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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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3d printer

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!

#3DPrinter

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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iOS 15 beta has blur nude photos opt-in, but its not without fault

(TECH NEWS) To protect children from explicit content, the most recent beta version of iOS 15 includes a feature that allows users to blur nude photos.

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Woman looking at Apple iPhone representing new iOS 15 beta that will blur nude photos.

In a move to protect children from explicit content, the most recent beta version of iOS 15 includes a feature that allows users to blur nude photos received in the Messages app. Amid privacy concerns, the feature has yet to be released.

The option to blur nude photos is opt-in, reports The Verge, and does not prevent users from choosing to view the photos in question even after being implemented.

This iteration of the feature is distinct from the original one insofar as it will no longer alert a parent or guardian when nude photos are encountered. While this may seem like a controversial change, several experts pointed out that exposing nude content on a child’s device in some households could result in abuse or, as Harvard Cyberlaw Clinic instructor Kendra Albert suggests, the outing of “queer or transgender children to their parents.”

With the most recent version of this feature enabled, children who receive inappropriate photos via the Messages app would be able to do two things: choose to avoid (or see) the content, and choose to send a report to a trusted adult if they see fit to do so.

Blurring photos is just one of several aspects of Apple’s Communication Safety suite, a feature that aims to prevent child sex abuse by making it easier for children to avoid and report predatory content.

 

Child on electronic device- iOS 15 beta that will allow blur nude photos should protect children.

Another feature that Apple has tested – but not released – is their Child Sex Abuse Imagery Detection (CSAM-detection), which scans and reports iCloud content that shows child pornography or abuse to Apple moderators for further review. As one can imagine, the feature drew mixed criticism, the majority of which came from privacy advocates.

While the vast majority of humanity can (hopefully) agree that fighting against child exploitation is a noble cause, these groups argue that scanning and reporting individuals’ personal photos via an algorithm opens the door to government interference and increased surveillance. Switching the algorithm’s baseline to scan for things like anti-government content, for example, would be easy, these groups posit, making the feature extremely dangerous in principle.

There is no current release date set for any of these aforementioned features, though iPhone users can reasonably expect them to drop at some point during iOS 15’s development.

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Amazon Music debuts synchronized text transcripts for popular podcasts

(TECH) The first feature to hit Amazon Music is auto-generated and synchronized text transcripts for their most popular podcast shows. Sign us up!

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Amazon Music Transcripts

Amazon set out to accelerate the growth and evolution of podcasts last year by acquiring the podcasting network, Wondery. Now, the company is doing just that with the launch of its auto-generated and synchronized podcast transcripts feature on Amazon Music.

According to an Amazon Music tweet, with this feature, you’ll be able to “Roll it back, jump ahead, and follow along” with the podcast you’re listening to. For instance, you can scrub through the transcript to find that line of text with that quote or movie and book suggestion you can’t quite remember. When you tap on a particular line of text in the transcript, you’ll be able to jump straight into that specific part of the podcast. I can already see all the time saved! But, if you just want to read along as you listen, you can do that, too. The transcript will match the audio as you’re hearing it.

Right now, the company is only rolling out podcast transcripts in the US on both iOS and Android devices. When it will expand to other countries isn’t known, and the feature isn’t available for all podcasts yet. For now, it is only available on a selection of popular podcasts like Smartless, Crime Junkie, This American Life, Uncommon Ground, and Modern Love, but more are coming.

Amazon Music Homescreen

To use it, all you have to do is open the podcasts tab on Amazon Music and select one of the podcasts you’d like to listen to. Of course, you’ll need to select a show with the podcast transcription feature to see it. When your show is playing, on the top of the album art and in fullscreen mode, the transcriptions will be available for you to read along to.

Oh, and if you’re worried about having to read through the ads, you have nothing to fret about. Ads won’t be transcribed. Instead, the transcription will read “audio not transcribed” when they are playing.

So far, Amazon seems to be going strong in the podcasting game with the release of podcast transcripts. The feature makes it easy to search and find what you are looking for in a show. And, for those on a long and noisy bus and subway ride, you’ll finally be able to read the information you previously couldn’t hear.

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UX design: If you don’t have it, get yourself an audit made easy

(TECH NEWS) UX design is important. By conducting a simple audit to make sure your site is accessible, you can minimize the number of people that quickly go away.

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Two UX design people standing in front of a whiteboard with a UX map.

A good UX design is essential in attracting and retaining customers. A seamless and positive experience will keep customers happy and bring your business many benefits, like increasing audience engagement and sales.

But, how do you know if your user experience is in need of help, so people don’t bounce away quickly? Well, if UX is not your forte, the best thing to do is to hire a good UX designer. Unfortunately, sometimes hiring one isn’t always within the budget.

So, what do you do then? The next best thing is to conduct a UX audit of your website or app. Not sure where to begin? Fulcrum’s Do It Yourself UX Audit kit is one place to start.

According to the website, this DIY UX audit “can help you gain valuable insights about the usability of your product.” The tool detects problems in your UX, prioritizes them for you, and finds out how you can fix any existing issues.

The tool is made out of free easy-to-use Notion templates. These UX audit checklists are all customizable, and you can print them or save them on your Notion dashboard to use later.

Inside each template, there are cards with descriptions and examples. Depending on if you meet certain criteria or not, you drag and drop the card into the “Yes” or “No” column. When you’re finished, you will easily see what issues you have, and you can work on fixing them.

The templates are divided into Junior and Middle-level templates.

The Junior level has templates for things such as field and forms, login, mobile UX, and architecture. Most of these templates help make sure you cover your basic UX bases. For instance, it looks at whether your website is desktop and mobile-friendly, and if each element makes sense and is easily identifiable.

The Middle Level dives in a little deeper. The “Visibility of system status” audit checks if you are keeping your audience informed on what’s going on. Things like battery life, loading, or Wi-Fi connection indicators can make a huge difference. No one wants to stare at a screen with no clue if what they clicked on is working or not.

If you can afford it and want a UX virtuoso to do the work for you, you can get a UX audit from Fulcrum. The experts will conduct a full-fledged UX audit and create wireframes with solutions for your UX issues.

However, no matter how you go about it, a good UX design is important. Higher rate conversions and user retention won’t happen if your product is just pushing people away.

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