In a time when rapid prototyping is the need of the hour for most brands, 3D printing is something that can make or break the product plan. Though 3D printing and printers have been long in the market they’ve picked up pace in recent times.
For those of you, who aren’t familiar with 3D printing, it’s also called additive manufacturing (AM). Its a technology used to manufacture three-dimensional objects. 3D printers usually use plastic polymer materials due to the sheer size and cost (but also occasionally metal) and form objects by adhering layers to each other in succession.
3D Printing and printers use computer-aided designs or CAD models to churn out finished products. Depending on the complexity of the project, these models are sliced into individual layers and then printed. Depending on the amount of dough you are ready to put and the application that you need, the type of printers and their driving technology changes.
For anyone looking to get into the 3D printing game, there are printers starting for $200 targeted at hobbyists while there is no upper limit on these. For Industrial applications, these 3D printers can go upwards of $100,000. But if we had to point out the most common types of printing techniques, they will be the Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) (FDM), Stereolithography (SLA), and Selective Laser Sintering (SLS).
3D printing offers many advantages over traditional manufacturing technologies. It is a disruptive technology that is aimed at businesses that invest in additive manufacturing and are looking at cutting edge tech. Some of the 3D printers in our list can even use Copper as a material apart from the standard metals, plastic, fiberglass, carbon fiber and even Kevlar.
In this guide, we are targeting mainly the printers used in industrial settings. Some of the products included here might be from a well-known brand in the 3D printing space.
Konica Minolta Metal X
Konica Minolta Metal X is fast becoming the most affordable, reliable, and easy to use, 3D print system that gives you everything you need to go from design to fully functional metal parts faster than ever before. It is the flagship product from the brand with a price tag of upwards of $100,000. This uses ADAM technique to churn out products. This is the 4th generation product and comes with an all-aluminium unibody and print system.
One of the USPs of the Metal X is the fact that it is up to 10x less expensive than alternative metal additive manufacturing technologies currently in the market. The printer comes with a Cloud-based 3D printer management software and built-in touchscreen interface making it easier to use and work with. The build chamber on the printer is enclosed and the ultra-quiet motion system is environmentally friendly. The printer can use Stainless steel, Titanium, Tool Steel and even Copper for printing.
Stratasys Fortus 450MC
Stratasys is a well-known brand in the industrial 3D printing space. The Fortus 450MC has been in the market for a while now. This printer goes for $100,000+ in the market and has made quite a fan following for people looking at using fancy materials. The printer comes with a fully enclosed print area, like most offerings in this price bracket.
450MC can produce carbon fiber, nylon, carbon fiber-infused nylon, and advanced resin-based filament quite reliably. This printer is liked in the plastic printing industry due to its ability to produce tough parts with tight tolerances which is the key in the industrial space.
The Stacker S4 is an industrial-grade 3D printer with four extruders. This $10,999 unit has the ability to print huge prints using those extruders at once. This is not a fully enclosed unit but instead is a modular unit. The build plate can fit objects as tall as 25 inches. The printer uses Fused Filament Fabrication to build the objects and is quite cost-effective given the competition.
The S4 can be used to print functional prototypes, production parts, jigs, fixtures, signage, movie props, architectural models, artwork, investment casting molds, and much more with high accuracy and repeatability. It’s possible to print with 1, 2, 3, or all four print heads. If a print head is not used, you can essentially take it out to increase the overall build area.
This is more of a professional printer from Ultimaker and comes in at a price tag of $6,000. With its 330 x 240 x 300 mm build volume, the printer is small and can be stacked in a normal work environment. It gets glass front doors which seal off the heat quite efficiently. The printer is also modular and quite a lot of elements can be added to it.
The filament feed system where in you load the filaments is really easy that even first-time users won’t find it difficult to operate. The S5 comes with a heated bed, has a dual extruder system with removable and customizable print heads and has a built-in camera. A fleet of these printers can be controlled using Ethernet or wirelessly via Ultimaker’s Cura slicer and printer control environment.
MakerBot is the most recognizable 3D printer brand in the market right now. The brand managed to bring the 3D printing technique to the masses with its cost-effective printers. Their products have a fan base of their own and a wide community of enthusiasts as well.
The Method is the brand’s newest offering which has a full-enclosed, climate-controlled heated print area, a redesigned extruder, and an onboard camera. While the Method has a sticker price of $4,999 as of writing this post it is being offered for $3,999. MakerBot markets the Method as a manufacturing and prototyping workstation which is true for the most part. With a chamber temperature of 60°C and 100°C on the Method X model, this printer is ideal for rapid prototyping using exotic and troublesome filaments.
There are some products that couldn’t make it to the list and they include Formlabs Form 3, Elegoo Mars Pro, Sindoh 3DWOX 7X and more. Between the day of posting this and you reading this, some of the above-mentioned models could be replaced by newer better offerings. If you come across some exciting models, feel free to add them in the comments section.