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What's the most key point when you decide to get a 3d printer — Parallax Forums

What's the most key point when you decide to get a 3d printer

As the title said, what's the key point when you want to get your first 3d printer? Speed or others?

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Comments

  • Price

  • bob_g4bbybob_g4bby Posts: 346
    edited 2022-11-05 15:28

    There is a list of key points:-

    Commercial / Home use - two different lifetime reqts like any power tool
    Print speed is not usually a key issue for home use
    The max size of object you're likely to want to make
    Heated table
    Rigid, chunky construction = better surface finish ( important if the printed part is on show )
    Compatible with PrusaSlicer (or other popular application with many features)
    Auto-calibration of table height
    Print surface replacement easily obtained
    Can be run from sdcard or usb link
    Noise output, they nearly all need a room to themselves
    Print head can take the various plastics you need (temp range sufficient)
    Easily cleaned / lubricated
    Good reputation in the marketplace

    For home use, I took a risk on a Chinese eBay kit - thus not following a lot of the advice above! Some slide rails were unfit for service and the supplier replaced them. The power supply failed a year later and is replaced. It's running well otherwise. I have a self-adhesive print surface mat to fit before doing some more jobs. (They wear out and the print ceases to stick to the bed) I keep the ball-race 'sliders' lubed with a drop of light oil before use. My printer is quite large because of the size of object needed. The print quality is not the best, but printed reinforcement parts for the printer frame helped and printing more slowly helps too. I can print in PLA any size, but only very squat objects in ABS otherwise layer splitting occurs. I only run the printer during the day as a fire precaution - it's in a spare bedroom. I keep the window open to get rid of fumes.

  • The most key point is to decide if you really need it or you just want it.

    Only then come the rest of your requirements (needs or wants) and then doggiedoc and bob_g4bby have given you the directions to follow.

  • MicksterMickster Posts: 2,304

    For me, the best 3d printer is someone else's.

    My buddy has 10 different models and from what I've observed....too much faffing around for me. I'm having him do my prototypes and then I'll use JLCPCB for production.

    Stepper noise: Trinamic drivers solve this problem.

    PCBWAY
    https://youtu.be/KkFcUJcRSws

    JLCPCB
    https://youtube.com/watch?v=7ilgFhqrWh4&t=639s

  • msrobotsmsrobots Posts: 3,612

    I went into 3D printing quite early, a RAPman printer. Horrible experience.

    As soon as parts get bigger you need heated bed, adhesive stuff to keep things from warping and patience.

    Separating layers, parts loosing contact and moving, warping while cooling, the whole shebang.

    3D printing sounds easy but it is not.

    Mike

  • potatoheadpotatohead Posts: 10,242
    edited 2022-11-07 04:01

    Features.

    But I am biased toward high end printers because my company does that. ($16k to $35k machines!) So I have been spoiled, but still do a lot on the cheap with what I learned on the high end industrial printers.

    I will put that knowledge here.

    For most materials, speed is what it is. Above a certain point, part intregity and overall accuracy / appearance will suffer. And most machines can hit that point. Then, you can push it and take the tradeoffs as you feel makes the best sense

    An open printer with heated bed can print some good polymers. And a single extruder means self support, which is great in PLA, less great with other materials. Of course one can design that problem away in most cases.

    The basic features:

    Bed heater
    Robust frame
    Low hassle leveling
    Single extruder
    Part cooling fan
    Etc...

    ...can be had at a lot of different price points under $1000. I tend to land in the few hundred dollar range and get a bigger build volume. An example is my Creality CR-10. Was $300. Works great! And one can add on.

    Single extruder prints, designed to not require supports are the fastest prints. Multi material, and that is either support being different, or different build materials in the same part, are the slowest prints.

    From there, price goes way up, but all the polymers, except the super expensive, high temp ones, become available. To get at those is a lot of money to do it right and few people need them.

    If you want a good middle ground, look for, or create these features:

    Base features plus:

    Heated chamber
    More than one extruder
    Chamber fan
    G10 build plate, or other type that grips when warm, releases when cool. That is to avoid adhesives and such. I dislike that process a lot.

