Do you need a large format 3D printer?
First, you should determine whether you need a large format 3D printer for your small business at all. Using a 3D printer is not as straightforward as working with a 2D printer. When you set up a print, you need to deal with leveling build plates and other factors most consumers never considered before. In some cases, an online 3D printing service might be better.
What kind of 3D prints are you likely to create on average?
Assess your needs with the following criteria:
- Do you need visual models that merely look like the real thing to display them in marketing campaigns?
- Do you want to print off rapid prototypes that have to perform like the finished product in functional testing?
- Do you need to use your prints as tools in injection molding to produce a small series of your product?
The answers to these questions determine what kind of large format 3D printer you should buy.
Do you have a time constraint?
If time is of the essence, there are other factors to consider. FDM is known to be a relatively slow process. The printing speed increases when you set out to print off human-scale objects like furniture. There are ways to tweak the length of time it takes to finish a printing job, like increasing the layer-height or decreasing the infill. However, these modifications will have immediate effects on the quality of the finished part.
What size are your 3D prints?
The 3D printing technologies FDM and SLA use only the material needed for the actual print (PLUS supports). Other technologies, like SLS, use the entire print bed of powder regardless of the size of printed goods. For this reason, 3D printing services automatically arrange the content of build tray to save the precious powder that cannot be reused without some effort.
With which material do you want to print?
In this article, we cover large format FDM 3D printers. Mostly they are used to 3D print thermoplastics like ABS or PLA, and this includes exotic filaments (wood and metal). Some large format 3D printers like the Delta Wasp 3MT can also print materials that are suitable for extrusion like ceramics.
Advantages of 3D printing services
Enlisting the help of an online 3D printing service has the additional advantage that your 3D files are processed by trained professionals who can print them off to perfection. Training your staff to operate a new, large format 3D printer will cost time and money; you might end up producing scrap before the prints are good enough for your small business.