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3D Printers Opinions

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  • 3D Printers Opinions

    Been thinking about one of these. Open to different makes just looking for other peoples options. One note have been thinking about one of XYZ Printing's Da Vinci models. down to around 349USD for a 150mm3 volume
    Forty plus years and I still have ten toes, ten fingers and both eyes. I must be doing something right.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Spin Doctor View Post
    Been thinking about one of these. Open to different makes just looking for other peoples options. One note have been thinking about one of XYZ Printing's Da Vinci models. down to around 349USD for a 150mm3 volume
    I suggest you sit down and try one out. All your questions will be answered in 45 minutes. I have no use for one, as much as I try to think of one, the cheap ones lack the resolution or rely on media that is expensive. If you detest inkjet printers, some of these machines will really make you angry.


    • #3
      I've been dinking around with them for a couple years or so. I made mine from scratch loosely based on some design. It works OK but I still have heated bed issues to work out since I like the idea of printing ABS mostly. I could have this worked out long ago but I just play with it more than anything, though I've printed several useful things for myself.

      What isn't talked about regarding 3D printers at all is that they certainly aren't at a point where you can just press a "print" button and expect a good part to come out the other end, and it will be some time before that point is reached if it ever gets there. 3D printers are for tinkerers at minimum. IF you have a printer which is capable of good quality prints, and that can be a struggle depending on what you decide on, then you are still left with either being happy with other people's designs to be downloaded or model them for yourself. As for me, I've never found anything downloadable which was precisely enough what I needed so I've modeled all my own parts. So in summary, you really need to have some kind of proficiency at 3D drawing/modeling for a 3D printer to be useful, and there's a learning curve there.

      Next in the chain is that your part needs to be printable, meaning that certain types of part features can either be 1) difficult to print considering it's squirting out a string of molten plastic and 2) the material may tend to curl and warp as the layers are laid down, especially for larger parts. As for the curling, you can split up the part or redesign it so it doesn't tend to warp so badly, and the features can be redesigned to make it easier for the 3D printer to handle. Either way, it's not always just a matter of modeling a part and pressing "print" even if your printer works well.

      I personally find 3D printing to be fun and useful. You just need to know going in that it isn't nearly as simple nor dependable as printing text & pictures on paper and, at least for now, you should expect to have to spend time tweaking your printer and/or your designs to achieve success. It's getting better all the time, but it's not yet dependable enough to press "go" and reliably have a good part at the end. I think I probably only get 50% success rate with my printer not yet tweaked to work well yet but for me that's still OK and I enjoy hobbying with it. You can get a much higher success rate than mine, but I guarantee you'll still have a fair amount of failures to be worked out even after you've traveled some ways up on the learning curve.

      edit to add: Those Davinci printers have been pretty inexpensive for a while. I don't know whether they are good or not and I'd suggest you check youtube and internet reviews of them, and also advise that you lean toward believing the more critical reviews. As mentioned, no printer just works great so if a review says as much, they are shilling or just don't have much experience yet. The parts that make up a printer are all somewhat similar, so if one is a lot less expensive than another, it could likely be because several quality compromises were made to make that possible. Personally, after wrestling with mine for quite a while now, I would say that it is definitely worth spending more for a better printer if you can afford it. The two best names that I keep hearing excellent reviews about are the new Pruza I3 and the Ultimaker line. Ultimaker has been enjoying a positive reputation for making high-quality printers for some time now and the Pruza I3 is one I would trust to perform well from the reviews I've heard and read (i.e. reputable sources). Pruza is one of the early "inventors" of 3D printing and is very knowledgeable and Ultimaker has been making excellent quality printers for at least a couple years.

      Otherwise if you don't mind more of a struggle, the Davinci appears to be not much worse or better than the one I built and have been enjoying despite its faults. Cheaper way to dip your toe into the waters I guess.
      Last edited by tyrone shewlaces; 10-23-2016, 04:55 PM.


      • #4
        I don't chime in here much at all but I do have some recent experience with 3D fiber deposition printing that I can share.

        I bought a TAZE 5 from Lulzbot in February this year and have used pretty much every week. It is "open source" so you can run about anyone's fiber on it. All the parts are available as .stl files so you can print spares and replacement parts for it and there is a lively community up-dating and improving the machine all the time.

        I'm a prototyper here and use it for one-offs and those funny little parts I really don't want to mill out of solid. I've only used ABS material so far and it's pretty tough stuff for all round use. There are many types of filament offered like PETG, Nylon, PLA, stuff that looks like wood, stuff that looks like metals, all colors and transparencies.

