Polar printers are particularly unusual in 3D printing. this is not only because they look different but because they use a completely different coordinate system from most printers. The vast majority of 3D printers use a coordinate system known as cartesian coordinates.
These are the X-, Y-, and Z-axes. Polar printers use polar coordinates, denoting an angle, a length, and a height. In reality, this still works to create the same shapes in the same space, but it’s a different way of defining it.
Polar printers exclusively work on circular print beds; no other shape makes sense with the polar coordinate system. This is in distinct opposition to the almost exclusively square or rectangular print beds used in most other 3D printer types.
The overall structure of most 3D printers is generally boxy, but for polar printers, the chassis is a simple L shape. The circular print bed is mounted at the L base while the print head is mounted on the upright. In most polar printer designs, the print bed moves forward and backward about the upright. It rotates to allow the print head to reach the entire build area.
The print head itself only moves vertically. Some polar printers buck this trend by designing the print head to move back and forth. Theoretically, there’s no reason that the print bed itself couldn’t move in all three dimensions, with the print head held in exactly one spot.
While polar printers certainly look different and can draw attention. Both because of their unique style of movement and printing, they’re not particularly popular. Using a different coordinate system means that not all slicing software will be compatible.
Additionally, there’s a much smaller user base to ask support questions to because of their rarity. This point especially means that polar printers are not a great choice for beginners. A polar printer can be a good choice if you’re looking to experiment with a new concept.
Unfortunately, you will have to pay a fair amount for the privilege as there aren’t any particularly cheap options available.
Polar printers can be a cool experiment and will certainly draw some attention, but they’re likely not for everyone. Have you got a polar printer? Let us know your thoughts on it down below.