View Full Version : 3D printing Who in the community owns or uses one ?

11-25-2012, 09:29 PM
When I first saw a 3d printer I was like that is a dream come true, something right out of star trek. Just wondering who here owns one , what model are they running etc. I like the look of the makerbot replicator 2 , but it has a 9 week delivery delay and is on the pricey side. I see chinese versions on ebay for 1/2 the price. Where is the sweet spot ? Kit ? self made ? used ? What other printers out there are on the same level of replicator 2?

11-26-2012, 12:49 AM
I've been researching these, but I'm not sure I can convince the family budget that one is strictly necessary just yet :-) I think the sweet spot is either a kit-based RepRap, or a Replicator2. Unless you can go up in price to the selective laser sintering and similar systems that can do metals.

One interesting option, cheaper than the Replicator 2, might be the "Type A Machine (http://typeamachines.com/)" -- it has much shorter lead time, because it's made in San Francisco which didn't get flooded by the recent hurricane :-) It also has a larger print area, but only one print head. I've seen some prints from the one they have at Tech Shop San Francisco, and it works, although the prints I saw seemed to have been flamed/polished, so I couldn't tell how accurate the striations/layering is. It still has that ugly, burnt-edges plywood/mdf look that you get from laser cutting, though, just like the Replicator :-/

I know Gertlex uses a 3D printer of some sort, as can be seen in his Twitch thread -- the yellow servo blocks are printed. I think his is a Cupcake (older version from Makerbots.)

11-26-2012, 02:57 AM
I built a RepRap after trying a home built contraption with threaded rods instead of belts but it was very slow I was able to build the parts for a Prusa http://www.reprap.org/wiki/Prusa The speed alone is 15X faster. But the biggest change is how i build parts instead of make do with parts i can get my hands on i custom build

I like the Prusa for the cost and ease of build if you print in PLA you don't need a hot bed only blue tape the arm in the picture above
I was trying different print settings and materials (ABS PLA and dying the PLA) rather than try to do a perfect print. While getting the arm to work I learned more about printing and what I need and I adjusted the printer to suit my needs.

Some of the things I need to change are larger pulley's and wider belts( mine keep breaking because of the small dia pulley's and the wire in the belts)

11-26-2012, 06:00 PM
Thanks for the reply, I like the look of the Prusa Mendel Ieration 2, I am considering this kit here . (http://www.ebay.com/itm/Prusa-Mendel-Iteration-2-linear-Full-Kit-reprap-3d-printer-w-BLACK-PARTS-/281024608701?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item416e5f39bd) I also Like the look and price point of the printerbot LC , I think from the reviews and videos I have researched and what looks like overwhelming community support I am going to start off with one of those units, not sure which one yet. Later on down the road I can always upgrade to somethign like the replicator 2, if need be.

11-27-2012, 11:19 AM
I've been considering getting one, probably a Replicator. I first became interested in them a couple years ago when Jon Hylands started posting some stuff about parts he made for a mini-sumo. I'm actually still using some of his custom Bioloid interface boards. I'm not sure if he is still active in the community here.

01-28-2013, 12:01 PM
Howdy All!

I purchased a Reprap: mendel v2 kit off ebay; primarly with the hope of building parts for mech warfare bot.

Ron: I bought a kit from the same folks, let me know if you already put in an order? I ordered it on thanksgiving week, and am just this last weekend (Jan 27) finishing up the physical build. There were months of trying to get printed parts sent to me that were the 'correct' item and printed 'correctly'. If you're not in a hurry and willing to work with them though it's a decent option, lots of tinkering, reading, trimming pieces, drilling holes out needed to complete.

So my X,Y,Z axis are moving at this point, I still need to work out a issue with the gearing on the extruder, it works but it does bind up in some places. After that i think calibration and I should be ready to print. I primarily got this to print prototype robot parts, but maybe I can make some final parts too? Another option I want to explore is using these plastic pieces for molds to cast in aluminum.

There is an interesting article in the last "BotMag" about printing out parts for a DarwinOP, the author seemed to think it was feasible but you did lose some strength. http:// http://robosavvy.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=7292 (http:// http://robosavvy.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=7292) this forum talks a bit about it as well. Also this link is to thingiverse biped http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:10474

Hope everyone can join in the fun and share our thoughts and ideas, maybe we can really change the style of robots through these printers!


