63 Replies Latest reply on Dec 22, 2017 11:23 AM by Lenny Bucholz

    3D Printing Discussion fun!

    S. Casale

      I just starting doing some research on in-house 3D printing for my organization for test equipment and prototyping.


      Right now, with my current directive I can prove cost with my current choice, but that's not the only factor- of course our engineering department wants a 21st century toy. Come on, who wouldn't! I've been in contact with my VAR, but I figured I would speak with the community as well.


      • I am mostly interested in R.Protoyping small (12 inches or less), and/or components for non production test equipment.
      • Right now I am eyeing the MakerBot Replicator +.
        • Anyone have any experience with this printer?
      • I am concerned with the cost of upkeep, and material replacement.


      Any user with any valued thoughts that I haven't considered will be awarded 250 points. This if and until I run out of points

      Any user with any valued questions I haven't thought of will be awarded 500 points. This if and until I run out of points.


      I'll mark one of you lucky folks with the correct answer when I have had my fill... If I have my fill.

        • Re: 3D Printing Discussion fun!
          Dan Pihlaja

          We have a MakerBot.  Not the replicator, but whatever the previous model was.


          Here is the lowdown:

          1) It took a LOT of trial and error to get any type of good prints out of it.


          2) We originally had a massive amount of issues with the Smart Extruder that came with it.  Needless to say we got at least 4 replacements (that MakerBot paid for) until we finally got one that wouldn't clog every 3 seconds.


          3) It is limited to the PLA filament.  Which is basically used for toys....that's about it.   We initially thought we would be able to print CMM fixtures out of it (it wasn't the one that we originally wanted, but the owner of the company googled 3D printers and simply bought the first one on the list with 0 consultation from engineering).


          However, with the PLA filament, the prints are weak and flimsy.   This can be offset with a higher print density, but it doesn't get a lot better.  Now, the only thing that we print with it are little holders that the interns design up and sometimes replicas of other designs just to hold.


          My advice is to go with something that has a heated bed and will print ABS plastic (heated bed required for ABS, I think) if you are going to stick with extrusion printing.

          • Re: 3D Printing Discussion fun!
            Keith Carter

            Make sure to review the software carefully to make sure it meets your expectations. More expensive machines have more sophisticated software.

            • Re: 3D Printing Discussion fun!
              Dennis Dohogne


              One of things that is easily overlooked is the printer resolution.  There are a LOT of 3D printers out there and some of them are surprisingly low cost, but when you dig into the specs you see why.  If your work will routinely requires close fitting/moving parts then a very fine resolution will be vital to you.  Either that or make sure the material is easy to work with and that you have sharp blades, sandpaper, files, and a lot of patience to deal with the coarse resolution.

              • Re: 3D Printing Discussion fun!
                Matt Peneguy

                I don't know much about the model you posted.  But according to Amazon, there are only 38 reviews up.  I've never used PLA, but that printer apparently exclusively prints in PLA.  There are some newer materials available today that may be better, depending on your application.  Maybe, you'd consider a model that will work with multiple materials, and maybe dual extruder?  That would enable you to print something like this:


                Which, is just cool... You can print an articulating hand (and that's several years old).

                Also, I haven't used PLA, but I've seen closed build areas and they control the heat better.  Maybe someone with more knowledge about that can comment.  I know for ABS, I would not consider an open build platform.

                • Re: 3D Printing Discussion fun!
                  Matt Furches

                  Stay away from makerbot. Overpriced or what you get. Look at the makergear M2 or the lulzbot taz 6. Both are excellent.

                  • Re: 3D Printing Discussion fun!
                    Todd Blacksher

                    One of the first people that I would go to with this question is Edson Gebo - Hopefully he tunes in to the forums, because he is a wealth of knowledge in this area.

                    • Re: 3D Printing Discussion fun!
                      Christian Chu
                      • I am mostly interested in R.Protoyping small (12 inches or less), and/or components for non production test equipment.

