Advice sought re: 3D printer purchase

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Bazzer

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My first few 3D printers were VERY frustrating experiences. It took me days or weeks to solve the many issues that affect print quality. Reprinting with the same settings / method was also not consistent.

I have had 2 or 3 printers, including a very expensive $2000 model which had a 400mm x 400m x 400m build capacity. All of them gave problems, the most frequent been, getting the print to stay stuck to the deck. This is a universal 3D print problem. People overlay their build decks with glue, blue tap, slurries, etc to try improving the stick. If these methods do manage to hold the job on the build plate, it makes it a pain to have to reset between each print because you must clean of the “additives” and reapply.

Then I bought a Creality CR-10 for my teenage nephew because I wanted to encourage him to learn CAD and CAM. In a day he was up and printing! The much cheaper Creality CR-10 totally blew away my $2000 specialized printers.

Within a month I bought my self the Creality CR-10S pro. What a relief! What a pleasure! It has an impressive 300x300x400mm build volume. But that is not what makes it nice. It is nice because it is easy to setup, easy to maintain, printers are fantastic. It just works. I gave away all the other printers.

It automatically levels before each print and then away it goes. Best of all the job sticks, I mean really sticks. Initially this was a problem because it was very hard to get the job off the build deck it. However, with the on vent of a flexible build plate that magnetises onto the printer, printing and removing is a 30 second breeze. Once the job is finished you take the build plate off the magnetic under surface in a second, give it a bend and job pops straight off with ease. Now I can quickly set up with auto levelling, print without worrying about lifting, and pop it of afterwards. Printing has become a pleasure. I found it impossible to get the job to stick to the flexible PEX build surface, but the flexible Polycarbonate (or PC) sticks perfectly, just like to PC that comes standard on the Creality CR-10S pro.

Creality CR-10S pro also has a geared feed which many printers do not have.

I do my design in a CAD software (Fusion 360, Solidworks, etc), save as STL. Then drag and drop the STL into Simply3D which generates the Gcode and saves it to a microSD. Put the SD card in the Creality and print. No messing about with all sorts of frustrating setups and tapes and what not.

Simply3D is a pleasure to use (PC and Linux versions available), and with a bit of google power you can find the pre-configured settings (small FFF file I can send you) for Simply3D that matches a Creality CR-10S pro that produces amazing prints straight off the bat. The combination of Simply3D ($149) and a Creality CR-10S pro ($539) makes getting the print done painless.

You can buy a cheaper machine, and then try adding the auto levelling, geared feeds, and many other tweaks, you soon discover are needed to try get consistent prints, or just buy the Creality and enjoy a machine that just works first time.

As for the size, bigger prints take longer, but when you need it, you need it! It is not always possible to print smaller parts and assemble. On the rear occasion I need make a big print, I setup in the morning. Start the print and let it run for the day or so with confidence it will not shrink and lift off the corner after printer for hours or a day (this very frequently occurred on other machines) forcing a reattempt from scratch.
Folks there are lots of good points in Stones reply. I was lucky with the Dremel printer, the first part worked great and then I was making my own designs in no time at all. I was only in one learning process that being slicing and materials as the machine is prebuilt and tested.

I would suggest that build plate adhesion is a little disconnected from machine hardware, my experience is that it is more related to the parts foot print, materials being cut, first layer settings and the release plate surface (blue tape etc).

I have found that the first layer benefits from being quite course (not 0.05 to 0.1mm), then to quickly switch back to a fine layer if that detail is required.

B.
 

Stone

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Agreed Bazzer on hardware VS adhesion. I did not detail the rest of the beneficial hardware built into the Creality, like geared feed, hot plate, dual thread screws, etc, but focused on my own experience of the most common problem...lifting. Nothing worse than making a big print and coming in the morning to find the corners have lifted as the upper part cools and shrinks. Drove me crazy!

On first layer though I found the opposite to you. My nephew taught me to get a little "Squoosh" on the first layer (slightly lower 1st layer height) that has served me welll. Again though this will be affected by your release plate surface, mine been Polycarbonate.

As for foot print, I found Polycarbonate holds just about any size and does not let go, even small parts.
 

lohring

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What do you want to do with your printer? The 3D modeling software will limit what you can print beyond the things available on line. I use Fusion 360 for very complex mechanical objects like high performance, two stroke cylinders and surface piercing propellers. You would need to run it in a virtual machine for Linux. See Fusion 360 on Linux: How to Install It | All3DP

Lohring Miller
 

lohring

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The reason I went with a Prusa was the recommendation from 3DLabPrint. I had to print a P38, one of my favorite airplanes.

