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How to pick the right 3D printer, even on a budget

(TECH NEWS) With hundreds of options to sort through and thousands of different accessibility options, the search for the perfect one can be daunting. Stop agonizing! We are here to save you.

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Exhaustive options

Are you searching for the right 3D printer? With hundreds of options to sort through and thousands of different accessibility options, the search for the perfect one can be daunting. To help shorten that search and get you printing in no time, the good people over at 3D Hubs created a comprehensive 2016 3D Printer Guide using reviews from verified 3D Printer owners that have years of 3D Printing experiences.

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For the “enthusiast”

These are most suitable for hobbyists, designers, and some small businesses. Users should select from this category if they are looking for a reliable machine that can produce high quality prints consistently. Furthermore, these printers are straightforward, without all the frivolities of other printers, allowing for flexible upgrades and various modifications.

This category includes: MakerGear M2, Lulzbot Taz 5, Deltawasp, Creator Pro, Ultimaker 2, and Witbox, all of which have several things in common.

Build quality is one, offering users various bodies made out of steel, aluminum, and other durable materials. Precision and material options are also pros for most of the printers in this category. However, past users have complained about the ease of use, or lack thereof, for these printers since most will need some type of engineering background to use these machines successfully. However, all of these 3D printers have awesome support communities, and customer service teams that are dedicated to answering any questions you have, and trying their best to eliminate the learning curve.

If you want to plug ‘n’ play

Printers in the Plug n’ Play category are said to be the easiest to use and provide the luxury of being ready to use straight out of the box. Highlighted because of their reliable print qualities, low failure rates, and great customer service, this group of printers is awesome for light 3D printing needs and quality-conscious beginners.

Included in this category are the Zortrax M200, CEL Robox, Beethefirst, and Lulzbot Mini – all closed system printers admired for their dependability.

These smaller 3D printers made the cut because of their industrial reliability without the industrial size and cost. In addition to reliability, users also choose these printers for their ease of use, convenience, and precision. Although the size of these printers are beneficial in making printing easier and more precise, the size can be a hindrance. Because these machines are so small with closed systems, users are limited to the size of printing they can do, so anything too large is out of the question. But, because they already come assembled and don’t require the same engineering background as the aforementioned, these are great for beginners or anyone that wants precise 3D prints without wasting time on set up.

For peeps on a budget

If you are a student, a small business owner, or an experimenter, these printers are sure to get the job done without costing you a fortune.

The Craftbot, Printrbot, Up Mini, and Creator all cater to the financially frugal involved in 3D printing. Starting as low as $599 (and no more than $1000) users are able to select a printer specific to their goals while saving upwards of $600 dollars. Aside from the extremely attractive price points, these printers boast easy-to-use systems with awesome customer service in case any issues arise.

But, with the good comes the bad, and these printers are no different. Even though they are awesome for our pockets, there are some less-than-stellar qualities including lack of material availability, build quality, and speed. However, as a former broke college student, I can tell you those cons don’t seem that bad so long as I can save money.

For the brave DIY soul

For the adventurous creative who thinks “straight out of the box” printers are for the fainthearted, and would rather get their hands dirty with these difficult to assemble machines, the Rostock Max, Prusa Steel, Mendel90, and Ultimaker can be built in labs and garages across the world.

According to the reviews, users love the expandable and upgradable capabilities the most, while their second love is the large and supportive community that helps kit assembly go by smoothly and free of complications.

Alternatively, some users complain about the amount of time it takes to assemble (30+ hours), along with the prior knowledge necessary for proper assembly, such as basic electronic skills. But for those with that hands-on nature, the time it takes to assemble isn’t a surprise and electronic skills are likely part of a slew of other technological skills that make assembly a breeze.

Liquid resin printers

Rsesin-based printers use an optical power source to cure liquid resin into a solid object. These kinds of 3D printers are definitely more expensive and require additional post-production work. However, the print quality and precision are unmatched with other 3D printers. Unlike the others, resin printers are ideal for professionals and serious hobbyists who need accurate prototyping and high resolution parts.

Because of its unique method of printing, there are only two printers that made the cut for this category: Form 1+, and B9Creator. Though these printers are smaller than the other printers on the guide, they pack a mean punch by providing the highest quality objects anyone has ever seen from a desktop 3D printer. One user was so astonished by the B9Creator that he compared it to a “$80K professional DLP printer.”

Aside from the brilliant quality, these printers also have a supportive community and customer service foundation. The only major issues with these unique printers is the price point, starting at $2,799, and the material availability, since it can only work with resin. But for those who appreciate unmatched flawlessness every single time, the price may be worth it.

Pick your poison

Whether you are a beginner at 3D printing or a seasoned veteran, this guide is sure to help you find the perfect printer for your needs. Head to 3DHubs for a detailed description for all twenty of the printers that made the list, including their prices, specifications, and a list of pros and cons. Happy printing!

