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  1. #1

    Which FDM printer ~£2000~ (more details in post)

    Hi, as title suggests im in the market for a FDM printer, budget is roundabout ~£2000~, but if some of the cheaper printers are up there with the more 'expensives' id rather spend less
    Im new to FDM, but not new to 3d printing, i have SLA resin printer.
    I want FDM to print larger more functional items , certainly would like the ability to print with the stronger specialist filament materials (nozzle that can handle the higher heats required), and reliability would be pretty high on the list, i dont mind tinkering to get something dialled in but i dont want to be constantly having to diagnose/replace and fix problems because of crap parts/build design.

    build size ideally 250wx250lx350h
    from what i can gather 50micron layer height with a 0.4 nozzle is something like the sweet spot for FDM prints? #
    Heated bed
    auto levelling
    able to use the specialist filaments for stronger prints

    Been struggling to get my head around this due to number of machines/brands out there.
    I had looked at prusa because there mentioned so often as being the 'gold standard' (apparently), and then at the caribou copies that have 420mm build height, which comes in around £1700 with upgraded parts, not sure if thats way too much for what is essentially an upgraded prusa mk3 with a larger build area,

    thanks in advance to any replies

  2. #2
    Considering that you'll want to use specialist filaments (nylon, poly types, etc) consider that you'll want to add an enclosure to your list of requirements. Very much you want the bed leveling feature. Look for mesh leveling in your selection. An all-metal hot end will be required for the higher temperatures.

    Another feature that can be very useful is magnetic sheet print surfaces. This allows you to pop off a sheet once the part is printed, slide another in place and begin anew more quickly.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by fred_dot_u View Post
    Considering that you'll want to use specialist filaments (nylon, poly types, etc) consider that you'll want to add an enclosure to your list of requirements. Very much you want the bed leveling feature. Look for mesh leveling in your selection. An all-metal hot end will be required for the higher temperatures.

    Another feature that can be very useful is magnetic sheet print surfaces. This allows you to pop off a sheet once the part is printed, slide another in place and begin anew more quickly.
    On the caribouMK3 there is 3 options for hotend, E3D, MOSQUITO, MOSQUITO MAGNUM, <--does one of these stand out as best?
    option for SMOOTH PEI , or TEXTURED PEI,
    it comes with auto mesh bed levelling
    no option for enclosure but i can sort that out

  4. #4
    I noticed that the price for the German produced version increases with each right-sided option selected. This implies that the Magnum has the highest capability, probably a good idea considering your high temperature objectives. The same suggestion applies to the power supply choice. More power is always a good idea when it comes to heat. Additionally, if the Magnum is selected, the Bondtech extruder becomes mandatory, and it's a good drive system. I have two of them on my Sigma printer and they are great.

    Consider also if you are selecting the 420 size option you'll want the larger diameter rod selection to provide the additional stiffness for such a large assembly.

    Textured PEI means a fine irregular surface on the bottom of your prints, like fine sandpaper, while smooth PEI would give you fairly smooth surfaces. It's a matter of personal preference. I've seen a few Prusa home-made enclosures that appear to work well, so you should be fine in that respect.

  5. #5
    Thanks fred_dot,
    A fully decked out Caribou will cost around £1500 if I build it myself, in your opinion is there other printers that i should consider at that price point or is that a solid option

  6. #6
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    from what i can gather 50micron layer height with a 0.4 nozzle is something like the sweet spot for FDM prints?
    Nope - that's pretty much too thin a layer. 0.1mm is as low as you should sensibly go.
    The sweet spot is usually around 0.16-0.2.
    This is not a resin machine - so don't go into this expecting the same resolution prints
    It's different :-)
    If you want greater detail then a smaller diameter nozzle is a better way to go.
    You can realistically go down to 0.2-0,25mm fairly easily. After that it gets really tricky working out the back pressure and extrusion settings.
    I've used a 0.25 on my mini delta. impressive what you can produce.
    Just don't expect it to be quick :-)

    The caribou is a LOT of money for an i3 kit. Plus no heated enclosure, so you won't be able to use the hi-end filaments anyway.

