3d Printers: Not For The Weary.

 
#1

We all talk about owning a 3D printer. We marvel over the ideas of the cool things it makes. But we all need to remember that like most electronic devices, there is a learning curve and specific knowledge and PATIENCE required. By now many of you guys have seen my 3d prints. There cool and all but they come with a price, and that price is TIME. I am posting this message from personal experience and from friends who have 3d printers that have turned out to be expensive paper weights and plant stands. When buying a 3D printer be sure your ok with the "not just push a button" and bam! a 3d arm prints out. You will have to learn 3d modeling, and have to maintain the printer( lubing rods( that sounded real bad) cleaning nozzles, and being prepared for failure.Yes i said failure. Your first prints which will probably be samples included with the printer or an item d/l from the web will print ok, it is the stuff you design which will be the test of your will and patience. My friend has a makerbot 2x for 3 months. printed almost everything from the samples library included with the printer. Ask him if he printed his personal designs..... hold your ears for the (&^%@$!) curses all because he thought it was fancy easy bake oven for making fun plastic toys. Needless to say he has it covered and a poinsettia plant on top. He rushed in, spent alot of cash($3000) and now cant use it because he is a graphics artist not a tech person. Today i had issues with my replicator. kept jamming. Turned out the heater block died and the fan burnt out. Luckily i have spare parts on hand since my earlier troubles i now know to be prepared. So i replaced it and continued my work. This is what to expect from a 3D printer. its not glamorous but if you have patience and the drive to learn new things you will be better off in the end.
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#2

aamerlishas pointed out some very good points. When deciding you're going to try out a 3D printer, before you buy one look around at 3D CAD software, some is free and other packages have a monthly fee or come packaged with the 3D printer. I went for the dual extruder FlashForge 3D printer($1199) and the 123D Design software(Freeware version), and another freebie that can be used is Blender and for about $60 you can get a 3D design package called PUNCH via CAD 3D . Slicing software is another area that one can look into that is used to convert your 3D image into code that the 3D printer uses to extrude the ABS or PLA material ReplicatorG and MakerWare are two such programs that many 3D owners use. Then there are additional firmware changes to pump into your 3D printers AtMega chip (sailfish) that adds additional options to control your printers options during the 3D images creation. And after all that fun if you feel you want to tweek your final STL file(output from 3D building software) you can play with a program like 3D-Tool-Free.

Then after you have hopefully found a good source for the extruder filament PLA/ABS that gives you the results you like for your designs you will want to start making a few mods to enhance your Printer. You might consider using a glass plate to print on as well as mini fans to cool the PLA. Maybe some stronger metal rods to support the extruders and some better sealed ball bearings and different inside the print bed lighting as well as enclosures.

All in all, it's like robot building, IT NEVER STOPS !

#3

Geesh! I think I'll wait till EZ Robots comes out with a brand of their own printer that makes 3D printing EZ for the rest of us. The "EZ 3D Printer Revolution".

#4

There's always the option to have your items professionally printed. Let them have all the headaches. :/

#5

I am just the oposite from aameralis. I have a technical background,but need to learn the design features. I have printed about a large roll of ABS. I tried PLA, but had no luck. These are on items I have tried to design myself as Mr. Aameralis isn't ready to share his STL files. I hate to re-invent the wheel. So, in my case I have a $4,000 paperweight (Botchy). It makes me sick to think of it. But, life has got to move forward.
I am not sorry I purchased the Flashforge Replicator Dual. (I had to put my Lexus in hock for a couple of years.) Even with all the frustrations and headaches, all in all, it has the best potential of being a robot that can do something useful.

#6

I expect like any emerging technology, the early adopters will experience some pain, and some will decide it is too much and give up, but the makers (manufacturers and individuals) will continue to improve the technology until it becomes more plug and play, with self maintaining bits and pieces. (as long as the current patent war doesn't squash the industry before it gets started. see
makezine.com/2013/11/27/stratasys-sues-afinia-ramifications-for-the-desktop-3d-printing-industry/

I appreciate Aameralis living on the bleeding edge and sharing his experiences and advice with us.

Alan

#7

@techguru thanks, I like to give people the heads up, because it is a pricey investment that exceeds the buying price. Lower end ( cheaper printers ) may seen like a deal, but what happens when they freak out. If your not experienced it will cost triple the printer price to proceed.

@mel unfortunately leXI's parts can be put up as free domain due to business venture I'm involved with.that is why her stl's have not been put up. I will be putting up other parts that don't pertain to my agreement. It's not personal just business.

#8

3d printers are a tool and with that take patience and skill to use them well. It takes someone who is a little techie, works with their hands, loves to spend hours making something and is willing to learn making the 3d stl. I have to learn and I'm sure that will have its growing pains.

#9

Goodmorning Everyone :-}
Well we just got blasted by the snow and now the sub-low temperatures are here and I am staying in for a day or 2 or 3.
I just wanted to say Thank You aameralis for writing and explaining things more about the 3d printing. I have been debating on buying a printer, but I am very leary right now. I mean I am very openminded and creative and mechanically inclined and I do have patience, but I am also designing and figuring out what parts and pieces I need and customizing them to fit together, I just feel like I would be wasting my money at this time. And then if I was to purchase a printer, my luck they will make a newer and better one for less money.
I see what you have done and I think to myself, Oh my god I have to get a 3d printer, but then the more I think about it, it's more like compulsive buying, but the thought is still there. The other night I was about to hit the enter button and order a 3d printer, but right at the last second I closed explorer and walked away.
So as of right now, my top priority is working with what I have and what I got coming from Ebay and what I find in antique shops and believe me, I have some very unique ideas and designs for my first robot.
And well like most of you on here I am waiting patiently for the V4 kit and other parts I ordered from our favorite company :-}
After reading what aameralis wrote, I am just going to wait and see what advances are made in the 3d printer world this year.

Steve G.

#10

@Mr.A., at least now I have an answer to this situtation. If there are any items like the bracket for the claw that has an ez-clip that was missing on your claw on Thingaverse. Or the neck pieces. Especially the box on the arms. Let me know, I would like to play with them. If they are under contract, ok then. Just let me know.

Now, it all makes sense. Just ignoring someone does not give closure. Now, I have closure. I was beginning to think that you hated me.

@stonewolf, I was feeling much like you when I purchased my first microcomputer in 1975. But, I then, I realized that if I waited until the latest and the greatest, it would never happen. There will always be a product that will come out that will make you want to throw yours in the trash. It is just the way technology is. I am not sorry that I purchased that computer or this FlashForge Replicator with all of the enhancements. I would suggest to just get the best that you can find in your research at the time. See if it pleases you, and then enjoy it knowing that someday you will upgrade to a much better machine. But, in the mean time, you will have made the journey.