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There are so much information available online about materials to use in 3D printing, including ULTEM Resin. Thus, it’s often difficult to research the right material and make the right choice. However, this is necessary to achieve the best results. By doing so, you will learn about the qualities of every material as well as its advantages and disadvantages.

There are so much information available online about materials to use in 3D printing, including ULTEM Resin. Thus, it’s often difficult to research the right material and make the right choice. However, this is necessary to achieve the best results. By doing so, you will learn about the qualities of every material as well as its advantages and disadvantages.

Luckily, we’re here to help, and with this guide we’ll delve deeper into ULTEM for 3D printing and show you some of its qualities. We will also give you some tips to improve the 3D printing process with it.

 

What Is ULTEM?

The ULTEM resin has a family of amorphous thermoplastic polyetherimide (PEI) resins. They offer outstanding thermal resistance, high strength, and stiffness, while also offering broad chemical resistance.

It was developed in the 1980s at General Electric’s plastics division which was then acquired in 2007 by is SABIC.

Compared to PEEK, it has a lower impact strength and usable temperature, but it’s a lot cheaper. Its tensile strength is 15,200 psi and it has a flexural modulus of 480,000 psi. So, although it isn’t quite as strong, it’s definitely not weak.

Because it has a high heat resistance it can hold most of its physical qualities in temperatures as high as hundred and 170°C. Additionally, it has a high dielectric strength. This means, it can go through thousands of cycles in a steam-based sterilization autoclave without its properties degrading. 

It’s strength to weight ratio is similar to that of aluminum. It can also be machined with conventional metalworking tools. Moreover, it’s available in transparent and opaque custom colors, as well as glass filled grades for extra strength. This further enhances its versatility.

 

ULTEM Types

When it comes to 3D printing, there are two ULTEM material types available on the market. First is the ULTEM 1010 which is a resin material and the ULTEM 9085 which is a filament material. 

As such, these materials are used for different applications and with different print settings. Recently, SABIC also introduced a high-performance variant that’s based on ULTEM 1010.

 

ULTEM Resin Zhengda Optical
Credit: Zhengda Optical

ULTEM 1010

One of the best properties of ULTEM 1010 is that it has high tensile strength. In fact, this material has the highest tensile strength of all FDM filaments. Ultimately, this results in strong and durable parts.

It also has high thermal stability. With its heat resistance, it can also withstand autoclaving, which is steam sterilization for medical parts.

In addition, it also has NSF 51 food-contact certification and is the only FDM material to have this. It’s also fully biocompatible and has ISO 10993/USB Class VI certifications.

ULTEM 1010 is a very suitable option for applications in the food and medical industries. Therefore, it’s food contact and biocompatible. Here, you can think of production tools that come into contact with food or medical devices often and then needs to be sterilized.

ULTEM 1010 is also commonly used in the aerospace and automotive industries. It has high strength and thermal stability. It can be used to print semi-structural components and it is useful for out-of-cabin aerospace applications.

In respect of printer settings, the optimal settings are:

  • Extruder temperature of 370 to 390°C
  • Print bed temperature of 120 to 160°C
  • Print bed adhesion using Perf board, Kaptan tape, or lightly sanded FR4,
  • Because the printing of ULTEM performs best in a hot build environment, it’s recommended that a heated enclosure be used.
  • Printing speed of 20 to 30 mm/s.

 

ULTEM Filament 9085
Credit: Sabic

ULTEM 9085

ULTEM 9085 has a remarkably high strength-to-weight ratio. In fact, it offers comparable impact strength to metal parts like aluminum. However, it can be made much lighter, so where the application requires, light parts can be manufactured.

Like ULTEM 1010, it also has high thermal resistance and has a heat deflection temperature of 167°C. It’s inherently frame retardant. Because of this, it is FST compliant and certified to be used in aircraft components. Also, like ULTEM 1010, it has high chemical resistance . It is resistant to a wide range of chemicals like alcohols, automotive fluids, and aqueous solutions.

The most important property of ULTEM 9085, however, must be the high strength-to-weight ratio. This extraordinary high ratio for a plastic-based material is the reason why it’s often used in the aerospace and automotive industry. Since these industries require light, but strong parts. As such, it’s ideal where the application requires high performance parts and a lightweight alternative to metal.

Applications also include places where the weight of an object significantly has an effect on the cost of operation, but the object strength is in extremely important. This can, for example, be in aircraft where the weight of the aircraft directly correlates to the operating costs.

Besides these industrial applications, ULTEM 9085 can also be used in 3D printing. It’s used for different interior components, duct work, or electric enclosures.

When it comes to 3D printing, the recommended printer settings are:

  • Extruder temperature of 350 to 390°C
  • A print bed temperature of 130 to 160°C
  • A print bed adhesion using Perf board, Kapton tape or lightly sanded FR4
  • A heated enclosure because it performs best in a hot build environment.
  • A printing speed of 20 to 30 mm/s.