    Also for that kind of money, they really SHOULD be using linear rails NOT linear bearings.
    I just don't see anything there to justify the cost.
    Bear in mind that the I£ esign is based on good engineering and mechanics, rather than clever electronicky tricks.
    So to upgrade a prusa i3, almost the only thing you could do, is to use linear rails for all three axis.

    Also what is the point in using a duet board for an i3 ?
    Prusa are still using 8bit driver boards on their mk3s.
    It's not a design that needs a board capable of running multiple extruders and 15 axis (you want to see what the duet company builds with their boards - awesomke machines).

    A good 32bit board with a 4.5 inch touchscreen and tmc 2208 drivers can be had for well under £100.
    I would also argue that homing to a physically sensor is a BETTER option that sensorless homing.

    The duet is really for exotic projects - six extruder machines, giant deltas with 5 extruders, that one was something worht seeing !
    Duet don't use their boards for bog standard i3's - I really don't see why anyone else would either.

    They don't really have any place on a basic i3.

    All i see with the caribou is money being thrown away on designer brands that do not do anything the cheaper non-fashionable kit doesn't do.
    If you drive a bmw and make sure people know you have the latest iphone - and are a vegan, then get a caribou and print t-shirts declaring that you have done so.
    But it's really just an excuse to throw money away.

    Okay so forget that :-)

    You want a fully enclosed machine with 300c hotend.
    Not sure we can get one for under £2000 - so lets look at sensible options instead.

    I mean most filaments with the exception of abs and some nylons, will print quite happily on open frame machines and most of the new filaments that are added to the long list of materials, will usually work on open frame machines.

    So the enclosure should not be a deal breaker.

    The best setup at the moment is a good core-xy machine. faster, more precise and just better than any of the pother fdm setups (and I have them all)

    Couple to look at:
    It's big, it's fully upgraded and it's stupidly cheap:

    My other lower end machine would be a sapphire plus:
    Built like a tank and once you move the extruder to the hotend and make it direct drive.
    Just an awesome workhorse.
    Would also be pretty simple to enclose.

    This is a smaller build volume but with the idex setup it's worth a look:

    Also worth a serious look is a tenlog I3 - idex, linear rails, silent steppers, good build volume. Sensible price:
    Everything the caribou isn't and at the right price.

    Quality enclosed machines tend to cost more than £2000, I'm struggling to find any with that large a build volume.

    The flashforge creator 3 comes close but is around £2200.

    And to be honest, you're better going for something cheaper and upgrading - if it proves necessary, and 9 times out of 10 IT ISN'T !
    Don't take any notice of the facebook groups. they seem to exist solely for people who want to change everything on a machine as soon as they have it and before they actually use it.

    As far as automatic 'bed levelling' goes.
    It's only necessary if you have a non-flat printbed.
    If the printbed is flat and you swap out locking nylock nuts for normal levelling nuts, you level it physically - once.
    And that's it, job done.

    If the printbed is NOT physically flat, change it. buggering about with mesh levelling is a solution, but a pretty poor one. having an actually flat bed is the premium solution.
    So bear in mind that mesh levelling is often the cheaper alternative to a company sourcing properly made flat beds.

    To be honest I'm struggling to spend all your money. And spending other people's money is one of my favourite pastimes :-)

    I'll keep looking :-)

    But at the moment I'd buy 1x tronxy x5sa PRO, 1x flashforge creator pro 2, 1x tenlog tl d3 pro
    And upgrade the hotends on all three to a 300c hotend.
    And then spend the other money on a big box full of interesting filaments :-)
    Ninjatec armadillo - a rigid polyurethane and possibly the strongest material a mainstream 3d printer will print with. And the best bit is it's as easy to use as pla. Just damned expensive.
    Also get some: satin plas, hi-temp pla, nylon 240 and some polycarbonate and pc abs blends.

    At the moment If I was buying a single extruder machine I'd go for the saphire plus and for an idex the tenlog.
    There just doesn't seem to be snything else around worth spending more on.

    If we were talking £5-10000, I have a fairly long list of damn awesome machines.

    But in the £1-2000 there just doesn't seem to be anything much actually worth what they are charging.