        For it to be useful, you really need to be able to solid model from something like Solidworks or Fusion 360 or (fill in the blanks of your favorite modeller) or you will be stuck with downloading other peoples stuff. Some of the free files are good some are not. You will need a slicer program to turn your .stl into a g-code program to run the printer. The TAZE came with DURA pre-configured for the it, but there are free ones out there also. With a CAD modeler you will be able to import and modify someone else .stl and customize it to your use. The TAZE has a large working volume , like 10" x 10" x 10" cube.

        The printing process is SSSSSSLLLLOOOOWWW. Some stuff takes can let it run all night or while you do something else. I have run a bunch of gears, internal and external, each one taking about 1 hour. I printed an air engine cylinder that took about 8 hrs. The parts do not look like they came off the milling machine. They look like they were printed with melted plastic fiber. You can tweek the process and get some excellent results for something that was printed with melted plastic fiber but you will have to develop your sense of esthetic here. It took you a while to like broccoli, right?

        So if your a CAD modeler and don't want to be limited design wise to milling and turning solids, I think a 3-D printer would be a great addition to your shop.

        I'll go away now............

        Looks like Tyrone came in under me!

        Tim in D


        • #5
          Just to add to Tim's post, the Lulzbot works OK too apparently because a lot of maker spaces pick that one for their "house printer". I don't know whether they are as good as Ultimaker or maybe they are good for their price point per size or something else, but they enjoy significant popularity.


          • #6
            I can only add a little to this discussion, but I have used a variety of machines at work (we have a motley collection of better and worse makes) and seen some of the limitations.

            To reinforce and add to what has been said, to make things that are more than a trinket, you REaLLY need to get up tight with your 3-d modeller. Fusion360, Solidworks, Inventor, whatever you use, but to make parts that have structural integrity requires looking at the limitations of the process from the start.

            The prints will have a grain structure. The surface isn't smooth, and varies based on orientation. The interior properties vary based on how you fill, with tradeoffs and compromises based on the patterning, fill percent, loading, and orientation.

            Some materials (PLA, for example) have major limitations in temperature and in environmental exposure.

            Some materials (ABS, for example) are real finicky with regard to bonding to the bed (analogous to the table of a mill in setting precision of the finished part) and shrinkage. Shrinkage may vary with orientation and with where in the process the material is laid, among other things.

            For trinkets, it doesn't much matter. For parts that are going to do something, where the final properties matter, in particular if the final dimentions and surface properties matter, expect a pretty significant learning curve. I have post-machined a few parts to get dimension and surface, and it is quite common to need to smooth using either chemical methods or abrasives.

            The key thing to keep in mind is: You NEVER get more than you pay for, and in these devices, you may not even get that much. DRM issues with one well known brand (the Gilette model: sell the unit cheap and make money on consumables), reliability with others, precision with some of the cheapies (some are not even squarable, or have so much deflection in service that they can't hold tolerance even to make a trinket of significant size), crummy hot-ends (across all price ranges), consumable parts that are not available when replacement is needed (some of the low end chinese units are notorious)....

            What it comes down to is me reiterating: read the reviews. Plan that there will be compromises. Plan that, for economy, you may make a few changes to the machine to use more readily available consumables or replacement parts. No matter what the reviews and manufacturers say, the hot end does have a lifespan.

            Concerns that I have seen in my moderate experience:
            heated beds that don't heat uniformly.
            Drivers that miss steps. A lot.
            Belts that skip with no provision for tensioning
            Unbalanced mechanical drive that cocks or twists structure
            Really crummy controllers and UI parts (buttons with lifetimes in the tens of presses, etc)
            And, of course, the power supply that really, really shouldn't exist due to no isolation, no regulation, or over rating to the point of being a fire hazard.

            Don't let me discourage you, though. I am actually going to pop for my own unit soon, since I can't use the ones at work for personal projects.


            • #7
              I have a Dremel 3D printer and have found it to be well built with excellent customer support. Is a delight to use.
              I hear and I forget.
              I see and I remember.
              I do and I understand.
              Confucius (孔夫子)


              • #8
                This is one of the few things I speak on with confidence. I have been using a Uprint 3d printer for about 4 years now and it is a press print and it prints reliably. I use AutoCad to make my 3d models and just output as an STL, open the 3d printer management software and press print. It prints in ABS and has a .010 layer thickness and can hold tolerances to less than .002 on the XY dimensions. On the z axes you have to use the increments of .010. But other than that is is great. It uses a support material to separate the ABS from the bed and will be used to insulate ABS layers from each other if you have moving parts. The system uses disposable bed plates that have a special texture that grips the support material to keep it on the bed. As the texture wares away you will see the part start to curl then you either use a different part of the bed or put in a new bed plate.


