What is a 3D Print Farm?
As 3D printing continues to gain ground worldwide, the need to increase production rates is greater than ever before. 3D printing takes time, and time isn’t a luxury we can all afford. If you are into commercial printing, your ability to meet demands will give you an edge.
That’s where 3D Print Farms come in. A 3D Print farm is what you need if you intend to scale up your production capacity.
A 3D print farm is an elaborate system that utilizes multiple printers to meet production demand. A print farm helps you produce large numbers of prints with the machines operating simultaneously. The products will either be identical or have several components of a larger one. In a print farm, your ability to meet demands depends less on the number of printers and more on the efficiency and consistency of the system.
How do 3D Print Farms Work?
3D print farms will work the same way a regular farm will do. For example, the same way a poultry farm needs hundreds of birds to produce eggs simultaneously is the same way to meet high volume demands in a limited time. Imagine delivering hundreds of print units in a few days with just one printer. The chances of meeting such needs in so little time are pretty slim. Print farms solve this problem.
For a 3D print farm to serve its purpose effectively, multiple components have to collaborate. Each component must be connected to ensure continuity of the printing process. Also, the printers will need to work for long periods and will require the best automation to meet this need.
How to Set up a 3D Print Farm?
- Get your printers
First, there is no 3D print farm without multiple printers. It takes two printers to make a farm. So, get as many printers as you need. The number of printers you should have depends on the number of products you need to make and your time to make it happen.
- Find a room to install your printers
Next, you need to find the space to set up the printers. Again, a large room or the basement are good locations.
After installing your machines, and the slicer software, the next challenge will be fixing the connectivity.
- Install remote software
Will you have the strength to save files from your computer into SD Cards to slot into multiple printers? Having to send G-codes to multiple printers could be cumbersome. The higher the number of printers, the more frustrating this could get. Setting up a way to remotely access and operate your printers is especially necessary for print farms with multiple printers.
For this purpose, remote printing software like OctoPrint and Raspberry Pi will be pretty handy. These software eliminates the need to interact with each printer every time you want to initiate a print process. These software will allow you to remotely send G-code files directly from your computer to your printer.
Once you install the OctoPrint on your computer, you can connect multiple computers to one Raspberry Pi. from any location. You can command your printers to print multiple copies of one print or components of a larger product from your smart device.
Are 3D Print Farms Profitable?
Market trends for 3D printing are currently quite positive, indicating a likely chance of 3D print farms bringing you a good amount of income. The lucrativeness of 3D printing as a business depends on how creative you are, and the niche of 3D printing you choose for your farm.
While there are positive forecasts that 3D printing will take over the manufacturing industry completely, this is not for a while to come. There will be a significant increase in general demand for 3D printed products and services based on forecasts and trends.
As the wait for the demand draws closer, starting to position your 3D printing farm to make the most of when the time arrives will set you up for great success.
Some of the industries and niches where 3D printing will be profitable include:
- 3D Printed Prototypes and Models
3D printing will be quite popular in the design, architecture, engineering, and science worlds. Situating a 3D printing lab nearby facilities and institutions that require 3D printing services for large projects and developments will create a regular stream of income for your 3D print farm.
You can also create a section for students, scientists, and lecturers, who also need to use 3D printers for their work. They will be regular callers for your 3D printers if it is established close to their vicinity.
- Industrial 3D Printing
Industrial 3D printing is another lucrative venture for 3D print farms. Although investing in industrial 3D printers is quite expensive, with a dearth of certain types of materials and products in your area, and high demand for them, your printers could make you a fortune.
Industrial 3D printers can create car parts, furniture, plastic items, bikes, house parts, ships, plane parts, and more. All you need to do is find your industrial niche, advertise to large and wealthy companies, and your 3D print farm will likely fill your pockets.
Best 3D Printer for Print Farm
To set up your 3D print farm, you need to work with the most efficient 3D printers for the job. Here are a few you want to consider:
- Mason V2
This machine was originally developed for production. It’s highly reliable and simple to maintain, making it a good fit for large-scale production.
The Mason V2 is commercially available, but it should be manned only by experienced users. It is a workhouse machine, so it is not designed with fancy settings and buttons that can help a beginner catch on easily.
This 3D printer will serve you for many years before it will need serious maintenance. It is quite sturdy and durable.
- Prusa i3
This printer is a favorite among 3D enthusiasts. It is also reliable, but more user-friendly. Developed by Prusa Research, Prusa 13 has a reputation of being a consumer or hobbyist machine, but it is quite fit to do large-scale productions in a 3D print farm.
The Prusa i3 is most popular for its removable lined build plate and auto-bed leveling features which make it easily operable.
Another household name in the 3D community, Ultimaker is a professional desktop printer that can handle what you throw at it.
Its print quality is almost unrivaled in the industry, and its features are easily integrable for factory and workhouse 3D printing. However, you must know that Ultimaker printers cost a pretty penny. They are quite expensive.
Best Print Materials for 3D Print Farms
There are various types of materials you can use for printing on a 3D print farm, depending on what you intend to print. Let’s make a list of them below:
- ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene)
- PLA (polylactic acid)
- PETG (polyethylene terephthalate glycol)
- TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane)
- PVA (polyvinyl alcohol)
- HIPS (high impact polystyrene)
- Composites (carbon fiber, kevlar, fiberglass)
- Stainless steel
- Tool steel
- Nickel alloys
The are also various methods fo using these materials forr printing. 3D printing professionals
Conclusion 3D print farms are a wonderful idea if you’re looking to scale up your 3D print productions for commercial purposes. In this guide, we’ve walked you through the key information you need to know about 3D farms. The best types of printers to kick off with, and the industries that will provide you with the most returns, if you do decide to set up a farm.