3D Printing

Hobby vs. Commercial 3D Printing

By TriMech on June 19, 2018

Periodically, we receive calls from our current Stratasys 3D printer customers who are considering adding a consumer-level hobbyist printer for additional output. We also hear from prospective companies asking why they should spend the additional money for a Stratasys commercial printer when they can buy a cheap hobby-level printer.

“They all extrude plastic, what’s the difference?”

The difference is staggering. Below is a perfect illustration of a test performed by a prospective Stratasys buyer. The model on the far right was produced by a Stratasys 3D printer, and the other three were produced by hobby-level printers that I will call Brand X. Which model could actually be used?

Stratasys printer vs. hobby level printer

How Stratasys Works

The heated build chamber of Stratasys printers keep the extruded thermoplastic near the same temperature of the material coming out of the print head, allowing for consistent model smoothness and dimensional stability. The printer’s software allows for the use of repeatable and accurate dimensions, as well as has a far superior quality. This becomes very apparent in the condition of the final product, as you can see with the parts above.

Do Your Research

Would you use the models to the left as end use parts? Does Brand X stand behind the quality of the model or even the printer itself? A frequent complaint from hobbyist printer users, beyond the model quality, is the time it takes to get a recognizable model to even print. You can find groups on websites like Flickr.com dedicated to sharing failed model images from the hobby sector D printers.

The easiest way to compare what will be the best for your needs is to send one of your files (not Brand X’s provided, optimized file that hides weaknesses) to be benchmarked on a hobby-level printer and a Stratasys 3D printer. Here at TriMech, we are happy to do benchmarks to help showcase printer capabilities and allow you to choose your best fit.

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