What to look for when buying an industrial 3D printer?

More and more companies are deciding to bet on additive manufacturing technologies, because it has been clear for a few years now that this is the future of manufacturing. When we talk about 3D technologies, we are not just talking about prototypes, but also high quality end-use parts. With its adoption, it allows an evolution of production and savings in costs and manufacturing times. Despite this, when choosing a machine, there are still doubts about what parameters to consider when buying an industrial 3D printer. In particular, users should ask themselves questions such as: What should be taken into account? Are materials important? Today we will give an answer to some of them.

There are several 3D printing technologies currently available, so to narrow the scope, we will focus on fused material deposition technology. This technology has been mistakenly considered to be related to small machines for everyday use. However, thanks to the evolution of this technology and materials, it is already considered as an interesting technology for the industry. But you have to know the difference between an industrial machine and a machine with a large printing volume.

What to do before buying an industrial 3D printer?

Before making the decision to buy an industrial 3D printer, it is important to create a list of the targeted applications for the machine and in which part of the production chain it makes the most sense to implement it. Once this is done, you can directly contact the manufacturer of the brand you are interested in. What matters is knowing what materials the machine needs to work with, if it is capable of creating quality end-use parts. , and the size of the print volume. Once we are clear on the quality/price ratio of the machine, it is always possible to request a sample. This allows users to see the print quality of the machine more closely.

Important parameters to consider

Although each company must take into account different characteristics to achieve the necessary performance, certain parameters are important to consider before choosing one brand or another. Some of the most important are:

  • Print Speed: This feature is directly related to the performance of a printer. Faster print speeds ensure lower printing costs.
  • 3D printing with high-performance materials: High-performance materials are adopted mainly for their temperature resistance and stability. Therefore, a machine can be considered for industrial production if it allows the use of certain materials such as PEEK, ULTEM or composite materials reinforced with carbon or glass fibers. To prove that a machine can work with these materials, it must have a heated chamber that can exceed 170ºC.

One of the important considerations is compatibility with high-performance materials (photo credits: 3DGence).

  • Dual Extrusion Systems: The ability to use different extruders when working with an industrial 3D printer will allow duplication of production, but also the ability to use different materials in one part. Among the materials that we could highlight are the soluble materials, since they allow to increase the complexity in the design of the parts.
  • Systems that save time: a 3D printer should save us manufacturing time. It is important to think of self-calibrating machines to shorten lead times. It is worth mentioning the possibility of working with software in the cloud, which will save us time when sending a file for printing.
  • The total cost of an industrial 3D printer: When acquiring a 3D printer with these characteristics, we seek to reduce costs, not generate them. It is therefore important to take into account the materials with which we will be able to work. If it’s a machine that allows third-party materials, or if it offers materials from your brand at reasonable prices.

In addition to these parameters, there are details that increase the efficiency of a machine. This includes the integration of a camera, cleaning systems and automatic roll change, among others. We know finding an industrial 3D printer is no easy task, but if you do it hand in hand with industry experts, you’ll find a machine that delivers the production boost you’ve been looking for.

When adopting industrial 3D printing, we recommend consulting an expert in the field

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*Cover photo credits: 3D Systems