I may have just changed my creative workshop world as I know it. I have taken that first leap of faith and am plunging into the huge abyss of 3D printing. I have ordered a machine. More about the hardware decision follows.
3D printing is probably the fastest growing sector of creating three dimensional tangible objects using the power of the digital computer. I have written in my blogs many times on this subject. It is here and I cannot comment any longer as an outsider. I have formed opinions about the entire process from research and study and the only negatives have been with the quality of the output of the Hobbyist FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) type printers. They are basically hot glue guns under CNC control. But that isn’t all bad.
That is exactly where I am going on this first deep dive. I have picked a low cost but popular “open concept” type of FDM printer often termed a "RepRap", at a very affordable under $300 price range. It is a DIY kit and produced in China. I viewed a video and saw it operating and more importantly heard it running. https://youtu.be/3RMk1eDzmlw. It is an Alunar DIY Desktop 3D Printer which is a Prusa i3 High Accuracy machine design. It is the newest version as you can find a slightly cheaper version as well, on Amazon. The difference is in the X-Z axis design.
I also viewed to complete assembly instruction video. It became immediately apparent that the assembly (if all the parts are in the kit) is really a piece of cake. Reading the so called “Product Reviews” by other purchasers indicates the vast range of mechanical abilities and expectations of people interested in 3D printing. The reviews are always a direct reflection of those abilities and expectations and not necessarily a pure review of just the product.
As with anything in the real world, there is a strong reality correlation between price and what you receive. Everyone wants the most for the least. So when reading any review, even mine, human desire and real life have to be taken together.
I have gone into this adventure at what I consider a reasonable low end. Because it is the FDM process, I am not expecting super high quality output that I could someday cast in silver. I am doing a DIY machine build and am willing to experiment and tinker so I can claim some expertise with the comments I will certainly make.
The machine I have picked is very open and accessible. I in no way claim this is a perfect decision on my part or even recommend others to make the same selection. It seems right for my budget, goals and expectations. I am not a “fan boy” of Alunar, but I am willing to put my money in their product.
The machine is only a part of the system. The last part actually. There is a huge universe of variables on the computer software side of the creative effort. I have been exploring the software side of the process as hard as the hardware. Lots of Freeware available and some very affordable commercial software as well.
I will be writing much more on this topic for sure. No need for more details here. I invite you to follow along if you would like an old codgers honest and experienced views and opinions. They’ll be just that, my opinion.
This is an “eyes open” expedition. I know exactly what I am getting into. 3D printing is not a “plug and play” expectation. Just like any CNC system there are a vast number of variables to understand and get right, before any “good” can come out at the end. Myth Busters have a saying, “Failure is always an option”! But it doesn’t mean stop and complain… It’s called learning.