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Thread: 3D printer

  1. #1
    Senior Member Bitsyncmaster's Avatar
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    3D printer

    I'm thinking about buying a 3D printer for some ideas I have. I'm looking for the best reselution so not a cheap unit. Have not looked at what is out there yet but I see some people on here have experience with 3D printers so open to suggestions on what they have and what they would buy now.
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    LS Swapper Josh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bitsyncmaster View Post
    I'm thinking about buying a 3D printer for some ideas I have. I'm looking for the best reselution so not a cheap unit. Have not looked at what is out there yet but I see some people on here have experience with 3D printers so open to suggestions on what they have and what they would buy now.
    Interested in this thread. We have some avid 3d printers on here.

    In my experience a very good "bang for your buck" printer is the Ender 3. There are certainly better quality printers out there though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Josh View Post
    Interested in this thread. We have some avid 3d printers on here.

    In my experience a very good "bang for your buck" printer is the Ender 3. There are certainly better quality printers out there though.
    I got an Ender 3 Pro on sale about a month ago. It’s cheap, works well, doesn’t require much assembly, and I got good prints very quickly (once I properly leveled the bed). I’m using Cura for slicing. I’m printing ABS (for use in the car), and found my prints warped until I put it in an enclosure (a photo tent for now). A nice thing about it is that it’s a fairly common and well-supported platform, and there are a lot of inexpensive mods like auto-bed leveling and the like out there. However, it’s only one extruder, which means you can’t print dissolvable supports, but it’s fine for most things. There’s an interesting device called Palette that splices different filaments together while your single extruded printer prints, but that’s over $600 by itself.

    The price seems to rise pretty quickly ($700+) once you get above the Ender 3 level ($220 or so), so I’m probably sticking with my Ender 3 for some time. Once I outgrow it I’ll have a better idea of what capabilities I need and can shop for a higher-end printer, but I’m in no hurry.

    I understand resin printers are better resolution than FDM ones, but also smaller build areas and more expensive materials, so it’s a trade off.

    Edit: Sorry for just talking about the cheap printers, Dave; that’s not at all what you asked for.

    — Joe

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    I'm probably the worst case here but I use a formLabs Form3 and sometimes an Objet machine to print. I've also been 3d printing for going on 15 years now, so I've used the entire gamut of printers from SLA, PLA, DLP, to SLS.

    The form3 is my daily driver for printing and the material strength after curing and full design iterations is so good that I've a few fully 3d printed parts in the Delorean in upwards of 120 degree Fahrenheit heat with no ill issues or warpage.

    The printer is pricey but the resulting material strengths and part tensile strength makes it well worth the expense.

    I'm using Materialise Magics for part placement and strength solvers and print in Preform with the Form3.

    Resin printers also have more than just resolution going for them. They have flexible materials, clear materials, materials that can withstand from -120 to 400 degrees F (so you can make working engine block parts) as well as the fact that the uv curing process makes watertight meshes that you wouldn't get with some of the lower end (hot glue gun style) plastics printers. You can emulate rubber, silicon, glass, plastics, wax, and even have a rubber like material which we use on props and the like.

    www.formlabs.com

    I'm also using the formWash and formCure devices as well.

    Resolution wise you can get to 25 microns which is about a thin as half a human hair, and though it may take awhile, I've replicated skin pores and printed layers as thin as a piece of cellophane.
    Last edited by megamanex; 10-01-2019 at 03:29 PM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Bitsyncmaster's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info. I am thinking something in the $3000 to $4000 range. I was thinking these printers would become cheaper which the real low cost ones have but I do want to not have to replace it for a long time.
    Dave M vin 03572
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    megamanex, I think your post is more what Dave was looking for, and with the experience to go with the recommendation too.

    If I could afford a Form 3L and the resin, etc., I'd seriously look at getting one myself. I notice that they mention it uses a laser -- does it actually draw the shapes onto the resin? I know cheaper printers (a few hundred dollars, like this one) mask the UV light through an LCD, so you're limited by the resolution of the LCD, which means they tend to have small build areas. I remember long ago that a laser firing into a resin bath was reserved solely for industrial prototyping and costs tens of thousands of dollars, so it's nice to see it coming down to a more reasonable price.

    Just so Dave knows, there are various filaments for FDM-style (extruder/"glue gun") printers like the Ender, Utlimaker, etc, including flexible (commonly used for things like phone cases), wood-like, glow in the dark, nylon, electrically conductive (interesting when used with a two extruders, allowing you to print the circuits and the case at the same time), shiny, etc. For basic stuff PLA is the easiest to print with but too low temperature for a car environment. ABS can survive engine environments (plastic engine parts of the car are often made from ABS), but you're certainly not building parts of your engine out of it. There are also special even higher temperature filaments available, but they require special extruders to reach the required temperatures and heated enclosures. Nicer ABS printers can do 20 micro resolution (like the Ultimaker S5, according to their website).

