3D Printer Delta vs Cartesian vs Polar – What are They?

Competition in the 3D printing industry is quite high and each printer has its own 3D printing technology and special abilities, so it’s crucial to pick one based on the results you want to achieve.

Like most 3D printers, Tractus3D printers use the FFF 3D printing method (also known as FDM 3D printing), which means everything is printed layer by layer using filament.

In the FDM 3D printing technology, three types of printing systems can be seen: 3D Printer Delta vs Cartesian vs Polar.

3D Printer Delta vs Cartesian vs Polar 3D Printer

The biggest difference between these three systems is their method of moving. Because each Printer system has its own unique way of moving, you will achieve different results.

  • Delta 3D printer

The Delta 3D Printers also use the Cartesian coordinate system, but do not use the linear-motion tracked movement to deposit the filament. Rather, they use 3 arms, each made up of a parallelogram.

By changing the angles of these parallelograms, they are able to move from one X or Y point to another. The arms of a Delta 3D printer can be seen hanging down from a fixed platform.

All of the mechanics that drive the motion of the arms can be seen in that platform. Because of this, the print head of the Delta 3D printer is a lot lighter than if it also had to contain motors for movement.

As expected, the reduced weight also leads to inertia, especially when the movement stops, the production head is able to respond fast, while retaining its accuracy.

The 3D printer Delta often comes equipped with an immovable circular print bed. The circular print bed causes the Delta printer shape to be in circle. So, rectangular objects tend to be rather small when compared to a Cartesian 3D printer.

When placed side by side with a 3D Cartesian printer, the Delta Printer excels at building tall objects. Even the highest point of the print can be made exceptionally accurate.

Making things fairly bigger is also easy, especially in height, because of their design. With an overall less complicated construction and less parts to be used, it reduces costs and maintenance fees.

If what you want is to build a lot of layers on top of each other (vertical) and do not require a lot of horizontal space, then you should consider a Delta 3D printer.

The con of this printer is that it must be much taller than its build volume, due to the arm construction of the machine.

This is why you will normally need more space to place your printer than you would with a Cartesian 3D printer.

Delta 3D printer advantages

  • Lightweight and easy to move
  • Does an amazing job at printing in height
  • Immediate change of direction is possible
  • Maintenance and upgrade is simple
  • More accurate in the centre than on outer limits
  • High print speed and accuracy

Delta 3D printer disadvantages

  • Harder to pinpoint errors
  • More difficult to print objects with large surfaces (horizontal)
  • Format, it requires more space (in height)

READ MORE: Metal 3D Printer Guide

  • Cartesian 3D printer

Next on this 3D Printer Delta vs Cartesian vs Polar 3D Printing is the “Cartesian Printers”

The Cartesian 3D Printers owe much of their name to the Cartesian coordinate system they use, which was first invented by Rene Descartes.

They function based on an X and Y coordinate system and drive the point head on a mechanism that travels linearly on both X and Y axis.

Cartesian printers move from left to right, up and down and front to back. In other words, it gets from A to B by moving just one axis at a time.

A lot of Cartesian printers are made up of a square, moving print bed. Instead of having the nozzle move towards the print bed, the print bed moves towards the muzzle in most situations.

The disadvantage of Cartesian Printers is that their moving parts are quite heavy. Because of this, it is hard for a Cartesian printer to stop or change direction instantaneously.

The constant jerking of the platform can result in prints coming loose ending in inaccurate prints, especially when the prints get higher.

Cartesian 3D printer advantages

  • It is cheaper
  • More consumer friendly
  • Does an amazing job in width (horizontal) prints
  • Simple to enclose most models due to cubic frame
  • Easier to learn due to understandable kinematics

Cartesian 3D printer disadvantages

  • Weight is heavy
  • Has a small bid volume
  • Hard to modify due to spatial constraints
  • No immediate change of direction
  • Not fit to print tall objects

3D Printer Delta vs Cartesian vs Polar

READ MORE: Desktop 3D Printer vs Large 3D Printer

  • Polar 3D Printers

This is the third and last in our 3D Printer Delta vs Cartesian vs Polar comparison review.

Out of the 3 types of printers discussed here, the Polar 3D Printer is definitely the rarest. This is still labeled an emerging design, but more and more 3D printing enthusiast are beginning to understand the advantages that could come with owing on.

It could be that rather than use a Cartesian coordinate system, the 3D Printer Polar use a polar coordinate system.

In the Polar coordinate system, points are defined using only 2 numbers: an angle in 3D space, and a separation radius (or distance) from a pre-defined center.

Watching a Polar 3D Printer in action is breathtaking. The moving mechanisms are sure very different from what we are used to seeing in Cartesian 3D Printers. Instead of a stationary build platform, the print bed of a Polar 3D printer can rotate, move back and forth, or move left and right.

This allows it to have a print bed that is almost stationary – it only moves up and down when switching to a another layer.

This super ingenious design allows Polar 3D Printers to create great build volume using a much smaller space.

Because they can function with just 2 stepper motors: one to rotate and move the build platform, and another to control the print head elevation, Polar 3D printers are said to be power efficient.

Evidently, the most obvious disadvantage of using a Polar 3D Printer is that it’s not yet so common. There are limited parts or support available for these printer types.

Their rarity also makes them cost a lot – a Polar 3D Printer will cost more than twice, maybe thrice a comparable Cartesian 3D Printer. But, the wider acceptance of Polar 3D Printers seems to be on the horizon. Hopefully, this brings about better accessibility for this technology type.

Which One Is Better?

Each 3D printer type has its own advantage, so it’s not right to categorically state that one is better than another.

Cartesian 3D Printers enjoy the merit of being so common and popular that they have now become much cheaper and more user-friendly.

They also function based on intuitiveness – Our brains are wired so easily to comprehend movement and positioning in the Cartesian coordinate system. If you’re a newbie in the world of 3D printing, then we highly suggest you begin with a Cartesian 3D printer.

Delta 3D Printers are meant for more specialized applications. This 3D printer can build quick and build high – two features that can bring a load of problems on their own.

You will need to know how layer adhesion works before you can get good results with a Delta 3D Printer.

If you think you have a good handle of the adjustments and techniques needed to get god results in a bunch of 3D printing conditions, then you may consider getting a Delta 3D printer.

Polar 3D Printers are still a bit too expensive and techy for casual 3D printing. No doubt, there are many advantages to using Polar 3D printer, such as a smaller footprint and more efficient power consumption.

They also excel in creating builds with lots of circular elements and are fast. But, the technology is strongly still in development stage, and there likely aren’t lots of experts in this field you can rely on for support.

We advise that you let the technology mature for a while so that you can get in a more affordable and user-friendly form.

The future: 3D printers with robotic arms

Aside these 3 types, a couple of inventive and enterprising people have developed even more ways of 3D printing. One example is the Selective Compliance Assembly Robotic Arm (SCARA) which was developed by Nicholas Seward.

As its name implies, this 3D printer uses a print head mounted on an articulated arm, much like a robotic component of a car assembly line.

The articulated arm makes one reach a much higher degree of mobility which, in theory, should be able to lead to the creation of more complex builds.

As of the time of writing this article, this 3D printing technology is not yet available on a commercial scale. At the moment, it’s simply a glimpse of what the future of 3d Printing could look like.

Final thoughts

Having reviewed 3D printer Delta vs Cartesian vs Polar, it’s amazing to see how far 3D printing technology has come so far. We trust that you can now pick one that is best for you.

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