Re: 3D Printing

Joshua Wood
 

I have a Monoprice Maker Select V2.  It's a pretty decent printer, and I picked it up for around $250 USD.  For the price, it's quite amazing.  I'm quite happy with what I define as "Functional Prints" - i.e. things without too high of a level of detail.  These are things like enclosures, antenna insulators, wire winders, SMA wrenches, soldering tip holder, shims, a part to fix my trash compactor, a filament cutter,   I could work on dialing in my settings more, but I don't intend for most things to have a very high level of detail, and I print in mostly PETG (very stringy filament).  I did make a bunch of mods to the printer - nyloc nuts in 3d printed knobs, Z-axis brace, Z-levelers, webcam mount for time lapse, octoprint on a raspberry pi,  filament guides, amongst others, to improve print quality and ease of printing.  If you want really fine detail prints (chess pieces, D&D minis, etc), there are a lot of ways to 'finish' them (sanding, painting, acetone bath, etc), but you should probably skip fused filament printers altogether and go to resin-based SLA printers.

All this said, I recommend many people stay away from 3d printing (in general).  3d printing is a hobby unto itself - not just a "print what I want."  While you likely could buy a printer that is plug and play, most of the middle end through all of the lower end printers will require significant tinkering, fiddling, adjusting, print setting tweaking, etc.  It's not a simple as I want X, I get X in Y time.  You'll routinely have to print something multiple times to get settings dialed in for a particular filament - which can / will change when you change filaments.  This is why many people stick to specific filament manufacturers.  In addition to that - as soon as you manage to get your settings dialed in, you start printing EVERYTHING you can find on Thingiverse.  While it's fun... It gets boring, really quickly.  You need to start looking at 3d design (even in something simple as TinkerCAD) to start solving your own problems you run into.  This is yet another hobby unto itself.

All said, I love my printer.  I think it's one of the best purchases I've made.  I've more than paid back its cost in wire winders, electronics enclosures, board game piece organizers, etc that I normally would have purchased instead.  This doesn't even include the ones I've made for other people.  They're great, they're definitely worth getting into - but only if you WANT to get into all the affiliated aspects of them (i.e.  appliance operators need not apply).  Also, if I had the disposable income, I'd definitely spring for the PRUSA i3 mk3.  Automated bed leveling (arguably the WORST PART OF PRINTING), flexible build plate, included PEI build surface, multiple extruder option, and really fancy firmware options - help make it arguably the Elecraft of 3d printing.  I think that probably the best deal currently available is the Monoprice MP Mini Delta ($160 USD), if you don't need a large build volume or fancier filaments.

~Josh
W0ODJ

P.S.  If it doesn't come with one - buy a metal putty knife and long tweezers - the putty knife is great for removing prints, and the long tweezers....  well, 250 C doesn't feel the best when you accidentally touch the hot-end (ask me how I know...)

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