Have you ever been tempted to give 3D printing a try? Perhaps you fancy getting one to make artistic creations at home or to develop prototypes for your business?
Whether you want one for light professional use, or as a hobby accessory, you’ll want to be sure you’re buying a quality product.
Especially if you are new to the 3D printing scene, you will need to do a little research around the market to find out what is available and what will suit your needs.
You certainly don’t want to spend a lot of money on a printer that isn’t user-friendly and just confuses you. Nor do you want to buy one that’s super cheap and makes low-quality items that are no use to anyone. That would be such a waste.
One 3D printer that is a middle-of-the-range product is the Creality Ender 3. We have written this jargon-free review to help you make up your mind about whether it might be the right fit for you.
At the very least, it will give you some idea as to what you need to look out for and find out before you settle on a 3D printer.
What Is a 3D printer?
They aren’t exactly new technology, but they aren’t super common yet, either. Maybe you know someone who has a 3D printer, but it’s as likely that you don’t.
In case, you aren’t completely familiar with the technology, here’s a quick run-down of what you need to know about 3-D printers and how they work.
3D stands for three-dimensional and means that it creates things that you can see from many angles. A standard ink printer creates flat things on a piece of paper, whereas a 3D printer creates something that stands on a flat surface.
The best way to think of it is that a 2D printer could print a picture of a Dinosaur, but the 3D printer could create a model of a Dinosaur.
How Do They Work?
According to explainthatstuff.com, the “typical 3D printer is very much like an inkjet printer operated from a computer.
It builds up a 3D model one layer at a time, from the bottom upward, by repeatedly printing over the same area in a method known as fused depositional modeling (FDM).” So it prints in thin layers over the same space to eventually make something that is 3-dimensional.
Unlike an inkjet printer, 3D printers don’t print with ink. Instead, they use a composite plastic substance or a powder that is heated up to create a semi-liquid substance.
The layers are fused together as the machine creates, using UV light or special adhesive. Most domestic 3D printers use plastic filaments as modeling clay since they are fairly inexpensive to buy and produce.
Similar to a 3D pen, the printer has a thin nib or nozzle from which the molten plastic is ejected.
Unlike a 3D pen, though, the printer controls the movement of the nozzle to create precise designs from a computer blueprint. Your role is to input the design blueprints into the machine, and then the printer does the rest.
Introducing The Creality Ender 3 3D printer
This 3D printer is a sensible buy for a first-time 3D printer buyer or a seasoned dabbler. Before we get into the details of this particular printer, it’s worth mentioning that there are two editions of this particular printer.
Controversially, Comgrow, who manufactured the Ender 3 printer, sought customer advice from those who had used it to improve upon the design and features.
They then changed and adapted it according to the customer feedback and re-launched it under the same name.
We mention this, because if you were to purchase a second-hand version, then it’s likely you would be getting the first model and not the newer, upgraded version. In which case, a lot of this review may not make sense.
To be clear, we’ll be talking about the features, capacity, quality, and design of the Ender 3 re-imagined model, not the original. So, let’s get started.
When choosing a 3-dimensional printer, there are a few things to consider regarding the cost of the thing.
We’re starting with this because it’s what most people really want to know first. There’s not much point raving about the unsurpassable quality of the extruder if you don’t yet know if you can afford to buy one.
So, in terms of the price range, a hobby-quality 3D printer can cost you something in the region of $100 to $500. Professional-grade ones could cost around $1,500, but you don’t want one of those to start with.
If you want something to create 3D models of prototype items for work or fun ornaments for at home, then a hobby-type one will suit you just fine.
You can find the correct price for this printer on Amazon.com, but other retailers stock it too. However, it’s not just the price of the printer you need to think about when deciding on which printer to buy, or even if you will buy one at all.
You also need to budget for the cost of the plastic filament which supplies the printer. Just like if you wanted to buy an ink printer, when you had found a model that you liked the look of, you’d need to research the cost of the ink cartridges.
The printer may be cheap, but the ink cartridges can be disproportionately expensive.
You need a surprising amount of plastic filament to create a model, so don’t underestimate and leave yourself in a position where you have a half-finished model and no more plastic with which to finish it.
Replacement plastic filament is not the type of thing you can necessarily pick up at the grocery store, so you’ll likely need to order them online. The makers of the Creality Ender 3 stock compatible filament on Amazon. Follow the link to check out the prices.
[amazon fields=”B085NVCSWW” value=”thumb” image_size=”large”]
As we have mentioned, the design has been adjusted to improve performance. The unit itself is rather compact, so it’s suitable for home use.
It does require some assembly, but the build time for this 3D printer is around two hours or less, so it’s not as time-consuming as other 3D printers in the same price bracket.
The printer has two axes that allow the nozzle to move up, down, and left to right. Sort of like a grabber claw game at the arcade. This allows the nozzle to accurately control the direction of the flow of molten plastic composite for quality modeling.
The upgraded extruder (the fine-tipped nozzle where the plastic comes out) reduces the risk of clogging or plugging up of the tip, which would impede the flow of plastic material and halt production.
There is also a micro SD card reader fitted in the machine, and the printer is supplied with a compatible memory card. This contains some model blueprints for you to try out your new 3D printer.
Make sure you have purchased some filament spools to supply the printer, as you won’t have enough to create much with the filament supplied.
The print bed is the flat square surface on which the items are printed. Some printers have glass print beds, but the Ender 3 does not.
However, it is detachable, so you can replace it with a glass bed if you prefer. Also, the material of the print bed is pliable enough that your creations would pop off with little trouble when they are finished, so it seems ideal.
If you are new to 3D printing, we can only try to impress upon you how notoriously slow 3D printers are.
You’re probably expecting some futuristic, high-speed machine out of a science fiction movie, but the reality is that watching a 3D printer work is akin to watching paint dry.
While the print bed and axis height and width capacity may be large, you wouldn’t necessarily want to choose to create something that large to start with.
To give you some idea, the little dog in the example blueprints takes around five and a half hours to complete. The smaller boat design takes less than two hours because of its size.
Having said this, it is important to note that while this speed of production appears to make glaciers seem fast, this is comparably fast when thinking about other 3D printers around the same price.
The quality is excellent for these products too, so nothing to complain about here.
Overall, the quality of the Ender 3 leaves little to be desired from it. Especially given that it’s far from the priciest option out there. If you want quality products, without the professional price tag, you could do much worse than to get this printer.
Those who have reviewed it have said it is a good choice for a novice, while others have said they have chosen to upgrade to this printer after a starter one.
If you want something a little faster and more precise, you’ll have to pay around an extra $120 for a 3D printer with dual extruders, so think about what you’ll be using it for carefully before you buy.
Alternatively, you could get something a little cheaper, with half the precision. It depends on what you want, but this 3D printer is a great mid-range variety that will suit most domestic or hobbyist requirements.
The Ender 3 is a great middle-of-the-range 3-dimensional printer. It would certainly suit a first-time 3D printer purchase and performs with precision. It is relatively user-friendly and is reasonably priced.
If you want a superfast high definition 3D printer, you might not feel that the Ender 3 fits the bill, but if you have reasonable expectations of what a hobbyist or domestic 3D printer can accomplish, then you will not be disappointed with your purchase.
As with any 3D printer, we advise that you factor in the running costs of the printer as well as the initial price of the printer itself. Remember to cost up the plastic composite that you’ll use for printing, as well as energy costs where it will be running for long periods of time.
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