 

What Are the Benefits of Using ULTEM?

ULTEM Resin 3D Printing 9085

Irrespective of which variant of ULTEM you choose, from the above you’ll see that it has some exceptional properties. 

When you use, you’ll get these benefits:

  • Long term heat resistance. It has excellent stability in its physical and mechanical properties at higher temperatures. This is because it has a high glass transition temperature of 217°c. It’s also available with relative thermal indices of up to 180°V.
  • Strength and stiffness. It has outstanding strength and predictable stiffness at temperatures up to 200°c. Here, unfilled transparent grades are equal in strength to other thermoplastics plastics with fillers.
  • Dimensional stability. ULTEM is among the most dimensionally stable thermoplastics available. This means it offers predictability over a wide temperature range and filled grades offer exceptionally high-tolerance dimensional capabilities.
  • Environmental stress and cracking resistance. Unlike other amorphous thermoplastics, ULTEM resins hold their strength and resist cracking. They can do this even when exposed to automotive and aviation fluids, aliphatic hydrocarbons, alcohols, acids, and weak aqueous solutions.
  • Flammability, smoke generation and toxicity. It has inherent flame resistance without using additives. This means it’s exceptionally difficult to ignite. It also generates extremely low smoke per the NBS smoke evaluation test, with products of combustion no more toxic than those of wood.
  • Processability. ULTEM can be extruded, thermoformed, extrusion blow molded, and injection molded. Additionally, its flowability permits long flowing lengths using conventional injection molding equipment.

 

Tips for 3D Printing With ULTEM

When it comes to 3D printing with ULTEM, it’s crucial to understand the material’s strengths and weaknesses. Also, it’s important to consider possible challenges when deciding to start printing with ULTEM.

Here are five tips you can use to make 3D printing with ULTEM as easy as possible, while ensuring the best results:

  • Because ULTEM is used in applications where weight is crucial, it’s important to make sure that large parts are light. Here, it allows the use of honeycomb structures that can make the part light. Also advised to use a triangular internal fill pattern to achieve a smooth and hollow interior.
  • Self-supporting angles are a good idea. They reduce cost and time because it’s not necessary to use any support structures. With these angles, most of the plastic layer is supported by the layer underneath. Therefore, ULTEM allows you to create overhang angles up to 45°. It also makes it possible to create complex geometries without requiring removal of the breakaway support manually.
  • For the best results during 3D printing, the temperature in the closed chamber must remain constant. Because ULTEM has an extremely high extrusion temperature, it’s always advisable to use a heated chamber. Moreover, that heat must be evenly distributed at all times. This is because, if the heat is not consistent, it will cause shrinkage in the material in an uneven way. 
  • It’s possible to anneal ULTEM material in a hot air oven. This accelerates the relief of internal stresses in the material.
  • It’s important to keep ULTEM filament stored in a cool and dark place, preferably in a sealed bag. This preserves the quality of the material. Also, it ensures that the result of the 3D printing process is as good as possible.

 

The Bottom Line

If you want a 3D printing material that has some excellent qualities like high strength, and stiffness, and chemical resistance, it may be worth your while to consider ULTEM.  

Irrespective of which type you choose, it has the necessary strength and stiffness, dimensional stability, and other qualities to give you the best results. And, if you use some of the tips we’ve given, you’ll make the results even better.     

ULTEM Resin 3D Printing
When it comes to choosing the right plastic for an industrial or engineering application, you have many options. When you do your research, you’ll probably encounter plastics like Acetal, POM, Nylon, UHMW, and Delrin. Each of these have their own properties, pros, and cons which you should consider depending on your application.

When it comes to choosing the right plastic for an industrial or engineering application, you have many options. When you do your research, you’ll probably encounter plastics like Acetal, POM, Nylon, UHMW, and Delrin. Each of these have their own properties, pros, and cons which you should consider depending on your application.

The problem is that there’s so much information out there that you don’t necessarily know where to start looking. This can make the process of finding the right plastic complicated, to say the least.

Let’s face it, if you choose the wrong plastic for your requirements, you’ll end up wasting time and money because the plastic will be unsuitable for the job.

Luckily, we’re here to help and with this guide we’ll delve deeper into acetal plastics and Delrin to show you what their qualities are, what they’re used for, and what else you can do with them. So, let’s take a look.

 

What Kind of Plastic is Delrin?

Delrin is the trademark name for a series of acetal resins which are semi-crystalline thermoplastic polymers which are also known by the abbreviation POM or polyoxymethylene.

It’s a general-purpose engineering thermoplastic. That means, it’s commonly used for parts that need to be very rigid, while also having low surface friction and good dimensional stability. Additionally, it has the ability to keep its shape and dimensions despite being exposed to changes in temperature and humidity. 

These engineered plastics typically have better mechanical properties than other commonly found plastics like PVC and polyethylene. Hence, this makes them tougher and more suitable for extreme environments and industrial applications. 