Lohring Miller
 

skyline1

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My first few 3D printers were VERY frustrating experiences. It took me days or weeks to solve the many issues that affect print quality. Reprinting with the same settings / method was also not consistent.
Like all technology in their early days they were considered "enthusiasts" machines. My first (which I still have and use) is a "GEEETech I3 Pro C" a dual extruder I3 clone which I describe as "experimental, tempermental, and sometimes just plain mental"

It came as a kit of parts for self assembly, which for a student of all things electro-mechanical like me was great fun, but not everyone's cup of tea.
Thankfully it came with superb assembly and operation manuals with loads of colour pictures and very little "Chinglish" ( later found out from GEEETech themselves that they are written by a native English speaker) There is also a wealth of info on line

Spares, and technical support is really good and they are quite happy to provide you with an INO. of the firmware if you want to mod it. (The manuals even show you how !) This is not always the case with Chinese companies. As it uses many "standard" components, 3rd party support is also good.

Mine has now gone though a number of improvements (and the occasional bit of maintenance repair) but is still working well. So if you are prepared for a bit of simple assembly work and some tinkering to get it tuned right this model and it's brothers are a good way to get into 3d printing.

Assembling it yourself also gives you a good grounding in how they actually work and where to look when fault finding.

And The price is pretty modest around £170

Geeetech Acrylic Prusa I3 Pro C Dual extruder MK8 Unassembled 3D printer from UK | eBay

My newer one is an Anycubic Chiron which is supplied almost ready to go. It simply needs it's gantry assembled to the bed and a couple of plugs put in.

Why is it not supplied fully assembled ? Well this thing is absolutely HUGE and you will need a fair bit of space for it It has a build area of 400mm x 400mm x 450mm I could fit the whole I3 inside it !

This one is pretty much plug and play and can carry on for hours or even days on end, great big prints can take this long sometimes. It has great bed which sticks prints like a magnet when hot (high S to B factor) but as it cools releases them equally easily. Even great big ones. It is well suited to long prints as you can replace the filament mid print and the same applies to power outages it will simply carry on from where it left off.

Again the price is reasonable considering it's size and it generally just gets on with the job without any faff but I have found that support from Anycubic is not quite as good as GEEETech. Still pretty good though, some Chinese companies are awful.

Anycubic Chiron FDM 3D Printer Large Print Size 400*400*450mm Auto-level TFT&TPU | eBay

Well, there are my two, either of which I would recommend especially if your budget is a bit limited.

The Creality and Prusa Machines are just as good and in some respects much better. Josef Prusa knows what he's doing, he pretty much invented the things.
Like any other major purchase you need to weigh up many factors, including cost, features, size, support and spares availability, ease of use and several others.

There isn't a "one fits all" with these but these are the ones I chose. Your requirements will undoubtedly differ, but the Chiron in particular is worth a look if you've got room for one.

With the speed that this particular technology is advancing, whatever you get, in a couple of years you will be saying "I wish mine had that" I know I do.

I'm looking forward to when those amazing metal printing ones worth tens of thousands of Pounds (or Dollars) drop into the price range where they are available to us "mere hobbyists" it will surely come someday.

Best Regards Mark
 

awake

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I have found that the first layer benefits from being quite course (not 0.05 to 0.1mm), then to quickly switch back to a fine layer if that detail is required.
On first layer though I found the opposite to you. My nephew taught me to get a little "Squoosh" on the first layer (slightly lower 1st layer height) that has served me welll. Again though this will be affected by your release plate surface, mine been Polycarbonate.
Two different things. Bazzer is talking about the layer height, not the "squoosh" - you can take any layer height and squoosh it, or not. But trying to print the first layer at too fine a setting can be counterproductive. I find that a first layer height of .2mm is just about ideal for most prints. I can and have printed down to .1mm first layer height, but then you really have to dial the "squoosh" in just right. Otherwise, you get scrapes and smears rather than a first layer.

