Before you buy a 3D Printer

If you are reading this text you are probably thinking about buying a 3d printer, or maybe you have already bought it?

Either way, you will encounter many new terms and opinions about what is right and what is wrong.

At 3D Prima we have sold printers and filaments since 2014. During this time, we have gathered a lot of knowledge from our customers, and by using printers ourselves. If you are an old user the tips & tricks we are writing here shouldn´t come as any surprise to you, but if you are a new user – we hope that we can help you along the way.

Some short advice before you buy:

Try and figure out what your needs are. Will you use the printer for hoppy use or is meant to be a professional printer?

At 3D Prima you will find a wide range of printers in all price ranges. Everything from good value fist-time-user machines to advanced printers with industrial capacity.

As a hobby user maybe a cheaper printer is the right one for you?

“I´ve should have bought a better printer from the start”

We usually give the advice to new customers to buy a cheap printer to start with, and to find out if this is something for you. The other option is to go with something a little more advanced and a step up in the price range.

It´s very common that people buy something “in between”, only to find out a few months later that they want something even better.

What are you printing and what are the prints being used for? Is it for home use and “fun stuff”? Then you can concentrate on a entry printer that works well with PLA and PETG.
From Prima Creator and 3D Prima you can find a lot of PLA and PETG that suits most needs and works great with most printers.

“What? PLA is PLA, doesn´t matter where I get it”

Although a filament is called PLA there could be huge differences. On the market there are many “cheap” filaments. It doesn´t have to be a bad filament just because it´s cheap – far from it. But many of the cheaper brands often comes from factories where it can be hard to trace where the raw material comes from, and the environment for the workers are not up to par.

Almost all raw material comes from a few large manufactures in the world and are then sold to a filament manufacturer as pellets. The filament manufacturer the refines the pellets into filament.
All filament that are sold via 3D Prima and Prima Creator comes from the Netherlands, Italy, and in some cases China (where the factories are checked). All R&D is made locally and is handled by a team of total 16 plastic experts.

It´s these people that creates all new “recipes” that later on ends up as a finished filament.

PrimaSELECT PLA and Tough PLA is an excellent example on how you take a raw material of very high quality and then ads different enhancement to create a new, even better product. PLA is normally very brittle and breaks easy. Thanks to an added “impact modifier” a PLA with totally different characteristics is produced. Much stronger than regular PLA, but still as easy to print.

Would you like to know more? Read our filament guide

3D Printers for home use can today be found in almost every price range, but the once in the 200-800 Euro range are the most popular. In this range there´s a lot of different printers to choose from.

Keep in mind that printers in this range often comes as a DIY kit or partially assembled and that you have to put some time and effort into it. This is of course nothing of importance if you have some technical interest or are used to assemble things. Even if you´re not there will always be clear instructions on how to assemble the printer.

“I don´t want to have to make a lot of complicated settings”

Another aspect to keep in mind when you choose a printer from the lower end of the price range is that you have be prepared to “tinker” more with the settings to find the best one. For some this is the charm, and for some it´s just annoying.

There are, of course, exceptions from the rule and Prima Creator P120 is a good example. In this case you can get a very affordable printer that are ready to use more or less straight out of the box. The compromise you do with a printer like this is that it´s a bit smaller than others. We think it´s a good thing since this is a perfect “second printer” when the time comes, and you want to upgrade to a larger printer.

When you take a step up in the price range to 800-3000 EURO, you will get a printer which is much more mature and more developed. It could be a brand-new model from a well-known manufacturer or a older model that has been updated for many years. FlashForge Creator Pro is a printer that was in our lineup for 5 years but was continuously updated and was easy to modify. Most printers only have a lifespan that is much shorter than that, so to last for 5 years is very good. This model has now been replaced with Creator Pro 2.

With printers like this you still have to do some settings manually, but everything is much easier to understand, and the printers comes pre-assembled – ready to use. The printers in this range are printers you can grow and develop with.

When we reach price points of 3000 and up there are large differences compared to cheaper printers. These printers are often used by experienced users and small to medium industrial use. The printers in this groups often have one or more extruders for use with different materials.

Please feel free to contact us if you need assistance to choose the right printer.

Regardless of which printer you buy, there´s a few things you can keep in mind.

“How do I know what accessories I need to get?”

  • Make sure the printer has a heated build plate. It´s nothing that is absolute, but it makes everything easier, especially if you want to use other types of filament except. If you want to use for example PETG or ABS, a heated build plate is necessary. The build plate should be able to reach temperatures of 100°C. Also check so you have a PSU that can handle these effects.
  • Check so there are spare parts and support available. This is especially important if you buy a printer from a website that you maybe normally don´t buy items from.
  • To most printers there are a test pieces included, sometimes a whole spool. Please keep in mind that the included filament often is of lower quality than the ones you will (probably) buy in the future, and that they in many cases don´t give a accurate picture of the full potential of your printer.
    That´s the why we always recommend to buy 1-2 spools at the same time as your printer. Then you will have a good reference point. Take look at our filament guide here
  • To make your print really stick to your build plate we recommend that you use some type of adhesive, for example PrimaFIX. This product will help you with a few different things. PrimaFIX activates when your build plate reaches 40°C and then your print will stick very good to your build surface. When the print is done, and you let it cool the adhesive will de-activate and “release” the print. Read more about PrimaFIX here
  • An extra set of nozzles is always good to have if the nozzle that´s included should clog (which always happens at the worst possible moment). Most of the time you can fix your nozzle, but it´s time consuming and very annoying. The nozzles from Prima Creator are often of higher quality then the nozzles included with the printer. They are available to most printers on the market and are also available in different materials. If you buy them in a set of 4 they are also very affordable. If you don´t know what nozzle to use with your printer, please contact us and we will assist you.
  • A cleaning kit doesn´t cost that much but it´s a item that is easy to forget and very useful once you need it.

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