    With these features, you get water soluble support, or break away, ability to do flexible polymers, and many more geometries are possible with low hassle.

    The machines I work with most right now have 3 extruders. They are not cheap, but can print almost anything in almost any polymer with supports that come apart or dissolve.

    I have material sales data for the last 5 years or so, and the vast majority of parts, that are not PLA parts, are done with these polymers:

    ASA (Great, low toxicity replacement for ABS, and it is UV resistant)
    HIPS (Mostly used as support material. It can be a useful build material!)
    PETG (Like the clear plastic utensils you get at the grocery store. Very precise, low warp, all around useful material, and my favorite.)
    CF-PETG (Same as above, but very seriously, significantly tougher, but it's gonna be black.)
    PA12CF35 (Nylon 12 with carbon fiber. This is probably the strongest and toughest polymer you will print on a modest machine)
    TPU 95A (Flexible, whoo-hoo! )

    "CF" = Carbon Fiber and materials that warp or pull up will do a lot less of that when they have the carbon fibers added.

    At the high end, people pay a lot to get good parts with higher end polymers! And they get printing support, training and such.

    This is what I recommend to go dirt cheap and hit the mark on those polymers I mentioned above: ( I enjoy figuring out how to print a cool polymer on a home brew setup)

    One can get almost as good as a high end machine using something like a Creality CR-10 as your base printer, a home made enclosure and fan to achieve "chamber heat" and Garolite G10 build plate material. Add an additional extruder and that kind of setup can do most parts in many of the better polymers listed above! Home made = styrofoam. No joke. It's light, you can set it over your printer, and it holds the heat in nicely.

    For chamber heat, I have had good luck just enclosing the machine and letting the bed heater warm the enclosure. Takes a half hour. Or a little heater and fan works too. Getting 50 to 70C is pretty doable, and you just have to know what your motors will tolerate.

    Doing that will put most parts, the popular materials and supports within reach.

    Edit: G-10 or FR-10 are excellent build plate materials. You can run the plate hot, up to 130C, if you want to. This can really help some parts bond, and if you have enclosed the machine, you get a 40C + maybe even 50C chamber for free! The Garolite will release parts when cool too.

  • I almost forgot!!

    Make sure it is open. If it's a g-code driven printer, it's probably open enough to not worry about it much. Avoid anything that requires it's own software, materials, and such.

  • @bob_g4bby said:
    There is a list of key points:-

    Commercial / Home use - two different lifetime reqts like any power tool
    Print speed is not usually a key issue for home use
    The max size of object you're likely to want to make
    Heated table
    Rigid, chunky construction = better surface finish ( important if the printed part is on show )
    Compatible with PrusaSlicer (or other popular application with many features)
    Auto-calibration of table height
    Print surface replacement easily obtained
    Can be run from sdcard or usb link
    Noise output, they nearly all need a room to themselves
    Print head can take the various plastics you need (temp range sufficient)
    Easily cleaned / lubricated
    Good reputation in the marketplace

    For home use, I took a risk on a Chinese eBay kit - thus not following a lot of the advice above! Some slide rails were unfit for service and the supplier replaced them. The power supply failed a year later and is replaced. It's running well otherwise. I have a self-adhesive print surface mat to fit before doing some more jobs. (They wear out and the print ceases to stick to the bed) I keep the ball-race 'sliders' lubed with a drop of light oil before use. My printer is quite large because of the size of object needed. The print quality is not the best, but printed reinforcement parts for the printer frame helped and printing more slowly helps too. I can print in PLA any size, but only very squat objects in ABS otherwise layer splitting occurs. I only run the printer during the day as a fire precaution - it's in a spare bedroom. I keep the window open to get rid of fumes.

    Wow! Impressive and thank you for the detailed reply. I think the speed is the most important thing I will care more now.

  • @msrobots said:
    I went into 3D printing quite early, a RAPman printer. Horrible experience.

    As soon as parts get bigger you need heated bed, adhesive stuff to keep things from warping and patience.

    Separating layers, parts loosing contact and moving, warping while cooling, the whole shebang.

    3D printing sounds easy but it is not.

    Mike

    Thank you mike, is the temp of the hotbed higher the better?

