3D printers are revolutionizing our manufacturing processes. They allow you to create real objects from 3D files. They are increasingly used by professionals and individuals in various fields ranging from DIY to creative hobbies, to the most demanding uses in industry, crafts, design and the medical sector. Usually, the manufacture of an object is done by subtracting material (subtractive manufacturing). The carpenter carves in wood to remove material and create a functional form, just as a machinist does with metal or a sculptor with stone. Unlike these techniques, a 3D printer creates objects and shapes by adding material in a localized way. We are talking about additive manufacturing: layer after layer, the 3D printer will superimpose material until the part desired by the user is created.
How does a 3D printer work?
The operation of a 3D printer depends on the manufacturing process in place. Among the most used methods are:
- Deposit of material
- Solidification of matter
- Agglomeration of matter
These manufacturing techniques are based on the same operating principle: adding material layer by layer from a 3D file to create a real object. Regardless of the process used, the user will need a 3D printer, consumables (filament, resin, powder, etc.), a 3D file (.STL, .OBJ), a slicer (preview software that allows to transmit the 3D file and the printing instructions to the 3D printer) and of course a computer.
The main differences between additive manufacturing processes lie in the material used as well as in the way the layers are superimposed.
The different technologies of 3D printers
FDM 3D Printer (FDM)
FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) 3D printers are the most common 3D printers and also the easiest to use. FDM 3D printer brands such as Zortrax, Tiertime, Raise3D, Intamsys, Flashforge, Zmorph, Formlabs, Sinterit, SprintRay, Uniz, Constructions-3D ou encore Makerbot are all available in our catalog in the 3D PRINTERS section. The operating principle of filament deposition 3D printers is simple: a material (usually a thermoplastic) is heated and extruded through a nozzle following coordinates provided by the slicer. Once extruded, the filament cools immediately which gives it strong properties. As soon as it is cooled, it is ready to receive new layers of material until the object is completely formed.
What are the benefits of FDM 3D printers?
Filament 3D printers are suitable for most uses. They are particularly appreciated for their simplicity and low cost of use, as well as for their speed and accuracy of printing. They are used in many areas ranging from creative hobbies and DIY for individuals to prototyping and small series manufacturing for industrial uses.
Resin 3D printer (SLA, DLP, DPP, LCD)
Resin 3D printers work on the principle of photopolymerization. A photopolymer resin is placed in a tray. Lasers or an LCD screen produce a light beam that draws the shape to be printed on the surface of the resin very precisely. In contact with UV light, the resin solidifies and clings to the platform. After each layer, the platform is again immersed in the resin tank so that a new layer can be solidified. Unlike FDM 3D printers which print from bottom to top, resin 3D printers print from top to bottom. Once the additive manufacturing is finished, it is necessary to perform the post-processing of the part. The object printed in 3D with a resin 3D printer must be cleaned in an isopropyl alcohol bath and then hardened in an ultraviolet oven.
What are the advantages of resin 3D printers?
Resin 3D printers are appreciated for their exceptional precision. Thanks to their fineness of printing, it is possible to print objects in 3D without being able to differentiate the different printing layers. It is for this reason that the medical sector and in particular dentistry (dentists, orthodontists, dental laboratories and prosthetists) use resin 3D printers to print prostheses and dental arches in 3D.
SLS 3D printer
SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) 3D printers work on the same principle as SLA 3D printers, but using powder instead of liquid photopolymer resin. A powerful and precise laser solidifies the powder in a localized way. By heating, the powder becomes solid and agglomerates with the previous layers. Between each layer of printing, the powder is leveled and the process begins again.
What are the advantages of SLS 3D printers?
