Also known as desktop fabrication, 3D printing is the process of translating 3D designs into real objects via a 3D printer. The 3D images are scanned, saved in STL format and then sent to the printer. The printer creates the object layer by layer from the bottom to the top using various heated materials such as polyamide (nylon) and epoxy resins.
One of the ways to shop for your 3D printer is to consider connectivity, with Bluetooth, Ethernet, USB and wireless options available.
Bluetooth 3D Printers
Bluetooth is a means of wireless communication between your PC and your 3D Printer. Zebra and MakerBot are the most readily available brands of Bluetooth printer. MakerBot offers a range of small 3D Printers suitable for home or classroom use, quick to set up and easy to use, with the finest layer setting of just 100 microns to ensure a smooth end result.
Ethernet 3D Printers
Some 3D printer models use an ethernet connection. The MakerBot Replicator uses an ethernet connection to connect to your computer and features a 3.5" colour LCD display and camera.
USB 3D Printers
USB 2.0 and 3.0 Printers are physically connected to your PC via a USB port and cable. This requires close proximity but is very good for reliable data transfer with no connectivity or network problems. If you are working at home, or at a fixed desk location with your printer and your PC in the same place, USB connections are a good choice.
Wireless 3D Printers
Like Bluetooth Printer, Wireless Printers require no physical wire/plug but these are operated by infrared or WIFI. This can be used anywhere that has a WIFI connection and has quite a wide signal range.
3D printers come in a wide range of sizes, suitable for home and office applications. If you are looking for a child-friendly option then the XYZprinting da Vinci Jr is one of the most affordable and accessible 3D printers on the market.