In simple terms, Delrin is both reliable, durable, and can be used in many applications across the globe.

 

What Kind of Plastic is POM Plastic?

Now that you know that Delrin is a form of POM plastic, the question is what kind of plastic is POM plastic?

Like Delrin, POM plastic is a general purpose semi-crystalline thermoplastic. It’s referred to as semi-crystalline because it has a very organized molecular structure and sharp melting points. This means that it won’t gradually soften as the temperature increases. Rather, it would stay solid until their melting point is reached when they change quickly from solids into liquids that flow easily. 

Because of this property, POM plastics are known as thermoplastics because they’re resistant to heat up until their melting point. This makes them useful to make products through injection molding, which can be used to quickly and economically produce a large number of consistently high-quality plastic parts. 

 

Is POM Plastic Safe?

POM plastics are safe, and they’re approved by the FDA and USDA as a food grade product.   

 

What is POM Plastic Used For?

Because of its similarities to Delrin, it’s also used in the same applications. So, applications for POM include high performance components like gears, screws, nuts, washer, and spacers.    

It’s also used in other applications like ski bindings, electronic cigarettes, watch bracelets, zippers, insulin pens, and metered dose inhalers. Also, it’s commonly used in the food industry in applications like milk pumps and coffee spigots.   

     

Is Acetal and Delrin the Same Thing?

Delrin is a type of acetyl plastic and therefore largely interchangeable with other acetal plastics. As such, Delrin offers the same core benefits of other acetyl plastics.

The main difference between common acetyl plastics and Delrin, is that Delrin is composed as a homopolymer, or, in other words, it has a uniform crystalline structure compared to other acetal plastics that incorporate multiple subunits.

This leads to several differences between these two materials, for example:

  • Hardness. Delrin does tend to have a slightly higher hardness than other acetal plastics. 
  • Chemical resistance. Acetal has a better resistance to the effects of hot water and strong caustic solutions when compared to Delrin. 
  • Temperature tolerance. Both acetal and Delrin are not designed to be used in high temperature applications and, as such, don’t have high temperature tolerance. 
  • Flexural yield strength and tensile strength. One of the biggest differences between the two is that Delrin does tend to have a significantly higher yield strength and tensile strength.     

As you can see, the difference in structure does lead to better properties in some areas. Furthermore, Delrin offers slight benefits over acetal plastics when it comes to mechanical strength. Despite this, Delrin shares enough in common with other acetal plastics so that they can be used interchangeably. 

 

 

What is Delrin Good For?

Delrin is an excellent choice for industrial and mechanical applications. This is especially true for applications where the parts will be exposed to moisture or a wet environment. Other appropriate uses include gears, bearings, bushings, rollers, fittings, electrical insulator parts, and general CNC machining applications.

Acetal Delrin Dupont
Credit: Dupont

This is because of some of its exceptional key features that include:

  • Rigidity 
  • Mechanical strength 
  • Lubrication properties 
  • Fatigue resistant 
  • Impact resistance 
  • Impervious to moisture, gas, and other chemicals 
  • Stable at low temperatures 
  • Easy to fabricate and manufacture. 

 

 

Is Delrin Stronger Than Nylon?

There is an overlap of the possible industry applications for both nylon and Delrin. Both have similar material properties and both are semi-crystalline thermoplastics. For example, both are used in the manufacture of bearings, gaskets, gears, rollers, and washers.  

Despite these similarities, nylon is generally stronger than Delrin. Extruded nylon has a tensile strength of 12,400 PSI and cast nylon has a tensile strength of between 10,000 and 13,500 PSI. In contrast, Delrin has a tensile strength of 10,000 PSI.

 

 

Is Delrin Stronger Than Aluminum?

In purely technical terms, aluminum is far stronger than Delrin, but depending on the application, Delrin parts can substitute certain aluminum parts.  

 

 

What is the Strongest Type of Plastic?

Polycarbonate is the strongest plastic available on the market and it’s 200 times stronger than glass. It’s also warranted against breakage or cracks. Because of its high impact strength, it’s often used in construction and structures where there is snow or hail that could cause damage.          

 

 

What is the Difference Between Delrin and UHMW?

UHMW stands for Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene. It’s a low-cost plastic that can be used in a variety of applications and has the following benefits:

  • Highly resistant to abrasion and corrosive chemicals.
  • Has low friction.
  • Has extremely low moisture absorption.
  • It has high impact resistance.
  • Suitable for machining and fabrication.  
 

Despite the fact that it has many of the properties of Delrin, it’s not as strong and it’s more flexible. This makes it less appropriate for several of the industrial applications that Delrin is used for. 

 

 

Can Delrin Plastic Be Glued?

Because Delrin and other acetal plastics have very low friction surfaces, they can be hard to penetrate and therefore glue. Typically, solvent based glues do not dissolve the surface of Delrin plastics properly. These glues work by making the two surfaces of the material “sticky”. Hence, the material becomes one bonded piece when it’s allowed to dry. So, Delrin can’t be effectively glued. 