  • msrobotsmsrobots Posts: 3,612

    Depends on the material you want to print.

    The problem with warping is that the layer below is cooling before the next layer is added.

    The heated bed helps in two ways, it helps to have the printed object to stick in position and it generally heats up the chamber too, so the part is cooling more slowly.

    And yes a chamber is very useful else taller parts cool to much before the next layer and do not bond right.

    Read careful thru what @potatohead wrote, he usually knows what he is talking about.

    Mike

  • evanhevanh Posts: 13,849

    G-code is cool in its simplicity. It's a real survivor too, goes back to paper tape and punch cards.

    The flip side is it's so non-specific that one program looks the same as another in terms of suiting a particular machine. The CAM software needs to have the specific machine knowledge for the generated G-code to be applicable to that machine. In many cases that's just a simple case of loading the tool numbers to suit the tooling. In other cases it needs detailed knowledge of clearances and offsets and special I/O sequencing (M-codes).

  • Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi) Posts: 23,491
    edited 2022-11-21 19:52

    My first 3D printer was one of the original Makerbot units. Constructed mostly of plywood, it was junk, IMO, and put me off of 3D printers for years. I ended up giving it to the local high school -- probably not much of a favor.

    Last year I bought a Creality Ender-3 V2. What a difference in quality! And at what a price! If you're new to 3D printing, I cannot recommend this one enough. The aluminum extrusion construction is very sturdy, and print quality is amazing. And it's quiet! Check out their website, and compare its features with those of the recommendations in this thread.

    I do my 3D designs in RhinoCAD and export them in STL to the free Ultimaker 4.11.0 slicer. I love RhinoCAD, although it's expensive for home use. The Ultimaker slicer rates merely a meh, IMO. Some of the support structures it creates for overhangs are difficult to remove, and I've broken several models trying to. But I still use it. Also it's metric only, so if you do your designs in inches, you'll have to scale them up by 25.4 just before exporting to STL.

    One thing to be aware of if you buy the Creality printer with a credit card (or via PayPal with a credit card, like I did): the dealer shown on your credit card bill will be a Chinese company you've never heard of. When I got my bill, I reported it to Bank of America as a fraudulent charge. They took care of it, pronto, which led to more than one "WTF" email from Creality. It took months to clear this up, but we finally did, with Creality finally made whole again.

    -Phil

  • @doggiedoc said:
    Price

    Yes the price is one of the important thing I am going to consider. How about other things like printing speed and printing quality?

  • @"Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)" said:
    My first 3D printer was one of the original Makerbot units. Constructed mostly of plywood, it was junk, IMO, and put me off of 3D printers for years. I ended up giving it to the local high school -- probably not much of a favor.

    Last year I bought a Creality Ender 2. What a difference in quality! And at what a price! If you're new to 3D printing, I cannot recommend this one enough. The aluminum extrusion construction is very sturdy, and print quality is amazing. And it's quiet! Check out their website, and compare its features with those of the recommendations in this thread.

    I do my 3D designs in RhinoCAD and export them in STL to the free Ultimaker 4.11.0 slicer. I love RhinoCAD, although it's expensive for home use. The Ultimaker slicer rates merely a meh, IMO. Some of the support structures it creates for overhangs are difficult to remove, and I've broken several models trying to. But I still use it. Also it's metric only, so if you do your designs in inches, you'll have to scale them up by 25.4 just before exporting to STL.

    One thing to be aware of if you buy the Creality printer with a credit card (or via PayPal with a credit card, like I did): the dealer shown on your credit card bill will be a Chinese company you've never heard of. When I got my bill, I reported it to Bank of America as a fraudulent charge. They took care of it, pronto, which led to more than one "WTF" email from Creality. It took months to clear this up, but we finally did, with Creality finally made whole again.

    -Phil

    Thank you, but I saw many users said that ender's machines have lots of problems.

  • potatoheadpotatohead Posts: 10,242
    edited 2022-11-09 11:07

    The biggest impact on speed, that is not geometry dependent, comes from the extruder nozzle size and extruder heat capability.

    A bigger nozzle = much faster parts, the cost being detail. Minimum feature sizes are larger.

    A stronger heater can fully melt the filament at higher feed rates. Important for larger nozzle sizes and some polymers.