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Lauren Flanigan is a Staff Writer at The American Genius, hailing from the windy hills of Cincinnati, with a degree in Marketing from the University of Cincinnati. She has escaped the hills, and currently resides in Atlanta, where you can almost always find her camping at a Starbucks strategizing on how to take over the world.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Pingback: Emerging technologies that executives absolutely MUST be aware of - The American Genius

  2. Shab Bhat

    March 7, 2017 at 11:04 am

    Thank you for the information. we are a 3D printing service Company and we use SLA 3D printers and they work with liquid resin and i must say quality, resolution and details of the object is great but sure they are very expensive unless you are into some serious business. We are looking into 3D metal printers and hoping to get some good printers soon and start with 3D metal printing too.

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Tech industry takes big wallop as coronavirus continues to spread

(TECH NEWS) The spread of the coronavirus is rattling tech industries, as they struggle to produce or deliver their devices so the tech giants’ stock value plummets.

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As more cases of coronavirus, COVID-19, appear in yet more countries, people are starting to freak out about catching it. The problem doesn’t stop there, though. The corresponding punch in the gut to the tech industry will have far-reaching effects–beyond not being able to buy the latest version of your favorite device.

Besides bringing health protocols to a high alert status, the coronavirus is creating a secondary scare in the tech industry. Some companies have massive portions of their supply chain and production based in China, some in Wuhan, where the virus first began to spread. The tech industry is definitely taking a painful hit. The virus is affecting supply, production, delivery, and sales.

In turn, tech company stocks are starting to tank, at least temporarily. Apple, Amazon, Microsoft. Facebook, Google reportedly lost more than $230 billion in a day. Ouch, buddy. That’s gonna leave a mark.

The fear remains that this is only the beginning. With coronavirus having landed in at least 48 countries, the fear is not unfounded. As countries scramble to deal with containment, treatment, and educating their populace, Wall Street and other major stock markets are predicting a global economic slowdown.

As of this writing, the coronavirus is not yet an official pandemic, according to WHO. This may change. A lot is riding on getting the spread of the virus under control. Doctors and scientists frantically work on a way to treat or cure it. Meanwhile, news agencies, public health organizations such as the WHO and the CDC work to dispel rumors, replacing them with timely and practical information. The big takeaways: wash your hands often, cover your mouth when you cough, stay home if you’re sick.

Smartphone producers are bound to be the worst impacted, with production predicted to decline 12 percent this quarter compared to previous years, reaching a 5-year low. The Mobile World Congress cancelled their annual phone show in Barcelona due to the virus. The MWC is one of, if not the, the biggest phone show in the world.

Apple announced they will not meet their quarterly goals, due to the impact of the coronavirus, hitting the tech giant on a few levels. Factories have been closed, though some are already reopening. Apple isn’t only feeling the impact due to supply and production concerns, but also because their global sales goals include sales within China, and sales are down.

Predictions are similarly dismal for smartwatches, laptop PCs, and smart speakers. The DRAM and NAND flash markets will likely stay on top of things, as they have production largely automated.

Amazon has not yet voiced much about their own issues, but we know from the stock market that it can’t be pretty. Amazon also has an estimated half of its products coming out of China. Like the other big companies, they are poised to lose a lot and see their stock value stripped of its sheen.

Video game console manufacturing is another industry to watch. However, they seem fairly protected for now, with the bulk of their business taking place toward the end of the year. New product launches, the PS5 and Xbox Series X will launch closer to the winter holidays, which gives the science industry pros time to fight and contain the spread of COVID-19 before it causes too much chaos in the gaming industry.

We have yet to see where this will all end. COVID-19 is on the move, and it’s taking these tech giants–and our global economy–on a scary, roller coaster ride. Despite the stock market taking a nosedive and tech labor and supply streams being hard-hit, you’re still more likely to catch the flu than the coronavirus. While we watch for better news, cross your fingers and remember to wash your hands. This one’s coming in hot.

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Five inexpensive VPNs to keep your data yours

(TECH NEWS) If you work on public internet or are just looking to beef up your internet security VPNs could be your answer. Here are five worth looking into.

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We must speak, as we so often do, of l33t h4x0rz.

Let’s get blunt. We have reached the point in the evolution of technology where access to your personal data is equivalent to access to everything you own. Data security breach, which involves fewer twentysomethings with improbable hair and more Russian state actors than 90s movies led me to believe, can be the end of a business, especially a small one.

Frustratingly, the mainstream market hasn’t really produced perfect solutions for that. At present, you really have two options.

Option one, you roll with AppleFacebookGoogleSoft. Different companies, same model: hand your data to a giant organization with an affirmative interest in keeping it confidential. That can work! It can also, y’know, not. A lot.

Option two, full infogeek. Pull together All The Information and put it behind tight security you control. We’re big fans of this. On the other hand, we’re geeks. Doing this successfully requires knowledge, specialty tools and changes in behavior that may not be practical for you.

