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  1. #1

    Need help choosing entry level 3d printer for Miniatures and hobbies.

    I know very little about 3D printers and would like to get some help/advice/input for an entry level "hobby" printer. For the most part 90% usage would be for gaming miniatures and 10% usage for Architectural models. Speed isn't much of a concern. Price is the biggest concern and resolution being my second concern. Building something is not a concern for me as I am mechanically competent but I am technologically challenged.

    With that said, here's my thoughts so far...

    Endor 3 Pro ABS/PLA, is only $239 right now. Great price but at .100mm it's not the best resolution for miniatures. Would be fine for Models.

    Anycubic Photon Resin, is only $239 and .025mm. Sounds great but will I go broke printing larger models in resin?

    Creality LD-002R Resin, is only $279 and .020mm and same cost concern as anycubic.

    So what do you all think? Are they all shit?
    Are there other recommended printers in the $0-$300 range?
    Should I be leaning towards or staying away from resin?

    HELP!!!

  2. #2
    Student 686 Shooter's Avatar
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    If your main concern is miniatures i would say go with a resin printer. They will give you better looking mini's then an FDM will. If you do go with an FDM I would suggest saving up a little more and getting a machine with a few more features such as auto bed leveling. The Ender 3 Pro is capable of making good quality prints, but you gotta be prepared to tinker. It's not the best choice for someone brand new to 3D printing. It has it's detractors as you will no doubt hear about in short order. I had an Anycubic Mega S and had great luck with it. I believe it is a solid option for a first printer, even though it doesn't have auto bed leveling.

  3. #3
    Engineer-in-Training
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    When it comes to entry level, you are definitely getting what you pay for.. I am anti entry level. Save you money, and start doing research that does not include any Youtube reviews by "reviewers" Most are paid by the companies.. you need independent reviews from non paid participants. Also be wary of reviews that just compare specs..
    This is like buy any piece of equipment.. you get what you pay for and nothing more.. if it is cheap, there is a reason it is cheap.. Also consider the company and what support is available. Call the customer support phone number and ask them questions about the unit you are looking purchase. Good luck with your choices.

  4. #4
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
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    the 'you get what you pay for' is right, up to a point.

    The current crop of small (they basically all use smart phone screens - so that's the size of the build plate) resin machines currently on the market all seem to be pretty reasonable.
    Don't know anything about the creality one - but given the plethora of oter choices, personally I'd go for another manufacturer as a matter of course.
    Could be wrong on this one - but their track record just isn't good enough for me to recommond any of their machines without knowing anything about it.

    The photon is a decent looking machine. Lots of good reviews and videos.

    As far as printing large models in resin - well for one thing you can't :-) The cheap printers have small build volumes.
    For another you make the model hollow or mostly hollow with a sparse internal mesh.
    So 3d printed models tend to use a surprisingly small amount of plastic compared to injection moulding.

    Plus resin was down to around $50 a litre last time I looked - mind you that was before lockdown - so probably gone up since then.

    Have a look at some videos on using resin printers. While the results can be exceptional, the actual resin is messy and smelly and the post processing involves rinsing in isopropyl alcohol and exposing to a uv light to finish solidifying the print.

    You will need ppe :-) Mask and gloves, good idea and make sure you use good table cover, you don't want that stuff getting on anything you want to keep.
    watch some of thomas's videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrglNNw5A8Q
    he and angus from makers muse are two of the straightest and most knowlegeable guys on youtube.

    Actually there are soime really interesting comments and information in the comments for that video of thomas's that are really worth reading.
    I will defintiely not be getting a resin machine any time soon ! Had no idea just how nasty that stuff is.

    Obviously, I won't recommond anyone, anywhere, ever buy an ender 3 :-)

    But I have seem some fdm modesl with results really close to resin prints.
    So with some tinkering and a decent machine, with a 0.2mm nozzle it's doable.

    The monoprice mini delta is often used for making pretty good models - but it does have a few inherent problems (I know, I have one) so I wouldn't recommend that for a beginner.

    At the very least you want a machine with a direct drive extruder (and that alone rules out creality). The tiny amounts of plastic involved with using a 0.2mm nozzle (or smaller) just don't work that well with the inherent slack you get in any bowden tube extruder setup.
    Plus the significantly higher backpressure needs handling differently.