    Designing parts with minimum detail, and to not require support materials are serious contributors to part print speed.

    Both of these factors affect print speed more than the difference between machines will. This is largely due to the nature of the FFF/FDM process! High performing machines blasting through a poorly optimized model can be beat by very basic machines, under $300 is one way to define basic, printing an optimized model.

    Same goes for nozzle sizes. A machine running a larger nozzle wins over pretty much anything else running a smaller nozzle.

    0.4mm is the default. Not too fast, not too slow, great part detail. Most things can be printed at useful speeds and feature sizes.

    0.3mm offers more detail at almost half the speed in many cases.

    0.5mm is another excellent choice.

    0.6mm makes much faster parts at the cost of minimum feature sizes go up considerably. Not all parts can be made with acceptable fidelity.

    Re: Creality

    I really like those machines and have owned and operated a number of them. Often people reporting machine trouble may be reporting self inflicted trouble. Ask me how I know, lmao! The CR-10 and Mini are pretty great.

    A friend has a $100 machine they spent another hundred to make work well.

    Below about $400, component quality is a real issue as are missing features one will definitely add on. It is almost always better to get a more expensive base machine and only add on to improve capabilities, not basic function.

    The bigger names tend to have support and printing info. Better component quality too.

    I have had good luck with Prusa, and Makerbot machines.

    Unless one spends a ton of money, all of the machines require learning and some TLC, especially once you move away from PLA as your printing material. Literally every other polymer is harder to make good parts with.

    The process does require some learning. Once people are over that basic hump, most inexpensive machines are not that different in what can be done. Speed varies somewhat more, and like I said above, well conceived models win the day on almost any machine.

  • pik33pik33 Posts: 1,813
    edited 2022-11-21 08:27

    The biggest impact on speed, that is not geometry dependent, comes from the extruder nozzle size and extruder heat capability.

    There is also acceleration.

    2 different printers, the same speed settings, the same nozzle and layer, 2..3x longer print time on a cheaper printer because of default acceleration (200 vs 3500) so the cheap printer doesn't even have time to reach the speed while printing curves or short paths.
    Now, the acceleration can be set higher in the slicer, (on a cheap one) results with ringing effect first, then broken tensioner.

  • evanhevanh Posts: 13,849
    edited 2022-11-21 08:50

    Or engineered rigidity of the mechanics. The accel is set to suit the mechanical stability.

  • I bought a cheap Ender 3 at the beginning of this month to see if I might like 3D printing. I had done some reseach and the Ender 3 was recommended as the #1 entry level printer.

    https://www.creality3dofficial.com/products/official-creality-ender-3-3d-printer?gclid=Cj0KCQiA4OybBhCzARIsAIcfn9lRG_kwqtUe8yRC6ccVbmAriKAnWL3jslmAO-iU4d9XJY7QRY5IVCAaAgBmEALw_wcB

    It's on sale now for $159 tax free. Mine took 3 days from order to delivery here in the USA.

    Print speed is relative to what you want but the Ender and many printers in this range are not particularly fast, larger parts can go into the 10's of hours.

    I like it and have no regrets, one of the most important features of any printer is having a level bed to print on, I spent another $20 for a glass bed and the improvement was huge. I also ordered a roll of PLA filament because the printer only came with a sample piece of filament. If you want to pay a little more you can buy printers with auto levelling.

    Temperature is a limiting factor on the filament you choose to print with, I'm starting out with PLA and getting good results, I want to modify the extruder and try PETG a little further down the road, PETG requires a higher printer temp than PLA but is a more resilient material for outdoors.

    Another consideration is 3D modelling software and a slicer software that produces the Gcode, after reading the reviews I went with Onshape for the creation of parts and Cura slicer for producing the gcode.

    Before you start modelling it pays to check out whats available on the internet, Thingiverse and Printables are good resources for files that plug straight into Cura. Of particular interest, to me anyway, are the number of printable parts associated with electronics, project boxes etc.

    None of this is really difficult and once you have the machine assembled you can be printing your first test piece within minutes.

