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  1. #1
    Student
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    Apr 2021
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    Michigan
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    5

    Total Noob. First printer. What to buy?

    Hey all,

    Just found this site. Seems to be one of the better ones out there. I've read thru the posts and have seen the suggestions for other noobs. I just don't feel like they pertain to my situation. Also budget plays into suggestions too.

    So I'm a total noob and know nothing about these things. I don't know any CAD programs(but I know I could learn). I also don't know what I'd even be printing. I want to get my 13 year old son started in 3d printing, but I'm also interested. I would guess we would start off printing already made projects available online.

    I'm very mechanically inclined and wouldn't mind getting a kit if that's an option. Putting something together from scratch is always the best way to learn about it.

    I would like to keep it between $400-$700.

    Appreciate any advice, thank you,
    Ron

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by rkf_bomb View Post
    Hey all,

    Just found this site. Seems to be one of the better ones out there. I've read thru the posts and have seen the suggestions for other noobs. I just don't feel like they pertain to my situation. Also budget plays into suggestions too.

    So I'm a total noob and know nothing about these things. I don't know any CAD programs(but I know I could learn). I also don't know what I'd even be printing. I want to get my 13 year old son started in 3d printing, but I'm also interested. I would guess we would start off printing already made projects available online.

    I'm very mechanically inclined and wouldn't mind getting a kit if that's an option. Putting something together from scratch is always the best way to learn about it.

    I would like to keep it between $400-$700.

    Appreciate any advice, thank you,
    Ron
    I am struggling with the same decision. I feel the time is ripe to own one of these even in the midst of Chipaggedon and my brief recent ownership certainly opened my eyes to enormous potential to use these things.

    Unfortunately, narrowing down the advice in your price range will probably require narrowing down your priorities for what you want the printer to do for you.

    For what is is worth I am currently strongly leaning towards this model

    https://www.amazon.com/TENLOG-Indepe...98&sr=8-3&th=1

    from advice I received in my other thread.

    But there are so many options out there it is hard for me to not hesitate before ordering again. hopefully something like a consensus will emerge in these recent threads.

  3. #3
    I'm keen on the genuine Prusa i3 MK3 kit, but it's a hundred dollars higher than your top end budget reference. It's worth every penny, though, as the support forums that cover the Prusa line of printers are top-notch. The kit is quite easy to assemble and the instruction included are probably the most comprehensive instructions on the market. Each step of the instructions also has a corresponding video for even more clarity. I helped the local library makerspace assemble a MK2, which is slightly more challenging to assemble. The printer is sitting idle due to recent regulations, but it ran wonderfully in a public exposure environment, with nearly zero problems. One thing that was learned was to not print on PEI is the same location every time. That's an easy fix.

    For the student to develop design skills, consider Tinkercad as a starting point. In short order, he and you may discover that there are some things not easily accomplished in Tinkercad at which point it's time to consider big-boy programs like Fusion 360 (free for hobbyists), OpenSCAD (text based modeling program, good for logical, programmer-type thinkers), OnShape and many others. Developing flexibility in various program use means not getting mired in one program forever and keeping your tool kit filled with many choices.

    All of the above is opinion, of course.

  4. #4
    Student
    Join Date
    Apr 2021
    Location
    Michigan
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    5
    Thanks for your input. I'll check out the Prusa. I don't mind going over budget a bit. One thing I should have mentioned, and it seems you answered it, is that I would like to get one that is reliable. I understand these things require maintenance and that things may break, I guess I just want to stay away from the ones where stuff is breaking that should never break.

    @minneapolis-matt. Yeah I don't really know what we'll be printing. I just figure you gotta get your feet wet sooner or later. After owning and using one for awhile I figure what we print will just work itself out lol. Of course it will have to fit on the bed.