SLS 3D printer technology is starting to democratize and is becoming more and more accessible. SLS sintering 3D printers like the Sinterit Lisa Pro have simplified their use. SLS 3D printers offer formidable precision and allow you to 3D print objects and small series without printing supports. This allows to print directly functional mechanisms in print output. For example, it is possible to print a spring, a car with rolling wheels and all kinds of mechanisms combining moving parts and fixed parts. Just like with resin 3D printers, parts printed in SLS have no visible layers. Moreover, since the parts are 3D printed with very high precision, they require little or no post-processing (light sandblasting can be done locally to obtain an even smoother part).
What are the best professional 3D printers?
Some uses require specific 3D printers. There are as many varieties of 3D printers today as there are possible use cases. Specialized 3D printers are used for mass production, prototyping and customization (mass-customization) in a growing number of sectors and with many materials, from plastic through carbon and metal… to concrete for 3D printing of buildings! Professional 3D printers make it possible to create unique pieces at a very low price compared to artisanal methods or traditional industrial production.
Production 3D printers
Professional 3D printers make it possible to create unique pieces at a very low price compared to artisanal methods or traditional industrial production (creation of moulds, injection, etc.). Professional 3D printers are designed to meet the high demands and advanced uses of businesses. They are developed to offer a high level of reliability, precision and repeatability in order to simplify the production processes of the companies, as well as to improve the output and the productivity.
Large format 3D printers
Large format 3D printers meet the needs of users looking for large volume 3D printing. They make it easier and faster to print large parts without seams. Large format 3D printers also make it possible to manufacture parts in small series, volume production and mass customization. Mass production with large format 3D printers reduces lead times and production costs for equivalent or higher quality. As it is a local production, 3D printers reduce the carbon footprint of the activity as well as the costs associated with the transport of goods.
Dual extrusion 3D printers
Dual extrusion 3D printers such as the Raise3D Pro3, la Flashforge Creator 3 et 3Pro la Tiertime UP300D et UP300 ou encore la Zortrax M300 Dual multiply the possibilities offered by additive manufacturing. The combination of different materials makes it possible to create more complex parts with variations of materials and materials and thus to respond to specific orders and specifications. One of the advantages of dual extrusion also lies in the possibility of using a soluble filament for the creation of support. This technique reduces (or even completely eliminates) post-production and part cleaning constraints. Once the part and its supports have been 3D printed, all you have to do is immerse it in water to make the printing supports disappear.
Professional 3D printers
Machines-3D supports large companies, SMEs, artisans, architects, industry and the medical sector through the digitization of their manufacturing processes. Our solutions include the tools and training necessary for the design of rapid and functional prototyping, design validation or the production of finished parts. Our ambition is to meet the needs of professionals by providing them with powerful and easy-to-use tools. Our 3D printing solutions meet the high demands of professionals. They correspond to companies wishing to launch production in-house, without resorting to an external service provider or as a substitute for traditional manufacturing processes.
Medical 3D printers
The medical sector benefits greatly from technological advances in 3D printing. 3D printers like the Formlabs 3B are used in medicine to create prostheses, study models, surgical templates. Some 3D printers can even print living tissue!
Dental 3D printers
Dental 3D printers such as the Sprintray Pro or the Shining 3D Accufab-D1 are used in particular by dental laboratories, orthodontists and dentists to 3D print dental arches or study models. These arches can then be thermoformed to make alignment gutters. Dental technicians also use additive manufacturing to 3D print cast-out resin moulds. These molds can then be filled with a material to make a prosthetic tooth.
3D printers for occupational therapy and podiatry
Occupational therapists and podiatrists are beginning to embrace additive manufacturing to design functional treatments and custom-made prostheses. The functional pathologies of the patients being unique, it was expensive and time-consuming to produce prostheses adapted to each morphology. Thanks to 3D printing, it is possible to 3D print prostheses, orthopedic insoles or technical aids to improve living comfort and facilitate patient autonomy.
What is a 3D printer farm?
