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Ok, I've been bitten...

Posted by HaniC 
Ok, I've been bitten...
May 20, 2012 11:49AM
...by the DIY bug again grinning smiley I hate when this happens - I'm browsing the net, minding my own business, then come across something really cool and interesting and now have no choice but to make one! Grrr

3d printing in general is not new to me and I have used rapid prototyping houses in the past as part of my day job and also used the services of shapeways.com for hobbies. What I didn't really know about was the concept of RepRap and just how accessible and relatively affordable these machines are now. I mean you can have one at home now?eye popping smiley

A little background
A RepRap will allow me to quickly prototype enclosures for my products and be able to spot things early in the overall design (not to mention all the cool things I can create and build at home!!). Im an Electronic Engineer by day and have no real issue with the mechanical or electronic aspect of the build.

My Goal
- I want to build a reprap that ideally is very compact as space is limited and has a print envelope of preferably 200mm x 200mm x 200mm but will trade this off for overall size. The printrbot/Wallace look to have the perfect combination of print area vs overall size BUT I've been reading mixed reviews in terms of stability issues leading to poor print quality. A Huxley seems great if I could get just a little more from the print envelope.

- It needs to be capable of printing decent quality prints (I know how long is a piece of string... but you know what I mean - fairly good prints)

- I want to build it for under $400. If that means self sourcing all parts, hand building electronics (I don't really have the time to reinvent the wheel here to bring cost down for now), exchanging my electronic knowledge/engineering services for plastics etc etc

Advice sought after
At this point I'm looking for any advice and in particular on which model to build:

-A Prusa seems to be highly recommended here as a first build but I believe it will be too big for what I want.

-A printrbot or Wallace interest me the most but I'd like your input on whether they are decent units and can actually print well. They also lack the detail in the build instructions that the Prusa / Huxley have.

-A Huxley may be the best trade off. Does this print well? Can the design be easily changed to increase build dimensions?

Can it be done for under $400? What do you all think? What advice can you give here?

Oh shoot, I'm ranting... I've got a bunch mor questions, but that should be enough for now..
Re: Ok, I've been bitten...
May 20, 2012 12:35PM
HaniC, Welcome!

You're going to get a fair amount of mixed opinions on which printer to build, but based on your specifications (price, size and envelope) Prusa is tough to beat. A Huxley afterall, is a scaled (but heavily modified) version of the Prusa, so if you want a bigger envelope then it makes sense to go for a Prusa.
Other options to consider would be a Mendel90, but I believe it is bigger than a Prusa with the same envelope.
I have heard nothing but bad reviews or feelings about printrbots and their derivatives, except for the Hadron/Quantum ORD bot. It is worth noting that almost all printers can achieve the same quality, where some may be able to go faster whilst retaining it. Printrbot/Wallace is presumably slow like a Makerbot, whilst a Prusa is medium/fast and a MendelMax is uncontested (in the price range).

You say you would like 200x200x200:
A Prusa is 200x200x140mm.
A MendelMax is up to 215x235x190mm and can be scaled.
A Mendel90 looks to be about 200x200x130(ish)mm and is fully parametric so can be scaled

As for the price tag, if you are willing to wait for motors from China, and choose an electronics board like printrboard or the upcoming Melzi then a $400 budget is within reach if you source the other components well.
Re: Ok, I've been bitten...
May 20, 2012 12:42PM
Thanks for the insight yydoctt.

Can you give any idea on external dimensions of the prusa/mendalmax/mendal90?
Re: Ok, I've been bitten...
May 20, 2012 12:43PM
Since your primary interest is in printing things rather than the hobby of making self-replicting printers, I suggest you look at the laser-cut Printrbot instead of the Wallace, and consider the MendelMax, Mendel90 or even the ORD bot.

I've built a number of printers in different designs, and the ORD went together the quickest and easiest but the components are the hardest to acquire - right now Inventables is taking preorders but I fear they may not make their goal and will have to refund the purchasers. On the plus side, it's one of the stiffest and quickest printers I've made.

The Mendelmax goes together very nicely and is capable of very fast and precise printing. The assembly instructions are a little bit harder to find but once to do they are clear and easy to follow, and there are more choices in exactly what components to use because it is still an evolving design. I've built the 1.0 version but as I finished printing the last part I discovered there was already a 1.5 set of parts available. Since then I've replaced a few parts for esthetics and not because of any deficiencies in the design that I've noticed.