  • ercoerco Posts: 20,207

    If you're a beginner and don't know, you're like 80% of people who drank the koolaid and bought one just to try it out a couple times and abandon it in a corner. Start by buying one of these barely used (but verified functional) printers to see what it's about. It's not for everyone.

    But you are committed to really jumping in and learning, don't buy a cheap PLA-only printer. You'll outgrow it quickly. As others have said, most heavy users have 3+ machines of varying complexity.

    My biz partner does all of our 3D design on his iPad pro using https://www.shapr3d.com/ , now available for Windows too. Much cheaper than solidworks and lightning fast.

  • banjobanjo Posts: 436

    My biz partner does all of our 3D design on his iPad pro using https://www.shapr3d.com/ , now available for Windows too. Much cheaper than solidworks and lightning fast

    Thx Erco for this info! I've used both the free 3D-builder app bundled with Win10 and TinkerCad, but this Shapr3d seems easier to use. Working at an university, I could get an educational license for 1 year.
    Related to 3D-printers, I have a very cheap but functional TronxyX1 at home, costed only 80 € with free delivery from China. A pain to assemble, but I was surprised with the quality a cheapy printer might produce. With trial and error I've been able to print using PETG, and some PLA-wood filament as well, in addition to normal PLA. As this was my first venture into 3D-printing, I did not want to throw away hundreds of euros for something I might not use much. A week ago I got hold of an used and to be scrapped huge Wanhao Duplicator 500 printer, the maximum print area is 500x500x500 mm. Have not tried it yet, but it is said to be functioning.

    At our university laboratory my students are right now assembling 3 Creality Ender, 3 Anycubic Kossel, and 3 Anet A8 printers. The Ender printers were the easiest ones to assemble and the students could start printing quite soon. The two other models are so far a nightmare, but that is also part of the learning the students are doing.

  • ceptimusceptimus Posts: 135
    edited 2022-11-21 21:40

    Learn to use some 3D design program first. Fusion360 (free at the moment for hobby users) or OpenScad are good for engineered, accurately dimensioned parts; Blender is one way of designing more organic shapes. Only if you enjoy the design process should you think of getting a 3D printer.
    I first built a RepRap Huxley, from a kit, and then later built up a Prusa Mk2, also supplied in kit form. I don't print that many objects, but when I do want to make something, it's handy to have the printers around.

    I think this is my most recent creation of any significance: https://printables.com/model/173810-two-servo-clock

  • JRoarkJRoark Posts: 1,138
    edited 2022-11-21 22:48

    @ceptimus What are your thoughts on the Prusa? I’m looking at getting one and would appreciate your thoughts.

  • Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi) Posts: 23,491
    edited 2022-11-21 22:59

    I want to modify the extruder and try PETG a little further down the road, PETG requires a higher printer temp than PLA but is a more resilient material for outdoors.

    Don't underestimate PLA. I used PLA to build a cover for the strut that holds a Thule bike rack onto my Honda CR/V when I'm not using the rack:

    It's been outdoors in direct sun, freezing temperatures, and rain for a year and shows no sign of degradation from the elements.

    -Phil

  • Thank you for that information @Phil Pilgrim that truly is very helpful to me. When I mentioned the PETG being more resilient for outdoors it was because of something I had read and not a personal experience so to see your model was very encouraging.

    There is a power assist for a wheelchair that comes with a throttle, the throttle is designed to clamp to the tubing of the wheelchair. This becomes an issue when travelling by air as the throttle is exposed to being damaged when stowed in the hold of an aircraft, the tube clamp supplied with the throttle is difficult to attatch/detach so I printed a 3D model that interfaced the throttle with a quick release clamp, similar to one used on a camera stand, so that it could be removed before boarding. I am really pleased with the way it turned out and so was the person I made it for. I intend to make more for others, my only hesitation was how PLA would stand up to the elements.

    You might not use a 3D printer every day or every week but things like the strut cover and throttle bracket you can't buy so to be able to design these things and print them at home is pretty cool whether its a $100 or $10000 3D printer.

  • bob_g4bbybob_g4bby Posts: 346
    edited 2022-11-22 09:38

    I've found I made more domestic related 3d prints than electronics hobby related over the years. The outside ones include downspout adapters on roof drainage, caps for washing line posts, covers and brackets on the campervan. PLA has been tough enough and weather proof. Most parts happen to be black. However they can soften in direct sunlight - some thinnish wire antenna standoffs in black have drooped a bit, but not the lighter coloured ones.

