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Want To Buy A 3d Printer - Which Should I Buy?

Hiro_Protag0nist
Level 13
If you have one please tell me about it - how long have you had it, how much do you use it?

Is it great or awful?
21 REPLIES 21

nosys70
Level 5

you are a bit off topic but....

Printers are all the same, basically they feed a plastic filament trough an hot end and draw with the melted plastic, so you need to check for the following parameters.

Most important is size of print bed. An excellent printer but too small is not very helpful.

Then you have to check for material you want to print with.

Standard material is PLA, but you will find ABS (require a heated print platform) , soft filament (tricky to feed), soluble filament (very usefull but need a dual head printer).

Avoid printers that come with proprietary parts like cartridge for filament or nozzle, or special software, it is always a trouble and means more expenses.

Generic printers usually can be usually fixed/upgraded with generic parts for cheap. You would also find a lot of parts that can be 3dprinted. Generic printers are also more forgiving about accepting various filament.

Avoid kits if you never get such equipement assembled, All printers require some manual work (putting kapton tape on the heated printbed, making sure belts are correctly tensioned, cleaning nozzle, making small adjustment) and almost all require assembling a few parts out of the box and fine tuning.

Personally a got the wanhao 4x dual head. the print bed is large, that printer came almost ready and is simple to use.

http://wanhaousa.com/products/duplicator-4x

It was cheap (800$). I print mostly ABS, a few parts with flexible filament.

most printers are x/y/z tables (different types, sometimes table is fixed, sometime head is fixed) , but if you print very high parts you can choose a delta-type.

The probleme with delta type is the head must be very light, so it makes very difficult to have dual head on this type of printer.

If you need to make complex parts, you will certainly need support. Support must be removed when print is finished, and sometime it is next to impossible to do a clean job.

Soluble filament are very good, because you can use it as support. at the end of the print you just need to wash the model with hot water.

but use of soluble filament for support require dual head printer.



Roaster
Level 8
I bought a kit for $450ish and assembly was pretty easy, but I'm good with this kind of stuff.  I'd recommend a metal frame instead of plastic, standard parts as mentioned above because you'll have to rebuild the extruder periodically for worn gear and nozzle replacements, heater replacement, and some cables will fail after a while due to repeated flexing.  My extruder motor got funny for a while and after replacing the whole works, found it was the stepper motor cable had gone out.
One of the features I like most is a Z proximity sensor and auto bed leveling software.  Setting the bed height is one of the most tedious chores, and it's a good thing when the hardware makes up for small errors.  I had to replace the bed adjustment nuts with nylock type due to loosening.  You need to put some lock-tite on other fasteners to stop disasters.
Reality is you'll have to do maintenance and rebuilding, so a kit gets you the assembly knowledge.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B015IHMOSK/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o03_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Price is down to $390, pretty good deal imo.
i7-5820K @ 4.2Ghz, water cooled, Asus X99-Pro USB 3.1, 48 Gb DDR4 2400, Samsung 950 pro M.2 SSD, GTX 980 Ti SC, 750w psu

falken76
Level 13
All 3d printers are not the same.  Stay away from any Makerbot that is 5th gen or newer, they have a garbage design for their Print head and it is prone to clogging.  Their 4th Gen printers are excellent though (Largely based on Open Source RepRap)

Flashforge is an excellent brand, they made makerbot clones, but they improved on design.  The Flashforge Creator Pro is actually a clone of the Makerbot Replicator 2x but with all the updates to make it great.  It is a dual head printer.  It has a heated build plate so you can print in many different materials.

Most printers you find will be PLA printers because PLA is much easier to print with.  That means those printers will not come with a heated print bed.  PLA is a material that is biodegradable but it is weak, it melts or warps in relatively low heat.  Dishwashers will warp parts if you put it in there.  So you can't really make much to sell parts.  I use ABS on parts that I sell. 

I've been using these printers since Feb of 2012 and they provide all my income.  The printers paid for my rift setup completely.  I know how to do design though.  I bought the printers because I thought it would be so awesome to be able to print the models I made in 3dsmax.  If you don't have an interest in learning how to do any design work then it would be a complete waste of money.  You'd only be able to print other peoples work from sites like thingiverse.com and being able to make something and print it out is so rewarding.  Designing will get much easier, look at medium.  I can't use it to design the parts I sell because I need exact measurements and precision, so parametric design is part of what I need, but the point is that it is getting a lot easier to design things than it was less than 10 years ago.

