3D Printing

  1. Welderpaul

    Welderpaul Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    12,775
    Location:
    Yorkshire
    I'm looking to buy a 3D printer after having an interest for a few years but waiting for technology to move on a bit.

    I've Googled and watched enough 'heyy guuuys' youtube vids to have a basic understanding of how they work etc. but i'm still blind to what are decent makes, what to look for when selecting a machine etc

    I've quite a few jobs for it and once you have the kit its bound to find more uses, and its a fun thing to be able to do.....

    Like all my personal stuff i don't want any junk but i don't want to spend 'too much'. It needs to have a decent resolution to avoid a horrible 'stepped' finish like some of the cheaper ones produce. I have been looking at the Ultimaker, perhaps a bit pricey, but seems decent kit.

    I've tonnes to learn, such as what materials to use, the CAD side of things etc, but would appreciate a steer in the right direction with the basics from the forum's knowledgeable bods to start off with the right kit.
     
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  2. AndersK Member

    Messages:
    694
    Location:
    Sweden
    I run about 2000 m wire / year in an Ultimaker 3 so if you're looking at an S5 I can say it's a good start. You get a machine that is ready to print without tons of tweaking and adjustments. They are made for industrial use over home shop.
    I would also consider the latest Prusa machines
    Raise 3D is also good ones.

    There are a ton of different materials but here's my preferences.

    Most cad can be used but avoid Google SketchUp. It doesn't produce a proper solid and many slicers struggle to generate printable code from it.

    Visual models, PLA
    If more strength, temperature and chemical resistance needed , PETG
    Nylon, good for more things that need to flex.
    TPU, close to rubber for softer things.

    All material I use I buy from add:north

    I have just aquired carbon fibre filled nylon and petg but not used yet. Those materials are intended for end use and not just prototyping.

    I avoid ABS since it's prone to warping and there are concerns being raised that it can be harmful while printing.
     
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  3. sako243

    sako243 Member

    Messages:
    639
    Location:
    My mansion in Wales
    I think the biggest decision you've got is are you prepared to fiddle with the printer?

    If not then you're best of going with a bigger name like Ultimaker. If you're happy to tinker then I'd save the money and buy a cheap thing off eBay and experiment. Once you've played with it a bit you can either upgrade the machine or replace based off your experience.

    3D printing has been advancing at such a pace (although FDM based printers have slowed down a bit in my opinion) then you may be better off spending little to begin with, once you've got your feet grounded then you can see where the current market is.

    One of the things that will dictate what options you have is the maximum print volume you want. I think narrow that down and then take it from there. Although you can split up models and glue them together afterwards.
     
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  4. Onoff Member

    Messages:
    744
    Location:
    Sevenoaks, UK
    Anycubic i3 Mega S here my boy has.

    Still learning!

    Resin printers like the Anycubic Photon produce in my experience better quality/resolution than FDM printers but are limited in size.

    Only tried pla and wood pla so far.

    I model in AutoCAD and export as an STL to Cura.
     
    Ali likes this.
  5. Jaffman Member

    Messages:
    150
    Location:
    Swansea, wales

    I just had an anycubic photon a for Xmas - enjoyed playing with it so far
     
  6. carbon

    carbon Member

    Messages:
    1,214
    Location:
    S. Glos. U.K
    A 32bit board and good stepper drivers possibly tmc2208 or tmc2209 for x,y and z make a big difference to the noise these things make
     
  7. Hopefuldave Intergalactic pot-mender

    Messages:
    1,026
    Location:
    The Shed of Danger, surrey, England
    Geeetech A10, needed putting together out of the box, only problem I've had was the crimped connection between the hotend/extruder and its wires loosening up after a year's use, re-crimped and all's good. Not the biggest, best or fanciest but worked straight off, put about 20 kg of PLA filament through it. Great for Cosplay props, if I'm lucky I might get a chance to use it...

    Dave H. (the other one)
     
  8. northwest Member

    Messages:
    732
    Location:
    Manchester UK
    A plug for one of the better small manufacturers out there: http://factory3d.co.uk/ I have one of his machines and it is excellent, the aftercare and support has been terrific. I bought one of his very early machines and when I had a problem, two years later, he just sent me a whole board FOC!

    Simple to assemble and easy to use, he sends you a version of Cura all tweaked for your machine.
     
    magnet, rockweasel, zx9 and 2 others like this.
  9. Ali

    Ali Member

    Messages:
    466
    Location:
    Cheshire
    The technology has been there for 20 years - in the past 10 I’ve seen nothing new, it’s just that the US company who invented it all was very good at acquiring patents and most of them have only just begun to expire!

