Once perceived as prohibitively expensive and only for specialists in industry, 3D printers are now affordable for people who want to get creative in their own home. BRESSER 3D printers are easy to use and offer excellent value for money. Even as a beginner, you can explore the almost unlimited possibilities of 3D printing technology.
What you can do with a 3D printer
You can explore the 3D printing world with a (free) CAD program and a little practice, or with the countless 3D printer templates available on the Internet. The areas of application are as diverse as the users themselves. Here are just a few ideas of what you can do with your 3D printer:
Personalised gifts – name tags for your children's bedroom, funny toy figures and home-made cookie cutters
Handy everyday accessories – bottle holders for your bike, door stoppers, reusable templates, soap holders
Model components – small works of art or tailor-made spare parts
The possibilities are endless!
However, you do not have to start directly with your own 3D models. If you are new to the world of 3D printers, you can find a huge archive of creative templates on the Internet to help you get started – many users like to make their 3D printer templates available for free download. If you want to go further and implement your own ideas, you will find a range of very good free CAD programs online.
Layering: how a 3D printer works
Over the years, a number of 3D printing processes have become established. The so-called Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) process is most popular for home printing. FFF is an additive process. In a nutshell, it involves the following stages:
1. Prerequisite Whether you use an existing template or create your own, the object you want to print must be available in digital form as a 3D model.
2. Preparation A special printing program – the so-called slicer software – generates executable instructions for the 3D printer from the file. To do this, it divides the object into thin layers and describes the movements of the extruder which are required for printing. BRESSER 3D printers include the REXprint slicer software. This allows STL files to be converted to G or GX files for printing. Depending on the model, you can then transfer them to the 3D printer via a USB cable, a USB stick or conveniently via Wi-Fi.
3. Printing The printing material for 3D printers has a very small diameter, e.g. 1.75 mm, and is mounted on rolls. During the printing process, this filament is passed through the print head, where it is heated. The extruder then travels over the print bed via the paths calculated by the slicer program, and the liquid filament is dispensed from the nozzle. This is how the 3D printed object is created layer by layer.
4. Result When the filament cools down, the layers stick together. The 3D printed object is then ready for use. Note: For complex models with overhanging parts, a support structure is usually required to ensure a good print result. This is made of a special carrier material and removed after printing. 3D printers with a dual extruder are particularly suitable for this, because they can process two different materials at the same time with their two nozzles.
Filaments – the essential ingredient in 3D printing
Among 3D printer filaments, two types in particular are very popular: PLA (polylactide or polylactic acid) and ABS (acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene). The following section compares the key properties of the two plastics:
Easy to process
More difficult to process
Releases unpleasant odours when printing
Low melting point
Temperature and impact-resistant
No heated print bed required
Heated print bed required
You must always take these properties into account when selecting the material for your 3D printed object. For example, with PLA filaments, you should not print out objects that will come into contact with heat. However, PLA is easy to process, and is therefore perfect for 3D printing beginners. This type of filament is also better for the environment, because it is biodegradable.
When working with ABS, you must ensure that there is very good ventilation, as it can generate an intensive odour during the printing process. The BRESSER 3D printers are ideal for processing this material, as they feature a sealed housing. If you want to be on the safe side, you can choose a model with an air filter. ABS is more difficult to process and requires a 3D printer with a heated print bed. However, it produces a very durable and solid printing result. In addition, the printed object is easier to touch up (e.g. via grinding or polishing).
Buying your first 3D printer - what should I look out for?
Print volume How big you can implement your three-dimensional ideas with a 3D printer depends mainly on the printing or build volume. This refers to the maximum dimensions that a printed object can have.
Volume and size As with most devices, the same applies to the 3D printer: it can't work completely without noise. Of course, there are differences. And these should be taken into account in the purchase decision, e.g. if the 3D printer is to be installed in the office or study. Of course, size also plays a role. For compact 3D printers, it is easy to find a place where the important good ventilation is ensured. With larger models, on the other hand, this can be a challenge.
Data transmission In order to ensure that the finished 3D template can be processed by the printer, it must be transferred to the device. There are a number of different ways to do this. Most 3D printers can be connected directly to your computer via a USB cable. In addition, depending on the model, you can also send the print data via SD card, Wi-Fi or the cloud.
Layer thickness Layer thickness or height affects the fineness of the 3D print. A thinner filament layer produces a smoother printed object with fewer grooves.
Speed If you’re familiar with the principles of 3D printing, you’ll know that 3D printer mills grind slowly. Even small objects take hours to make before you can hold them in your hand. If you want quick results, it is worth comparing the printing speed.
Features If you’re looking for flexibility and user-friendliness, don’t forget to take a look at the features. For example, a 3D printer with an auto-levelling function can align the build platform optimally for printing. A heated print bed, on the other hand, is necessary for certain printing materials, such as ABS. However, it can also have a positive effect on print quality for less complicated materials such as PLA. 3D printers with two extruders, on the other hand, allow you to print quickly and easily in two different colours and/or materials. An integrated camera is another great feature, as it enables you to follow the realization of your ideas in real time.
A matter of cleanliness - how do I clean my 3D printer?
Accuracy plays an important role in 3D printing technology. The lower layers in particular must be placed exactly so that the printed object is straight. Remnants of the filament can stick to the build platform, especially with unheated print beds. In general, it is a good idea to clean the platform before you start the next project in your 3D printer. You can clean the platform with isopropanol. You should also clean the other parts from time to time. The nozzles in particular have a tendency to become blocked.