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3D Printing/Printer Specs

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Introduction[edit | edit source]

You may have read about how 3D printers can do amazing things in the news, like print houses, cars, or human organs. While these things are possible, they depend on both the technology used by the 3D printer and the skill of the operator. As of 2020 most consumer 3D printers top out at printing high quality plastics at up to a quarter of a meter cubed on the high end.

With that said, there are a number of factors in a 3D printer that can make printing easier, faster, and more enjoyable. Furthermore as a technology seeing slow but steady continued advancement, capabilities of printers continue to improve over time. With the open nature of many printers, those with a deep understanding of the field can push printers beyond their expected capabilities and achieve superior results.

Enclosures & Structure[edit | edit source]

A heated enclosure can assist the printing of certain materials.[1]

Safety benefits[edit | edit source]

3D printers with enclosures typically reduce the amount of particles exposed to the operator.[2] Enclosures also help reduce the chance of accidental contact with moving or hot parts.[3]

Computer[edit | edit source]

An early 3D printer controller.

3D printers use a built in computer to precisely control internal printer operation. The board containing the computer will determine things like a printer's ability to connect to a network, expansion headers, and what firmware can be run on the printer.[4][5]

3D printer microcontrollers are typically either simple and reliable 8-bit microcontrollers, or more capable and complex 32 bit ones.[6] A more capable controller used with software that leverages it's features can allow the 3D printer to handle more of it's tasks independently of a host computer,[7] as well as potentially operate the 3D printer faster while achieving greater print quality.[8]

Drivers[edit | edit source]

Many 3D printer controller boards include built in drivers, though some use external drivers.[4] High quality drivers can improve motor operation to be more efficient and thus reduce printer noise.[9][10]

Motors[edit | edit source]

Most 3D printers use stepper motors for to move parts with percision.[11]

Rarely, servo motors are used in special 3D printers to allow feedback to control systems.[12][13] However their high cost, increased complexity, and reduced reliability makes stepper motors the typical choice for most 3D printers.[14][15]

Print head[edit | edit source]

A printer head in operation. The pyramidal part directly above the print is the nozzle.
A part cooling fan can help improve print results with some materials.

The nozzle used has an impact on print resolution.[16]

Some nozzles are made out of exotic materials like ruby to enhance their durability.[17]

Bed[edit | edit source]

Magnetic plates, flexible beds, and Bed coatings can make them easier to print with, but also require special care to keep them working well.[18][19]

Autoleveling[edit | edit source]

Some 3D printers can probe the print bed prior to printing and autolevel it.[20] This makes setup simpler, and much less tedious.

Heated Bed[edit | edit source]

A heated bed is handy for reducing part warping, a common problem when printing on an unheated bed.[21]

Filament sensor[edit | edit source]

Filament sensors are used to allow the printer to detect jams, empty filament spools, and other quality control features.[22][23]

Camera[edit | edit source]

A camera can produce timelapse videos such as this.

When used with specialized software, a dedicated camera can create intriguing time lapses of prints.[24]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Bringing High Temperature 3D Printing To The Masses". Hackaday. 28 October 2020. Retrieved 6 November 2020.
  2. "3-D Printer Safety Environmental, Health & Safety". www.rit.edu. Retrieved 6 November 2020.
  3. "3D Printer Safety – Environment, Health, and Safety". Retrieved 6 November 2020.
  4. a b "32 Bit 3D Printer Board Comparison Chart". 3DAddict. 23 January 2018. Retrieved 29 November 2020.
  5. "2020 Best 3D Printer Controller Boards". All3DP. 11 October 2020. Retrieved 29 November 2020.
  6. "A 32-bit Boost For Your 3D Printer". Hackaday. 10 May 2019. Retrieved 6 November 2020.
  7. "Prusa Unveils New Mini 3D Printer, Shakes Up The Competition". Hackaday. 13 October 2019. Retrieved 6 November 2020.
  8. "Why Your Next 3D Printer Should Use a 32 Bit Controller". MechLounge. 10 January 2019. Retrieved 29 November 2020.
  9. Bush, Steve (11 June 2019). "TMC2209 - a part number you are going to hear more about in 3D printing (or maybe TMC5160)". Electronics Weekly. Retrieved 29 November 2020.
  10. "How to make your 3D printer smart and silent with the TMC2130! – Tom's 3D printing guides and reviews". Retrieved 29 November 2020.
  11. "Stepper Motor Mentor2". Retrieved 29 November 2020.
  12. "Is It A Stepper? Or Is It A Servo?". Hackaday. 30 April 2016. Retrieved 29 November 2020.
  13. Santos, Ramon; James, Justin; Chris, Taylor; Marshall, Stephen; Maalouf, Paul (1 June 2015). "Deltronic Solutions Delta 3D Printer". Mechanical Engineering. Retrieved 29 November 2020.
  14. "Stepper Motors vs Servo Motors – re:3D Life-Sized Affordable 3D Printing". Retrieved 29 November 2020.
  15. Florian, David. "How to Build a 3D Printer: Stepper Motors". www.drdflo.com. Retrieved 29 November 2020.
  16. "3D Equipment duPont-Ball Library". Retrieved 29 November 2020.
  17. "Rubies Are A 3D Printer's Best Friend". Hackaday. 30 November 2017. Retrieved 6 November 2020.
  18. "How to print on a powder-coated sheet". Prusa Printers. 7 June 2019. Retrieved 6 November 2020.
  19. "Improved Flexible Build Plate For SLA Is Ready To Rock". Hackaday. 26 October 2020. Retrieved 6 November 2020.
  20. "Prusa Dev Diaries #1: Mesh Bed Leveling". Prusa Printers. 20 September 2019. Retrieved 6 November 2020.
  21. "Heating Up A Printrbot's Bed". Hackaday. 16 June 2014. Retrieved 6 November 2020.
  22. "The Prusa I3 MK3S And A Tale Of Two Sensors". Hackaday. 8 October 2020. Retrieved 6 November 2020.
  23. "Stop Printing Air With A Filament Sensor". Hackaday. 4 March 2017. Retrieved 29 November 2020.
  24. "FormerLurker/Octolapse". 5 November 2020. Retrieved 6 November 2020.