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  1. #1

    Need Help Choosing a 3-D printer

    So long story short, my boss wanted me to find a panel cover (similar to a light switch) that we needed for our hotel. They don't ship those covers to the US so he asked me to start looking into 3-D printing, I don't have much 3-D printing experience, a teacher of mine bought one a few years back and I helped him with it in school, so I have a small amount of experience calibrating and using 3d software. My question is what kind of printer do I need? For my needs, do I buy a $2,000 one or will a $300 one do the same thing? What makes an expensive printer more worth it? Most importantly, we cant have stringy or fuzzy prints.

  2. #2
    Engineer Roberts_Clif's Avatar
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    There are Many 3D Printers. Starting prices below $300.00 that can print excellent 3D Models.
    I Printed a swimming Pool Flange for a friend who worked for a Apartment Rental. A replacement part was not available so Designed and 3D Printed a working model.

    It was identical to the Original part only this part was 3D Printed. My 3D Printer was Under $300.00.

    So Even a 3D Printer Under $300.00 Can still print a excellent duplicate Part. Build area 270 x 220 X 190mm.
    Attached Files Attached Files

  3. #3
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
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    what he said - BUT:
    generally the more expensive printers are easier to use and don't require quite as much knowlege to use and don't need as much modifying to make it work properly.

    Probably the best way to start is work out what the maximum size of thing you are likely to print on a regular basis is.
    Also - bear in mind if you are wanting to make bespoke parts - like an unusual light switch cover - you will need to be able to usea pair of digital calipers and reverse engineer the part from scratch, your self !

    The printer is the last step in a chain that goes:
    design the part, or find it online > load part into a slicer > send sliced file to printer > hope it prints :-)

    The slicer is probably the most important part of the chain, it's the bit that takes a solid 3d model and reduces it to a series of reallly thin slices that the printer can lay down.

    Different slicers work better depending on what printer you have.

    So before you buy a 3d printer - make sure you can design the models to print. Or get them designed for you.

    As far as stringy or fuzzy prints goes. That's why they invented sanding blocks, mini-files, drills and paint :-)

    I find that you can print at really high resolutions and take 8 hours. Or print faster and at a lower resolution in 2 hours and then spend 10 minutes doing a bit of post processing and end up with a part at least as good :-)
    Once you've got a a few machines you can use them for different things.
    But if you've only got the one, you need to prioritise your build time.

    So.
    1) work out what the largest thing you're likely to print will be
    2) get some practice with 3d modelling - I use openscad: http://www.openscad.org/
    3) decide on a maximum budget - around $1000 will give you lots of options for some serious machines
    4) come back to us :-)

  4. #4
    I would first ask if this is some kind of safety panel because you might just be putting yourself or your boss in a heap of liability.

    After that, I would say you need someone to design the panel. And if you need 5 for the life of the project, order them printed from a 3D printing company. Can't design a panel? People know how to do that too.

    And of course you have to ask, is 3D printing this panel the -right- solution when a set of tin-snips and some HVAC sheetmetal would do a better job.

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