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good diy beginner printers?

rockyboy

Skill Collector
Mentor
#2
I'm loving this one:
https://folgertech.com/collections/...ap-2020-prusa-i3-full-aluminum-3d-printer-kit

Assembly went very smoothly (this is my 3rd machine overall) and print quality was very good right away - and minor tweaking made it even better.

The gamble you take with the GearBest / Bangood / etc. super cheap imports is that the quality of components might be total garbage and leave you with zero customer support. Yes you can save a few bucks up front, but it could also cost you double in frustration and replacement parts when boards/motors/controllers burn up after a very short time.
 
#3
MonoPrice has some good, cheap printers: https://www.monoprice.com/pages/3d_printers

I have a Maker Select V2. It's a bit more expensive (on sale right now for about $280) and requires some tinkering, but you get reasonably fast prints and more build area.

I also have the MP Select Mini (original one, not the V2). I do like it, but it's small (and somewhat slow).

You can see various things I've printed on the two printers: https://goo.gl/photos/PADXdUUQAwWbmi9y8 (anything silver, blue, or magenta was done on the large one, pink, and this white->purple UV stuff was done on the smaller one).
 

jhitesma

Posted a thousand or more times
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#7
Given no limit on funds I'd definitely recommend the official Prusa i3 Mk2 hands down. It's an amazing machine and super user friendly based on what I've heard from everyone I know who has one. But at about $700 or so it's not the cheapest way to get started :)

I love my Folger 2020 i3 and when I got it about a year and a half ago I'd say it was one of if not the best deal out there. I still think it's a pretty good deal but I don't know if it's the best anymore. I'm not really in the market for a printer so I haven't been actively researching but there are a lot of of <$300 options out there now some of which look better.

The Folger has some issues. I almost hesitate to call it a kit - it's more a box of parts you can use to build a printer from if you do some research. The instructions are mostly good but have a few glaring omissions and errors. And the provided firmware is out of date (or at least was when I built mine.) So it's a good deal...but not really great for beginners - unless they're up for a challenge and really like the idea of building their own printer.

Which is exactly what I wanted. I didn't want to buy a printer...I wanted to build one. I wanted to build one more than I wanted to save money. For many of the same reasons I like to build planes and quads instead of buying ARF's and RTF's. I enjoy the build as much or more than the finished product. Heck that's the same reason that my printer a year and a half after buying it is still a work in process and looks considerably different than it did when first assembled :)

The nice thing about the folger is that while folger itself isn't bad at customer service...they're also not great...but they've sold so many printers that there's a big community out there of people with them and they are outstanding at providing support. Not to mention a steady stream of ideas for upgrades and modifications if you're into that.

If you're looking for something a little less hands up and more beginner friendly...but still don't mind making some changes your self then the wanhao i3 and derivatives (like the hyperion FT is selling) have a lot of good rep. I've also seen dls do some nice work with his printers and they've sounded pretty trouble free for him and others I know with similar ones.

Honestly the big problem right now is there are too many great affordable options :)


Rather than any specific recommendations I'd give a few general things I'd suggest:

Stick with a cartesian printer not a delta for your first one. Deltas are cool...but considerably more work to setup and get working reliably. I've seen even some experienced printer builders brought nearly to tears in frustration when they tried a delta ;)

Autoleveling is nice, but not necessary. You can almost always add it to a printer later fairly cheaply.

A heated bed is IMHO pretty much a must have. Without it you'll be limited to only PLA. And PETG/TPU/ABS are much more interesting materials (that said I do about 95% of my printing in PLA because it's cheap and easy...but I do most of my "final" prints in petg because i prefer it's properties.)

200mm x 200mm is pretty much the standard size...but smaller isn't necessarily a deal breaker. I VERY seldom come close to using the full 200x200 print bed on my machine. That said if you want to print planes...you'll need the full 200x200.

All metal hot ends are nice - but PTFE lined is simpler and less troublesome with PLA as well as a lot cheaper...and will do ABS and PETG as long as you're careful about not going too hot. You can always change to a different hot end later if you want to print PETG hotter, or get into exotic materials like Nylon and Polycarbonate.