01-28-2013, 02:16 PM
wink wink, nudge nudge.... (http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/industrial-robots/giant-robotic-jumping-spider-giant-robotic-jumping-spider)

01-29-2013, 12:27 PM
My Printrbot LC which I bought for about $700usd w/shipping.
Been 2 months and I have printed a lot, from mechwarfare robot frames to vases for my mum.
I was surprised how long 1 lb/20$ of abs lasted me, about a month of printing random shit, and I had a lot of bad prints too.(result of the printing learning curve)

In my opinion the best investment I have ever made.

12-30-2013, 11:35 PM
I've been following 3D printing for about 6 years now.. The most daunting thing for me is I have 0 experience in 3D modeling.. Those who have recently purchased a 3D printer do you have background in 3D modeling? Honestly that is the only thing holding me back from buying one. I could easily and quickly round the money up to buy one, I just don't want to buy a 1,500 paperweight that I'll never use.

Also to contribute a little, the Form 1 printer is pretty amazing (http://formlabs.com/). It's a bit pricey though. I also like the printers from Mendel-Parts ( http://www.mendel-parts.com/)

At this point there are enough choices where you can shop around and look for exactly what you need. Whether it's extra build height, faster print speeds, or layer thickness. You just need to do your research.

P.S. I revived this thread because I believe it really has a lot to do with the individuals DIY movement and robotics in general.

12-30-2013, 11:44 PM
I got a Printrbot Simple kit earlier this year. Its build area is kind of small (4x4x4 inches or less) but it builds all the brackets/frames I need pretty much :-)

And, to answer the question: Yes, I have 3D modeling experience since POV-Ray in the 1980s, up until 3ds Max and 3D software development in a number of previous jobs. I did have to learn Autodesk Inventor when I started learning CNC milling two years ago, though, and that really helped with picking up 3D printing!

If you know 2D CAD/drawing, then picking up Inventor or Solidworks is not that hard, because you build your 3D parts by drawing outlines in 2D (CAD style) and then "thickening" or "cutting" them. You also have all the nice constraints from a 2D CAD package, where you enter all the numbers that matter to you (hole distance, etc) and it moves the pieces around until they match.

12-31-2013, 05:11 AM
Yeah I picked up Inventor just today since talking with CasperH on his Tachikoma designs in SolidWorks. I do know CAD drawing vaguely from High School. The teacher hated me, and that was the only class I actually got kicked out of for a week because of a practical joke between my friend and I. But anyway that gives me a little hope.

Anyone pick up a 3D printer who didn't really have experience 3D modeling before hand? I know that sounds kind of stupid and pointless.. Reading it lol. But maybe.

12-31-2013, 12:38 PM
Saw my name pop up in the recent forum posts there, could not resist replying. :tongue:

I did have quite a bit of experience 3D (solid) modeling before purchasing my 3D printer. What I quickly learned is that not only should you know/learn 3D design but also understand your manufacturing processes. In this case 3D printing, but it is also good to know what a mill and lathe can do for you, especially if you would like some specific metal parts in your design (think axles or frame parts).

Something that really helped me along understanding the hobby 3D printing process and designing for it was this course at udemy:


If you consider enrolling (purchasing), let me know, they give frequent 50-65% discount coupons every two months and I can send it to you.

Both Solidworks and Inventor come preloaded with a whole bunch of tutorials, I think if you work through them (can be done in a day or two) you are already quite far in understanding the basics. If you need any help you can pm or email me.


Ezio, have you seen this topic here on the forum?


It is probably also of interest to you.

01-02-2014, 09:10 AM
I have had my Mendel Prusia for over a year now and I still haven't printed anything successfully, which is more on me and my busy life then the particular printer I have. I don't have much CAD skills, I took AutoCAD back in the mid 90's in high school but haven't done much since then other than a few Solidworks tutorials.

I think my printer could be up and running in an afternoon, I just have gotten very busy lately with some other projects, namely a local hackerspace I'm part of the founding members as well as a mentoring a local FIRST Lego and Tech team.

01-13-2014, 11:54 AM
I used to have a Dimension uPrint, but I sold it. I built a lot of robot parts with that printer, but of course the cost was ridiculous. You can't beat the quality or repeat-ability though. I sold it about a year ago to pay my son's first year tuition at university. about six months later, in my current job (working for Mozilla) something came up and we needed a 3D printer for building some battery harnesses for testing Firefox OS phones (see http://blog.huv.com/2013/09/so-up-until-month-ago-i-was-working-on.html for details). So Mozilla bought a Mojo, which is a scaled-down version of the uPrint. We decided to go with the Mojo (which costs about $10,000) instead of something like a Replicator 2 because the Mojo is much more reliable about printing the same way each and every time you print something. There is no adjustments or calibration needed, which for commercial use is important.

