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  1. #1

    Option on a 3D Printer on a $500 budget


    I am new to 3D printing. I have built a CNC router from a kit (1 zillion easy to assemble pieces, and X-Carve from Inventables), so I'm a little familiar with the fun of squaring up parts, tensioning belts, and the like.

    I have about 500 bucks to spend on a 3d printer. I'd prefer one that doesn't require a *ton* of tinkering but can still be upgraded over time. I'd like to at least be able to get started and do some things before I start playing with upgrades and such. I'll be honest that after spending several hours reading articles and looking at video reviews I am at a loss to pick from all the options out there, so looking for a bit of guidance. I understand that every printer has its fans, and none are perfect.

    So far, I've been considering printers like...

    Creality Ender 5
    Creality CR-10 V2 or V3
    Tronxy X5SA

    Not in that particular order and those brands only because I see them listed so often. So, happy to hear about other providers as well.

    I've read that if you want to print ABS, you need to have an enclosed printer in order to control temperature. Is that true? Not that ABS is required, just keeping my options open.
    I've read that a self-leveling bed is a good thing. True? do they actually work?
    Same idea with heated beds. Same idea with restarting print jobs.
    I've heard that some use older firmware versions?

    I get that some of the pricing is based on the volume that can be printed.

    While I've done a bit of programming with my CNC router, I admit that I mostly look for pre-written code I can use for my own projects with minor modifications.

    Maybe I'm asking way too much here, and if so, I apologize. I'm more than happy to do the homework if someone can point me in the right direction, but it'd also be really helpful to have some "I have this one and have good experience with it", or "everyone alive thinks this one sucks". Basically is there any consensus on which ones are good ones to work with that don't require a degree in electrical engineering (well, okay, I actually have a degree in electrical engineering, but that was a long time ago; I was more a software guy, I'm retired now but I've got a soldering iron and know how to use it :-)) to start working with.

    Thanks for any guidance you might be able to provide.


  2. #2
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    First I will point out that I currently have 6 fdm 3d printers that cover all the popular forms of FDM printing:
    cartesian, I3. delta and corexy.

    The corexy is the newest and - quite frankly - blows all the tohers out of the park for speed, quality, build quality, noise (it's virtually silent) build volume and just about anything else you can think of except (lol) manufacturer support. Which with your budget you should not expect anyway :-)

    So I will make the case for a twotrees sapphire pro 2 corexy. Runs at around $330.
    It will work perfectly fine as it comes.
    I printed three things and converted mine to a direct drive extruder, changed the firmware - a case of putting files on an sdcard and powering p. And I added a microsd to standard sd adaptor. I just find the microsd cards too damn fiddly and I have a lot of small old sd cards around.

    In the last month I have thrown prints at it that none of the other printers can print reliably and it's just chuckled and said: is that all you got ?'

    It's got a great motherboard, good power supply and an absolute beast of a solid frame., plus good linear rails and silent stepper drivers.

    For the money it's a phenomenal bit of kit.

    They also make a larger machine the sapphire plus at around $500, that has a larger build volume and probably a more stable bed setup.
    Though as I can knock out a fully working iris box at 150mm/s - I don't think is a necessity.

    There is NOTHING out there for the money - or indeed a lot more money, that even comes close.

    It does have a very nice touch screen and should you want to you can add a wifi module if you want to. But a raspberry pi and octoprint tends to be a better option.

    It's not fancy - but it just does the job stupidly fast and with amazing precision.

    And you have the added advantage of being able to pm me with endless queries :-)
    I've spent about $15 on a pei sheet and sd card adaptor and desinged a few mods. And I don't foresee ever having to do anything else to it - ever again :-)
    But if you want to piss about - there are no end of people on the facebook group who spend their time coating gold bricks with lead and then complaining when the totally unnecessary 'upgrade' doesn't work as well as the original part :-)

    So that's what I'm pushing this season: twotrees sapphire pro 2.

    As far as abs goes - it's not worth bothering with. But there's nothing stopping you putting the machine in a large box lined with polystyrene sheets.
    Pla and Pet-g is better on almost all accounts and the sapphire prints pet-g like a total champ :-)

    My thread:
    Last edited by curious aardvark; 09-28-2020 at 07:24 AM.

  3. #3
    Thanks so much for the response. Much appreciated.

    I'm going to read this a couple more times to digest it a bit, take a look at the printer you recommend, and might take you up on your offer of asking a couple of more questions. :-)

    Thanks again.


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