Personally even on a machine that's ready to print out of the box I'd stick with something that is based on open source designs and runs Marlin for it's controller. The less proprietary the setup the more options you have down the road.

Do some google searches, check facebook for user groups, check the reprap forums for other users, search thingiverse for upgrade/replacement parts. Finding a community of users for a machine before buying can be a lifesaver.
 

rockyboy

Skill Collector
Mentor
#8
I'm sticking with that @jhitesma said :)


I didn't have any difficulty at all with the build, but as mentioned it was my third printer build. I upgraded the firmware as part of the build process, but didn't even bother to check if the version it came with was out of date - just wanted a fresh install I could trust. Other than that, I built it stock, and the first 4 or 6 prints off it were perfectly usable and upgrades directly for itself. By that point the quality was getting very good and I've been a happy camper ever since. After the initial bout of upgrades, the only changes I've made since were to direct solder the power connectors to the RAMPS board, and upgrading to a second design for the z-axis end stop (cracked my first z-axis upgrade when I banged into it).

And again, as he said, look for an active community of users as a very important part of your decision. No matter what printer you get, it takes time and brain-sweat to make these things work right, and knowing where to get help is going to save you a lot of head/heart ache.
 

Snarls

Gravity Tester
Mentor
#9
Here comes another member of the Folgertech gang. It is a really great printer for the price, although like jhitesma says, there may be better deals out there now. I just finished a pretty major overhaul on my printer, but even before that the print quality was great. In fact after setting my printer up a year and a half ago I did not really touch it because I was satisfied enough with the prints. Now after some upgrades, most of which just involved printing new parts, I am really satisfied.

Folgertech is based in New Hampshire so they are a US company, unlike most of the budget 3D printer providers. However they still use cheaper Chinese parts in their printer kits (otherwise price would no be so low). They are unique with the 2020 model in that it uses 2020 aluminum which makes for a more rigid frame with more attachment possibilities than the laser cut acrylic that many prusa clones use. Folgertech support is pretty good (it exists for one). My ramps that came with my kit was broken and they gladly sent me a new one. Well that new one was also broken so they did not hesitate to send me another one. That one did work and shipping was quick (I live in MA which is right next to NH).

If you are not interested in a kit I think the monoprice printers dlsspy linked look pretty decent. The hyperion FT sells is a well known model that is a rebrand of the Wanhao i3. If you like that one I would just get the monoprice Maker Select which is pretty much the same printer but $100 less (unless you want to support FT which would be nice).
 

bhursey

The Geeky Pilot
#10
What are you alls thoughts of the anet a8.. I mean I plan on printing upgrades getting a mosfet. I know it can take some tinkering but seems it can be an over all good printer if done right?
 

rockyboy

Skill Collector
Mentor
#11
I haven't heard much negative about the a8 - in fact I know of several people happy with theirs after the requisite tinkering and learning phase. But as Snarls mentioned, I prefer the increased stability and expand-ability of the 2020 aluminum frame which justified the extra expense for me.
 

bhursey

The Geeky Pilot
#12
I haven't heard much negative about the a8 - in fact I know of several people happy with theirs after the requisite tinkering and learning phase. But as Snarls mentioned, I prefer the increased stability and expand-ability of the 2020 aluminum frame which justified the extra expense for me.
Yah from what I read thats why there are so many bracing mods for the a8. It mainly will be casual printing however I do want to print a cessna 152 or a mustang..

If it became a big deal I could repalce the frame? http://orballoprinting.com/en/frame/8-prusa-i3-steel-frame-p3steel.html
 

jhitesma

Posted a thousand or more times
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#13
My big concern about the a8 is that it sounds like they have some non-standard stuff with their electronics. I haven't looked at the details too closely but I know there's a separate fork of Marlin to support autolevel on them - which is in the process of being merged back into Marlin which is nice since for awhile it seemed like the guys managing the port were only releasing binaries from what I could tell which is against the license Marlin is released under.

So I'm not sure what's non-standard on them that requires customized firmware...but it would give me pause if I was considering one and I'd research it a bit deeper to know just what's going on there.
 