Thanks to 3D printing farms, it is possible to break free from traditional manufacturing methods. If individually the manufacturing times of 3D printers cannot compete with production chains, by pooling large quantities of printers it becomes possible to launch object production in large quantities. Combined with a conveyor and a tray loader, some 3D printers like the Tiertime X5 are even able to print autonomously and continuously with very little human intervention. Production in a 3D printing farm allows excellent control of the cost price per product without resorting to economies of scale by manufacturing a product in too large quantities. Indeed, traditional production is based on logistics and a significant initial cost (specific machines, raw materials, moulds, labour, etc.). Conversely, additive manufacturing shines with its versatility: a single machine is capable of printing a very wide variety of objects. This makes it possible, among other things, to create product variations very simply, or even to customize products at a lower cost (mass customization).
3D printers and consumables
3D printers are compatible with a wide selection of materials. The most common consumables are filaments for filament deposition 3D printers and liquid resin for resin 3D printers (SLA, UV DLP, DPP or UV LCD).
Filaments for 3D printers
Machines-3D offers a wide range of filaments (PLA filaments, ABS filaments, PETG filaments, flexible filaments, soluble filaments, Polycarbonate filament, Nylon filament, PEEK filament, medical filament, antibacterial filaments, etc.). Our filaments are made in Europe and are tested to ensure remarkable reliability and printing precision on our 3D printers. We also offer filaments from major brands such as Zortrax, Tiertime, Machines-3d, Intamsys, Flashforge, Zmorph, Raise3D, BASF, Kimya, Formfutura, eSun, 3DXTech or Makerbot
Resins for 3D printers
Machines-3D has selected for you the best resin brands available such as Photocentric, Sprintray, Nextdent, Bluecast, Zortrax, Formlabs, eSun, Keysplint, Basf Forward AM and Shining 3D on the market. We offer resins adapted to your uses for quality 3D printing. Find our wide range of resins designed for the medical and dental sectors.
Filament diameter compatible with your 3D printer
There are several filament diameters that differ according to the brands of 3D printers. The most common filament diameters are 1.75mm and 2.85mm. The filament diameter does not affect the quality of the 3D print. However, you must know it before buying filament spools in order to be sure of compatibility with your 3D printer. To be sure to buy the right filament for your 3D printer, do not hesitate to contact our technical team who will be happy to help you in your choice.
The characteristics of the best 3D printers
Before buying a 3D printer, you must study its characteristics to be sure to buy a model that meets your needs. At Machines-3D, we test all our printers with very rigorous criteria to ensure a high level of performance. Our selection criteria are the types of compatible materials, the brand, the resolution, the printing speed, the price, the software compatibility, the connectivity, the surface and the volume of printing.
How to choose a 3D printer?
It is sometimes difficult to find your way among the wide variety of 3D printers available on the market. To be sure to make the right choice, Machines-3D provides you with a team of specialized technicians to advise you on the best 3D printers for your use and within your budget.
Buy a 3D printer
Acquiring a 3D printer from Machines-3D means choosing a specialized store, based in France and at the service of its customers. Our work does not stop with the purchase of your 3D printer: at Machines-3D, we follow our customers and we help them throughout the duration of their project. We are proud to have the trust of many companies and large groups and to build, with you, the European leader in 3D printing.
Buying a 3D printer from Machines-3D means above all:
- Pre-purchase advice provided by a customer service specializing in additive technologies,
- Delivery within 24 hours for products in stock,
- A responsive after-sales service based in France (in Valenciennes),
- A guarantee and advice on the use of all our products,
- On-site or remote training to learn how to use 3D printers and model your own parts,
- Content to help you make the right choice and maintain your 3D printer (guides, tutorials, technical tests, equipment trials and demonstrations, 3D printing samples, 3D printer comparisons).
- The best value for money on the European market.
Where to find our 3D printers?
Machines-3D equips individuals and makers, large companies, SMEs, schools and a large number of public and private institutions with 3D printers (fablabs, libraries, laboratories, universities, high schools, schools, architects, artisans, start-ups, etc.).
If you want to try our 3D printers, we invite you to our premises located within the Citadelle des Savoir-Faire in Bruay-sur-l'Escaut.