Ain’t exactly optimal, those options. So for the love of the white hat, what’s to do? Where’s the middle ground between “put it in a big sack and hand it to HugeCorpCo” and “lock every 0 and 1 in a painstakingly handcrafted box?”

Meet your friends, VPNs. Virtual private networks aren’t just the irritating things you have to sign into before another constructive day on the cube farm. For any entrepreneur or freelancer who isn’t into a rad Linux solution, VPNs are a straight-up necessity. They’re how you Internet without people keeping logs (your ISP does), tracking your activity (everybody does), or carrying off your innocent data to the dark web or the Kremlin.

Better yet? There are lots of good ones that are inexpensive, reliable, and only a Google away. Here’s 5. Unranked, because every VPN is a beautiful snowflake.

IPVanish wins at efficiency. They own 100 percent of their resources, rather than outsourcing any work to third parties. That means high speed and optimal security, since their commitment to keeping zero information on their clients can’t be undercut by nosy contractors.

NordVPN has tech wizardry going for it, with double encryption and even an optional kill switch that automatically disconnects you from the Internet if anything goes amiss with the VPN. Nord also wins at most devices per subscription, and will happily wrap up to 6 of your robots in the warm embrace of infosec.

Private Internet Access, in addition to winning the Most Straightforwardly Named Product Ever award I just made up, is great for power users, with unlimited bandwidth and a subscription allowing up to 5 devices. It’s also super simple, designed to run in the background while you go about your digital day, so for folks who aren’t looking for bundled apps or a shiny interface, this is your guy.

PureVPN gets compatibility cred, since it’s usable across Android, iOS, Linux, Mac, Windows and even provides proxy workarounds for Chrome and Firefox. It also has a frankly enormous server network, which is good news for speed freaks.

TunnelBear, in addition to being adorable, is extremely user friendly. It’s kind of the anti-PIA, with a rich interface and lots of shiny features. Those features include neat security tricks like Intellibear, allowing users to selectively VPN into particular sites, and Vigilant Mode, which makes like Nord and blocks Internet traffic in case of outages.

Snowflake jokes aside, the list really isn’t ranked, and for reason. Your VPN will be your gateway to the Internet. What works for you is totally contingent on what you do and what you need. There are only two definitive rules.

One, never free. A free trial is fine. “Free VPN” is online shorthand for “place all your information in this bucket, which I will then steal, seal and sell to the Internet’s many, many buyers of evil buckets of data.”

Two, it’s a numbers game. There are countless choices for VPNs on the market. The entries on our list offer substantially similar services to dozens of others. What makes our 5 special?

Twelve bucks. The maximum cost of each of the 5 VPNs above is less than twelve dollars per month. Most cost less: spring for a subscription and you can get the average cost down to 2 or 3 dollars monthly. But month to month, no obligation, even the most expensive entry on the list – that’s a tie between NordVPN and PureVPN – costs you less than twelve dollars a month.

Beat that for peace of mind.

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Tech News

How to personalize your site for every visitor without learning code

(TECH NEWS) New tool from Proof lets you personalize your website for visitors without coding. Experiences utilizes your users to create the perfect view for them.

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What if you could personalize every step of the sales funnel? The team over at Proof believes this is the next best step for businesses looking to drive leads online. Their new tool, Experiences, is a marketer-friendly software that lets you personalize your website for every visitor without coding.

Using Experiences your team can create a targeted experience for the different types of visitors coming to your website. The personalization is thought to drive leads more efficiently because it offers visitors exactly the information they want. Experiences can also be used to A/B test different strategies for your website. This could be a game changer for companies that target multiple specific audiences.

Experiences is a drag-and-drop style tool, which means nearly anyone on your team can learn to use it. The UX is meant to be intuitive and simple, so you don’t need a web developer to guide you through the process. In order to build out audiences for your website, Experiences pulls data from your CRM, such as SalesForce and Hubspot, or you can utilize a Clearbit integration which pull third-party information.

Before you go rushing to purchase a new tool for your team, there are a few things to keep in mind. According to Proof, personalization is best suited for companies with at least 15,000 plus visitors per month. This volume of visitors is necessary for Experiences to gather the data it needs to make predictions. The tool is also recommended for B2B businesses since company data is public.

The Proof team is a success story of the Y Combinator demo day. They pitched their idea for a personalized web experience and quickly found themselves funded. Now, they’ve built out their software and have seen success with their initial clients. Over the past 18 months, their early-access clients, which included brands like Profitwell and Shipbob, have seen an increase in leads, proposals, and downloads.

Perhaps the best part of Proof is that they don’t just sell you a product and walk away. Their website offers helpful resources for customers called Playbooks where you can learn how to best use the tool to achieve your company’s goals be it converting leads or engaging with your audience. If this sounds like exactly the tool your team needs, you can request a demo on their website.

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