  5. #5
    The TENLOG printer is an interesting one in that it has IDEX configuration. I have a Sigma R16 which is also independent dual extruders. The mirror and duplication modes cut multiple prints quantity times in half. The TENLOG is a bit better than my Sigma in one regard; the direct drive extruders make it superior to the Bowden tube on the Sigma. Even though dual extrusion can be "fun" and useful, it's something that doesn't get as much use as I had expected and dual material support printing is somewhat problematic. I'd consider the TENLOG as a second printer and the genuine Prusa i3 MK3 as the best first printer. Regardless which printer you select, ensure that you are assembling it on a fully planar surface. The slightest bit of ripple in your work surface will haunt you. We assembled the Prusa i3 MK2 on a plastic topped work table and chased alignment for a while which would have been solved had we assembled on the marble desktop a few meters away! The MK3 eliminates a lot of the alignment variables as it uses well machined and squared components.

  6. #6
    Student
    Join Date
    Apr 2021
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    5
    So make sure it's on a solid flat surface. Check. What about ambient temperature? I planned on keeping it in my garage due to the smell that the printers give off. I keep my garage at 50* in the cold winters we have here in Michigan. I can always turn the heat up if need be. In the summer I would guess it gets to about 85* or 90*. We have a basement, but kind of a small ranch house so it doesn't seem feasible to run it inside the house.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by fred_dot_u View Post
    The TENLOG printer is an interesting one in that it has IDEX configuration. I have a Sigma R16 which is also independent dual extruders. The mirror and duplication modes cut multiple prints quantity times in half. The TENLOG is a bit better than my Sigma in one regard; the direct drive extruders make it superior to the Bowden tube on the Sigma. Even though dual extrusion can be "fun" and useful, it's something that doesn't get as much use as I had expected and dual material support printing is somewhat problematic. I'd consider the TENLOG as a second printer and the genuine Prusa i3 MK3 as the best first printer. Regardless which printer you select, ensure that you are assembling it on a fully planar surface. The slightest bit of ripple in your work surface will haunt you. We assembled the Prusa i3 MK2 on a plastic topped work table and chased alignment for a while which would have been solved had we assembled on the marble desktop a few meters away! The MK3 eliminates a lot of the alignment variables as it uses well machined and squared components.
    can you elaborate a bit more on the advantages that an owner of a genuine Prusa i3 MK3 will enjoy over the TENLOG?

    I just spent $441 on a tenlog and the Prusa is probably outside my budget, but I'd love to better understand how to directly compare these machines, especially if my purchase falls through and I find myself printerless and saving long term for a prusa instead.

    Furthermore "the slightest ripple in your work surface" scares me a bit. How can any home owner be sure that *any* surface in their home meets that standard? is it good enough to pivot the old bubble level around 360 degrees on the table top and verify it doesn't stray from centered anywhere or do I need something laser flat within 0.01mm along the entire printer foot print *and* perfectly level besides?
    Last edited by minneapolis-matt; 04-30-2021 at 08:17 AM.

  8. #8
    The "ripple" reference is more a potato chip reference, especially if you enjoy Pringles. Consider placing a plate of glass on a surface. If the glass rocks when corners are pressed, don't use that surface to build your printer. Your printer would be constructed in such a manner that it would not rock, but that means that it conforms to the potato chip surface which the glass presented. I just realized that our glass-top range makes a great build surface for that reason. It doesn't have to be level, only flat, as you won't be referencing earth normal during any build (I hope).

    I think it's difficult to compare the two printers head-to-head, as one of them is a dual extruder design. This adds features and can add complexity. I've not researched the Tenlog other than to scan the specifications. I've seen very little in the forums regarding problems with the Tenlog, but mostly because I don't travel much to those areas. Most of my experience is with the Prusa in a support mode, which has been pretty darn easy. Even the standard "turn it off and back on" fix has been used once.

    The Tenlog has many features to its credit and I expect if that's the printer you get, you'll become proficient with it. I've considered to purchase one myself, just for the direct drive aspect of the extruders. It has a larger bed than the Prusa, although it does not have an auto-level system. On the flip side of that, the glass bed is likely to remain flat/planar making leveling less difficult than beds of other composition. My Sigma has a glass bed and fiddle wheels for leveling, but uses the z-limit switches to determine level status. This means none of the "stick paper under the nozzle" stuff, which can be subjective.