                      Now a day, there are all kind of low cost 3D printers (make sure to read the review pro/con)

                      I understand you're looking for a low cost 3D printer; it might work the way you want now

                      For long run, it's a good investment on the  dimension elite unit as we have it for 8 yrs and it's still running good (voted for one of the best 3D printer on the market now) -

                      Engineering time is the most expensive - you might pay more now for the printer but it'd save much more and more for eng. time later on

                      • Re: 3D Printing Discussion fun!
                        Matt Peneguy

                        S. Casale,

                        This is a little off topic.  But, if you are dropping that much money on a 3D printer, definitely consider 3D Printing Software | Simplify3D it is so much better than the slicing software that comes with these printers.  That program allows you to customize the build plate and supports however you need, along with being able to visualize the build process and estimate print times and costs based on materials.  You can modify temperatures, program in stops.  It pretty much gives you full control over the whole print job.  It's only $149 and you get lifetime upgrades (at least I have so far).

                        Edit to add: If you are purchasing a professional level printer as Christian Chu recommends.  My above advice may not apply.  It definitely applies to the entry level machines.

                          • Re: 3D Printing Discussion fun!
                            Dave Krum

                            Just bought this myself Matt.  Haven't tested it thoroughly beyond a test print but was using the bundled Wanhao Cura software and this one blows it away.  I bought it mainly for splitting up a model and assigning each section a different quality.  Like the software so far.

                          • Re: 3D Printing Discussion fun!
                            Alex Burnett

                            I don't have any experience with the Makerbot that you mentioned but my company does have two different cost tier 3D printers. Here are my thoughts on the subject. Some of this may echo what others have said already.


                            Build Envelope: Look forward to 5-10 years (depending on return of investment) to see if what you are buying now will suit your needs going forward. The main driver of our last purchase was that a 8" cube was simply not enough to do what we needed. After a lot of research, we settled on a larger build area of 14"W x 12"D x 12"H. This allows us to iterate our larger concept parts more quickly and doesn't cost near as much as purchasing a print from a 3-D prototyping company.


                            Material: This is very important to research depending on your needs. You will need to define whether you are looking to just get form and fit out of it or if you also need some function. If you need functional parts, then materials such as ABS may be a bit limiting. Great options available these days are poly-carbonate, Nylon and even blends of materials to achieve different durability and strength requirements. If the part will be used for any purpose mounted to a fixture or something then the material needs durability. Note that changing material on one of these printers from one type to another could take a few hours to complete and calibrate.


                            If the printer is a higher cost, then it likely extrudes support material separately that can be dissolved away.


                            The low end of the cost curve for printers will likely only be able to extrude model material and it will use this as the support as well. The user will then have to break it away from the model when it is finished leaving the finish of the part affected. Cleanup with tools may be required.


                            Cost: This is the main driving factor regarding which printer options are available to you. Big name companies such as Stratasys will cost the most money. A lot of this is due to the customer service and maintenance plans that are provided with the printer. Additionally, these printers have very sophisticated systems in them that can be temperamental. Training for personnel will be required. If the printer uses support material then the chemical for the solution to do so  requires ongoing investment and the heated bath is an added up front cost. As a personal gripe, you need to place this tank close to a water source, drain and have a table or rack for parts to dry once rinsed.


                            Speed: Often an overlooked specification, this will determine how much you can use your printer. For example, our old printer takes 2.5 times longer to print the same part at the same resolution as our new printer. This could be the difference in 1 business day for a small part and 2-3 days for a large part to be completed and ready to use.


                            Resolution: To reiterate what others have said, some printers can go as low as 0.005" layer thickness but this comes as a trade off with the total print time. If 0.010" or larger is fine with you then there are many printers our there capable of this that are affordable.



                            Model material, support material (if applicable), modeling bases, extrusion tips (if applicable) and other various wear items and consumables all cost money. Additionally, service technicians and maintenance plans cost money if you go with a printer that may require this.



