Why You Should Build a 3D Printer

by Matthew Wellington on March 8, 2013

Build a 3D Printer - RepRap In this era, where 3D printing is increasingly becoming popular, owning a three dimensional additive printer is something many individuals are considering.

There is a something enticing about the ability to fabricate your own products in the comfort of your own home, without having to spend money on hiring 3D printing companies.

Eliminating the reliance on additive printing companies is one of the main reasons why a lot of people are currently embracing the idea of owning a 3D printer. It’s simply a great way of cutting down on costs of fabricating any three dimensional objects you want.

However, other than the prospects of high profit margins that having your own 3D printer presents, we can never give a blind eye to the fact that buying a three dimensional printer is not really something you can do on a budget. Taking into account that some 3D printers are priced as high as £40,000; buying one is often a huge step for any company to take.

Fortunately, buying is not the only option you have. You can equally choose to build a 3D printer. Thanks to the RepRap Project, anyone can now build a 3D printer if they so wish. And for the record, there are many reasons why you should think about building a 3D printer of your own.

How to Build a 3D Printer

You’ve probably been sitting there with the one big question in mind, ‘how do I go about building a 3D printer?’ Many people still believe that the only way of acquiring a 3D printer is by buying one, but actually the easiest and most convenient way of obtaining one is to build one.

How? The RepRap Project is an open source project, which means that all the steps for building a printer are available for absolutely no charge. So, you will therefore be guided through the whole process by people who have done it before, for free.

Most of these sites provide information on the parts you’ll need, the 3D Design Software to buy that can help you run the printer and even the skills you may have to master before you start the building process. Some even have simple educational videos showing how to build a 3D printer step by step. It is therefore very easy to learn and understand what you need to do in order to build yourself an additive printer efficiently.

Reducing 3D Printing Costs

3D printing can be quite draining financially, particularly to people who frequently need 3D printing services. Despite the fact that 3D Printing Businesses have been lowering the costs of printing a 3D object, model or prototype; the expenses involved can still be a pain in the neck.

A 3D printer is the perfect remedy to the insane 3D Printing Costs in two ways. To begin with, while purchasing an additive printer is too expensive for most companies let alone individuals, building a 3D printer requires you to shell out just £350 for buying the parts. The essential parts such as the extruder, stepper motors, frames, print plates, end stops among others can be cheaply bought on online markets such as eBay.

Basically with £350 you can have all the parts you need to build a 3D printer. The cost may increase if you do not have the technical skills or confidence to assemble the parts, as you would need to get somebody with the right skills to help you but you will still spend a lot less than you would had you gone to purchase a 3D printer.

On the other hand, once you have built the printer, you can start using it to make prototypes on order and earn some extra cash. There are quite a number of people who are doing this as a part time ‘work from home’ job to bring in a little extra income. Especially if you can access a network of designers and architects, this can be quite a profitable business for you.

Easy 3D Prototyping

Nowadays, there is no better technique of modeling a prototype that can surpass the incredible advantages of 3D prototyping. Prototyping is fast and can guarantee the fabrication of more intricate 3D prototype designs because all the designing is done on your PC.

As a result, if you are a professional designer or an architect, you can be easily transforming your project ideas into tangible and visible prototypes whenever and wherever you want, which you can use to lure partners into investing in your projects.

To build a 3D printer is therefore a more cost effective and expedient option of creating 3D prototypes than having to send your order to 3D printing companies every time you need to fabricate prototypes.

What You Need to Know

You do not always have to build a 3D printer yourself. You can buy homemade 3D printers online for about £700 if you do not want to get involved with all the handy work of assembling the parts yourself. This however should be done with a lot of caution to ensure that you purchase a 3D printer that is in impeccable working condition. You may want to make sure you buy from a reliable seller or at least seek referrals or references before making a purchase from anyone.

You should also keep in mind that Homemade 3D Printers mainly fabricate plastic materials. Thus you may not benefit from it much if you are looking to make 3D Objects or Prototypes from materials other than plastic. But if you intend to be creating plastic prototypes and objects, a homemade printer will serve you best.

Finally, there are two main types of plastic materials that such a printer can print: ABS and PLA. Both have their upsides and downsides and it’s important you take them into account. For instance, while ABS is more flexible than PLA, it is often affected by warping. PLA on the other hand is a rigid material but biodegradable. So as you build a 3D printer remember to weigh the pros and cons between the two materials to determine which is best for your needs.

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