Many Fabbaloo readers own their own 3D printer, while others contemplate buying one. But should you?
There are plenty of good reasons for having a 3D printer at your disposal, not the least of which is the ability to rapidly build almost any type of plastic part you might require. But there are some cases where it might not be advisable to buy your own 3D printer and operate it at home.
You Can’t Afford It
Sure, there are some pretty inexpensive 3D printers available today, even around the US$200 mark. That’s a low price, but for that price you often receive not only a very basic machine, but one that will potentially require considerable tuning and even some modifications to work reliably. To avoid this effort, you’d have to buy a more expensive device, but that might be out of your budget.
Don’t buy a 3D printer unless you can afford the type of machine you really need.
You Have Only One Project To Do
While it’s exciting to 3D print objects, many people stall after a few weeks of usage simply because they run out of things to print. It’s possible to browse online 3D model repositories like Thingiverse or PrusaPrinters to find more printable content, but you could be just trying to justify the purchase unless you actually need or want the items printed.
Don’t buy a 3D printer unless you’re confident you have a notion of what you intend on doing with it for the long term.
You Don’t Know CAD
It’s easy to 3D print pre-made 3D models, but soon after that you’ll want to print your own designs. But do you know how to produce them? Learning proper 3D CAD tools is a nontrivial task, and depending on the tool you choose it could also be expensive.
Don’t buy a 3D printer unless you already know a CAD tool or have the intention of eventually learning how to use one, and have the time and money to do so.
You Have No Ventilation
The truth is that most 3D printers do emit some noxious materials, and it’s more than just nasty odors. They also emit undetectable nanoparticles that could be breathed in and who knows what kind of long-term health issues that may cause.
Don’t buy a 3D printer unless you have a properly ventilated area in which to place the device, or intend on setting that up.
Someone Won’t Like The Noise
Many 3D printers, aside from the most recent devices, are pretty noisy. The stepper motors driving the motion system can buzz repeatedly as they move axes back and forth. Depending on the location of your device, there could be an annoying noise echoing through the home and that could be quite annoying to anyone not as excited about 3D printing as you are.
Don’t buy a 3D printer unless you are certain you can keep it quiet or there’s no one else to hear it.
Or The Smell
Even with ventilation, desktop 3D printers do emit odors. Some of them are pleasant, but most are awful plastic smells that could put off almost anyone. The smells vary by material, and that means you might suddenly find your home smelling awful if using a new filament. And don’t get me started about resin 3D printer materials.
Don’t buy a 3D printer unless you’re willing to smell nasty odors during print operations.
You Have Pets Or Very Small Children
Most desktop 3D printers are “open style” in which the moving parts and hot end are exposed to the air. This results in a lower price for the machine, but also introduces the possibility of an accident, should someone or something stick an appendage into the wrong part of the device.
This could happen if you happen to have very small inquisitive children on the loose or even pets that might stick their nose into the wrong area and suddenly find themselves trapped or even burned. Not safe!
Don’t buy a 3D printer if you have small children or pets that cannot be properly secured from the 3D printer.
You’re Not A Fix-it Type
Desktop 3D printers are not exactly like other household appliances: they break and you have to fix them. Your toaster likely will last decades without incident, but your 3D printer will last mere hours until something goes awry.
Even worse, while you could call someone to drop by and fix your broken dishwasher, you can’t easily do that for a broken 3D printer. There just aren’t a lot of service companies yet.
Don’t buy a 3D printer unless you are prepared to do some fixing on your own.
And there you have eight reasons why you might consider NOT buying a 3D printer for your home. They are now in the price range of many people, but there are more factors to consider.