How to make the right decision when purchasing a 3D printer: What is the right technology for me?
Once you have answered the basic questions to justify the purchase of a 3D printer (please refer to my previous post), you need to determine which technology fits your real needs, has a clear projection to the future, and offers the most options.
Rapid prototyping technologies have been evolving for more than 15 years. Some have become obsolete, some are still active, and just a few show a clear evolution and a promising future. When you evaluate RP technologies, look forward, and think, which of the current technologies show a real evolution in the short and long term? Your 3D printer could become a long term investment or an exhibit in a museum!
When it comes to the specific needs of a prototype, keep this in mind:
- In some cases a quick approximation to the shape of your product is enough.
- In most cases, high detail and surface finish is necessary to have an accurate perception about what your product is going to look like.
- A closer approximation to the real materials used in your product will give you a better idea of how your product is going to work in real life. Most of current products are made out of more than one material.
- A technology that allows you to apply extra finishing processes to prototypes will save you time in the design validation process. Painting, metal coating, sanding, machining and dying will add a lot of “reality” to your parts. Not all the technologies allow you to take full advantage of finishing processes.
If you want to know how world class companies have benefited from having in-house 3D printing solutions, please read some case studies on the Objet website.
Stay tuned for the next chapter: Is my budget in line with my needs?
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