#14
Happy with my Anet A8

I've had my A8 for about a month or so and am very satisfied. I like the 220x220 table and other than an occasional clogged nozzle, have had no problems. Being my first and only 3d printer, there is a learning curve to get the settings right but that would be the case with most. I've been printing parts for my scratch builds like motor mounts, servo horns, pods, etc.
Two of the guys I fly with also have the Anet A8 and are very happy with theirs. So far the print quality is good.
 

jhitesma

Posted a thousand or more times
Mentor
#15
I've been watching the discussion on the Marlin github this week about merging in the skynet mods to Marlin that allow the A8 to do autoleveling.

Apparently the big issue with the A8 is that it uses a custom controller board that is made just for it. The board is based on the older Melzi design so it's a bit dated - but still capable. However it is limited on it's I/O and adding a bltouch for autoleving will eat up the last of the available pins. So not a big deal if you're happy with it as designed and maybe adding autoleveling - but a bit limited if you want to do anything more than down the road. Though mechanically it's still basically a i3 design so you could always just replace the electronics with a more standard control board (RAMPS, rambo, smoothie...) and have a more capable and hackable machine.

So the big limit on the A8 is that it's electronics are a bit dated and limited. To put it in Multirotor terms...most current printers run RAMPS which is kind of like a MegaWii board - 8bit but a beefer 2560 processor with lots of memory and I/O. Some higher end printers are starting to transition to 32bit boards like Smoothie/Duet/sbase but the extra power isn't really needed for cartesian printers - Deltas really benefit from it though - those are kind of like Naze32 level boards. The A8's Melzi board is more like a basic MultiWii board - an 8bit AVR processor but lacking the extra memory and I/O of the 2560 Mega AVR.

In a way 3D printer electronics overall are somewhat behind multirotor electronics - but...that's mostly because they don't benefit as much from the upgrade as multirotors do. Multirotors need to do a lot of fast calculations and really push the limits of 8 bit processors - 3D printers do quite a bit of math - but they're much slowe than multirotors so the extra speed isn't a big deal...except on Deltas where the math is more complex and can reach the limits of the 8 bit processors. More important for printers is lots of I/O to control things like LCD's, SD Cards, Lights, Servos and sensors for auto-level, filament sensors and extra extruders. And the AVR 2560 is a much better deal if you need memory and I/O more than speed - 32 bit chips give you speed but get bigger and more expensive if you need the memory and I/O.
 

French

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#16
Pinpoint, have you picked yet?

I've had have the Monoprice Mini Select for a year now. Great printer for $200 and an amazing printer after some simple mods. The limited print size is the only downside.
 
#17
I have had an anet a8 for about 5 months now and I love it. You can get amazing print quality out of it if your prepared to do a little tweaking and there is also a lot of support for it. For ~$150 you can't beat it.
 

bhursey

The Geeky Pilot
#18
I have had an anet a8 for about 5 months now and I love it. You can get amazing print quality out of it if your prepared to do a little tweaking and there is also a lot of support for it. For ~$150 you can't beat it.
Good to here. Yah i plan on getting one i think, install a mosfed, sodder the wiers directly tp heat plate, maby auto level sensor, upgrade fw, print mods. Mabye upgrade to an atx psu. Got to see what psu i have in my old computers. Iv been researching it for about a month. Still have to convince wife.
 
#19
Good to here. Yah i plan on getting one i think, install a mosfed, sodder the wiers directly tp heat plate, maby auto level sensor, upgrade fw, print mods. Mabye upgrade to an atx psu. Got to see what psu i have in my old computers. Iv been researching it for about a month. Still have to convince wife.
I removed the connector on the heat plate and crimped some terminals on and hat seems to be working fine. I have also put an upgraded power supply on it. I installed a new heat block too because the stock one doesn't have a grub screw for the thermistor and mine popped out causing me to destroy my PTFE tube. There are loafers sitting on my desk as well as a power switch to solder on but I have gotten around to it yet. The printed upgrades are very nice too. Specifically the belt tensioners and fan duct.
 
#20
Printrbot offers some good, high-quality-yet-affordable printers. You can get kit or assembled versions on most of their printers. Their printers are a bit above your $250 price target, but they are well worth the investment, especially if you plan on printing more and bigger parts down the line.