With all the little things I’ve been making, you wouldn’t believe how often I wish I had a small plastic widgit of some type. It could be an alignment jig for parts, a spacer between the PCB and battery holder in my flipper opto tester, replacement switch extensions for Starblade… all sorts of little things. So I am now in the market for a 3D printer to realize some of these things.
And then things get difficult. . .
There’s a lot of options on the market in price range and capability. Yet I do not thing the technology is matured quite as far as manufacturers are advertising it, particularly on the lower priced models. I think we are still a couple generations from the point it is openly viable for the consumer market, but still very advanced from when I had looked into it a few years ago during the early RepRap days. It is, however, sufficiently matured for me to dive in finally. I’ve been looking at a lot of different models, originally with an open mind and unclear budget, and have narrowed it down to a couple of different models. I have a bit of time to decide while I accumulate funding through some e-bay auctions.
The current front runner is the PrintrBot Simple Metal Kit.
A great price point, with a solid feature set, and a print envelope that covers the sizes I want to build. I purposely am steering toward the kit both because I love building stuff, but also so I can get my hands dirty and learn how it works. I am going into this with the assumption that any 3D printer will be maintenance intensive, so I might as well know where all the parts are and how they go together. It comes with auto leveling, a 150x150x150 print envelope, and is fairly well supported as an open source device. The only significant drawback is that it can’t print ABS without modification. So I am using this as my benchmark piece, and rating any other choices in comparison to this model.
The lower budget option is the Printrbot Simple Makers Kit
This is a lower priced variation of the Simple Metal. Wooden framed, not as beefy hardware, smaller print envelope, but otherwise very similar layout and feature set. The wooden frame is an interesting thing, and I am sure is perfectly fine, but it is a downgrade from the metal frame of the Simple Metal. But the current version offers all the fancy features, and it seems that Printrbot is more supportive of updating older wood models to the current status. I was originally favoring this model, but have steered away from it in recent days.
The last option is my higher end choice, the Rostock Max V2
This is a very different system from most other 3D printers, being known as a delta head. Compared to the Printrbots, it gives a massively larger print envelope, runs ABS plus other filament types, and really offers every feature I think I could use except for dual heads. I’m honestly not worried about dual heads yet, but would be nice to be able to add them later if I wanted to. The only thing is, can I justify double the price of the Simple Metal? Triple the price of the Simple Wood? If I have a good string of sales on e-bay, maybe. I would like to hit this point for sure. I also would really need to come up with some good product ideas to justify the cost. Though it would increase the options of what I could build due to the size and filament options.
So there is my conundrum right now. How can you guys help? A couple ways
1. Info! If you’ve used the above models, I’d love feedback on any of them.
2. Buy Stuff! Either via e-bay, or the new store front, funding is what brings these things into the realm of possible. I am not going further into debt for this, but still want to make it happen.