 

 

Can You 3D Print Delrin?

Yes, Delrin can be 3D printed. Most of its 3D printing applications are high performance engineering components like gears and bearings. For this purpose, you’ll have to use a 3D printing filament and the right equipment to do the printing.

Also, keep in mind that if Delrin gets overheated it will produce formaldehyde fumes that are dangerous to inhale.         

 

Can You Mold Delrin?

It’s also possible to mold Delrin and the resin is molded throughout the world in a variety of types and designs of injection equipment. 

When molding Delrin, it is important to use the following best practices:

  • Maintain melt at optimum temperature for stability.
  • Ensure gate design meets the requirements for semi-crystalline materials.
  • Run the process with adequate hold pressure times for maximum part weight.
  • Eject the parts when hot and let them cool outside the mold.
  • If the dimensions do not fit the required tolerance, check the gate design, and process conditions.
  • if the dimensions are still out of tolerance, correct the cavity.        

 

 

Does Delrin Melt?

Yes, in order to mold Delrin it has to be melted. Its melting point is 178 degrees Celsius.

 

 

Can Delrin be Heated and Bent?

Yes, Delrin can be heated and bent but you should be careful not to heat it too close to its melting point where it will turn into a liquid. 

 

 

Is Delrin Brittle?

Because Delrin doesn’t use plasticizing for its toughness, it doesn’t become brittle at low temperatures.    

 

 

Is Delrin Expensive?

Although Delrin is relatively inexpensive, it’s more expensive than other common acetal plastics.  

 

 

Can You Recycle Delrin?

Yes, Delrin can be recycled. Also, as a thermoplastic, the melting and setting of Delrin can be repeated infinitely so plastic can be melted down and re-molded into other parts.   

 

 

The Bottom Line

If you’re looking for the right plastic for a machining project or some other industrial application where you need the best properties of plastic but don’t need the full strength of a metal part, acetal and Delrin may be the perfect options.

Hopefully, this guide was helpful to show you the qualities of each and what they’re used for. 

Acetal Delrin Dupont 2
When you are looking to purchase a 3D printer, it can be overwhelming to go through all of the options available on the market. As technology has improved, more and more variations of 3D printers have been developed, so you must find the right one for you.

When you are looking to purchase a 3D printer, it can be overwhelming to go through all of the options available on the market. As technology has improved, more and more variations of 3D printers have been developed, so you must find the right one for you.

This ultimate guide will list out the best 3D printers for 2021, as well as their pros and cons according to the top 3D printing service providers!

 

Choosing the Best 3D Printer

Before we get into specific types of 3D printers, let’s review some important things you should consider before you make your final decision.

 

Use Case For 3D Printing

For starters, you must ask yourself what you plan to use the 3D printer for. Are you a mechanical engineer that wants to model out some new ideas, or a founder of a hardware product that needs an efficient way to build prototypes?

If so, the best 3D printer for you will be different than someone who is a hobbyist and doesn’t need a commercial machine.

 

3D Printer Pricing

When you are choosing for the best 3D printer, pricing is another important consideration. The amount you are willing to spend on a 3D printer will also help you narrow down the top choice from this list.

Fused deposition modeling, or FDM printers, will be the most cost-effective. This popular option creates 3D models by heating and extruding plastic.

Stereolithography (SLA) machines utilize ultraviolet light and photosensitive liquid, so these will be slightly more expensive. The most expensive options use selective laser sintering (SLS), which is equipped with lasers that can melt the powder to create the print.

 

Materials You Will Use With Your 3D Printer

The type of material you plan on printing will also help you determine what the best 3D printer will be for your needs. PLA and ABS are the most common thermoplastics used, and these come in the form of spools of filament that need to be replaced when the printer runs out.

Higher-level models can support materials like wood fill, metal fill, glass fiber infused, and more!

 

Resolution

Another thing that you need to consider is the level of detail that you need on your print. The smaller the resolution on the printer, the greater level of detail it can create. The micron resolution will vary depending on the model you choose.

 

            THE ULTIMATE 3D PRINTER LIST GUIDE FOR 2021:

 

FormLabs Form 3 Best 3D Printer
Source: FormLabs

 

FormLabs Form 3

Starting off our list of best 3D printers for 2021 is the FormLabs Form 3. This impressive SLA printer has a resolution range from 25 to 300 microns and is a relatively small machine considering its high-quality output.
 
 
 
 
 

FormLabs Form 3 Pros

This is an ideal choice for superior printing capabilities that support a wide variety of materials. Since it uses a precision laser to create the print, it uses liquid resin instead of solid filament. Although this process will require more time and preparation to complete, the result is worth it!

Simply put, the combination of the technology and breadth of materials available make this perfect for developing prototypes, casting, and production.

FormLabs Form 3 Cons

The main drawback to the FormLabs Form 3 is that the SLA prints require cleaning. Similarly, the cost of this machine is close to $4,000 – so it is not a cheap option.