What do you want to do with your printer? The 3D modeling software will limit what you can print beyond the things available on line. I use Fusion 360 for very complex mechanical objects like high performance, two stroke cylinders and surface piercing propellers. You would need to run it in a virtual machine for Linux. See Fusion 360 on Linux: How to Install It | All3DP
FreeCAD, OpenSCAD, Blender all run natively on Linux. I haven't yet run into any limitations on what I can design. And there are others as well, as witnessed by at least one other post above. IOW, there is absolutely no reason that one has to resort to Windows even on a VM!
 

ajoeiam

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On printer brands, I would agree that it is hard to go wrong with a Prusa. But it is also hard to go cheap ... yes, there is a relationship there between what you pay and what you get, but if budget is a factor, there seem to be a lot of mostly-positive reviews of many of the Creality and similar brands, and I believe some of those are available in a 300mm / 12" size rather than the more typical 200mm / 8". I have no personal experience with any of these brands, since my own 3d printer is my own home-brew design, so no affiliation at all - just what I have seen from YouTube channels such as Makers Muse and Thomas Sanladerer.
Hmmmmmmm - - - - - I do take a long time to get things done - - - but - - - your 3D printer - - - home-brew design - - - fascinating!!!
What were the tools/recipe used that enabled you to achieve a working machine?
I'm finding this idea quite fascinating!!
 

awake

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Joe, I set out to build an "all wood" 3d printer, more-or-less in the ubiquitous I3 style, using scrap plywood that I had on hand:

IMG_8849.JPG


Of course, there are a few bits that have to be purchased - the 8mm rods and LM8UU bearings, the stepper motors, pulleys, belts. I bought an "E3" clone printing head, and a cheap Bowden-style extruder (since replaced with a 3d printed version that I custom designed to make it possible to print flexible filaments). The bed begins with a piece of plywood with the LM8UU bearings attached to ride on the rails; above that is a piece of aluminum plate that I had on hand, with an inexpensive circuit-board-style bed heater bonded to it using a heat-capable silicone, held up by heavy springs, with screws for leveling the bed. Some insulating ceramic blanket helps keep the heat from disappating below, allowing the plate to reach 105°C. Another piece of aluminum plate serves as the removable bed (partially covered in blue printers tape above), but of course one could use glass or other surfaces instead.

For the electronics, I used the common RAMPS 1.4 setup - which may not be so common these days, but was dirt-cheap when I built this a few years ago. I put all of the electronics in a separate wooden box (visible to the left). I'm running the Marlin firmware on the Arduino Mega (which is the "AM" in RAMPS). The RAMPS kit that I bought includes a B&W graphics display and SD-card interface, but later I added a Raspberry Pi with OctoPi / Octoprint to enable me to send files and control the printer over wifi.

Were I to do it over again, I would re-think some of the design, and keep others. The frame is very sturdy - hard to see in the picture, but the uprights are securely braced with triangular sections behind. The wooden mounting of the Z-axis stepper motors, and the wooden mounting of all of the rails, works surprisingly well. But the separate box for the electronics is bulky (largely to accommodate the scrap computer power supply that I used), the mounting of the print head is inelegant, and the mounting of the part cooling fan was a poor afterthought. I have started working up a revised Z-X axis assembly, and one of these days I may finish it ... or not. I've printed a lot of parts on it as it is, and it is still going strong. I mostly print PLA and PETG, but can successfully print ABS as well. I can print nylon and POM, but they really need an enclosure to keep from warping significantly, so I wouldn't say I've ever had a result that was fully successful. You can see a couple of nylon gears that I printed amidst the clutter in the picture above - one of the better results I've gotten with nylon, but still somewhat warped.

I have attached a rather poor set of plans of the printer that I had in my files - feel free to use if / as desired!
 

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ajoeiam

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Joe, I set out to build an "all wood" 3d printer, more-or-less in the ubiquitous I3 style, using scrap plywood that I had on hand:

snip

For the electronics, I used the common RAMPS 1.4 setup - which may not be so common these days, but was dirt-cheap when I built this a few years ago. I put all of the electronics in a separate wooden box (visible to the left). I'm running the Marlin firmware on the Arduino Mega (which is the "AM" in RAMPS). The RAMPS kit that I bought includes a B&W graphics display and SD-card interface, but later I added a Raspberry Pi with OctoPi / Octoprint to enable me to send files and control the printer over wifi.