I would recommend the Flashforge Creator Pro.  It's a sturdier design than the Flashforge Dreamer.  The Dreamer has a design flaw, the thermal couples that measure temps terminate above the extruders where all the heat is at the top of the case.  Over time the ambient temperature climbs, since the thermal couples terminate above the extruders they will send incorrect information to the controller board and the board will respond by trying to adjust the temps to maintain the settings.  What happens is the temperature fluxuates too much and causes prints to warp.  It takes a long time so this will happen on prints that take hours to do.  The Creator Pro terminates at the controller board that is located underneath the build area so Ambient termperatures do not affect the readings so the printer maintains proper temperatures all the time.  I own both of these printers.

If you can get a used Makerbot Replicator 2 at a decent price, that printer is a workhorse like an old muscle car.  You can upgrade the hell out of it.  Standard it is a PLA printer.

A good printer with excellent support and compatible with good software (Simplify3d - $175) the printer will cost between $800 - $1000

If you go with a DIY printer for a few hundred dollars, you had better make sure there's an active google group for it or some form of active support because you will need it if you are new to this.

falken76
Level 13

Roaster said:

 Setting the bed height is one of the most tedious chores, and it's a good thing when the hardware makes up for small errors.  I had to replace the bed adjustment nuts with nylock type due to loosening.  You need to put some lock-tite on other fasteners to stop disasters.
Reality is you'll have to do maintenance and rebuilding, so a kit gets you the assembly knowledge.

Leveling a print bed is like riding a bike, before you know it you can do it no problem.  Manual bed leveling is muc better than automatic in my experience.  My brother got an up mini and it takes forever for it to do its auto level.  I level my Creator Pro manually in 1 minute or less.  They're very easy to maintain once you use them for a short time.  Everyone should have a lot of extra parts on hand because these things are constantly flexing cables and are prone to clogging if you use a PTFE lined heat tube as opposed to a metal one.  PTFE lined heat tubes are very common.

jaimi
Level 5
My wife gave me a Monoprice Maker Select 3D V2 - which is a rebranded Wanhao duplicator I3 v2.

Heated bed, 100micron resolution, print resolution is good, but not great. It's a lot of fun, and the price is right - around $350. You use Cura for slicing, which works well.  You can print with PLA or ABS. But for exotic materials that require an extremely hot printhead, this is not the printer for you.

I recommend it as a first printer. It will last you a while. At least until you decide you need a 50 micron layer, or you need to print in some exotic high-temp material. And it's mostly assembled - just a few bolts, adjust the bed height, and you're good to go, you'll be printing in 5 minutes.

FrozenPea
Level 13
I have a wanhao duplicator i3 V2 and I've got it printing to a pretty high quality now with modifications. (Funny enough I came online to post of pic of a print i made from a medium sculpt!)

The Wanhao Duplicator i3 V2/Maker Select are a great first machine because they are cheap, very solid machines and you can learn a lot from them. It does require some work though if you want to make it print really well but there are tons of online resources for it! There is nothing automatic about this printer but it's a great printer for the price.

For your first printer I would stay away from any dual heads for now, they come with more problems and aren't wourth the pro's in my opinion. Unless you plan on printing a lot of dissolvable supports, which have their rare cases when they are actually useful. I've never felt like I've needed it with my printer at home.

If you wanted to spend more money to have more 'automatic' features you could go for the original prusa i3 which won the best printer from Make magazine- http://shop.prusa3d.com/en/3d-printers/59-original-prusa-i3-mk2-kit.html

Make's 3D printers guide: http://makezine.com/comparison/3dprinters/
Check out my Medium Sculpts: 
https://forums.oculus.com/community/discussion/49696/frozenpeas-sketchbook

Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/FrozenPeaSculpts

falken76
Level 13
A friend of mine has the Wanhao Duplicator I3, it's an excellent printer.  He did a lot of upgrades to get it there, but it is a very reliable printer.

RickyJarvinks
Level 3
I find the makerBot works well.. it can max out its built plate with high precision and only the occasion malfunction. Just keep the heads clean!

BloodyBastard69
Level 4
I picked up a Cube 3 printer new in box for $100. They are going on Ebay for around $150. There are a lot of bad reviews for this particular model,  but it's been a great printer for me. Using blue painters tape instead of the glue helps a LOT with the PLA prints.
For the price I paid, and since I'm a beginner, this has been a fantastic 3D printer. Been using it almost daily for 4 months.