Need Advice on a 3D printer

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Hey everybody :)
I'm planning on buying a 3D printer this year but I'm having trouble finding one that will work with what I plan on doing. Do any of you have any recommendations or know good 3D printers? I'm mainly planning on making helmets and weapons with it.
No. :D

Seriously. It depends on what you're looking to do (as you say, helmets and weapons), what your budget is and how much energy you're willing to put into it. And asking for "what's the best printer" 10 people will give you 11 different answers. :D

First question : are you prepared to build your own printer (be it as kit or -unlikely for people not having any background in 3D printing, designing and building one yourself) or do you want a ready-made machine instead ?

Buying a ready made printer has the advantage you'll exclude a lot of trial and error, as several brands will need you to use "their" stuff/fillament ect ect Now if this sounds like a vendor lock, it probably is. But it does have advantages too. For example, your printer will always run optimal in terms of temperature, flowrate ect ect as such printers have been optimized to get the best results out of the printing material you're using, so the chances of misprints (and you WILL have misprints, a lot even if you're a bit unlucky) are minimized at the price of higher material price and less flexibility in usable printing material. In the past, I had the issue of optimizing print for lets say "brand A" of PLA filament, getting good results, having to buy extra PLA from "brand B" and using the print settings that were so good for "brand A" would give terrible results on "brand B". If you're unlucky, that may even happen within a give brand of filament by the way.

If you want to combine the printer with a 3D scanner : that too will determine your choice. Stuff like Davinci, Ultimaker and probably a crapload more models offer this possibility.

Some very smart and handy people just go out there and buy the raw parts they need, building their own (which will most of the time be a variation of a reprap printer). A task that's not to be underestimated but you'll have full control over what you do or do not want to do. I do not know all that many who've gone that route. I know even less who got their stuff working in a good way. Not saying it's not possible, I've seen at least one guy who did this and his machine produces awesome results but just saying : if you're not a tech head or lack patience and a certain level of "self inflicted pain" I would not try this. Certainly not for a first-time user.

So you want "instant results", this is not the way to go : in such cases you're better of buying a complete 3D printer in a box. Stuff like the Dremel Idea builder which at least one member owns (and he's very pleased with it).
Or the DaVinci series (vendor lock filament on all non-pro versions I think).

Enough Dineros on your account ? Look at Ultimakers' offerings. Or look at the countless Ultimaker 1 clones on the market, many people are very pleased with them. I've worked with them in the past and they're nice. The closed box also helps to cope with temperature variations, making it better suited for ABS printing. But honestly, even on a self-build printer you can easely build your own enclosure to help keeping the temperature factor under control and it wouldn't cost you an arm&leg either.

On a budget, still looking for decent results ? (like me) : Any of the better I3 or Rostock designs should be right up your ally. These printers can be scored pretty cheap : print quality will vary depending on the quality of the kit and your own mechanical building prowes. Many cheap I3's are Acrylic-based designs, which tends to be a bit iffy in terms of print quality as the material used for the frame isn't the most sturdy stuff around.
I3 kits are also sold in Alu or even full steel frames (P3Steel series), allowing for superior mechanical stability thus enabling better quality prints. Velleman has a very nice piece of kit too (K8xxx series) which has been used at least by one Spartan for a fully printed Halo 4 armor and must be said, it looked fantastic.
Peterthethinker has his 3D printer armor too which looks fab too but at the moment I can't recall what printer he used. Get in touch with him if you want to know more.

Price tends to go up very fast depending on how big your printbox is. So depending on what kind of stuff you want to do (you'll be slicing designs anyhow, at least very probably) the maximum printbox that is provided will be an important aspect too in the choice of your machine. For example, a 2000+ USD Ultimaker prints within the dimension of roughly 220x220x200* or something. A Dremel Ideabuilder does 230x150x140* and costs something like a 1000€ over here. A full steel P3 giant version can be had for 850€ and has a printbox size of 400x400x400*, the 300x300x300* version costs approx half that price.

* = forgot to mention, all dimension are metric and in mm. Just added this to avoid confusion.

Many of the "reprap" designs allow for better printerparts to upgrade the printer ... which you can print out yourself. It's a really strange and utterly cool aspect of 3D printing.

You could do far worse than looking at the site here to get a lot of feedback on existing machines, although the feedback isn't always as consequent or even plausible. I've read feedback destroying a certain product/printer for reasons like "bad precission", while knowing that specific model does allow for high quality output when it has been put together correctly. So that says more about the commenters' own mechanical capabilities and not about the printerdesign itself.