Were I to do it over again, I would re-think some of the design, and keep others. The frame is very sturdy - hard to see in the picture, but the uprights are securely braced with triangular sections behind. The wooden mounting of the Z-axis stepper motors, and the wooden mounting of all of the rails, works surprisingly well. But the separate box for the electronics is bulky (largely to accommodate the scrap computer power supply that I used), the mounting of the print head is inelegant, and the mounting of the part cooling fan was a poor afterthought. I have started working up a revised Z-X axis assembly, and one of these days I may finish it ... or not. I've printed a lot of parts on it as it is, and it is still going strong. I mostly print PLA and PETG, but can successfully print ABS as well. I can print nylon and POM, but they really need an enclosure to keep from warping significantly, so I wouldn't say I've ever had a result that was fully successful. You can see a couple of nylon gears that I printed amidst the clutter in the picture above - one of the better results I've gotten with nylon, but still somewhat warped.

I have attached a rather poor set of plans of the printer that I had in my files - feel free to use if / as desired!
Hmmmmmm - - - - very very fascinating!!

I have more questions - - - -do you prefer private communication or continue in this thread?
 

awake

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Either is fine with me. I'm happy to share what I know ... and even what I don't know! :)
 

ajoeiam

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Either is fine with me. I'm happy to share what I know ... and even what I don't know! :)
Thank you for the chuckles that reading your response provoked.
If only I were always so honest. Still LOL at the '. . . and even what I don't know!'
I have more thinking to do before I'm a asking - - - so later!
 

Poppy Ott

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Anyone have experience with VoxeLab Aquila printers? My son has recommended it but my knowledge level does not even rise to know-it-something about 3D printing.
 

awake

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I'd not heard of them, but looked them up just now. Looks like one of the many "Creality Ender" style of printers - there are a bunch out there. If you haven't yet, you might find it helpful to watch some reviews of 3d printers (including many of this style) from Maker's Muse or Tom Sanlederer. (There are others as well, but these are two that I have found trustworthy and helpful.) Even if they don't review the particular printer you are looking at, you will get an idea of the kinds of things to look for.
 

Poppy Ott

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I'd not heard of them, but looked them up just now. Looks like one of the many "Creality Ender" style of printers - there are a bunch out there. If you haven't yet, you might find it helpful to watch some reviews of 3d printers (including many of this style) from Maker's Muse or Tom Sanlederer. (There are others as well, but these are two that I have found trustworthy and helpful.) Even if they don't review the particular printer you are looking at, you will get an idea of the kinds of things to look for.
Thanks!
 

mike-oz

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Don't apologize Stone, just great to read comments from someone that has obviously had some experience with a number of machines. For someone like me looking to purchase a 3D printer the conflicting info and advice is a real minefield. I am just looking for a hassle free intro to 3D printing. I am more interested in the end product than messing about with the technology.
 

Revb

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In addition to an fdm printer, look at some of the cheap resin printers. I.e. the Voxelab Proxima, or Anycubic.
these little machines are excellent at prototyping. If you use wax resin you have the ability to make some really detailed small castings. Having one of these printers also gives you an excuse to make a burnout oven and vacuum casting table!!!
C6920463-2D77-4F02-A999-0D501C0808FF.jpeg
 
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vk7krj

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Mike, Ken here in Hobart. Like you I wanted a 3d printer to print stuff with, not mess around with the tech., so after much looking & reading I bought a Prusa I3 Mk3S+ and have had good experience with it for the last 6 months or so.
I have printed off a lot of things, both for me and also friends (and just for fun), and had very few failures. All the failures without exception have been down to my lack of expertise, mostly in positioning items incorrectly on the bed in the slicer.
On two occasions a cool (read- bloody freezing!) breeze coming through the door next to the printer cause the corner of the print to cool rapidly & curl up off the bed, ruining the print. I quickly learned to close the door before printing!
If you are anywhere near the eastern shore of Hobart, you would be welcome to come to chat & take a look before you buy anything. Pm me if so.
 

Shopgeezer

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I have had good success with my Crealty CR20. It has been a good machine to learn on. Simple to use. I have made every mistake in the book and it has been an interesting learning experience. I am very interested in the new generation of (cheap) resin printers. However the resin can be nasty stuff for fumes ( you are supposed to wear gloves and a filter mask when pouring it ) and the printer needs a lot of ventilation. Not good for my shop being closed up tight in the winter. I would recommend starting with a simple filament printer and use that for learning.
 
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