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First-Time Poster Noob Seeks Experienced Lurker with Answers - Which One for Me?

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    First-Time Poster Noob Seeks Experienced Lurker with Answers - Which One for Me?

    Hi Everyone,First-time poster here, and I have very limited knowledge of 3-D printers - but I've wanted to acquire one for quite some time. I'll list some of the more common needs - and some questions, too, if you don't mind. I will state unequivocally that the people who take the time to respond to guys like me are worth their weight in GOLD. I'm a firefighter/paramedic by trade - and while I'm happy to wake up at 2:00 a.m. to respond to a very sick person - or the mother who just couldn't make it to the hospital and delivers her baby right there in the living room, this time I'm the one who needs help. I am not being one bit cavalier about this. I really do need help, and I'll freely admit I have no idea what I'm getting into, technically-speaking. So, with that, thank you in advance, and now, I'll get started:

    THINGS I THINK I NEED IN A 3-D PRINTER:
    1. Heated Bed
    2. Large Bed (Not sure what "large" is, but I heard 7" x 7" x 7"? More?
    3. Auto Bed Calibration
    4. All Metal Hi-Temp Hot End
    5. Dual Independent Heads
    6. Touchscreen and Input for the Machine (so I don't have to tie up a laptop - although I MIGHT have one that might work.) I would still like to download AT the machine, and use its brain-power to get the job done.
    7. Dual Extruders?
    8. Anything Else?
    9. Yep, I Want to Print in METAL, Non-Toxic Plastics, and _____________(?).

    THINGS I WANT TO DO WITH 3-D PRINTING:
    1. Print Things for My Own Use - Useful Things
    2. Print Replacement Parts
    3. Print Plastic or Metal Tools
    4. Print Things Like Toothpaste Tube Squeezers, Chip Clips, Perhaps even Home Decor that Doesn't Require High-Quality Finishing.
    5. I WILL NOT BE RESELLING GNOMES, Etc.
    6. Print Things as Yet-to-be-Determined!

    WHAT I'M WILLING TO DO:
    1. If I will get an AMAZING machine from my own blood, sweat, and tears, I not only would be willing to build it (assemble) myself - I think it would be fun - as long as the instructions are clear, I have the ability to assemble my own machine. This might actually be the better option, as I most assuredly would derive great pleasure and pride in "building" my own machine - IF IT IS RELIABLE, BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK, AND SOMETHING "BIGGER" (I'm talking conceptually here) THAN an already-built 3-D printer.
    2. HOWEVER, if a turnkey model might be the best option, I'll buy it, open the box, and start printing!

    I HAVE NO IDEA WHICH SOFTWARE PLATFORM TO USE (Or, even how to use it.):
    1. HELP!!! Thanks in advance
    2. I'm looking for software that will build high-quality items that is easy to use (or, WILL be "easy" to use - I'm willing to go through a learning curve.)

    MY BUDGET IS:
    1. Well, it could go as high as $2,500...maybe even higher. I MIGHT go higher if:
    2. The overall VALUE of money to machine is there.
    3. It's REALLY worth it for me to go higher.
    4 It's necessary - like I need more machine to print in metal..., etc. I AM LOOKING FOR:1. An "online course" that might be able to help me get started, either before - or after - purchasing my machine. The shorter, the better, but if I have to complete it in 10, 15, or 20 hours, I'll be a willing student. It could be a free course, or paid - I'm willing to front money to get it right the first time.

    Guys, that's all I can come up with at this time - I have really tried to put my heart and soul into it, so I want to say thank you in advance for getting through my rather long-winded post.

    Remember, you guys are GOLD!!!

    Best regards,

    Maitai

    #2
    OK - starting at the beginning. This is all my opinion 4 years experience on two machines of the same make, successful enough to know there's still a lot I don't know.
    Get other opinions to compare.

    You will want to design your own parts. If you want your parts to work with other parts that means getting the sizes, angles and curves exactly right. You will need callipers to measure things, and you will need a computer to design them on. You will also need design software.

    My choice of computer is a PC. My choice of software was first eMachineShop and later, FreeCAD. Both of those are free - an important consideration because it meant I could throw them away if they didn't work for me. I threw several others away. Start with eMachineShop. Their software is supplied to support their prototype (?) manufacturing business - they will also make the parts for you if you like. I have not tried that route.

    Both titles have excellent "getting started" tutorials. I recommend both because they are quite different. I can best describe the difference by saying eMachine shop is for designers, FreeCAD for engineers. With freeCAD you can design a range of parts, changing numbers to vary the sizes, and they all still make valid models if you design them properly. When clipping different size wires to different size pipes that is a godsend!

    Logically you can't get started without a computer. You can get started without getting a 3D printer, making sure you can design parts before investing in the machine to make them. Emotionally I found that impossible!

    I took advice on my first printer and got one made by XYZ - not too expensive and works out of the box. It is plastic only, with a 20x20x20cm build volume and builds in ABS (good for springy things but tends to warp until you get the hang of sticking thing down), as well as PLA which I am told is easier, but is not suitable for outside use. Other plastics are available, and my second printer is their Pro, which is more versatile.

    AFAIK if you want metal and plastic you will need two different printers. If I needed a metal part I would consider eMachineShop. They probably offer a choice of metals.

    Things I like about the XYZ AiO and Pro:

    1. The heated bed and build volume, and the 'hot' enclosure.
    2. The glass bed of the AiO
    3. The geometry - the model only moves slowly, and vertically. Tall models don't shake off the bed.
    4. Their chipped media warns you if you don't have enough on the reel for the job.

    What I don't like.

    The screw-traps in the base of the machine. First printing job is four covers for the corner holes!
    Auto-levelling bed - especially compulsory auto-levelling where the machine won't print until it is happy.
    The aluminium bed of the Pro - I'm scared of scratching it so I've got several glass plates for it and I've made locating clips.
    The locking in to their media on the AiO - though I didn't mind to start with because it was one less thing to get wrong.
    The Bowden feed on the Pro - a pig if you run out of filament mid-job!
    Having to dismantle the hot end when the nozzle heater fails. (The hot enclosure makes access a problem).

    What I do different.

    I use a piece of plastic strapping to level the bed. The Pro came with strapping that is exactly 1mm thick on the micrometer (another handy instrument) and has a natural curve. I put it under the nozzle over each of the three measuring points and screw the bed up until the curved end stops rising. Then it's 1mm.
    Having got the bed level I then adjust all three equally to get the gap to about 1/3 mm. Then it's check (or trial and error) then leave it severely alone.

    I coat the glass bed with PVA glue to stick the model down. PVA is water soluble and I wipe it with a wetted microfibre cloth before each print. On the Pro I take my glass plate off with the model to unstick it if it hasn't cracked off when cooling.

    I hope this all helps. The freedom to simply make something that solves a problem is truly liberating - though it has its downside. I have literally hundreds of useful things about the place, all irreplaceable without a 3D printer, which is why I have two of them. We had a bit of a crisis when the AiO was down for repairs and one of my useful things broke. That's how we got the Pro.

    Good luck with your venture.


    Chris


    .

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      #3
      To print in metal you have three options 1 print with a mostly metal filament and sinther it, 2 print parts out of a low temp plastic like pla or something, 3 buy a metal 3d printer understanding that they are very expensive. I've been 3d printing for 4 years and have used it as a tool to help learn machine design. I have several machines in development at the moment.

      Comment


        #4
        I would not recommend multiple heads. The calibration between the two heads is troublesome.
        Take a look at the new technology to do that here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J54OfY1__fU
        That part starts at 2:45

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