I haven't yet built a Mendel90 but have always been impressed with nophead's work, his designs are very complete and exhaustive in detail. This one too promises to be very stiff fast and precise.

You CAN get very good quality prints with a Printrbot or Wallace. I was very impressed with the output from the laser cut printrbots I saw at the SF Maker Faire this weekend. I am suggesting the laser cut version because it will go together quicker with less chance of misalignments.

All of them will use the same stepper motors and electronics, and those will be the most expensive components. I've use RAMPS for most of my printers, and given your background I think the DIY kits will be cost effective for you. If you want preassembled, then I would suggest you look at the Azteeg boards, I recently bought two and am very pleased with them.

$400 will be tight, but should be do-able.
Re: Ok, I've been bitten...
May 20, 2012 01:08PM
Hi HaniC,

I'll just add to the other comments by saying that if I was going to build my first printer now, with all I have learnt in the last year, I would go for the Mendel90. Not least because of Nophead's attention to detail, but it also seems very stable and a well thought out design. In fact I believe the 3rd iteration of Prusa's Mendel borrows from the Mendel90 design, if the pictures I have seen say anything.

And if the footprint of the Mendel90 is too large there is also a Huxley90 version too - but then the print area will decrease also.

Good luck, and welcome to the fun!


garyhodgson.com/reprap | reprap.development-tracker.info | thingtracker.net
Re: Ok, I've been bitten...
May 20, 2012 01:23PM
The outside dimensions of a Mendel90 with a build volume of 200x200x200 is 468x427x387, slightly smaller than a Prusa I think.

Re: Ok, I've been bitten...
May 20, 2012 01:45PM

I'd just to 'slightly ruffle' your $400 goal though...as others have stated, you can source/recycle the main parts all you want, there is quite often additional costs beyond motors and RAMPS parts. Very few (if any) kits that I've seen truly come with everything you'll need and having built 3 different printers over the last year (MakerBot Thing-O-Matic, Prusa Mendel and now a Tantillus) there are always extras.

Unless you have a fully stocked workshop or multiple friends with an even better workshop close at hand, you'll find yourself making a late night run to whatever store is open that sells a certain size drillbit you thought you had, the new soldering iron you have to purchase because your old one doesn't do small headers very well, a new magnifying lamp to see the work, etc.

All I'm suggesting is that you may need some additional cushion in there for unforeseen extras which are often tools, but sometimes just simple shop supplies that the assembly instructions assume everyone has on hand (and available in your home country even).

That said, I'm now getting my workshop up to a respectable level and have a small army of 3d printers as a result so I'm not complaining, just being realistic.

Have fun!

Anonymous User
Re: Ok, I've been bitten...
May 21, 2012 08:13AM
Why not stretch to a solidoodle, this way you will be printing out of the box and can then make your own parts for whatever is next.
Re: Ok, I've been bitten...
May 21, 2012 09:07AM
Thanks all for you input. You've definately given me somethings to think about - Don't think I am any closer to deciding on what model to build though.

There's a meetup next week in my city. I may go along and have a look at these things in person. Should be able to get a better idea then.
Re: Ok, I've been bitten...
May 23, 2012 10:15AM
Man, I can't stop researching these things. It's consuming just about every free minute I have at the moment spinning smiley sticking its tongue out

I think I have come to a conclusion:

The Prusa V2!

My reasoning is as follows:

- It's well supported - There is a ton of info available online
- Well tested - I think I should be able to get the desired results on this after optimizing
- Parts are easy to source - I've already found a number of suppliers for just about every part
- Generous build envelope
- Just about everyone else builds and recommends this model as the first build


- If I'm still not content.... I can always just print another RepRapgrinning smiley

THe electronics, motors, extruder assembly, hotend etc. all make up like >75% of the cost - all parts which can be reused.

I will probably still pursue making the compact unit I wanted but that exercise may be better executed when I have learned more about these machines and actually have a solid performer to print the plastic for it.

On a slightly related note what do you guys think of this hot-end?

It's pretty cheap and local.
Re: Ok, I've been bitten...
May 23, 2012 11:43AM
Back in the beginning (Feb-March for me) thats was all I did, constantly look up printers and consume the majority of my time. I ended up choosing the Prusa V2 as well. Im glad I started with it. Always fine tuning and printing upgrades for myself :smiling smiley Feel free to ask me or anyone else lots of questions, thats what we're on here for.