 

Ultimaker S3 Best 3D Printer
Source: Ultimaker

 

 

 

Ultimaker S3

The next 3D printer on our list is the Ultimaker S3. This machine has been a staple in the industry for quite some time, and it comes from of the most reputable manufacturers of 3D printers. The resolution with this machine ranges from 20 to 600 microns, making it ideal for students or others who are creating a wide variety of prints.

 

 

 

Ultimaker S3 Pros

The Ultimaker S3 is known for its quality, speed, and reliability. You can interchange many accessories and materials to fit your unique printing requirements, such as swappable cartridge hotends. Its touchscreen, user interface, and slicer software also lead the market.

This 3D printer is also easy to network, making it extremely usable and business-friendly.

Ultimaker S3 Cons

The only negative thing we can report about the Ultimaker S3 is the cost. This 3D printer starts at around $3,800, so you will need a substantial budget to make this one work!

 

Monoprice Voxel
Source: Monoprice

Monoprice Voxel

The Monoprice Voxel is going to be our top choice for the average person. Perhaps you’ve got a tight budget or are just looking to get started with 3D printing without making a substantial investment. If so, this affordable option will be able to meet all of your needs without breaking the bank! The layer resolution goes from 50 to 400 microns, and this model supports a BS, would fill, copper fill, steel fill, and PLA. It has a smaller build volume of 6.9 in, but this lightweight machine is made for smaller projects.

 

Monoprice Voxel Pros

This 3D model is enclosed, so it is ideal for a small space or even a classroom. It starts at just $400, so it’s an affordable choice that still provides you with impressive speeds and quality. Likewise, the heated print base supports more reliable prints which are perfect for new users!

Monoprice Voxel Cons

When compared to the rest of the printers on this list, the software on the Monoprice Voxel is a bit lackluster. There have also been some Wi-Fi connection issues that users have been frustrated with.

 

Prusa i3 MK3S+
Source: Prusa

 

 

Prusa i3 MK3S+

The Prusa i3 MK3S+ is also one of our best 3D printers for 2021. This choice provides exceptional print quality due to its advanced calibration techniques imprint monitoring software. The price point is also modest, putting it right in the middle of the price ranges.

 

 

 

 

Prusa i3 MK3S+ Pros

When it comes to value for your money, the Prusa 3D can’t be beaten. It’s just over $900, but the capability matches those of printers in the $3,000+ range.

The error detection and mitigation systems allow it to be one of the most intelligent 3D printers on the market. this means that you will be creating high-quality prints right out of the box!

There is also a very involved community with excellent support available to help you get this 3D printer up and running.

Prusa i3 MK3S+ Cons

The only drawback to choosing the Prusa 3D model is that the stock configuration struggles to print multiple materials and requires you to change the loaded spool of filament manually. It may not be able to perform as well with hardcore engineering materials either.

 

Raise3D E2 3D Printer
Source: Raise3D

 

Raise3D E2

If you need a workhorse 3D printer, then the Raise3D E2 is likely your best option! With this selection, your resolution will range from 20 to 250 microns. Its versatility in design and interface makes it the perfect 3D printer for almost anything!

 

Raise3D E2 Pros

This printer has a very high resolution, and its touch screen interface is one of the best on the market. It can meet the needs of your business with its impressive integration capabilities and had a straightforward interface.

The Raise3D E2 is extremely reliable and allows you to bring high-end FFF printing right to your home or office!

Raise3D E2 Cons

Besides its steep cost of $3,500, the only real negative to this 3D printer is its large weight and size.

 

 

BCN3D Sigma D25 - 3D Printer
Source: BCN3D

BCN3D Sigma D25

When it comes to dual-color printing, the BCN3D Sigma D25 tops the charts. This is a smaller desktop version, but they also have an industrial size made for commercial printing. Another thing that makes this choice unique is that you can use two separate spools of material at one time. As a result, you can either make two copies of something at once or use two distinct material colors to create a multicolor 3D object!

 

BCN3D Sigma D25 Pros

One of the best things about this 3D printer is that it is fast. It uses automatic calibration tools that are extremely precise and help improve processing times. The wide variety of built-in settings also help!

The BCN3D Sigma D25 is more of an industrial choice, but it maximizes the need for speed and volume. When you combine these capabilities with multiple materials and colors, it’s the perfect edition for your workshop or garage.

BCN3D Sigma D25 Cons

This 3D printer is one of the largest on the list – even the desktop size – coming in at 420mm x 300mm x 200mm. The large build volume requires this much space, so you need to make sure that you have an appropriate place to put it.

Another issue some users have faced with this model is that the setup can be complex, and the English instructions are a bit lacking. Similarly, adding this printer to your workshop will cost you at least $4,000!

