Wednesday, May 23, 2012

First Thoughts on 3D Printing

I started this blog to share my experience on personal 3D printing systems.

Now I am gathering information on available 3D printers.
My initial analysis stopped me from buying a printer now.
I will wait for a couple of months more.

As a result of my analysis, I decided on buying one of these printers:
- Replicator (MakerBot)
- Ultimaker
- M2 (MakerGear)

My criteria on selecting a 3D printer are as follows:
1. Easy to assemble and use
2. Firm and Community Support
3. Reliable performance
4. Quality of print
5. Speed of printing
6. Low frequency of servicing

I was initially thinking of hacking a 3D printer. However, I decided to do it after I start using a more reliable system. Here are my thoughts on the printers based on my criteria. As seen there is no clear winner.


CriteriaReplicatorUltimakerM2
1. Easy to assemble and use I can order the product fully assembled (+++) I have to assemble to printer myself (-) I can order the product fully assembled (+++)
2. Firm and Community Support The firm has a well established support and the customer base is the largest among others (+++) The firm has quick responding support. Customer base is small (+) The firm has only IRC based support. Customer base is small (-)
3. Reliable performance Hard to conclude from forum and blog posts however it seems a steep learning curve. (-) Hard to conclude from forum and blog posts however it seems a steep learning curve. (-) Metal frame is an advantage. However it is recently released therefore needs several months of user feedback (?)
4. Quality of print Not that much impressed compared to Ultimaker (+) If everything goes well, the results are outstanding. The biggest negative is stringing!!! (++) No sample printouts yet (?)
5. Speed of printing Slow compared to Ultimaker (-) The fastest among compatitors (+++) The speed is unknown (?)
6. Low frequency of servicing The wooden frame may require frequent maintenance (-) The wooden frame may require frequent maintenance (-) The metal frame looks more reliable hence requiring less maintenance (++)