    Cheap machine to look at: monoprice maker select plus - it's actually a rebadged wanhao i3 plus.
    Basically it's as close as you can get to a genuine prusa mk2 for about half the price.

    Goo design and would be capable of both high quality prints with smaller nozzle sizes ad larger prints with the standard 0.4mm or larger nozzles.
    Last edited by curious aardvark; 05-19-2020 at 12:04 PM.

  5. #5
    Thank you all for the input

  6. #6
    Curious Aardvark, I beseech thee: Could you expound on those inherent problems for the mini Delta? I’m a beginner with technical and mechanical aptitude, and a sucker for a challenge. Besides, you have certainly touted Delta quite a bit, although I’m not 100% sold on fdm. On the other hand, your link to good ol’ Tom’s review of the Mars unit has thrown some serious doubts as to the feasibility of my owning one.
    Last edited by laneylou3; 05-20-2020 at 01:19 PM.

  7. #7
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
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    the monoprice mini delta.

    I actually have no initial hardware issues with mine.
    With a 0.4mm nozzle it works extremely well (and that's currently back in place until I get round to moving the extruder).
    People have issues with the build plate and the auto levelling (works perfectly on mine).
    Some of the people on the mmd have pretty much rebuilt the entire thing.
    I don't think it's necessary.

    The main issue is the bowden tube.
    It's much longer than you'd expect on a machine this small and it's really badly placed.
    I intend to drill a couple holes in the frame and move my extruder to the same place I have it on my he3d k200. That optimises length and reduces the angles you have to push the filament round.

    I did manage to print a few items with a 0.25 mm nozzle - and the results were pretty amazing. But when you got to any kind of decent height - say about 40mm - the system would clog and the extruder would start to grind the filament., Basically at that point the bowden tube was too long and at too sharp an angle for the extruder to push the filament through the hotend.
    With the 0.4mm nozzle it manages, but with the increased back pressure you get from the tiny nozzles - it just causes problems.

    The power supply is really weak - 3amp. As long as you stick to pla - bed 50c and hotend 200-215 - it's actually fine.
    But anything much over those temps and it really struggles.

    You can get a 10amp psu, but apparently you need to change the firmware to utilise it properly.

    But then you can buy recon units for a little over £100 - so at the end of the day you do gets what you pays for.

    I like mine, I got it spefically for tiny detailed items (not figures, just things with small internal mechanisms).
    Or a tiny funnel for refilling those little tabasco shaker bottles.
    Did a tiny one with a stiff flexible pla. came out amazing, so I decided tp print one with a larger funnel part - and that's when I hit the height issues and the nozzle blocked and I eventually put the 0.4mm back and it's working fine now.
    Just not for what i wanted it for.

    So I will move the extruder and shorten the bowden tube and try again.

    But yeah, if you are prepared to tinker - it will definitely produce near resin quality prints.
    But not something I would recommend for a first timer.

  8. #8
    Can't advise on printer choice but if you buy one from Banggood you will have no hope to return or get a a refund if it's faulty.

  9. #9
    Thank you so much for all of that info!

  10. #10
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
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    what I have been doing recently is running prints at 0.1mm layer height and 150mm/s on the he3d delta.

    In the three years I've had it - it never occured to me to try that before the last couple of weeks :-)

    I've been designing a pocket solitaire set that uses 4.5mm steel bb's (has flexible top, little magnetic stick for moving bb's and a foam pad to keep the bbs in place when not in use). So the individual holes on the board are tiny and to keep them curved you need to print at very small layer heights.
    So just for a laugh I thought I'd see how quick it would go.
    Turns out - very quick lol

    I mean I've printed no end of things at 0.4mm layer height and 150mm/s - for rough practical items. But for some reason it never occured to me to do the detailed stuff at that speed.
    Saves an awful lot of time I can tell you :-)

    So basically in a round about way what I;m saying is that you do not need a small or slow printer to print small and detailed models.

    A large print volume machine will happily print small and detailed as well as large and crude.
    BUT a machine with a small print volume can only print small items :-)

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