So I have a Mojo sitting on my desk at home (I work from home). I've been doing 3D modeling for something like 16 years now, and that is definitely something that you have to get good at. Not just at building pretty 3D models, but building models that (a) can be printed, (b) are useful and not just standalone trinkets, and (c) are dimensionally accurate and thus work together with other pieces.

I started my robotics hobby with a Sherline lathe/mill, and building CAD models and then machining them in real life (manually, not CNC) taught me a lot about how things need to be put together. Once I got a 3D printer, it was fairly straight forward to transition to designing parts for printing rather than for machining.

- Jon

01-13-2014, 01:33 PM
Mojo is using FDM? I'm really liking the "no support needed" capabilities of the laser sintering printers that Shapeways uses for Nylon, and the resin-based photo-UV ones. With bottom projection, the latter can print one full layer at a time!

01-13-2014, 03:24 PM
This is why I don't like non-ABS printers, especially the resin-based ones...

This is a part I printed on an Objet about 4 years ago:


The material is really important. Stuff I printed 4 years ago out of ABS is still going strong.

The resin stuff also can't be tapped (at least, not the stuff out of an Objet printer). That is really important when you're building real parts and not just desktop trinkets.

- Jon

01-13-2014, 05:08 PM
Shapeways only uses Objet for their "full color sandstone-like" prints, which are mainly for decorative figurines and stuff I guess.
They use SLS for nyon (strong/white/flexible) which works great for "real parts." Nylon is a very common engineering plastic; the main draw-back is the swelling you get with humidity.
I've heard of SLS for steel, too, which seems awesome, but probably not cheap :-)

01-13-2014, 07:17 PM
I've never used Shapeways - their shipping is too slow to Canada, and it costs too much. I have no idea what one of their SLS nylon printers cost, but I'll bet its significantly more than the $10K the Mojo cost.

- Jon

01-13-2014, 08:46 PM
I'll bet its significantly more than the $10K the Mojo cost

That's probably true!

The cost might be high if you're going to be printing 100s of large parts, but for any small-scale project, they're way cheaper than your own printer :-)

01-14-2014, 06:33 AM
We did the cost analysis for our project (printing 200+ battery harnesses), and it made more sense to pay $10K and own the printer. Having the printer beside me saves an enormous amount of time while I'm iterating designs, and it means I can turn around a harness for a new phone in a matter of a day or two instead of weeks.

We actually got the first couple harnesses printed at a local place in Toronto that has a uPrint, and they were charging $100. Shapeways charges about half that once you factor in shipping, but the lead time for Shapeways is 3 weeks for us, which is insane.

After that we did a simple cost analysis, and decided it makes more sense to invest in the printer ourselves. My former experience with the uPrint led me to the Mojo, and I'm not at all disappointed in the performance of the Mojo. I can start a print job in the morning, and leave the house, come back later, and it *always* works 100% every time.

- Jon

01-14-2014, 10:59 AM
200+ battery harnesses

Hah, yeah, that's a big project :-)
How long will it take to print all of those?

01-14-2014, 11:54 AM
Well, that's the eventual goal. So far I've printed probably 40-50 of them.

Here's a picture of a bunch of 12 I sent out just before the Christmas break, along with 12 ammeters (also in a small printed box, with the lids not shown in this pic):


I designed and populated the ammeter boards as well. Right now I'm building a batch of about 30:


This is the first 24 of that group. The ammeter has an ATmega32U4 on it, and a bunch of other very small components including a 16 bit A/D chip.

The whole assembly looks like this, ready to be hooked up to a phone:


The ammeter connects to a PC via a USB cable, and provides a simple serial interface (virtual com port).

- Jon

01-14-2014, 07:35 PM
Looks nice! Like a little instrumentation cottage industry.

01-16-2014, 12:52 PM
If you believe the press hype from C.E.S. et al this is another year of the 3D printer.

Which is good, because I need one. Getting a bit more creative with my builds as experience grows, and off-the-shelf parts no longer suffice or are available.