                            Overall, I'm just saying that there are a lot of options out there so do your research with your requirements and determine what you need. A lot of printer suppliers will print models for you for free and ship them to you as a demo of the product so you know what you're getting. Don't be afraid to haggle either. Some of the higher end printers go on special from time to time at a steep discount. I know a lot of this doesn't apply to the make/model you're interested in but they are all variables to consider.

                            • Re: 3D Printing Discussion fun!
                              John Stoltzfus

                              S. Casale - I'm thinking within the last 2 or 3 months Dave Krum got a small 3d printer, but thinking that is just a really small unit.. I know Woodstream Corp where Jeff Holliday works, has some really expensive units, maybe he could fill you in...  (no need to send me any points, probably didn't qualify)

                                • Re: 3D Printing Discussion fun!
                                  Dave Krum

                                  John / Scott,

                                  I got a Wanhao Di3 v2.1 rep/rap printer.  It will print up to about 7" x 7" x 7" or so.  I've only used PLA filament so far and just bought Simplify3D a few days ago.  Have yet to test it out, was using the bundled Cura Wanhao edition that came w/ printer but had some issues where you cannot vary the layer height at certain heights in model to improve (or speed up, etc) print quality.

                                    • Re: 3D Printing Discussion fun!
                                      S. Casale

                                      Thanks for the heads up!

                                        • Re: 3D Printing Discussion fun!
                                          Dave Krum

                                          I've attached two pics of my printer in a home-built enclosure I made from two IKEA lack tables after getting ideas from several online sources.  Basically all the red parts in the pics were printed to upgrade the printer for support / rigidity / etc.  All pretty much downloaded off Thingiverse.  If you're looking for a home printer that I have, the Wanhao has tons of support online for it.  It cost me around 350 for printer.  Filament about 17 a roll on amazon for PLA.  Bought a Kill-o-watt meter and plugged into printer to determine how MUCH electricity these things used for 10 hour + prints.  Have yet to look at my electric bill for kwh rate and compare to what the meter says lol.

                                    • Re: 3D Printing Discussion fun!
                                      Jeff Holliday

                                      We have 4 3D Printers here.

                                      1) Stratasys F170 FDM (replacing our old Dimension printer, 8 yrs service)

                                      2) Eden 260V Polyjet (approaching 3 years)

                                      3 & 4) Zortrax - 1 small format and 1 larger.


                                      1) is our go-to printer of choice as was the Dimension it replaces. It  prints very good resolution with mid-range material costs.

                                      2) produces very good quality parts but the material is more expensive and the printer requires more maintenance due to the Polyjet technology.

                                      3) The Zortrax printers are the most inexpensive both to purchase and material cost. They do not have separate support/model material cartridges so cleaning parts can be a bit more bothersome. These are very customizable (different print heads, temperature controls and a wide variety of material choices.

                                      • Re: 3D Printing Discussion fun!
                                        J. Mather

                                        I just took a walk around the lab to see what we have (changes from week-to-week).

                                        I would probably stay away from anything less than $10k.

                                        Make sure you have water-soluble support build.


                                        RP Lab.png

                                        • Re: 3D Printing Discussion fun!
                                          S. Casale

                                          Still looking for more feeeeeeeeeeeeeeeedback

                                          • Re: 3D Printing Discussion fun!
                                            Frank Krockenberger



                                            We have the Ultimaker 2+  I am very happy with it.

                                            it can print ABS, CPE, NYLON, PLA, PP

                                            It has a heated print bed.

                                            8.5 x 8.5 x 12 print bead -inch (with settings really about 8 x 8 )

                                            material cost $36-$70 per roll AT 720 grams per roll

                                            PLA $36

                                            PC  $60

                                            There are 3 print heads






                                            .8mm prints very nice quality,


                                            The ultimaker 3 has been out for a while and this one has the soluble support on board camera and

                                            dual print heads, just to name a few.


                                            I hope this helps.



