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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2017

    3D Printer Newbie

    Hi all

    Im new to 3D printers and considering buying one but first wanted to ask how big can you make things or is there a limit to the size of a project.

    Also can you replicate most things if you scan then

    I would like to make the Postbox that people hire for weddings that are the size of the Royal Mail boxes in villages, can this be done or is it a project out of my comfort zone.

    I would appreciate any suggestions to 3D printer to buy for a newbie.

  2. #2
    Engineer Marm's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Add Marm on Thingiverse
    The only size limit is the size of your printer. They've 3d printed working cars, livable houses, boats, etc. 3d printing is just a another name for "Automated Additive Manufacturing". Additive manufacturing is where the material is added layer by layer into it's final position, and the end product emerges. "Reductive Manufacturing" is where you start with a large piece of raw material, and remove material until the end product emerges. Like a machinists mill removing layers of aluminum from a large block. A CNC router, laser cutter, and a 3d printer are practically identical in design and build, right up until the working end. All 3 work on the same language, gcode, but a 3d printer lays down material, while a cutter and router remove it.

    You can buy/build 3d printers to any size you want. Most hobbyist sized printers run in the 4"^3 to the 8"^3 range (That's 4" cubed to 8" cubed). I've been eyeballing one for printing RC boat hulls, so I'd want to build mine about 8"x12"x52". The one that printed the car I mentioned was the size of a shipping container (semi truck / lorry size). A place I worked at had an overhead 3 axis gantry crane that I wanted to convert into a 3d printer the size of a warehouse.

    I'm really not familiar with the postbox you refer to, but yes, it could be printed. Probably easiest done in multiple sections, and then glued together. But personally, as I deal with a multitude of materials, I would be more inclined to try something else. Most likely, and cheapest, I'd do it out of wood. The cost investment for a couple hand tools to build the box is far less than a 3d printer, and will serve you well your entire life.

    If you do come up with a good design that can be printed, you need not invest in a printer though. There are a multitude of companies out there that will print things on spec, and at reasonable prices. At the very least, somebody here might be willing to do the printing for you.

    If you haven't designed the item, and are afraid too, check out some of the repositories of designs that already exist, like If you are interested in doing the design yourself (something i HIGHLY recommend, at least to learn the skill), there are a number of free design suites out there. I personally would recommend Sketch Up, but others will have other equally viable suggestions. Most of the software have easily findable tutorials on the net.

  3. #3
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  4. #4
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    post boxes can be quite big, but also come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

    And yes there are models on thingiverse:

    To print a full size one would be a pretty serious undertaking, and unnecessary.

    What i would do is find an existing cylinder: plastic barrel, oil barrel, huge cardboard tube etc.
    And print the fiddly bits to glue on. And maybe make the big parts from paper mache or fibreglass or wood.

  5. #5
    Engineer Marm's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Add Marm on Thingiverse
    Man CA, yer slipping, second thread you've posted in with spam....

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