Pitfalls to be aware of with your 3D printing service.
3D printing continues to develop and to be a big influence in developing concept ideas to a prototype part to check ‘Fit, Form & Function’ and now being used on production components.
However, like all manufacturing processes & services there are potential pitfalls and the 3D printing industry suffer from these also.
Some of these are more obvious than others, but worth a mention.
There is a lot of cheap low-end 3D printers out there which are being used to provide a cheap low-end service, so keep the following in mind:-
• Accuracy – This is obvious when you compare the difference between a cheap low-end printer and a professional printer. Professional printers print to accuracies of 16-micron print layers, while a low-end printer may be printing to accuracy 20 times worse than that. This is also evident in the finish quality.
• Materials – High-end printers can handle more complex materials and these are more suited to the demanding environments they are used in. The choice of material is increasing all the time to meet the demanding requirements. Materials must be durable and withstand the wear and tear of routine use which cheap materials don’t always provide this.
• Speed – The printers are becoming faster, allowing in some cases parts to be produced in a matter of hours without sacrificing quality or accuracy.
• Materials – low-cost printers don’t support multi-materials. The materials can differ in more than just colour; they can be translucent or even flexible and rubber-like (as opposed to rigid). A high-end 3D print service will help you select the correct suitable material you need for your project. A low-end / ‘Ghost’ supplier simply won’t be able to offer this support.
• Quality – As mentioned under accuracy, cheaper 3D printers will generate a finish that can be noticeable ‘stepping’ or ‘layering’ on the part.