    Actually - let's dispence with the tronxy and get a creality 3d printmill instead:

    It's the only creality machine I would consider recmmending. It is a core-xy belt printer witha 45degree hotend.
    Even if you weren't doing mass production prints - the whole 45 degree print thing will create prints no other fdm system will and stronger in all stress directions.

    Hmm - maybe just the belt machine and the tenlog then :-)
    And an even bigger box of filament :-)
    Again I'd shift the extruder to make it a direct drive.
    Last edited by curious aardvark; 03-08-2021 at 11:02 AM.

  7. #7
    Ok, thankyou curious_ardvark, im not going to lie, im a little worried your choices would be throwing me in at the deep end to get these machines up and running, my only experience of 3d printing to date is Anycubics MONOX which i bought and subsequently had to figure out the issues with it to make it work, in a nutshell, power cycle after EVERY print or it will crash mid print usually with the UV light stuck ON, i had to flatten the BP because it wasnt at all flat, add coke can shims to prevent BP from shifting on the mount during print that was causing horizontal lines in my prints & other stuff now prints flawlessly and ive had no fails since but it wasnt the greatest experience after spending £600 on what is essentially a simple machine with 1 moving part. i watched videos of tear downs on some of the cheaper machines, i think it was creality printers & to me they just looked like the parts were 'stretched out' too thin to get the large size print beds the upgraded caribou prusa thing looks solid, has branded parts so presumably tighter tolerances and longer lifespan over that of a prusa original which from youtube looked like it produced better prints then other brand printers & i'll admit the creality mill looks cool im certainly going to look @ that one again when its been out for a whileALSO i didnt look into whats needed to print the more specialist filaments, im happy to make an extracter for fumes but i think i'll pass on anything that needs a heated chamber

  8. #8
    You won't necessarily need a heated chamber, depending on your materials choice, as an enclosure tends to warm things up for many of the filament types. Consider to read up on your possible filament selections to see if heated chamber is referenced or simply enclosed. Some of the higher tech stuff would need active heating, but that also brings a concern regarding the electronics within.

    There are a few homespun enclosures for Prusa and clones that are not heated and even for those the owners will move the power supply and control board outside of the enclosure to better ensure a longer life.

    If you're considering to build from a kit, you can make allowances during the build. Of course, another advantage of building from a kit is you gain a tremendous understanding of the mechanicals for future troubleshooting. The Prusa MK2 we built for the library makerspace was great fun and despite the tremendous understanding gained, there have been zero problem requiring troubleshooting. One would hope you'll enjoy a similar experience.

  9. #9
    sorry i forgot to mention in all that, which of the printers you suggested are the best built & most reliable @ working

  10. #10
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    given that most printers are fairly new - there are very few 'most reliable' stats out there.

    So you go by what's been used to build them.

    Out of everything I mentioned the tenlogic is probably the best i3 around. It's the ONLY one I've seen that uses linear rails for all three axis.

    As fara s branded products go. It's like everything else you are paying more for a brand name than for the actual product.

    quick example I own a doogee android phone. cost £130
    My mate owns a samsung that cost £350.
    They are both identical specification, mine is thinner and looks better and has a larger battery capacity.

    So as I said in another post a short while ago.
    Buy a machine based on what it's made of and from and NOT because of a brand name.

    My sapphire pro 2 is a £300 machine.
    But it's better engineered and more solidly built than any other 3d printer Ive ever seen (and I've seen thousands).

    As our cheif forum system upgrader Autowiz says: buy a machine based on the solidity of the frame - you can change everything else.

    I - while agreeing about the mechanical solidity aspext, prefer to use the parts that come with machines.
    So I look at the electronics as well as the frame.

    I've got 6 3d printers, only one is scheduled for a new board and screen. It cost £80 brand new and came with a board and screen setup that is virtually unuseable.
    The rest, while cheaper than english chips - is pretty functional.

    autowiz has the same machine and has rebuilt the entire thing to the point that I'm not sure if any part of it is still original.

    So I'll recommend machines that I expect t work well as they come.

    I try not to recommend something that will need new bits before you even switch it on.

    So if you are an iphone or mac user - go for the really expensive branded product - there's no logic or reason for it. But people seem to think it's a good idea.

    Me I look at what something is made from and what it's capabilities are and I base my choices on that.

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