3D Printer (FDM) Shopper Guideline

This article is useful for 3d printer buyer with low to no expertise in this field. The article tries to explain the main features that any future user should focus on before purchasing a 3D printer machine either for his/her personal usage or for his/her rapid prototyping business.


We try to help users to choose the best printing machine from the large variety of printers available on market. The best printer is the one that suits the users needs.


Additive Manufacturing (AM)

Additive Manufacturing (AM) is an appropriate name to describe the technologies that build 3D objects by adding layer-upon-layer of material, whether the material is plastic, metal or concrete.

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) is an additive manufacturing technology commonly used for modeling, prototyping, and production applications. It is one of the techniques used for 3D printing.


  1. What kind of filament should I choose?


Since the very beginning, this technology used 3.0mm filament for 3D printers, but then things switched to 1.75mm filament. Was this a good idea?

Technically, printing with 1.75 mm filament or with a 3 mm one isn’t almost the same, the differences are small to count in practical terms.

  • 3 mm polymers filament would melt irregular, so your project could be affected by this.
  • 75mm over 3mm is that it requires less force to extrude, so compact direct-drive extruders are more viable1_75
  • 75mm is increasingly becoming the “standard”, thus being easier to get. Some filament types are not available as 3mm.
  • 75mm filament allows for finer control, because feeding in 1mm of filament corresponds to less plastic extruded.







From our experience, a 3D printer buyer should look for a machine which is compatible with 1,75mm filament. The tendency had this specific direction the same as 3D printers accessories providers, which can provide you a large variety of 1,75 filament types and colours,  there are lower and lower types of 3mm filament available on market.


  1. The best nozzle (hot end) for your future prototype


Nowadays, the standards for FDM 3D printing are between 0.3 and 0.5 mm.


  • Bigger nozzle is better if you want a fast printing ( bigger nozzle producing thicker strings reduces the number of layers)
  • Smaller nozzle gives better details and more rigid components, but the printing process may be slower.


Our advice is to choose a nozzle according with your needed:

  • for a fast printing process, use the bigger nozzle (0.5mm)
  • If you care about a smooth surfaces and strict design details, but you do not have a short deadline project, use the smaller nozzle.

We recomend that a 3D printer buyer should choose a nozzle of 0.4mm diameterm which in the same time is very popular and because of it’s perfect compromise in between speed and printing quality. In example, a piece that takes 1 hour printing job using a 0.3mm can be printed in just 25min if you use 0.5mm, in addition, some design details like plastic threads types may be impossible for 0.5mm version to obtain.


  1. PLA or ABS filament?


Materials for FDM  are available, such as:


Generally, in FDM technology, the most used materials are PLA (polylactic acid) and  ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene).

Material Printing Temperature(°C) Printbed temperature(°C) Compressive Strength (PSI) Smell Special properties
PLA 180-230 50-70(heated bed not mandatory) 2600 no Easy to print Biocompatibility Biodegradable
ABS 230-250 80-120(highly recommended) 1100 bad plastic smell Impact resistant Durable



In Summary

  • ABS – Its strength, flexibility, machinability and higher temperature resistance. In some cases, higher temperature resistance may be a disadvantage because it requires a heated print bed so there are some printers that are simply incapable of printing ABS with any reliability due a common problem identified for this material and it’s called warping phenomenon.
  • PLA – The wide range of available colors and translucencies and glossy feel often attract those who print for display or small household uses. Many appreciate the plant based origins and prefer the semi-sweet smell over ABS. When properly cooled, PLA seems to have higher maximum printing speeds, lower layer heights, and sharper printed corners. A 3D printer buyer would prefer this type of material because of its popularity, low thermal stress over the printer and energy efficiency.

In addition, you can avoid warping phenomenon if you highly heat the bed as described in the table, while you can use PLA material without heating the bed at all.

Therefore, a printer that is compatible with ABS material (high operating temperature of the hot end and heated bed), will definitely be compatible with PLA as well.


  1. MKS Controller

Features & Benefits:

  • One application configures most MKS automation equipment
    • Access all controllers simultaneously from one interface
    • Create views & charts for individual or multiple devices
  • Built in data logging, charting, & data exporting
  • Advanced process diagnostic capabilities
  • Configure custom dashboards for an entire process or individual sub-systems, for manual, remote process control
  • Pre-defined features for MKS Instruments
  • Incorporate PLC and IEC 61131-3 projects & recipes – remotely activate, pause, or stop process routines
  • Advanced temperature control applications (when used with MultiTherm devices), including:
    • Model Based Control (MBC) and/or standard PID control
    • Autotuning algorithm for specific application requirements
    • Cascading loops for applications requiring extremely fast disturbance recovery
    • PID gain scheduling for strict process requirements over a broad range of temperatures



  1. How to choose a FDM depending to the motor?nema_17_stepper_motor


Our recommendation for any 3D printer buyer is Nema 17, which is a stepper motor with a 1.7 x 1.7 inch (43.2 x 43.2 mm) faceplate.

Also, a very important thing when you choose the FDM printer depends to the motor that controls the E axis (filament extrusion motor) placement.



  1. Fixed motor place on main framemotor-e-on-frame




The connection tube between motor and nozzle is a little larger than filament diameter, therefor a phenomenon which is called backlash (recoil arising between tube
and filament) acts and may affect printing quality.






This kind of printer works faster than a “motor on cartridge” printer type.


Furthermore, If the motor is placed on main frame, the cartridge mass is lower and the motor that drives the cartridge is less loaded.







  1. Motor on cartridge




The cartridge mass is bigger consequently the motor belong cartridge axis (Y Axis) is more load, so this type of FDM is lower.




Backlash fact is reduced because the filament is perpendicularly on workbench.


  1. Why should I choose a FDM printer with display?


Nowadays you have to choose from a various range of 3D printers. In generally, a 3D printer without display is a little cheaper rather than machines with this feature.


The big advantage for 3D printer with display is that you can use a microSD to print your project without keeping a computer permanently connected while printing process, which can last up to maybe 30 hours.


In conclusion, a 3d printer buyer should rationally choose the future machine by putting in balance his/her needs and printer feature. Therefore, a user who is interested in purchasing a printer for personal usage, the best configuration would be:
1. Filament type: 1.75mm rather than 3mm because of the popularity

2. Nozzle type: 0.4mm

3. A printer that is compatible with ABS which is also compatible with PLA as well

4. MKS controller

5. E Axis motor placed on cartridge

6. Machine with display


  • Rajesh Kharche
    Posted at 06:33h, 08 November Reply

    Great post,I appreciate you…
    3D printer is Ease of use,Clarity of design,Quick prototyping,Savings on wastage.
    The utility of 3D printers have made them popular today in countries like U.S., Europe and India.

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