 

Dremel DigiLab 3D45
Source: Dremel DigiLab

 

Dremel DigiLab 3D45

The Dremel DigiLab 3D45 is a dependable machine that is relatively affordable, with a price point of $1,700. It can produce a layer thickness ranging from 50 to 300 microns, and the print area covers 10 x 6 x 6.7 inches. Since this 3D printer is easy to use, it is a common choice for classrooms or workshops that conduct training. 

 

 

 

Dremel DigiLab 3D45 Pros

When it comes to safety, ease of use, and reliability, the Dremel DigiLab 3D45 is great. The Bosch sensor technology that it has ensures that the machine is safe for any learning environment. Similarly, the carbon filters reduce odors and prevent the release of harmful VOCs. Another benefit of this machine is the excellent print quality, so long as you use the proprietary materials. Setting it up is straightforward too – you can almost use it right out of the box!

Dremel DigiLab 3D45 Cons 

Although the closed system is a benefit for safety, it creates a drawback when it comes to creativity. The quality of the prints you produce decreases when you use third-party filaments and the machine has a hard time with materials like nylon. If you want to use tools and materials outside of the Dremel ecosystem, it may not be the right machine for the job. 

MakerBot Replicator 3D Printer
Source: MakerBot

 

MakerBot Replicator

Next on our list is the MakerBot Replicator. This sturdy 3D printer starts at $1,999, and it can accomplish a lot more than a standard budget printer. It is much faster than older MakerBot models, and much quieter too.  The layer resolution reaches up to 100 microns, and the build volume is substantial at 11.6 x 7.6 x 6.5 inches. 

 

 

MakerBot Replicator Pros

A benefit of the MakerBot Replicator is that it is very quiet. It is much quieter than other models because it uses sound-dampening materials. The software is free and gives you access to many applications and CAD systems. It leads the industry when it comes to downloads, as other printers can use the MakerWare too. 

Another benefit of this 3D printer is that it is plug-and-play. All you need to do is take it out of the box, and you are just about ready to get started! The user community also helps, since there are always people willing to share ideas and help you solve any problems that you run into. 

MakerBot Replicator Cons 

A major disadvantage to choosing this model is that it does not work with ABS filament. The MakerBot Replicator Is ideal for their specialty PLA, but some users have complained that it does not work as well with other materials. An additional drawback to this 3D printer is that it has a weak acrylic build plate. Some have experienced problems where the plate is not flat enough to create certain models, it has even led some to purchase an aftermarket solution. 

Creality Ender 3
Source: Creality

 

Creality Ender 3

If you’re on a tight budget, look no further than the Creality Ender 3. This filament-based option is ideal for the price, considering it starts at only $240. The build area has a volume of 220 x 220 x 250 mm, and it uses a heated build plate to make printing easier.  Even though it is affordable, its attributes compete with even the most expensive printers! 

 

 

Creality Ender 3 Pros

By far the biggest advantage of this model is the price. It has a decent print volume and quality while staying affordable, and the open-source system is helpful. Likewise, it is compatible with flexible filament thanks to the tight filament path it has. The Creality Ender 3 is pretty compact and easy to assemble, so you shouldn’t expect to run into any difficulties there. 

Creality Ender 3 Cons 

This model isn’t perfect though, and the low price means that the print beds can be a bit flimsy. Other reviews also indicate that the base is known to wobble, so leveling it is difficult. The stepper motors and cooling fans are also very loud, so this is not the best choice for someone looking for a quiet solution. The interface on this 3D printer leaves a lot to be desired. You also have to manually calibrate it, which can be a hassle over time.

 

Peopoly Phenom Best 3D Printer
Source: Peopoly

 

 

Peopoly Phenom

The Peopoly Phenom is a big 3D printer, with one of the largest build areas available. It is 10.8 x 6.1 x 15.8 inches – so big is an understatement! This model has a 4K LCD screen with a resolution of up to 72 microns. It retails for just under $2,000, so it falls right in the middle of the price ranges on this list. 

 

 

 

 

Peopoly Phenom Pros

The cost of this machine is a huge pro, considering the print area and the wide variety of materials that it supports. It is more affordable than other leading resin printers, and you can print things almost 16 inches wide! 

Peopoly Phenom Cons 

The size of this machine can be a drawback, especially if you’re looking to store it in a small area. The Peopoly Phenom also struggles with noise control, so this 3D printer is much louder than some of its competitors. There are many complaints about the confusing interface, and there is no option for it to connect to Wi-Fi.

Artillery Sidewinder X1 V4 Best 3D Printer
Source: Artillery

 

 

Artillery Sidewinder X1 V4

The last 3D printer on our list is the Artillery Sidewinder X1 V4. This model only costs about $400 but still provides a broad set of features for beginners and those on a budget. It can handle many types of materials, including ABS, PLA, and TPU. the build volume is also decent, coming in at 11.8 x 11.8 x 15.75 inches. 