    Careful here, it’s unlikely the poor finish you’re seeing is down to resolution at all, in fact many of the cheap, cheap 3D printer kits have ‘finer’ resolution than £20K machines. This is just the layer spacing and with FDM (fused deposition modelling - ie the material comes on a spool) you will always see lines between each layer. The stepped finish you mention (I think you mean in X/Y axis) is the machine build / design / setup. It is usually belt tension or something, but from experience you can chase these problems forever - if you want one you can turn on, easily calibrate and expect a good result first time buy one off the shelf and expect to spend at least £1000.

    I’ve heard that about Sketchup too, there may be plugins available but I wouldn’t bank on it. Pick a proper solid modelling package.

    The range of materials on offer are a pretty new thing and part of the reason the quality has got a bit better - some of them (eg. PETG) are more forgiving than others with regard to the temperatures, both at the stage of being extruded through the nozzle and when they’re sat on the build platen. ABS is particularly sensitive but as a material is about as good as it gets in terms of durable models. It needs a very accurately controlled environment temperature to stop it warping which means a full sealed enclosure, and people are still a bit nervous about infringing patents to make this work...but there are a few small printers out there that will do it.

    Problems with nozzle blockages are almost always due to materials absorbing moisture and swelling.

    Regarding the ‘fumes’, the HSE did a lot of testing, I think last year, and ABS wasn’t exclusive in being a possible risk; nanoparticles were recorded with all materials tested. The problem is that there is no view of the long term effects. At an HSE talk someone said they are drawing parallels with asbestos / silica, and it could be a big concern for the future, but I haven’t seen anything concrete published yet. I hope @Parm jumps in on this. It certainly isn’t hard to rig up a simple hood if it’s a concern for you and you’re not in a well ventilated area, but some materials will be more forgiving than others if you cool the air and affect the temperature.

    Definitely agree. You can build your own lathe if you have the means / time, but it’s not likely to be as good as a machine from a reputable manufacturer.

    The resin / photo printers are a relatively new thing - I’d avoid them unless you’re a jeweller or dentist to be honest. The print needs washing in IPA and then curing under UV light and it’s all a bit messy. Great for really fine detail, like printing a fine web.

    Personally I’d think about the practicalities of what you will print when making a decision. Having used machines with soluble support for so long I could no longer face chipping away the support structures by hand, cutting my fingers, losing accuracy and wrecking the finish, so I’d be looking for something that will take two spools / has two extruders and supports some sort of dissolvable material.

    Best of luck!
     
    sako243 likes this.
  10. Ruffian Member

    Messages:
    1,810
    Location:
    Devon UK
    I got a creality ender 3 as a beginner/budget machine.

    Can be bought for sub £200. Easy enough to build and set up. Can be printing in less than 1hr. (2hr if relaxed)

    Done everything I have wanted it to for me to learn on. Build plate is 200x200x220mm ish.
    Enough reviews and builds on youtube if interested in more details
     
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  11. hotponyshoes Member

    Messages:
    1,510
    Location:
    Somerset. Uk
    You can do solids in sketchup easy enough.
    Highlight the whole model then right click create group
    The pop up window will say solid group if everything is correct (or just group if not)
    Plugin called solid inspector will show you where any problems are.

    Main one to watch for is if you create a new face from an existing one with the extrude tool. If you end up with internal faces they will split when printed.
    Use x ray mode to delete the internal faces.

    I'm not saying it's the best program for the job but I dont have any issues for quick prints now that I have got the hang of it.
     
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  12. Dr.Al

    Dr.Al Forum Supporter

    Messages:
    196
    Location:
    Gloucestershire, UK
    If you want a decent 3D CAD package, have a look at onshape.com - it runs in the browser and is one of the better 3D CAD systems I've used (and I've used quite a few). It also doesn't need a very high end computer, which is nice.

    It's eye-wateringly expensive if you want to keep your models private, but if you don't mind them being public (it's not like anyone will ever find them in the huge list anyway), it's free.

    I use the free version for lots of things even having now paid for a commercial CAD package (ZW3D Lite). Onshape is very good & can be used everywhere. ZW3D gets pulled out when I want to keep things private for whatever reason.

    There are other low-cost options out there of course.

    FreeCAD is free and capable, but the user interface is a bit quirky, the modelling engine doesn't handle going back and changing earlier sketches very well. It also doesn't currently support "top-down design" (designing parts based on other parts in an assembly, an essential CAD feature in my mind), although it's being worked on so may get there in the future.

