice of printer depends on how you intend to use it, what you want to print, what materials you need, maximum part sizes needed, budget, connectivity, print speed, space requirements, post processing and more. With all these variables, it pays to speak with an expert who can guide you to the right solution. We can help you make an informed decision.
What is a 3D printer farm?
Simply put, a 3D printer farm is a setup of multiple printers in a cluster to operate with common software for running and monitoring the printers. 3D Printer Farms are the latest in small manufacturing technology. By utilizing multiple printers set up in an array, products can be produced at higher speeds and brought to market faster. The cost of entry is lower than buying one industrial 3D printer and the array can be scaled up more economically when the need arises. This video explains more.
How many printers can I start with for a printer farm?
Our beginner system starts with just two printers of your choosing based on the materials you want to use, maximum size of the products you want to produce and your budget. The base pod system includes 6 printers and a control center, while additional pods of 6 printers can be added. A maximum of 10 six unit pods can run with one control module.
How large can the farm be?
Depending on the need, a printer farm can be designed to handle 60 to 120 printers and the system will see them as one or two large print machines. Imagine needing 500 prints by tomorrow. You load the file and the system places 5 on each of 100 printers and begins cranking out the products. Overnight delivery is no longer a problem.
How did we get into 3D printing?
It’s amazing how one video can change your life. Take a look at this and you’ll see what I mean. Liam is using one of the first prosthetic hands that would lead to a worldwide movement called e-NABLE.
I watched this video in 2013 and it changed my life. After spending 25 years in the printing and copier industries, I became enamored with 3D printing and what it could do to help others like Liam. I quickly became a member of e-NABLE and started studying 3D printing in every spare moment. That led to jobs with 3D Systems and then a reseller selling printers from 3D Systems, Envisiontec, Markforged, Ultimaker, Lulzbot and Fusion3 lines for several years.
As more and more companies and individuals were looking for ways to become manufacturers, I saw the way to go was in clustering 3D printers into easily manageable arrays. Currently the additive manufacturing industry is trying to move into production but the average repair time on industrial printers is 5-7 days. Unless you’re a company that can afford two very expensive industrial printers, the thought of running production on one machine is scary. Could you afford to be down for a week in your production cycle every time the printer had a problem?
Enter the printer farm, a way to scale production to meet your manufacturing needs without a huge outlay for industrial equipment. It’s not for everyone as some materials and properties are not suited to filament printers or digital light projector (DLP) printers but it is right for a growing list of products. Take a look at our materials page for all the plastics and resins that you can work with on a printer farm. Some have even hacked the Ultimaker 2 to print bio-materials and cell cultures for use in healthcare. We’ve come a long way since 2013 and it’s only going to get better in the world of 3D printing and additive manufacturing.
Why would I want a printer farm instead of an industrial printer?
This is the Stratasys Fortus 380 with a price tag close to $200,000 installed. It has a maximum print size of 355 x 305 x 305 mm or 14″ x 12″ x 12″ and can print in 7 materials including ABS, ASA, PC and Nylon.
This is a Type A Machines printer pod or farm setup that can be configured and installed for less than ONE Stratasys Fortus 380. It has 54 printers each with a 305 x 305 x 305 mm or 12″ x 12″ x 12″ maximum print size. With a maximum extruder temperature of 300°C in can run ABS, PLA, PC, Nylon and more than 100 other materials easily available at a much lower cost than proprietary materials. Which would you rather have to depend on to get your next product run out in time?
Call us at (214) 725-6154 to get an evaluation of your needs and to see if a printer farm makes sense.
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