    Back to the question of print speed: It matters if you need to make a production run of parts to a deadline. Otherwise I value print finish and strength over speed - and let's face it - any object of some size takes a long time on the fastest printers to a longer long time on a slow printer. They all take multiple hours.

    My choice of Windows design software for hobbyist use : Sketchup Make 2016 with Cleanup and STL Export extensions. PrusaSlicer suits my Anycubic Kossel printer very well - it's getting better all the time. Latest gadget is the ability to dither the external surface of a print to (say) provide a grippy surface for a hand tool. Both applications are freeware. Why that version of Sketchup? It runs unplugged from the internet and is before Trimble started charging for it. Being unsupported, I wouldn't recommend it for business. My QRZ page shows some ham radio printing I did, including Sketchup screen shots.

    If you are making a batch of parts, then a larger bed can be valuable as the slicer allows you to place duplicates of the part together with an estimate of total print time, so you can plan when to come back to collect the prints. It allows the printer to run longer without your attention. Some tuning may be needed, though, to minimise 'stringing' or 'cobwebs' between the duplicates. That is pretty well sorted in PrusaSlicer out of the box.

  • evanhevanh Posts: 13,849

    Outdoor use will be dependant on the UV resistance level. I don't know the ins and outs but many plastics become brittle damn quick without it. It'll need the right additives in the purchased resin.

  • bob_g4bbybob_g4bby Posts: 346
    edited 2022-11-22 10:00

    Plastic parts cracking up is an issue. I plan for failure on the things I've fitted on the campervan for instance. Otherwise, my oldest exterior PLA parts must be 5-6 years old so far and are doing well in the U.K. Hotter countries would be different I think. The one PLA failure I've had was a bird-feeder water dish. May have been frosted. The great thing is you pull out the design and replace it.

  • evanhevanh Posts: 13,849
    edited 2022-11-22 10:10

    Polar regions will be much worse than equatorial because of the thinner ozone layer there. Altitude won't matter, ozone layer is in the stratosphere. Shade will help, and conversely reflective surfaces, like water and snow, make it worse.

  • evanhevanh Posts: 13,849

    I shouldn't blanket say altitude doesn't matter. Low altitude air is generally dirtier and smog acts like a shade.

  • ceptimusceptimus Posts: 135
    edited 2022-11-22 19:22

    @JRoark said:
    @ceptimus What are your thoughts on the Prusa? I’m looking at getting one and would appreciate your thoughts.

    It's been very good. Reliable, accurate prints, with no faffing about having to level the bed, set the first layer height, or other hassles. Mine is the Mk2, which does have noisy stepper motors. I stood it on a heavy concrete slab which, in turn, rests on some rubber balls. That helps isolate the noise and stops it propagating through the whole house. I believe the newer ones have micro-stepping drivers which makes them a lot quieter. A new driver board might be a worthwhile upgrade for mine.

    With the filament driver mounted right on the hot end, the feed is very accurate and controlled. I've printed in PLA, lightweight PLA (which foams up after it comes out of the nozzle, and is very good for printing flying model aircraft), PET-G, ABS, and TPU. Everything prints great, except for larger ABS prints, which tend to warp. That is not really a fault of the printer - ABS always warps, and you really need a hot box to print it in, to get good results with larger items.

    I agree about the resilience of PLA. I printed some new feet for a garden table about five years ago, after accidentally slicing through the originals when mowing the lawn. The table has been stood outside in sun, rain, ice and snow ever since, and the feet still look great. I also printed, in PLA, a small shelf for the shower to stand shampoo bottles and similar on. That's been in the sometimes hot steamy shower for about five years now, too, and still looks like new. I think the thing about PLA being biodegradable is something of a myth. No doubt it could degrade, in perfect conditions, but for ordinary outdoor use it seems more resilient than many commercial plastics. PLA does soften and lose its mechanical strength when it gets hot - so it's no good for printing things that are going to be left inside parked cars on hot, sunny days.

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