Quality Engineer & Hobbyist
Re: Ok, I've been bitten...
May 24, 2012 09:34AM
Well I'm in the same position.. Researching all day and night trying to select my first 3d printer to build..

I do electronics as a hobby (making pcbs, using desktop design pcb software too) so was thinking this would be useful to make custom project cases and just to have fun!

I did like the Printrbot for its build volume .. something like 190mm x 190mm x 190mm but seems like first round of production is already snapped up and long waiting ahead..

So I stumbled across the wallace.. Build volume is 200x200x140mm but then with the above posts seems like theres stability issues.. (I havent researched that in detail yet)

I have also been considering the Prusa Air V2 model, since a local ebayer has laser cut perspex frame, all plastic parts with all lm8uu bearings for about $250 USD but the Prusa Air V2 has a build volume of 190mm x 190 mm x 100 mm Just the Z axis bothers me.. Im not sure if I would actually build something that high but when other printers can print higher it might be handy not to limit myself. Hmm I've also heard that building too High along the Z axis has issues with different cooling down rates so 3d print could suffer from warping etc.. .

Hmm for me the cost of Wallace and Prusa Air V2 completed is almost the same with Wallace costing a bit more since I've only found one overseas seller so far.. Im aiming for $500 mark, happier if a little lower than that..

Which one is the best one for a first build, can anyone list major cons/pro's for both models helpful for a new comer? ie. Prusa Air V2 vs Wallace.

Also should I really be concerned about the Prusa Air V2 Z Axis height? I was thinking if I do go beyond 100mm Z Axis haha can always build printer another unit myself of different type.

Yeah I was thinking the Prusa Air V2 is probably better supported within the community as well. hmm tough decisions, any help would be greatly appreaciated..

Once Ive made up my mind I can go crazy buy parts.. (:

Greatly appreciate any advice from the community (:

Edit - Actually which one has best print resolution thats probably more important.. I've read just now that Prusa Air probably has been rigidity where printrbot/wallace might get a bit wobbly on the Z-Axis.. Oh yeah I also probably want to put a drill spindle on the unit to pre drill my PCB boards so which 3d printer out of the above is best for that too smiling smiley thanks

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 05/24/2012 10:09AM by darkage.
Re: Ok, I've been bitten...
May 24, 2012 10:28AM
With regards to rigidity i think a Mendel 90 would be better suited to put a drill spindle on than a Prusa version.
Re: Ok, I've been bitten...
May 24, 2012 10:41AM
I am confident Mendel90 will be more rigid in the directions that matter than all the ones you have mentioned except possibly MendelMax, not sure about that. It also has a lower height for a given Z build area than the others because the extruder can go to the very top of the machine and the Y motor sits on the bottom.

Re: Ok, I've been bitten...
May 24, 2012 11:03AM
I have a working 3d RepRap Prusa Mendel 205 x 205 mm I will sell you for almost $400. If you don't need it do you know some one that wants it. I really need some money right now. What is best place to advertise it?

Re: Ok, I've been bitten...
May 24, 2012 06:03PM
Yep Mendel looks like I can build at home with no problem.. Just need to source the plasic parts now.. Know of any good online stores for the Mendel90..
Re: Ok, I've been bitten...
May 25, 2012 02:57AM
I have built a Mendel90 when Nophead first published his ideas from his pictures I and a friend designed from scratch all the parts required with the help of his pics. I think this is a great design and is very stable. I built mine from 12mm MDF and used a router to channel the base and gantry to get a good fit, but that is not necessary as Nophead has shown. I think Nophead can print all the plastic for you if you ask him. I originally bought my Prusa parts from him and was very impressed with the standard of his parts. Check his blog out [www.hydraraptor.blogspot.com.es] Good luck with the build.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/25/2012 03:10AM by rcs.
Re: Ok, I've been bitten...
May 25, 2012 03:28AM
HaniC Wrote:
> On a slightly related note what do you guys think
> of this hot-end?
> It's pretty cheap and local.

Stay away from that. Those hot ends that use PTFE as a structural element always fail. A hot end from MakerGear or hotends.com would be preferrable, I have used both with great success.

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Re: Ok, I've been bitten...
May 25, 2012 12:09PM
If I were starting now, I'd probably go with a mendelmax or mendel 90.
I just finished assembly on a mendelmax, very easy to put together, very few pieces requiring critical alignment.
Getting a first print can be pretty frustrating, so I'd consider buying an extruder you know works, unless you have a lot of patience or more faith in your mechanical skills than I do.
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