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You don't want an FDM printer.

October 11 2017 at 8:06 PM
Mo  (Login IronChefMoFo)
HyperScale Forums
from IP address

Response to 3D printer advice...

The Dremel printer won't be able to print props, landing gear or any sort of finely detailed scale model parts. As with all FDM printers, it's better at printing relatively coarse (and simple) objects. It would be the equivalent of PLA from Shapeways (only worse, since it has a single extruder whereas Shapeways' Stratasys printers can print dissolvable support material for cleaner undersides).

If you've been using Strong and Flexible from Shapeways, the cheapest home-use equivalent would be the upcoming Fuse 1 printer from Formlabs. It's $10,000.

If you've been using FUD or HDA from Shapeways, the cheapest home-use equivalent would probably be the Wanhao Duplicator 7 - it's a DLP printer vs. the MJM printers used for FUD and SLA printers used for HDA, but it would be able to handle similarly detailed prints. The Duplicator 7 is about $500, but is very much a work in progress and really isn't a plug and play device - it has a definite learning curve and you will have to troubleshoot issues.

If you're looking for a more user-friendly printer for detailed parts, you're probably looking at a Form2 from Formlabs. Again, it's not plug and play, due to the nature of resin printers, but it's a more polished device than the Wanhao. Its $3500.

If you buy a resin printer, you'll also want to invest in an ultrasonic cleaner and a UV-curing chamber to post-process your prints. The resin itself is $50 - 100/L, and you can probably factor on wasting half a litre while you learn to use the printer. For the Form2, the resin tank is a consumable - $60 - 100 for a replacement every couple of litres of resin. The Duplicator 7 has lower running costs - you'll need to change the FEP sheets, but they're a few dollars each - though the LCD probably won't last long-term and is a $100 replacement. You'll probably want to set up a Raspberry Pi to run the printer too, so it's not tethered to your PC for hours at a time.

If you DO want an FDM printer, the Dremel Idea Builder is a fairly mediocre choice. A Prusa i3 Mk2S is $600 for the kit version and widely regarded as one of the best FDM printers on the market at any price. Prusa are releasing an i3 Mk3 in a month which has a few upgrades and will be $750, but I'm not sure it's worth the extra money. At lower price points, the Creality CR-10 is a solid printer with a large build envelope for around $400; the Monoprice MakerSelect V2 (also sold as Wanhao Duplicator i3 V2) is about $300, smaller but has a devoted following and and can be tuned into a capable printer; and the Anet A8 is okay - less well built than the MakerSelect and has some shoddy wiring - but cheap at under $200. All of these are open printers, however, which can limit your material selection out of the box, as higher temperature materials like ABS and HIPS tend to warp outside of heated build chambers. That said, you can build a box to house the printer and contain the heat fairly easily, and cheaply.

In terms of running costs, you'll be looking at $20 - 50 per kg of filament. You may need replacement build platforms if you damage the one that came with the printer. For the cheaper printers, you will probably want to upgrade them to improve performance - new hot ends, new extruders, vibration dampers, replacement bearings, fans and the like - so you can expect to spend another $50 - 100 easily on an A8 or MakerSelect, a little less on a CR-10, while the (official) Prusa doesn't need upgrades, unless you want to do multi-extrusion.

Or you could stick with Shapeways, which is far cheaper, and far easier.

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