Update: This article will be updated occasionally with new information as I run across itâ¦.
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
- 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 »