Archive for November, 2011

Ultimaker (3D Printer) Ordered!

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

Update: This article will be updated occasionally with new information as I run across it….

Gonna be a long 4 to 6 weeks…

I just ordered an Ultimaker 3D printer after a few weeks of on and off research into the subject of 3D printing. It has a 4 to 6 week lead time.

I chose the Ultimaker over the RepRap Mendel/Prusa, MakerBot, and UP! Personal Portable 3D Printer for a few reasons:

– Larger build envelope than the Makerbot and faster, too.

- Extremely precise print capabilities.

- Less finicky than the Mendel, so it seems from the various forums, etc.

- The Netfabb software seems to be well regarded.

- Elegant print head design.

- Highly customizable, open source hardware / software / platform.

- PLA preferred (PLA is Polylactic Acid and is a biodegradable, non-toxic, material)

Any of the 3D printers would have been a good choice and each of the ones not chosen have advantages; the makerbot has an automatic object ejector for continuous duty printing, the UP! is a really nice design (easy to use), and the RepRap has an awesome community supporting it that has built a very versatile/customizable platform.

There are, of course, a large number of commercial printers. The UP! is about the cheapest of the lot and pricing ranges right on up to $unobtanium. Extrusion based printing is not the only solution, either, by any means, but it is currently the most accessible, as far as I can tell.

In the end, the elegant extruder design, overall machine design, speed and — most importantly — accuracy of the Ultimaker won out. I suspect I’ll eventually build a 3D printer of some sort, possibly a RepRap, or, at the least, print parts for someone else and help them put it together. Seems like a fun project and, overall, 3D printing is likely to be a huge industry in the coming years.

I have about a zillion little projects around the house that I can knock off with a 3D printer:

- new shower bar end cap so the shower door doesn’t bump into it

– proper clips to hold the art glass in the cabinet doors throughout the kitchen (the glass is a nonstandard thickness)

– seal for my bike light

Lens hoods for my various lenses

- seed baskets for an AeroGarden (found a 7 hole one for $5 at a garage sale)

- seed/grow baskets for a homebrew aeroponics/aquaponics system I’m contemplating (I want fresh salad all winter long, thanks!)

– iPad stand

- various cable keepers

– deflector for the front of a meat grinder to keep it from squirting blood everywhere

– fully customized project boxes

- custom Legos

– custom LED/CFL lighting fixtures

- Fractals

whatever the hell Roger wants to print

That last one is the most important. I can only imagine how awesome it would have been to have a 3D printer when I was 11 years old. Should be a great educational tool for him. It’ll also be fun to put it together with him. He is both a talented solderer and totally enjoyed putting together the Egg-Bot (speaking of — I wonder if I can print the mechanics for a new, larger, Egg-Bot). Read the rest of this entry »