Hope this gives you a couple of ideas.
I used the flashforge Dreamer.

Full Stop..... We Dont know the lifespan of printers.... its not a * thing* they mesure and advertise .
we know the vellman has servived the fire of a set of armor.
Mine has done 2 sets of full armor 6 helmts and loads more othert non cosplay stuff for my R and D biz .
I have ran to date over 100 Lbs of plastic and so far no Real parts failure.

* puts EE hat on *

I look for a few things and one is the way its made . how can I fix it IF to does break and also did the other foulks who made it think of wear.
I worked in robotics and motion systems on precicsion 10 micron machines ..... wear and tear is a huge part of my life and how I try to mitigate it .

Many home made ones and kits dont do a Really good job at moving cable stress. its a after thought.
I Love to fix things..... Not my tools.. constant babying of a machine eats away at my time for other things.
a proper printer needs oil on the slides and a stable base to sit on and every week a bed level.

First . you nee to decide on PLA and ABS or just PLA. the latter cuts the printer cost but in the long run you are gonna regret it...
ABS you can solvent smooth with acetone to make mirror smooth parts. Its less brittle .Its cost is the same .

So here is my list of recomended machines.

Build your own :
PURSA I3! spend $500 and get a GOOD kit. PLA only unless you get heated bed and make a draft sheild .
If you have Money . GET A TAZ 5 2200 USD and its BIG print area . again open frame Needs a heated bed and a box ...

for Pre made :
the best deal Is the flashforge dreamer .
for 1200 shipped you get 2 nozzles not one..... you get a fan controlled enclousre. you ge a Heated bed.
you get WiFI and a color touchscreen that work Really well.
Parts are easy to get . takes any brand filiment for LOW operating costs.

The XYZ Pro ( NON chipped versiont !!!!!!) is a contender but its single nozzle . its IS only 700 bucks but its half the machine the FF dreamer is .

with 2 noz you can do supports made from PVA or HIPS .. You can wash away the supoorts with orange cleaner and this does a great way to make super complex parts for props.
OR you can now with ease print in flexable plastic as a hinge in to the main print as it goes ..
Or have a backup nozzle if one clogs.
or do more then one color .

The Dremel while a Very good machine is ONLY PLA .. only single nozzle .... its a grand for only PLA .
If you want PLA only then just get a Priusa I3 Kit . its half the cost..

Here is a link to some others input ..

remember 3 things .

#1 Is it encosed so It can do ABS on a draftyday. that is if you care to do abs...
#2 is it built to last ( harder to tell unless you see it in person )
#3 What is the operating costs.
If it takes off the rack 1.75 plastic then You are in controll of your costs to print.
If you have to take some one single brand then LIke the inkjet industry you are Not in controll over running costs.
Excellent post ! I was hoping you'd chime in on this one.

I already touched upon the possibility of making your own printer better ect by printing your own spare parts. The Ultimaker community is pretty big and you can find "upgraded pieces" nearly everywhere. Prusa : same thing, you can find free upgradable parts on Thingyverse and what else. You'll not be able to do that to the same degree with something like say a Dremel or DaVinci.
It's even possible to start out with a low-cost Acrylic Prusa, and upgrade the frame to an Alu or P3steel afterwards if you'd want.

Dremel only PLA ? I didn't know that, good to know. Wouldn't have expected it either based upon the closed-unit design which would indicate ABS operation.

Off-the rack plastic 1.75 vs "vendor locked" supplies : as I said, that has both an advantage (shop for better price) but it also can cause issues, certainly for a beginner as no 2 brands of filament act 100% identical and I start of with a benchmark print with every new brand/type of PLA I used. I would suspect you would not have that problem with say, a Davinci and their vendor-locked filaments (and yes you can bypass that check, there's enough tips&tricks out there on how to do that).

Durability : without any doubt, the fact we don't know how durable this stuff is is true. That's why I personally went for a P3Steel : the frame is more or less indestructable for normal users, and the wear/tear parts can be printed out by yourself if need be (....unless of course the unit breaks down completley). But rollers, holders, clamps, guides .... all can be printed as spare part by yourself.
So it's a safe bet that a steel frame will outlast Acrylic or Wooden version in terms of long term stress.

