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  1. #1

    RC Car Parts / Carbon? / The right printer???

    Hey guys, i'm looking to jump in head first. I have a background in computer science and 3d modeling and not REAL worried about a "beginner" friendly machine. What I need is something capable of producing VERY strong and VERY accurate prints. From what I've read so far, it will be polycarbonate material. To be very specific, the first part I'm trying to start producing is a differential case, which holds bearings and is responsible for gear mesh. They take a tremendous load and a lot of impact as well. I've been eyballing the MK3s+ but worried about temperatures and an enclosure for the carbon. I'd like to stay under $1,500 but if it's one of those things where hey, $2,000 and you're getting a ferrari vs a corolla, ok, fine. And even if it's somewhere in the 3-4K range and all of a sudden it's a new ballgame kind of thing, let me know. Any and all input is welcome. I am here to continue learning and pull the trigger on something to continue learning.

  2. #2
    As you have a focus of polycarbonate, you are starting off on a good foundation. You'd want to find a machine with an enclosure as part of the construction, not an add-on, as it will also include cooling management for the power sources and also include provision for mounting the spools inside the enclosure. For nylons, which are astonishingly hygroscopic, it's a necessity. I don't know how PC falls into the moisture concerns. Additionally, the extruding temperatures are going to be on the high side and a printer advertised as being able to handle PC will have a hot end of sufficient capacity to manage those higher temperatures. I was surprised to see a 3D printer at a past area home show. It was clearly aimed at the industrial component of the world. The ad copy on the table was devoted to polycarbonate materials and other high temperature materials. The printer was "low-priced" according to the sales person, starting at US$5000. I'm a fan of the Prusa line of printers and their software, but for your purposes, it would be extending some good printers to the outer reaches of capabilities and possibly outside of those capabilities.

  3. #3
    Very well written. To the point, this is actually what I was afraid of, that the specs of the parts that I need will fall outside "consumer" machine capabilities. The $5,000 mark seems to be the lower end of "commercial" equipment from what I've found so far. I'm wondering if I could get "good enough" with the Prusa setup, as it seems like they offer some great materials, and the user base / community of help also seems quite extensive. The price is right, but I figured I would begin my due diligence before ordering. I know some of you guys have been in this world for years now and know the ins and outs. So any other pointers or rabbit holes you can send me down is appreciated. I've been down several already, but keep coming back to the bottom line, of overkill vs good enough and where that line actually is.

    I've read about good results with the Prusa PC Blend, specifically in the "natural" specification vs black. Not sure why that is, but I remember coming across it more than once. I'm still not convinced, but for the price it may be a good place to start and test and go from there. I'm sure I could sell the machine at a minor loss if I can't achieve the required results.

  4. #4
    If you're willing to do the extra work of building an enclosure (and ensuring cooling air to the power supply), you can probably get the right conditions for a decent result. Save a few bucks and buy the Prusa kit, rather than the pre-built version. I think you'd get faster shipping and it's a breeze to assemble. The documentation alone is unparalleled by anything I've seen. Both paper forms and online resources make the build easy enough for anyone who knows which end of the screwdriver to use as a hammer. I was one of a makerspace "team" to build a Mk2, which is less easy, but was no big problem. Have a solid, planar surface on which to assemble and you're on the home straight.

    I've not researched the temperature range for the MK3, but if you have and it fits, go for it. I don't know anyone who has regretted buying a Prusa printer.

    I don't know the details of the Prusa PC filament either, but it's common to have pigments change characteristics of a filament and also common that the unmodified stuff gives consistent results.

    If you've not already explored the Prusa Slicer, you're in for a treat. They've recently upgraded the features and it's just mind blowing. Of course, another advantage of using Prusa Slicer with a Prusa printer is pre-configuration of the print settings, size, temperatures, speeds, etc.

  5. #5
    Just came across this enclosure for the Prusa setup. May be just the ticket to get good enough quality PC prints.

  6. #6
    Hey Fred, thank you for your time and information. I appreciate it man. With the enclosure I found, I'm thinking it could work. I could def build something for less, but it looks nice and well thought out.

  7. #7
    That's an impressive bit of kit. At that price, I'd expect the 3D printed parts to be included, but that's their decision, of course. The amount of features integrated into the enclosure shows serious thought. Both the mainboard (controller) and power supply have outside air for cooling, which is probably exhausted to outside of the chamber if they did it right. That reduces air currents and warping, or wraping as the URL suggests.

  8. #8
    Looking at alternatives, I don't think anything will really compete for $1,000 price range. Been playing with slicer too, and I think that just kind of sealed the deal on this. Gonna give it another few days, but this seems like the most logical first step. Thanks again, Fred.

  9. #9
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    well, there are a number of better options.
    printers with larger build volumes, idex print heads and an enclosed print volume.

    You seem to be going about this the long and difficult way round.
    Prusa are okay, but the 3s is still using really old motherboards and printed parts.

    have a look at:
    That's the cheap option and you'd need to upgrade to hi-temp 300c hotends for polycarbonate.
    Not the largest build volume - but for rc car parts - should be plenty big enough.
    Flashforge used to offer a hi-temp option on the extruders, so might be worth

    for a larger print volume and hi-temp single exrtruder:

    But the one I would be looking at if i were you is the creator 3:

    If I were buying an i3 printer and building an enclosure, I would go for the tenlog Tl-D3 Pro

    better electronics than the prusa, also linear rails which prusa don't have on their i3's, 300c hotends, idex printheads for using soluble supports on awkward shape prints.
    Just better hardware all round and less cost.

    When buying an I3 - buy the hardware NOT necessarily the brand.
    The prusa machines are decent, but massively overpriced for what you actually get.

    Think of it like buying a mobile phone.
    You can buy an off-brand android phone for 50% the price of a samsung, it'll look better, have better specs and hardware.
    It just won't have a designer label.

    How much are you prepared to pay for the 'label' ?

    So there's a few more options to look at and think about

    here's another one to consider:

    Although - personally - I'd avoid a dual extruder and go for an idex instead.
    With both printheads on the same carriage. you end up having to print a lot of ooze towers and shields.
    But if you were only going to use the dual extrusion on the odd occasion, would be fine.
    It's a decent looking machine. And will automatically adjust the height of the nozzle not being used, so it doesn't catch on the print.
    Not quite as good as an idex - but better than a standard dual extruder.
    (finds price) it is kinda pricey though.
    Last edited by curious aardvark; 01-11-2022 at 09:36 AM.

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