 

 

Artillery Sidewinder X1 V4 Pros

The Artillery Sidewinder X1 V4 is extremely quiet. It is also easy to put together since it almost comes assembled in the box. This 3D printer also heats up very fast, which can cut down on the time it takes to make your models. Overall, it is a very well-designed machine for the price. 

Artillery Sidewinder X1 V4 Cons 

A weak point on this particular model is the ribbon cables it uses. Even though this makes the printer looks sleek, they are prone to breaking, and the delicate wiring can cause uneven heat dissipation. There are also some known issues with the filament holder.

 

Which 3D printer Will You Choose?

As you can see, you have quite a few options when it comes to choosing the best 3D printer in 2021. Remember that you should base your choice on how you plan to use it, including which materials you expect to utilize the most.

If you’re new to 3D printing, consider the options with an easy interface and automatic calibration so you can let it do the heavy lifting for you. If you need to use varied materials are multiple colors, then that will determine your selection since not every 3D printer can manage those requirements.

All that’s left to do now is make a decision and enter the exciting world of 3D printing!

If you’d like to discover more about great 3d printers for 2021, you can check out our other lists or media websites like 3dnatives.

Best 3D Printers for 2021
3D metal printing is changing the way parts are made for those in the manufacturing and engineering field. It allows for parts to be made more quickly, precisely, and cheaper than ever before – even for complex and intricate parts.

3D metal printing is changing the way parts are made for those in the manufacturing and engineering field. It allows for parts to be made more quickly, precisely, and cheaper than ever before – even for complex and intricate parts.

So, what exactly is 3D metal printing and how does it work? 

 

What is 3D Metal Printing?

3D metal printing is the process of creating three-dimensional, solid, metal objects according to a set of instructions entered into the machine.

The first 3D metal printer was first developed for commercial use in the 1980s and has since become commonplace in manufacturing. Technological advances resulted to the growth in popularity. New objects can now be made very quickly while paying attention to detail and precision.

As the machinery improves and the appetite for these machines grow, the sophistication of projects is only getting better.

 

How Does A 3D Metal Printer Work?

In very basic terms, a 3D printer works using additive manufacturing technology to create a part using layers and layers of metal powder. A design is entered into the machine using a piece of software. The machine then follows this design to create the part by layering metal material on top of each other in very thin layers until the part is complete.

There’s no need to use tools like a hammer or a drill in the process and it is almost entirely contactless. The machines usually use a laser beam to make the finished product. Those in the field will know that metal can be an incredibly difficult material to work with. Thanks to advances in technology, we are now at the point where manufacturing businesses are using these 3D printers on a daily basis. It has truly changed the way these businesses work for good.

 

A General Process Of How A 3D Printer Works

  1. An inert gas is pumped into the build chamber of the printer. The purpose is to minimize the chance of oxidation in the metal powder. It is then heated to the optimal build temperature.
  2. A thin layer of metal powder is then spread over the build platform, and a high-powered laser scans the entire cross-section of the component, so it is familiar with the surface area and the proposed shape of the design. This also ensures that the part is made whole, without any need for joins. The metal particles in the powder are fused together to create a thin layer.
  3. When the machine has finished the scanning process, the build platform moves downwards by one layer of thickness. Another thin layer of metal powder is then spread out. This process is repeated as many times as necessary until the design is complete.
  4. When the part is completely made, it will still be attached to the build platform. It is allowed time to cool to room temperature when the excess powder is then manually removed, and the part is heat-treated while still attached to the build platform. The parts will then need to be detached from the build plate via cutting. They will then need some further processing after this by an operator.

 

What Are The Different Types Of 3D Metal Printers?

The main difference in the 3D printing types is in the way the metal powder is fused into metal parts by the printer.  You can find more information about types of 3D metal printers here.

Powder Bed Fusion is currently the most common type of metal 3D printing. In Powder Bed Fusion, a fine layer of metal powder is distributed over the build plate of the printer, and a cross-section of the part is melted selectively into the powder layer. 

Some of the different types of metal printing are: 

 

Selective Laser Melting (SLM) / Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS)

These machines use high-powered lasers to fuse metal layers into fully made parts. When the machine has finished printing, an operator will need to manually remove the part from the machine. They cut the part away from the build plate and carrying out the post-print processes. 

SLM is considered the general type of 3D metal printing, having been around for the longest time. Manufacturing businesses like to use SLM machines because the parts they create are generally very precise. Additionally, they can create complex shapes that would not be possible without the machinery. Different work areas use these machines as they are so versatile in the sizes and shapes they can make. The SLM machine uses a laser. Precision is determined by the width and height of the laser. 

Human interaction is needed post-processing. Hence, an experienced person is needed to operate these 3D printers. They are therefore not appropriate for use in the home or by people who do not know how to use them and are not professionals. The metal powder is extremely dangerous and expensive to handle so should not be used by someone unfamiliar with the process. 

Another reason why people don’t have these at home? They’re about $1 million to buy and are expensive to run. 

