3d printers are all the rage...


professional vim user
Mar 24, 2014
Seattle, WA
Any recommendations? I have some experience with modeling and CAD stuff, so it's not wholly new territory.

Open source, or at least Linux-capable software, is a must... Saw Lulzbot Taz 6 and thought I could support that. Sounds especially cool that I could use other materials, though I'm not sure how easy that is to do with the included parts (e.g. print head)...

Of course, will need to save up the funds, but I figure buying one of these instead of buying a fancy new computer (when I usually just code up games for limited-resource CPUs anyways) would be a more interesting toy. Especially if I can make some fun cases for things...
I have two printrbots in my household. The Printrbot Metal Plus, which looks comparable to the lulzbot Taz 6 and my old Printrbot Jr. it's a 6x6x6 printer, but it was kind of the bastard child of their line however it looked like they quickly moved on to a better design and that model didn't get the upgrades other models had. however it does print fairly well, but not quite as tight as the Metal Plus. I think I'm going to make a new printer from the motors and control board from that unit sometime.
You could consider building your own: http://reprap.org/wiki/RepRap_Options
i've looked into the repraps a bit, but didn't want to get my hands too dirty... at least, not for my first project. on the matter of servos and stepper motors, the only servo i'm familiar with is Tom Servo.

love the promise of repraps, but they can't currently deliver complete replication (pcb's, metal stuff, etc.), though i am generous enough to allow for up to three machines to complete the circle... was thinking a metal cnc mill would be cool, though. beyond metal cases, not sure what i'd use it for. not even sure that would be the best use for it.

@TrashyMG looking at the printrbot, looks like it only does ABS and PLA. it's also about half the cost of the taz. do you prefer ABS or PLA with it?
@TrashyMG looking at the printrbot, looks like it only does ABS and PLA. it's also about half the cost of the taz. do you prefer ABS or PLA with it?
PLA is definitely easier to deal with no matter what company you go with. ABS is a bit more difficult with bed adhesion and even with a heated bed it can be a bit difficult. Materials like nylon are possible even on a printrbot, but you may need to get an extruder heater element capable of higher temperatures.
If you can find a good company for your ABS it can be beautiful. 3D Solutech supplies my ABS now and it is amazing, bed adhesion is great, it vapour smooths perfectly, and forms fairly strong bonds with sufficiently thick walls. I've used some stuff that is just utter garbage: avoid hatchbox like the plague.
But yeah, with PLA it's very difficult to go wrong.
On the actual 3D printer, I don't see much need to build your own anymore. Like, you can, it's probably fun to tinker, but if you're more interested in the actual printing than the mechanics then just get a cheap (or not so cheap, if you can afford it) pre-built.
On the cheaper end I can personally vouch for the Robo3D, and second-hand recommendation of the Prusa. I think I've heard good things about the Printrbot as well.
Anything more than $1000 I can make no recommendations for, they're outside my price range so I didn't bother investigating at all.
The other thing to consider, if you can afford it, is an SLA printer like the Form1. Resin prints are faster, stronger, and tend to be higher quality, but you pay for it in upfront and material costs.
@WizardStan i can't judge since i don't have either, but an SLA printer seems to be messier/harder to put in a different color. anyone have any experience with that?
yeah, never thought i'd get in on the craze, but i have some ideas i'd want to flesh out using one...
I've had some experience with a FlashForge Creator Pro (a Makerbot Replicator clone) on Windows (shudder)

Pro: Nicely built hardware, open-source toolchain
Con: Only accepts x3g files, which mean an extra processing step from gcode
Also: There isn't much software than can make good use of the dual extruders
dual extruders definitely sound cool, but if there's not a good use-case for them i guess i wouldn't need them... and i probably don't need to be able to print very large things (or instead print smaller parts which can fit together), so maybe keeping it under $2000 would help me get one sooner :). still want nicer quality and a dedication to open source, though.

looking at the lulzbot mini ($1250), the only thing that would be annoying is keeping it tethered to a computer. (though i have a few of those sitting around.)
some ideas for a bitbox case. inspired by the nintendo case, though not being religious about it... there are a few things missing, like the lid for the hole in the front (which can open, in order to connect a UEXT or something else), and some holes for the buttons (which are near the base of the case at the front, though that bit is a bit of a quandary...

two questions:
  1. how best to add button functionality? the buttons are pressed vertically on the board, and they are just below the lid opening on the following renders (on either side of the opening), but it'd be nice to have horizontally depressed buttons; i suppose i should know about soldering and taking out the buttons, but something non-destructive to the original design might be nice. any thoughts on this? if i put in a pivot, and some 90 degree wedge-button, i could transfer the force via torque...[ [edit] just put in vertical strips of plastic on either side of the lid, see link below...
  2. any difficulties that i have to consider when printing something like this? i'm trying to keep all features >= 2mm, and the bottom of the case will be printed separate from the top (as well as the lid, etc.).
[edit] perhaps a mostly finished version here:

old ideas in the spoiler (though i can switch between the different designs as i like):

here are some options, i think my favorite might be the vent-with-bevel, though they are all kinda fun in their own way:

front view: air vents all the way back case:

front view: air vent partway, no bevel:

front view of the vent-with-bevel case:

back view of the vent-with-bevel case:

front view, with bevel, no air vents:
no vents, with bevel, side view (big hole on the side is for two USB):
for the interested, i'm using OpenSCAD, since i like to make things parametric.
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saw this and thought that would be neat:

except that italy seems to have been almost completely overwhelmed by that great sea...

what do you guys use your 3d printers for? i might just print a few things at a local 3d hub until i can justify getting one of my own...
Do you sometimes just print open gaps to put plastic filler in?
IF you mean the gaps in the Cymbal holder. I'm giving the design some reinforcement, but not keeping it as a solid geometry as it already took 6+ hours to print that with 100% infill. Mostly saving myself from a 24 hour print job.
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bump - @TrashyMG @WizardStan @Binky any pictures of things you've printed?

This was an experimental project to test the printer, so was made in many parts on various settings using either ReplicatorG or Slic3r.
Track and nuts are off-the-shelf. The locomotive works (battery-powered), but the gearing, axles, and electrical parts are not 3d-printed. The wheels are 3-printed and friction-fit onto the axles.
All made from ABS on a FlashForge Creator Pro bought in early 2016. All parts were printed using a single filament for both break-away supports and the main object, some of the white patches left by breaking away the support were smoothed off slightly with a hot-air gun.

I had a go using PET, which worked, but resulted in parts with a very odd texture and appearance.
Since the printer has twin extruders, I also tried ABS+PVA for disolvable supports. This didn't work because of problems with ooze control. Your results may vary.
For scale, the rails are 16mm apart.


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