    Now, I've only played with PLA and ABS so far, so I don't know how well any of these others work. So you should probably listen to megamanex more than me.

    I hear Jay Leno has a stainless steel 3D printer to make parts for his classic cars, but I think only Jay Leno can afford that.

    -- Joe

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    Hey all,
    Dave the form 3 is about $3500 for the machine. You're about $150 a cartridge of resin, pre shipping costs.

    jangell,
    The printer cures the slices with the laser by drawing them. It essentially sends the light to the uv sensitive resin and as the resin comes into contact with the light from the laser it hardens, making a complete slice. Each slice is then stacked, similar to FDM machines, but differing in that there are no gaps between the layers as they cure, so you won't have layers de-laminate.

    Stainless steel printers are cool but VERY low resolution..which is fine for car parts.

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    Senior Member Bitsyncmaster's Avatar
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    Do the printers include any design software or is that a third party supplier? I know nothing about it so are there any standards or drivers for each printer. What about a scanner where you can place a part to scan and then print it?
    Dave M vin 03572
    http://dm-eng.weebly.com/

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    My day job is writing 3D graphics software (Modo), so I can answer this one with something resembling authority.

    You can use any 3D modeling application that can save STL files. I can't actually suggest a good program specifically suited to getting started with 3D printing (I've been using such apps since the early 1990s, so I have no sense of context anymore). There are a lot of modelers out there, including higher-end programs like Modo, Maya, 3DS Max, Cinema4D, CAD programs like Solidworks, and free tools like SketchUp and Blender (and probably others). For this you'll need to learn how to do 3D modeling. Luckily, the slicer software (see below) is pretty forgiving, and you can basically just glom together boxes and other shapes and it'll print just fine.

    Once you have an STL file, you have to run it through a slicer. This converts the STL into gcode, which for FDM printers really just tells the extruder where to move and how quickly to move there, plus a few other settings like extruder/bed temperature, which varies depending on the kind of filament you're using. I imagine the gcode for SLA printers is similar, but just says which pixels of the LCD mask to turn on or where the laser draws, and when to move the print up so the next layer can be drawn. The slicer can also generate support geometry for overhangs, adjust infill, and has a bunch of other settings to adjust how the print is done. There are a lot of free slicers out there, and they all seem to do a good job. I'm using Ultimaker Cura, which is pretty user friendly. As best I can tell, pretty much all printers support gcode, so you don't need anything particularly special. Cura had support for Ender 3 USB control out of the box, too, but you can enter custom properties if necessary (build area, number of extruders and other parameters provided by the printer maker). I think the USB protocol is pretty universal as well.

    The slicer can control the printer directly, or you can save the gcode file to disk. My Ender 3 has an SD card slot, so I usually just save to that, pop the card in, and select the file to print from the Ender 3's simple UI. I could plug in a USB cable and have the Cura send commands directly to the printer instead, if I so desired.

    So that's what you need: A 3D modeling application that exports STL, and a slicer to convert the STL to gcode.

    -- Joe

  10. #10
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    As for scanners, they do exist, but I haven't looked into them that much. I Kickstarted a small tabletop 3D scanner a while back that has been in a box since I moved, and I haven't managed to find since I got my printer.

    There are three basic methods of generating the model from a scan:

    - Laser, where a laser line is drawn at almost 90 degrees from the camera position. This causes the camera to see a line representing the silhouette of the model. The model rotates on a turntable, and the slices are combined into a model. This has problems with holes in the model (in the case of a coffee mug, both the hole in the handle and the hole where the coffee goes, the latte because it's rotating the mug along one axis and can't see into the cup). These devices run from a few hundred to thousands of dollars, although if you're enterprising you can build your own (it's just a laser, a camera and a turntable, after all).

    - Photogrammetry, where you take pictures from a bunch fo angles with a camera, and the software finds the commonalities and generates a 3D model from them. The more pictures you have, the better the model. I believe free software exists, but I haven't looked in a while. There is plenty of paid software and cloud services that do this, too. You can generate models of any size with this technique (such as mountains), and it can capture the textures from the photos at the same time. Some software can do this with video. There's almost certainly phone apps that do this, but I haven't looked into it. This page might have a few apps worth checking out.

    - Structured light capture, where you shine a light pattern onto the model and take pictures of it, and it reconstructs the model based on the distortion of the pattern. This requires fewer photos than photogrammetry does, and can be done in real time. For example, there is software for iPhones with Face ID (which uses a dot projector) that models your face in real-time and can save it as a mesh (it can't be used to make a copy of your face -- Apple restricts the ability for apps to use the full resolution of the cameras), and in fact this is basically how their "Animoji" feature works.

    Laser scanning and photogrammetry are commonly used in visual effects, too. The Microsoft Kinect and Face ID on iPhones are common uses of structured light capture.

    -- Joe

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