 

Electron Beam Melting (EBM)

EBM machines use an electron beam instead of a laser. These are nowhere near as commonly used as the SLM.

The difference between the two types of printers is that, while the electron beam is less precise than the SLM, it is much faster – especially when building large parts.

You’ll find these machines used mostly in aerospace and medical fields rather than anywhere else. They’re about the same price as the SLM machine to both buy and operate.

 

Powder DED and Wire DED

These are two types of Direct Energy Deposition 3D printing. These machines also use metal and a laser to fabricate parts the same as the above Powder Bed Fusion Printers.

The difference? The metal powder and the laser both sit on a single print head that both dispenses and fuses materials simultaneously. Powder DED machines precisely blow metal powder out of a print head onto a part using an on-head laser to fuse it to the part in the construction. In a wire DED machine, the material used is metal wire instead of powder.

These machines are generally used with larger projects that need faster print times. The only downfall is that these are not as precise as the SLM for example. Wire DED printers cost multi-million dollars and are therefore relatively uncommon in the field.

 

What Is The Process For Printing 3D Metals?

metal 3d printing

 

To start the process, a 3D metal printer needs computer-aided design (CAD) 3D printing software. Using the CAD software, an operator will produce a detailed image of how they want their finished product to look.

The operator needs to think about how they need the finished part to look from every angle. It can therefore take some time to get these designs right, especially when the part is particularly difficult in shape or detail.

Once the design has been completed and the operator is happy with the design, it will then need to be converted into an .STL format. The .STL, or stereolithography, will help the 3D printer to read the instructions you give it.

As mentioned above, the process uses the layering of metal material in an additive technique. A thin slice of the design is placed on the horizontal plane of the machine before the printing process can begin. The 3D printer will work exactly according to the design it is given, receiving its instructions from the computer. The laser is told what shape to trace out across the metal powder.

The laser then pulses and heats the metal powder, eventually creating a solid form of the object. This is when 3D printing can begin. Once there is an initial base created, the process of adding layers will begin.

Each of these layers is typically no thicker than 0.1mm thick and it is, therefore, a very gradual process, with the heat from the machine forming the solid shape.

 

What Can You Make with a 3D Metal Printer?

This is near enough limited by your imagination. This is exciting news for the engineering and manufacturing field as it means that designs that would have previously been too difficult or expensive to make are now possible.

Using a 3D printer takes away some of the difficulties of working with metal, meaning it can be shaped much more easily. As a result, it is so much easier to make incredibly intricate designs.

If you can design it with CAD software, it’s likely that your 3D printer can make it. Some examples of things that can be made using a 3D printer can be found here.

 

What Are The Benefits Of 3D Metal Printing?

The manufacturing sector is becoming more inventive, adaptive, and inquisitive than ever before with the use of 3D printers.

 

What are some of the benefits?

  • Safety. During the process, there is no contact between the laser and the metal powder. The laser beam simply helps to stimulate the 3D printing process. As a result, any potential danger to the operative is significantly reduced. 
  • Speed. Think about how long this process used to take when parts would have all needed to be handmade, one by one. While it still might take a couple of days to print some parts on the machine, compared to life pre-technology, this is incredibly fast and an extraordinary improvement. 
  • Flexibility. These 3D printing machines give you so much more opportunity to create shapes and designs that would otherwise simply not be possible, especially on a wholesale basis. 
  • Customizable. It is really easy to change your design if you need to, by simply pushing a few buttons. 
  • Cost-effective. While the initial outlay for a 3D printer is considerable, (i.e. in the region of $1 million) it is actually an economical option in the manufacturing field. You can create parts so much more quickly, efficiently, and accurately than you ever would have been able to before. 
  • Waste-free. The ink that has been unused in the process of 3D printing can be saved and reused again. 3D metal printing is such an eco-friendly process because it is zero waste. The way that the machine uses additive manufacturing means that there is no waste to clear away. You are simply creating a piece by adding layers rather than modeling a solid block into the right shape. 3D printing can help manufacturing businesses reduce their carbon footprint and be more mindful in their practices as to how much waste they produce. 

 

Any Other Questions?

How much does it cost to 3D print metal?

An SLM 3D printing machine can cost somewhere in the region of $1 million to buy and then there are costs associated with running the machine, especially since they need a qualified person to operate them.

Can metal be 3D printed?

Absolutely! While metal is well known for being difficult to work with, in the 3D printer, a metal powder is used instead of sheets of metal which makes it much easier to work with. The use of additive manufacturing also helps the metal printing process. It means that single, thin layers of metal are placed on top of each other to create a part. There is therefore no need to try and alter the shape of a solid piece of metal.

Is 3D printed metal strong?

It is stronger than something that has been welded for example as there are no joints that could cause weak spots. The design is made as a continuous piece that has been slowly and carefully built up one layer at a time.

Can you 3D print metal at home?

You can buy your own 3D metal printer to use at home! These vary in price and functionalities. Check out this article here for some more advice.

metal 3d printing
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