If You Have to Ask, You Can't Afford It

"Which 3D printer should I buy?"  
I see this question asked over and over again ad nausea on the forums.

Buying a printer is a lot like buying a car or truck. There are many different ones available and they all have strengths and weaknesses.  There is no way to say, "this is the BEST truck you can buy for x number of dollars."

Different people can get different deals based on the situation.  If it happens to be around Christmas time, or other holidays, you will see places giving huge discounts which completely changes the game.

Don't forget there is a lot more to the cost of a printer than just the upfront price.  You are going to have to accept that you are going to spend that many times over on filament and upgrades over time. When I was real big into the fishtank hobby, people would ask "how much does it cost for me to set up an x gallon tank?" And I would say, "well the tank is only a couple hundred bucks...", and they would be like "oh I can afford that," and then I say "...but, you're going to spend $2,000 on liverock, $1000 on fish and corals, and an ongoing $100 a month for electricity, salt, purified water, new animals to replace those that die, etc." 3D printing is the same way, so bear that in mind whatever your budget.

Different types of printers require different levels of skill.  If you want to get the most bang for your buck, build it your self. Of course you'll have to be knowledgeable about electronics, programming, how a 3D printer works, and have the patience to see it through.

You can build it from a kit, or to assemble everything yourself.  A kit is almost certainly your most cost effective option.  I'm only doing this because I want the experience.

On the other end of the spectrum are kid-friendly printers that are coming out nowadays.  They're super easy to use, but they will cost you, and you will get locked into proprietary software, hardware, sometimes even filaments.

Think about what types of things you are planning on printing most of the time.  Different types of prints are going to require different settings.  You might see a printer that can do 0.01mm layer height, but it would take six weeks to print out a keychain at that level of detail. So realistically, most of the time your print quality is going to depend more on your settings and level of patience than it is the printer.

This is also something to think about when it comes to really big printers.  The idea of printing something huge may sound awesome, but when you consider how many hours, days, or weeks it will take to print, it starts to seem a lot less appealing.  On the other hand it might be nice to have for those rare occasions when you do want to print something bigger.

Once you do your research and shopping around, just like you would for a car, you will get a feel for what you like and what suits your needs, and the printer will choose you.

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.