    The Tenlog uses rails and bearings for the carriage, promoting stiffness of design, another plus. I've noted that one can purchase (or build) an enclosure for the Tenlog, making it more suitable for ABS and other temperature sensitive filaments. One can build an enclosure for the Prusa, of course.

    Of course, the price certainly is a positive for the Tenlog. I suspect I could be as enthusiastic about the Tenlog as I am about the Prusa if I had been involved in building one. If my Sigma dies on me (so far unlikely), Tenlog IDEX would be on the top of my list for a replacement.

  9. #9
    @rfk_bomb, the cold temps mean you may have to increase the nozzle and bed temperatures to compensate and you risk having delamination, even with PLA, but almost certainly with ABS, regardless of your printer choice. You could construct an enclosure, either one limited to the general size of the printer, or create a work cubby that can be enclosed with a safe space heater to assist in warming without having to heat the entire garage. The latter means you'd be dedicating an area of your garage to one specific purpose, but that isn't always a bad thing. In such a circumstance, I'd probably build a big wheeled vertical rectangular box, perhaps with french doors, allowing it to be placed and relocated conveniently.

    On another note, I'm a big fan of Prusa Slicer, having had to teach a number of the makerspace members to use it effectively. I use Simplify3D for my slicing projects, but it's expensive and has been static in development for some time. I've recently learned of ideamaker slicer which has been favorably compared to Simplify3D. It supports the Tenlog with downloadable profiles, which is a certain bonus for those owners. There's also a Prusa profile for download, but unfortunately none for my Sigma.

    When the Sigma is running, I can only detect the sugary odor of the PLA when I'm within a couple of meters of the machine. I don't smell ABS at all, but that could be aged olfactory equipment! I'm currently running the X-Max with ABS in my living room (for lack of space) and neither my wife nor I can smell it unless I open the enclosure. Your basement may be too humid for the filament long term storage, but I suspect the smell won't be too bad. If you have a sensitive nose, recalibrate my opinion appropriately.

    Another point that makes it difficult to determine which printer to buy is that both of them are very quiet. The library had a Cube3D v3 printer which was so noisy, the staff hated to have to run a print. The replacement Prusa was quiet enough that one could easily forget it was running. The Tenlog appears to have similar specifications regarding noise levels.

  10. #10
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
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    Jul 2014
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    8,477
    right - the most important aspect of the tenlog is that it uses LINEAR RAILs. The direct dribe extruders look good too - but that's something that can easily be added to most printers.
    The rails are the crucial piece.
    This means the movement is totally smooth and does not require a level surface to sit on - where did that come from ?
    Linear rails also allow for more precise movement and faster movement - for the record Prusa do NOT use linear rails on any of their machines.

    I have a prusa mk1 clone - that Does require a flat surface. plywood anyone ? I mean flat is not the same as level.

    3d printers will print at any angle and even upside down (check youtube) - so 'level' not important

    Some i3's need a flat surface because the z-&x axis gantry isn't actually bolted tot eh base properly. Like my cheapo i3.
    he tenlog does not look like one of those printers.

    My i3 is bolted a sheet of aluminium - because I get free aluminum - but a piece of plywood, mdf or any chipboard would have done just as well.
    I just like aluminium.
    BUT ! that is an £80 printer and does not use aluminium extrusion bolted to a solid base.

    If I currently had both deskspace and spare money and could choose between a prusa and a tenlog 600watt (300c hotend) - I'd go for the tenlog with no second thoughts.
    Much larger print volume - better build components, good idex AND Linear rails !
    lol
    People forget that the prusas are made from a lot of 3d printed parts - cos they print their own.
    It's not necessarily a bad thing - but it will never beat metal parts.

    I'll have a look at ideamaker fred. Have a suspicion that it's for specific make of printer only - but could be another slicer I'm thinking of.

    Abs stinks and you never need to use it - so don't :-)

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