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"Which 3d printer?" Topic

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Captain Clegg14 Feb 2020 3:01 a.m. PST

Good morning, I'm sorry if this has been asked previously but I am considering getting a 3D printer and thought I would ask the question of those who have already gone down this path, which one do I look at considering cost and ease of use?
I guess ultimately I would be producing product to sell but initially it would be a learning process putting design and printing together.
What are the pros and cons of resin or plastic printing and which would give more satisfactory results, I am erring on the side of resin but would welcome any comments regarding this.
Regarding the 3D design itself, I am already trying to learn, bearing in mind I do use Revit 3D design software at work and have been toying round with Fusion 360.
Many thanks

Martin from Canada14 Feb 2020 4:42 a.m. PST

It depends on what you want to make and the figure scale.

FDM (plastic) has the shallowest learning curve, low cost per model, generally larger build surface and you don't have to deal with hasmat. This is great for vehicles, and terrain.

SLA (resin) has the highest detail (approaching cast metal) but a steeper learning curve, is more expensive, higher fixed and marginal costs, hasmat usage and disposal. The resin can cause some nasty chemical burns, and has a significant smell factor so if it's to be located in a living environment, I would recommend against it. I hear that latest generation resin is getting better, but better isn't inoffensive as of yet.

I've been able to make 28mm figs with my FDM printer, but they're nothing to really write home about. I've gotten better results with inorganic forms such as tanks down to 6mm (about 80% the quality of CNC-PFC) and 3mm scale (Nowhere near as good as O8 minis, but still usable).

Captain Clegg14 Feb 2020 6:10 a.m. PST

Thanks Martin, I'll have a look, I am guessing I would use it in the garage so not too many problems with smell. is the resin really that bad?

55th Division14 Feb 2020 6:32 a.m. PST

it depends on you I am very sensitive to the resin smell but others don't notice it. I have a Anycubic Photon that I have added a bathroom extractor fan that vents to the open air

Captain Clegg14 Feb 2020 6:36 a.m. PST

55th-How do you find the printer, is the learning curve steep?
I think that was the one I was looking at a little while ago, seems reasonably priced.

UshCha14 Feb 2020 6:38 a.m. PST

Martin From Canada has said it all.

What I am not sure abour is environment temperature. I do know my cheap Monoprice Select Mini V2 (about as cheap a printer as you can get) does struggle in a cold (5 deg C) environment. You might want to look carefully at any temperature limitations on the printer you want to use in a garage.

Captain Clegg14 Feb 2020 7:37 a.m. PST

Thanks chaps, I will continue with the research now I have a few more pointers.


Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP14 Feb 2020 8:25 a.m. PST

A gent in our club owns several 3D printers, and runs the 3D printing lab at his university. I asked him about it.

The first thing you need to know these are NOT like ink jets. You don't just "plug and play." Keeping them running becomes a whole hobby in itself.

Also print times can be very, very long. At Little Wars the shop across from me is a 3D printer. They make ships – 10-15 hour print runs are not uncommon for ships that are about 8 or 10" long. They do print for hire but they have several dozen printers….

Martin from Canada14 Feb 2020 8:33 a.m. PST

Also print times can be very, very long.

My longest print was a 1/56 KV-5 took me about 44 hours to print.

Martian Root Canal14 Feb 2020 8:35 a.m. PST

I own four 3D printers. Three FDMs and one SLA/liquid resin.

First of all, the resin 'smell' claims are greatly exaggerated with current resins on the market. I use mine in my basement, next to my airbrush hood. I simply turn on the hood and ventilate. Even with the hood off, I have not noticed any overpowering smells.

Ender3 FDMs are widely used, affordable and have a large community of support. For a first budget printer, you can't go wrong. FDM is mostly good for buildings, terrain and vehicles. You CAN do miniatures on them, but I've turned to SLA for those simply to eliminate print lines.

My SLA is a Longer Orange30. About $250 USD or so. I was up and running an hour after I opened it and have been printing away since then.

Your biggest challenge is going to be learning your printer's quirks and how to manipulate your designs in the appropriate slicer software for printing.

Finally, 3D printing is an art more than a science. Temperature, printer, materials all play in to dialing in perfect prints. Your attitude about 'learning' is the correct one. There are plenty of us to ask for help and advice.

Captain Clegg14 Feb 2020 8:47 a.m. PST

Thank you, I think I need to do more research.
Thinking about it I would probably use it for terrain and vehicles, I have no interest (yet!) in sculpting miniatures on my pc.

Martian Root Canal14 Feb 2020 8:57 a.m. PST

Time to print is a function of layer size, size of object and printer settings. Yes, prints can take awhile. I'd say a day or less is the average time for most of my 3D prints. My longest print was over 3 days. Biggest risk factor is running out of filament midway. Most printers have a function to help you stop printing midstream to change the filament roll. Some have auto-stops. Most require you to keep an eye on things.

Royal Air Force Supporting Member of TMP14 Feb 2020 10:09 a.m. PST

Hi Captain,
There are a great variety of reasonably priced FDM printers out there, and the resin ones have started to get more affordable as well. As with every tool, sometimes you get what you pay for though. I've heard great things about the Ender 3, but most comments I've seen have been along the lines of 'it's a great printer after you've done some upgrades/tweaks'. Check out Tom Tullis/Dragonlock videos on Youtube. I'm running a Prusa Mk 3S (FDM) and an Elegoo Mars (SLA). I previously ran a Mk2S for a few years. Both are great machines, and both have a learning curve but nothing insurmountable there is a lot of help on various forums. I use the Prusa for terrain and larger vehicles, the Mars for things like 1/300 ships for Cruel seas and 28mm figures. They complement each other nicely.

Personal logo McKinstry Supporting Member of TMP Fezian14 Feb 2020 10:25 a.m. PST

I use an Elegoo Mars SLA and the Elegoo resin has virtually no smell. It is some extra work in clean up but the quality of the prints in superb.

Jozis Tin Man14 Feb 2020 12:09 p.m. PST

Just chiming in, I have an Ender 3 Pro I got for $200 USD and have kept it running almost non-stop for the last 7 weeks…

I have been printing tokens,terrain, and tanks scaled to 1:150, no figures. I am happy with the quality for both, but will get some painted up soon as the proof of the pudding. I will post some pictures on my blog soon and post it to TMP.

The 1:150 tanks take about 3 -4 hours to print depending on size. I could probably print more than 1 at a time but I am doing 2 or 3 a day, which is faster than I can paint them

Don Perrin14 Feb 2020 2:43 p.m. PST

I have some recommendations on my site here:

McWong7314 Feb 2020 5:15 p.m. PST

Out of the box works with little to no modding, and an easier learning curve, common online wisdom suggests you get an Original Prusa FDM. I've found the Maker Muse channel on YouTube to be invaluable in my purchase decisions.

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