What type of material do you want to use ? ABS needs a hotbed for example (....Peter's right that ideally you'd need an enclosure to keep maintaing a constant temp, but as I said, enough people either do without OR build their own enclosure), PLA doesn't and generally prints at lower temps. Which you want to use depends on you only. ABS can be "fume/fused" to get a smoother finish. PLA has/had the name to be less strong than ABS, but just try to break a PLA piece with 50% infill : I can tell you it's pretty hard to do by hand. PLA tends to shatter at impact, ABS not so much.
But you might consider looking to print other stuff too, so be sure you know what kind of material you want to use (will you do flexible prints for example) as not all printers are capable of using all types of printing material.
ABS will smell like melting plastic when printing. PLA .... not. Some people even like how PLA smells. I couldn't care less as my sense of smell is non-existant sadly. BUT I'm not the only person living in the house so I still take that in account.

..... and sadly, be ready to experiment a lot and have misprints, certainly when starting out. I think when I started on the Ulti, I had 1 good print for every 3 failures or so.
It became better as I learned to deal with the Ultimaker, but yeah, it took a while to get the hang of it.
I can't say for sure, but I would suspect a "all in solution" like the Dremel is a lot more forgiving.

Maybe the best advise I can give : do not be discourraged in the beginning. Unless you're lucky, those first printouts potentially could set you off. If they come out good : GREAT. If they don't, keep experimenting with the printer parameters until you hit the sweet spot of the combination of your printer hardware and the used filament.
for all things equal the dremel is 999 the WAY better dreamer is 1200. 2X noz and heated bed for 200 bucks more. not a bad upgrade.

I you Really only want a cheap and GOOD DIY mostly PLA the prusa is Super good and If you use waterjet cutted AL sheet its rugged as can be .
.... The Alu sheet will outlast the Acrylic and other stuff like Wood ect no doubt possible. I agree fully.

I don't even think it the Steel version would be all that much better in terms of longlivity.

But a steel construct, due to its weight which is what, 3 or 4 times as heavy as the Alu version, "should" (will have to test this claim when mine is fully assembled) be less prone to printing problems due to vibration.
If this notion has any true worth remains to be seen : I'll be sure to give you guys some feedback the moment my P3Steel is operational (hopefully this weekend).

In terms of cost, a steel frame should be cheaper than an Alu one, although the difference in weight might be a killer in terms of shipment costs.

But considering we don't even know yet if FlusherCape26 is looking to buy or build a printer, this discussion is purely academic. :D But thank you for your insight Peter, I only have a very limited hands-on knowledge with 3D printers, and they are limited so far to the Ultimaker 1 and an Acrylic Prusa (which was put together very badly, not by me I might add).
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:lol. Mara's recent remark about egghead behaviour springs to mind. You know, when the girl 's right, she's right.
Makerbot has a good reputation, and the stuff they produce look pretty good.

Eek. This is mostly true, with the exception of their latest printers, the Makerbot Replicator+ & Replicator 5th Gen. To their credit, Makerbot tried to make the "Apple" equivalent of a 3D printer, in essence, plug & play. But the "Smart Extruder", their combined extruder & z-height/bed leveling hot end (the thing that spits out melted plastic) was not tested by the masses before going into wide release. This machine started on 3D hubs 'best' list, and quickly dropped down in the rankings to the point where you have search pretty hard to find it. In fact, the & Makerbot 5th Gen & Makerbot Replicator+ overall ratings has fallen below their previous generation printer, the Replicator 2. And basically, the problem with the Smart Extruder is the dreaded "extruder jam". Everyone will experience it, and the more complicated the extruder, the more painful it will be to un-jam. Not saying you shouldn't go with a Makerbot printer, though I recommend going with a Replicator 2 or 2X. Or to save some money, get a Replicator 2 clone. 3DHubs Printer Guide can help you know which ones are Replicator 2 clones. Some of Replicator 2 copies rate better than the original.

Personally, I bought a Makergear M2, and to be candid, have had more than my share of problems. This using one of the highest rated printers, period. Besides several jams, shot myself in the foot once (partially disconnected power cable that made it appear that my printer was having a major malfunction), plus a broken extruder motor axle. After some initial success, when I started trying to print something larger than a toy robot, I ran into a succession of challenges that took alot of experimentation and the application of everything I had learned up to that point to get successful prints. I take nothing for granted in terms of translation from downloaded files into finished & acceptable printed object.

Producing 'life size' components on the current generation of hobbiest FDMs has a huge learning curve, one I am in the middle of experiencing. I am not even trying to print armor, just *some* rifles, and besides several 2Kg reels per rifle, getting acceptable prints, or heck parts small enough to be printed on my machine have been very challenging. Or in other words, what you want to print, puts easily in the "enthusiast" category of printer users. You'll want a machine that you can modify, update, upgrade, and fine tune to produce objects that are at the very limits of what a home printer can produce. And can't recommend this enough, pick a machine that has a large, friendly (internet) community.
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