3D Printers are amazing machines to own, and with their low-cost, it’s never been a better time to own one. There’s a great online community to support beginners get to grips with everything 3D printing. Before you rush to the shops, with a huge smile, to purchase your first 3D printer, there are some important aspects to consider to keep both you and your family safe, five of which will be looked at below.
1. Plastic Fumes
Unless you spend hundreds on a 3D printer, there’s a good chance your machine won’t have an air extractor. Therefore, choosing to store your 3D printer in a safe place is essential. On top of this, you also need to ask yourself: Is there enough room for the printer to function? A simple tug of wire can lead to a failure and a possible fire risk. Printing with materials like ABS (a petroleum-based filament) can be dangerous, so make sure the room is well ventilated. Keep machines in a place away from sleeping quarters with a window open.
2. Electrical Knowledge
Being confident in wiring your machine should be at the forefront of your mind. Before you even consider operating the machine, make sure you are safe. Always make sure the wires are connected to the right places and be prepared to check to wire regularly. If you are considering buying a machine and your electrical knowledge is weak, consider purchasing an assembled machine or asking someone qualified to help out.
3. Component Failures
Your first 3D printer might not be a state of the art machine. There’s a good reason high-end machines are in the hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars. That isn’t a bad thing, because your first 3D printer can be upgraded over time to print as well as those high-end machines. Remember that lower-priced machines have cheaper parts to keep the machine cost down so you should always prepare for any sudden breaks. Make sure you print off extra components as soon as you get your 3D printer and consider investing in better motors or motherboards. One essential piece to protect your machine is a MOSFET, which diverts excessive electricity and minimizes the risk of a fire. These can be bought cheaply.
4. Expanding Your Knowledge
Owning a 3D printer requires lots of learning, from knowing how to assemble your 3D printer (sometimes with poorly written instructions) to calibrating your machine and bed. On top of this, you’ll also have to learn how to use different software. Prepare to spend time browsing on forums, articles (like this one), and YouTube channels. There might even be times when you’ll have to understand some very simple coding if you want to make your 3D printer more efficient.
3D printers aren’t quiet. Even after you oil your printer bearings, purchase new “quiet” motors, the machine will still sound noisy, especially with vibration. The noise can make using a 3D printer less ideal to use at night, so if you’re planning to store and use in your bedroom, you might want to reconsider. Thanks to software such as Octoprint, if you are a raspberry pi owner, you can still use your 3D printer in places such as garages. Octoprint allows you to control and view your 3D printer using a mobile app and a camera, which can be fitted onto your 3D printer. The benefit is you don’t always have to keep checking on your 3D printer.
The 3D printing world is a great place, but you must enter both prepared and educated, to make it a fun and safe experience. So, before you purchase a 3D printer, make sure you have a safe and well-ventilated place where you can store your machine, a good understanding of mechanics and electrics (or access to someone who can assist you), and be prepared to continue learning even after you’ve built your 3D printer.