                                            Here is a switch removable tool I made with the 8mm tip

                                            • Re: 3D Printing Discussion fun!
                                              Mark Biasotti

                                              Hi Scott,


                                              At my previous company we had a Stratasys F123 which is a great printer but costly.  Parts were very accurate and support was generally easy to remove (crockpot bath) but parts were very brittle like SLA parts.


                                              In my current company we have a Ultimaker2+ which is great for some parts and some careful planning of those parts*. For everything else we send it out to Forecast3D,Fathom, Fictiv and 3Dsystems here in the Bay Area.


                                              The process we are using just recently that we are really excited about is the MJF (multi-jet-fusion) process by HP. Forecast3D supplies our prints in this process. It is perhaps the biggest break thru I've seen in the last 10 years in 3D printing. The parts are strong and slightly flexible and you can heat stake the material (unlike so many other 3D print processes.) The drawback currently is the MJF can only print nylon in one color (grey) but they can dye it black if you so desire. There are no supports to remove because it uses a process similar to Zcorp printers (embedded powder - I think.) This process and material is the closest I've seen to injection molded ABS plastic.


                                              I am very disappointed the Carbon Clip printing process. It is one of the fastest builds on the market, but I think it is doomed to fail if they don't evolve the technology. Why? - because the support material is the build material and there is an extensive support removal process and on swoopy parts it is horrible. This does not make there process any better than our Ultimaker or Makerbot.  Speaking of which, the Ultimaker 3 with dual material and support is interesting but is very slow (slower than our Ultimaker 2 because of the support material additional process.)



                                              • Re: 3D Printing Discussion fun!
                                                Francisco Martínez

                                                I have a smaller one at home I have been printing with for a few years, It is a custom 250mm x 250mm bed with a E3D titan extruder. I mostly print abs for my rc projects. We did a prototype here for one of our mold parts at work last year but we don't do that often.


                                                Does anyone know if there is a good post processor(slicer) similar to cura?

                                                  • Re: 3D Printing Discussion fun!
                                                    Matt Peneguy

                                                    I am not familiar with Cura, but I really like Simplify3D.  It is $150 and I think you get free upgrades.  It has handled a lot of custom settings such as manual supports, custom temperatures, will show a simulation of the build process.  It really is a good price for all of the functionality.  Check it out.  I don't think you will be disappointed.

                                                      • Re: 3D Printing Discussion fun!
                                                        Francisco Martínez

                                                        I will take a look at that, I think Cura is makerbots software. I use custom settings to run my printer off it.


                                                        This is one of my prints, no support material. I also have found other various tricks but the postprocessor

                                                        is my limit. I have a idea for a hybrid abs/carbon fiber print but I need to put program stops so I can

                                                        place the carbon fiber inserts at specific points in the program and then continue to embed the carbon in the print.


                                                        • Re: 3D Printing Discussion fun!
                                                          Dave Krum

                                                          Yeah, the usb printing is pretty cool too. Realtime progress updates.  Can set for updates every second if wanted. Plus support is very good.  Always get back with good answers within day.  And yes, free upgrades.  They told me at least presently they are offering that but cannot guarantee in the future.  But lifetime support.  The manual / custom supports is pretty cool.  Can set different infills and patterns for various sections of model.  I did the cup holder 3dprint below for a guy at work for his motorhome.  Did at .3mm layers and looked crappy at top with grooves/lines and bottom thru Cura but wouldn't have taken almost 18 hours to do using .1 layers.  Now will try again with S3D and keep the base and top with lip beveled lip at .1, and just do the middle section at .3mm to speed things up.  I think maybe Slicer3d can do this but don't think Cura can.

                                                      • Re: 3D Printing Discussion fun!
                                                        Anna Wood

                                                        This is my take...


                                                        Purchase a sub $5000 desktop FDM printer.  $2500-$3000 would be a good spend.  This will let you get your feet wet in the process of 3D printing and learn what you really want out of a machine.   Any designs more complex or different materials can be contracted out for build.


                                                        Then upgrade to a different, maybe higher end machine, when you get a better handle on the whole 3D printing process.