New Makerbot Replicator looks good and withing budget, but they recommend PLA - ideally I want a printer that can do ABS, PLA or nylon.

Hoping for some new models to hit the market first half of year.

01-16-2014, 01:36 PM
If you haven't already, go out and buy the Make 3D printer guide: http://makezine.com/volume/guide-to-3d-printing-2014/

D (http://makezine.com/volume/guide-to-3d-printing-2014/)efinitely worth reading.

01-16-2014, 03:01 PM
If you believe the press hype from C.E.S. et al this is another year of the 3D printer.

Which is good, because I need one. Getting a bit more creative with my builds as experience grows, and off-the-shelf parts no longer suffice or are available.

New Makerbot Replicator looks good and withing budget, but they recommend PLA - ideally I want a printer that can do ABS, PLA or nylon.

Hoping for some new models to hit the market first half of year.

I can recommend you the printer I have, a SpiderBot (http://www.spiderbot.eu) it has everything to build proper ABS parts, enclosed build chamber, air flow fan, PEI bed (new product) and will have a heated build chamber in the future (I am testing some prototypes from the supplier). Also it ships from Lyon area, which is close to Geneva. The downside... you have to assemble it yourself.

Check out the Tachikoma project topic (http://forums.trossenrobotics.com/showthread.php?5974-Tachikoma/page10) for some of the stuff that I have been printing.

01-16-2014, 04:00 PM
Personally, I went all the way to the bottom of price, and got a Printrbot Simple kit for < $300. It prints PLA only, at 100x100x100 mm print cube or less. But within those constraints, I've gotten it to print very well! And for the kinds of prototype parts I print, it's quite sufficient. For final-quality nylon parts, I can order a lot from Shapeways before a $2500 printer would pay for itself :-) And Shapeways has better resolution/registration too.

01-17-2014, 03:30 AM
Fully realise and appreciate economic benefits of using the Shapeways service, but wouldn't work for me in Switzerland (incidentally the a** end of the universe as far as ordering parts goes) - delivery too long and expensive.

Also relatively new to "making", and completley new to 3D design. In this regard I can see why a cheaper 3D printer option for prototyping would work if supported by a fast professional outfit like Shapeways. I need my own as it would take several iterations to get anything right through learning as I go, so very interested to see new models coming out.

CasperH - your 3D designs for Tachikoma are incredible and inspiring, must get some 3D CAD tutorials done.

01-17-2014, 04:12 AM
Fully realise and appreciate economic benefits of using the Shapeways service, but wouldn't work for me in Switzerland (incidentally the a** end of the universe as far as ordering parts goes) - delivery too long and expensive.

*cough* Might have you beat there. :P

Personally I've used Shapeways for all my stuff, $20 shipping from the Netherlands to Australia is a bargain compared to other stuff I've ordered (try a >$100 shipping fee for some larger items...). As Jwatte has said, the resolution is very good. I got holes for captive M3 nuts right the first go, which was a bit of a surprise to me.

01-17-2014, 12:37 PM
Didn't Shapeways start in the Netherlands, and then open a second office in NY? I know that it took forever to order samples several years ago, and I think that was because they shipped from the Netherlands. Still, they have to send those mountain goats all across the wide expanse of Luxembourg and down the infamous French/German border to climb up into the Swiss alps, but at least they're more or less in the same time zone (NY -> CA is 3 time zones and a 6 hour flight!)

Anyway, nothing wrong with wanting a high-end 3D printer -- I want one too :-)

01-17-2014, 01:10 PM
I need my own as it would take several iterations to get anything right through learning as I go, so very interested to see new models coming out.

Keep in mind that 3D design and 3D design for hobby 3D printing are two different things. I had about 1-2 years of CAD experience (Inventor and Solidworks) and then I took this course: https://www.udemy.com/design-for-3d-printing It was still very beneficial to me, so if you want to shave off an iteration or two, I can recommend it.

CasperH - your 3D designs for Tachikoma are incredible and inspiring, must get some 3D CAD tutorials done.

Thank you for the compliment! I can tell you that it was not all smooth sailing, so some persistence is key. :wink:

Have you made a list of "requirements" yet for your design? This website might help also: www.makerwise.com They have a very big database of printers.

01-17-2014, 10:44 PM
Glad to see my thread is still going strong here. I have been out of the game for the last 8 months or so but (almost) have my shop set back up. time to get Travidius up and running and I have still not purchased a 3D printer but it is certainly on the wish list.