                • #9
                  Thanks for the comments. I do have a lot more research to do of course. But the first step is asking questions. One question about slicing software. I'm assuming (yah I know the joke) that you can set the slice thickness. This would alo give you the opportunity to do glued layers of paper. In fact the paper machines were he first I ever heard of. I do have some experience with 3D modeling. I'm a little out of practicebut I used to do a lot of solid 3D modeling with AutoCAD As far back as R14. If you can do it with that software a decent 3D modeler shouldn't be too hard to learn. I've had classes in AutoCAD (its what we had access to at work) but what I knew about 3D modeling was all self taught

                  This looks interesting
                  Last edited by Spin Doctor; 10-23-2016, 08:53 PM.
                  Forty plus years and I still have ten toes, ten fingers and both eyes. I must be doing something right.


                  • #10
                    Regarding slicing software, the big three popular ones are in constant development as far as I know (slic3r, cura and Simplify 3D) and there are a couple others which seem to be getting better over time too. Another thing to research.
                    in my experience, Simplify 3D is much better than the others so far and seems to keep several steps ahead of the others in terms of features, speed and quality slices - no small feat. It costs around $150 though. The free ones will be plenty serviceable though at first until (if) you decide you want to pay for Simplify 3D. And yes, you can set Simplify 3D to stop on desired layers, switch settings at various layers, skip layers for some reason, pause between or whatever.

                    Regarding Auto CAD, sounds like my experience is similar to yours. I have a lot of AutoCAD experience, but I've found two significant discoveries. 1) AutoCAD is extremely non-intuitive for drawing in 3D and there are several out there which are easier and faster to work with once you learn them, which leads to discovery 2) once you've learned to draw with AutoCAD, you kind of need to let go of all that and re-learn how to model 3D with one or a few of the other ones better suited for the task. Inventor is the same company, but the paradigm is completely different and it is actually very good for modeling 3D - just be prepared to have to kind of un-learn a lot of what you knew with AutoCAD before. The process with inventor is very similar to Solid Works and other newer names. Fusion 3D is an Autodesk product as well I think and I've never tried it yet. It might be pretty nice and I do hear positive opinions about it. Sketchup is another very popular one, but as it comes it doesn't fit my needs very well at all. I would need to find and install a few plugins for it to work as I want it to and for me it's just not worth the time. Your mileage may vary.


                    • #11
                      One of the local museums had a small "trinket"-making printer in the lobby. I watched it for a few minutes and when I passed by later it was buried in a web of melted plastic. From what I've read even the very good printers might do that occasionally.

                      A friend had a couple of filament deposition samples printed because we were interested in using 3D prints for casting patterns. For our purposes (air cooled 2T cylinders) they were useless, the surfaces were far from smooth. But if the part was shaped to allow easy filling/smoothing it could be a different deal. On the other hand, for that kind of part you might be able to make a wooden pattern in equal or less time with no more handwork then ultimately involved in the 3D print.

                      I've seen some 4" OD medallions printed with a PolyJet (ink-jet style tech I think) and a Form2 (SLA). Those items were worlds better than the filament stuff and seemed very promising (though not inexpensive). A friend has worked with an investment foundry and said they'd often use SLA prints instead of waxes for one-off castings.

                      The Form2 is about $3500 to get started. For things I might want to use a 3D printer for it is very appealing and they seem to have a number of people in the jewelry trade that use them to make castings. But the resins range from $150-400/liter (and have a shelf life) so you need to have an appropriate hobby budget for 3D printing with one. The castable resin is $300. The Form is not a DIY project it is a commercial product.


                      Form has a smaller/earlier SLA printer that is less expensive and I think there are several other SLA printer brands out there for similar money.



                      • #12
                        of course the 3D printers using plastic strand and nozzle I think of as CNC Hot Glue Guns. But prices are coming down to the range of usable toy.
                        Forty plus years and I still have ten toes, ten fingers and both eyes. I must be doing something right.


                        • #13
                          We have one of the projector/resin machines at work. Seems to work pretty well.