                                                        There is a learning curve on using the machine and designing parts for 3D printing.


                                                        Avoid the higher end machines that lock you in to their proprietary, very expensive, materials.


                                                        I personally own a BCN3D Sigma that I keep at the office for FDM printing.  Dual independent extruders. 210mm x 297mm x 210mm.  BCN3D has just released their Sigmax, which has a bigger build volume and allows for some different print strategies from the dual heads.  Duplication and mirror mode. 


                                                        Ultimaker has some nice machines and dual extrusion capabilities.


                                                        My next personal machine will be my take on a Hypercube, Core XY, design and build myself, printer.  Plan to have multiple extruders that I can swap out with a toolchanger.


                                                        I use Simplify3D for my slicer program.  Not free, but pretty cheap in the grand scheme of software costs.

                                                          • Re: 3D Printing Discussion fun!
                                                            Edson Gebo

                                                            A little late to the show on this one but Anna has the reply spot on point!  I read thru this quickly so I hopefully I'm not repeating anything.  I would add...what type of materials do you prefer to print with?  What type of strength do you need from your prototype?  Is resolution and layer height important?  What about speed?  Tolerances?  Reliability of said printer.  Some of what I suggest can't be answered from a white paper or online document.  You need to find someone that has that printer who can answer those questions.  It's not that the white paper is inaccurate though.  I've been 3D printing with several different machines for about 4 to 5 years.  They seem to have their own characteristics and nuances that a user can more easily describe.  For anyone interested I use a Markforged 2 and a Markforged X.  If you want to know more about my 3D printing hub or want to ask more questions to help you...ask away here or feel free to email at edson@dddesignonline.net


                                                            Cheers!  Ed-

                                                          • Re: 3D Printing Discussion fun!
                                                            Timothy Taby

                                                            We have a Makerbot Replicator 2 machine which is the predecessor to the one your looking at.  It's not bad for what we paid for it and it performs good for some parts and not to good for others.  Warping on tall or wide parts is usually the biggest problem we have. t He other issue is our machine only has a single extruder, so your supports and rafts are the PLA  material, so you have to sand and/or grind the parts to remove them.  We are looking into higher costing machines now the have a second head to run the water solvable material on them. 

                                                            • Re: 3D Printing Discussion fun!
                                                              S. Casale

                                                              Right now, I've a demo for the Maker-bot replicator + coming for all of next week. I'm not enthused about the amount of materials that the allow for use while guaranteeing their extruder, PLA only really.


                                                              Admittedly, I am eyeing pretty heavy the RAISE 3D N2 12x12x12. I'm working on an appointment on Friday for a viewing.


                                                              I've been watching tut's about HIPS and PVA, which isn't discussed as much as I think it ought to be.

                                                              • Re: 3D Printing Discussion fun!
                                                                David Nelson

                                                                Just something to think on there  are also companies that you send them a Solidworks part and they will print for you.  They can even print metal.  I do not have the name of them but we them come out to our school a few years ago and they brought examples.  This company could for a fee even do a 24 hour turnaround time.


                                                                The company name Was Solid Concepts.  I did not find their web address so it may have changed.  But look at Youtube for 3d printed 45.  They did a great job on it.

                                                                • Re: 3D Printing Discussion fun!
                                                                  S. Casale

                                                                  So we're presently demoing a MakerBot. So far works well as if a home use desktop printer. Don't see the quality yet - AT ALL. Rounds are hardly round (e.g. Washers OD and ID).

                                                                  • Re: 3D Printing Discussion fun!
                                                                    David Matula

                                                                    anyone heard of a printer that would use your old drawing papers for the print material....I would cut one sheet of paper at a time and build layers of paper to where all you had to do was lift your part out of the pile of paper....

                                                                    • Re: 3D Printing Discussion fun!
                                                                      Lenny Bucholz

                                                                      the LOM process has been out for around 20 years, was used alot for sand cast patterns, John Deer was a big user.