Over the last year, 3D printing technology has evolved in so many innovative ways. Companies like 3D Systems have released printers that can use multiple colors, or even create objects out of edible material. It’s an especially exciting time for personal 3D printers, which can be used at home to make almost anything imaginable. Some of the latest models, like the Cube 3 are affordable and easy-to-use options for families that are just dipping their toes into 3D printing.
Suitable for children ages 8 and up, 3D printing for kids is now a reality. The latest printers have finally assuaged parents who doubt the safety of this new technology. With an IEC-certified International Electrotechnical Commission machine crafted for people of all ages, it’s amazing to think that your kids can now design and fabricate their own toys.
In addition, these entry-level machines are automated in ways that let you focus on creating, not troubleshooting. Some offer self-leveling beds, which assures high-quality prints by keeping the printing surface flat at all times. This is an especially important feature for beginners, because manual beds often require constant tweaking for your design to come out right. They also extend the print volume, so you can build objects up to six cubic inches — that’s six inches tall, wide, and deep. This gives families plenty of room to design small figurines, puzzles, ornaments, and building blocks, while also leaving you extra space in case you feel like printing something bigger.
To make things even simpler, some 3D printing companies have created smartphone apps that connect wirelessly with their printers. Using these apps, kids can figure out exactly how they want their spaceship, castle, or bizarre shape to look before printing. They even give you some premade designs to work with or print as is. When you’re ready to print, these latest machines are getting speedy, already printing up to twice as fast as previous home printers on the market. Some kids might think their creation is going to appear out of thin air; while that’s hardly the case, new printing technology has gotten a lot more nimble.
When buying a 3D printer for your family, it’s also smart to research the resolution specs. Resolution tells you how smooth your prints will come out by the thinness it can make each layer; the smaller the number, the more detailed and smooth your final object will be. For example, a printer with a resolution of around 70 microns is the lowest resolution the eye can distinguish. Also, look into how each printer loads its materials. Printers that take custom filament cartridges might be more expensive than an average machine, but the benefit is that the cartridges are really easy to replace and increase the shelflife of the material. Just like a computer printer’s ink cartridges, filament cartridges can be changed out instantly.
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