    Alibre Atom3D is cheap-ish (quarter of the price of ZW3D), but it doesn't offer much over FreeCAD & top-down design will never be supported as they reserve that for their pricier products. Not a patch on onshape, ZW3D or "proper" CAD like Solidworks, NX etc.

    IronCAD do a reduced cost version ("INOVATE" [sic] I think it was called), but they'll only let you trial a full-featured one, so I couldn't work out what features vanished if you paid the reduced cost.

    Fusion360 is very capable; similar to onshape in features. I dislike the pricing model: I'd call it the worst of both worlds of subscription vs one-off. That might just be me though. When I trialled it and about 9 other CAD applications early last year I couldn't see why anyone would choose it over the alternatives (although note I was considering it as a hobby tool: considerations would be different for commercial use).

    Don't bother with DesignSpark, NaroCAD or NanoCAD (in my opinion).

    If you like programming, it's also worth looking at cadquery, openscad & openjscad (all free). Very different tools to the other applications, but useful for some things I prefer cadquery of the three, but I like python.

    I keep meaning to post a write-up of my 3D CAD trial on my website as I put a lot of work into testing all of the applications & creating several identical and quite complex models in all of them. I never quite seem to get round to it though...
     
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  13. Onoff Member

    Messages:
    744
    Location:
    Sevenoaks, UK
    @garethp , you said on the other thread you paid £58 for yours, what was it/link?

    I attempted to buy a Creality Ender 3 a little while ago for £59.95 from cogkart.com but it's a scam. Still trying to get the money back via the bank.

    Been told on some of the cheaper ones it's a good idea to "upgrade the MOSFETs", to do with the motors and fire risk I think.

    I went with the Anycubic i3 Mega S on recommendation.
     
  14. carbon

    carbon Member

    Messages:
    1,214
    Location:
    S. Glos. U.K
  15. Welderpaul

    Welderpaul Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    12,775
    Location:
    Yorkshire
    Thank you for all the replies - your time taken to post/inform is very much appreciated!

    I don't really want to buy a 'Chinese Challenge' where i end up spending hours fiddling trying to get it to perform. I'd like it to be useable straight out of the box with minimal fiddling so at least i know any problems are my own making, not a shortfall in the machine. Looks like budget needs to be £1000.

    Is Cura a good slicing programme?

    I've heard a lot about Fusion360 but will have to look at the pricing. I'm rusty on 3D CAD!
     
  16. Ruffian Member

    Messages:
    1,810
    Location:
    Devon UK
    If your willing to spend that then ok.
    But I know as there is such a big following for ender3 they are so simple to use.
    I know I'm not anywhere near testing the machine to its limits.

    It's not hours of messing about. As so many people are using them the base settings are easy to grasp.
     
  17. Onoff Member

    Messages:
    744
    Location:
    Sevenoaks, UK
    Wow! Most of us are in the cheap seats here! Wouldn't know where to start at that money.

    An Anycubic Chiron (fdm technology) will allow you to print big, like 18" cube for $399 at the mo.

    I ordered direct from here for the i3 Mega S:

    https://www.anycubic.com/

    Resin printers are smelly btw hence why they're encased I guess.
     
  18. carbon

    carbon Member

    Messages:
    1,214
    Location:
    S. Glos. U.K
    Fusion 360 is free to use for personal use but saved files are not stored on your pc unless you export the file
     
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  19. sako243

    sako243 Member

    Messages:
    639
    Location:
    My mansion in Wales
    I just realised I didn't post the printer I have - it's an old version of the CTC Bizer Dual which is now about £160. To be honest I didn't have much fiddling to do with it once I found a software setup that worked. The biggest issue was the slicer - I "forked" out and got a copy of Simplify3D and that worked wonders to the prints. I printed a few centimeter cubes to calibrate it (to account for shrinkage) and it's been pretty robust since. Cura is/was an Ultimater system so should work well with their products.

    If you can hang on for a little bit then it might be worth making the journey down to the Southern Manufacturing Show (free entry) in February down in Farnborough. Went a couple of years ago and was well worth the trip, there were plenty of "commercial" 3D printers down there. I remember having a chat and viewing some of the prints from Formlabs and was seriously impressed with their stuff although that was the resin based printing.
     
  20. Welderpaul

    Welderpaul Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    12,775
    Location:
    Yorkshire
    Looking at software costs to come out of the budget it soon reduces whats left for the machine itself.
    If i can spend mess I will.

    Whatever I choose i will stick up a review on here.
     
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