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Help me choose a dual extruder printer please

Posted by midoco 
Help me choose a dual extruder printer please
November 18, 2013 02:43PM
Hello all,
I'm an optician and an RC aircraft designer/modeler, and I'm going to be purchasing my first 3D printer soon.
I could really use some insight from the experts.
What I'm searching for:
6.25"X7"X5" minimum build area... I will be printing eyewear frames among other things.
Dual extruders, or ability to upgrade to dual without reinventing the wheel.
Ability to print ABS... I'd like to be able to print PLA and nylon as well.
Accuracy and finished surfaces are a priority... I'm not too worried about speed.
I prefer that it's not made of wood, but it's not a deal breaker either.
I won't mind assembling it at all, but I will need a full kit. I don't want to be sourcing all the parts.
I won't mind fiddling with it to dial it in, but I'd prefer not to spend two hours a day on it.
The replicator 2X is at the very upper limit of my budget. I'd prefer to stay below $2k.

So far I've been looking at the replicator 2X, and the Bukobot 8 v2 Dual. Who am I missing?
It also appears that the Felix 3.0 will be available as a dual, but I'm really not interested in waiting on a new product.
I've been reading everything I can get my hands on, but I could sure use some first hand knowledge! If there's a better forum for me to be posting this on please let me know.
Thanks in advance,
Re: Help me choose a dual extruder printer please
November 18, 2013 03:51PM

I have a BFB 3000 dual head that I purchased two years ago. The unit works great (after paying $3800) and adding a heated bed ($800), ditching the original BFB cam software, and outfitting with shareware KissSlicer as my CAM software. I typically print ABS with occasional PLA support structure.

If I had to purchase a new dual head unit today, I would go with the Replicator 2X.

It has a fairly low cost ($2700 or so), fast build speed, good build volume, and a built-in heated bed--which is something you will need to make large ABS parts (anything > 3.5" long) without warping issues.

Keep in mind that most or all 3D printers made today will be obsolete in 1-2 years, like my BFB 3000 unit.

So look for a printer with good support from a stable company, little proprietary software and hardware (so that it can be updated/remodeled on a regular basis), and is well crafted so it will give many years of service.

Ken H.
Re: Help me choose a dual extruder printer please
November 18, 2013 03:55PM
question 1,
why do you want dual extrusion?
i've had a reprap for a few years now, yet i have no idea why i would want 2 extruders.
if i need something in 2 colors, i print part 1, change color and then print part 2

this is a real reprap with 3 heads, for half the price of the replicator:
Re: Help me choose a dual extruder printer please
November 18, 2013 03:56PM
One more note...

I noticed you are planning to print eyeglass frames. Most 3D printers use fused deposition modeling (FDM), which is a fancy way of saying melted plastic.

FDM does not give a perfectly smooth finish that you will likely want for eyeglass frames. You will have to sand or "remelt" the surface to create a smooth finish.

Alternatively, you might look at stereolithographic printers, which give a smooth finish. But as far as I know, they are in the $5K and beyond range.

Re: Help me choose a dual extruder printer please
November 18, 2013 07:52PM
Thanks guys for the quick replies. It seems like the wooden printers would be harder to setup and maybe have consistency issues. Have you guys found this, or am I being overly cautious?
The Printrbot Plus V2.1 has been added to my short list. It seems they will be offering a 2 extruder update kit soon.

Thanks for the advice. One of the things that makes me nervous regarding the Replicator 2X is the not open-source element of it. I'm also a little concerned about their recent sale to a larger company.
...but it sure is pretty winking smiley
I also think that it will be more consistent as far as prints go. Thoughts?
I know the finish can leave much to be desired. I have seen a few parts that have been exposed to acetone vapors that were nice and shiny. I will probably be doing a lot of belt sanding as well. The wood look is also in right now. Something like this finish. [fbcdn-sphotos-d-a.akamaihd.net] (sorry for the long url)

regarding the dual extruders... I want to be able to put something of a different color in the middle of a part. Think tiger striped.
I'm also interested in printing an ABS part with a water soluble support structure so you can drop it in water to remove the supports.
Thanks for the url. I will look into them.

Thanks again,
Re: Help me choose a dual extruder printer please
November 19, 2013 09:04PM

As you suggest, the Replicator 2X may tend to be more proprietary. So I can understand your concern. But the Stratasys buyout could be advantageous, as the printer may have better support and continual improvements in hardware and software. Whether those improvements can be adapted to a printer two years after purchasing is another matter.

I looked at the Bukobot 8 dual, which seems to be much more open-source oriented. But the likely drawback is the Buko has a steeper learning curve than the Replicator. I can readily see you may need to delve into the nitty-gritty details of Gcode, temperature settings, etc. to "dial things in" as you expressed. Also, the Buko does not have an enclosure to hold in heat, which reduces warping in printing ABS material. You may have to make one.

In summary, it depends how you want to invest your time. The Replicator is more of the "works out of the box" unit. The Buko is more of a hobbyist build it yourself unit (where 50% or more of your time is spent fiddling around with the printer tool and less than 50% of your time is spent actually making a part).

One more note regarding part finish:

FDM based 3D printers not only leave a rough surface, but it occurs to me they all leave tool path marks on the surface. For example, if you 3D printed that wood grain textured eyeglass frame (depicted in your photo), the wood grain texture would NOT show up. Rather what you will see are tool path marks (criss-cross marks of the tool moving back and forth like a field of corn) across the face of the eyeglass frames.

This issue is going to be very problematic for you if you truly want to create fine grained textures.

Re: Help me choose a dual extruder printer please
November 22, 2013 11:59AM
Thanks again Ken!
The wood look will be done through other means after the model is printed. Sorry for the confusion.
Re: Help me choose a dual extruder printer please
November 22, 2013 04:18PM
Printrbot is very close to releasing the production version of the dual extruder setup and a possible triple setup. I am one of the ten lucky beta testers for the dual extruder setup and it works great. The production version will have all aluminum direct drive extruders that are light and strong. They are really stepping up to the plate and it's worth waiting a little bit to check out. I have the printrbot plus v2 and I absolutely love it. For the price is don't think you will be able to beat the new plus v2. 1, v2.2 or v2.3 . If you want to see the aluminum extruders check out printrbots twitter feed as he just released a pic yesterday. Happy building.

Also you can click on the link attached to my signature to see the dual extruder beta. I must tell you that the production version is quite a bit different with all the improvements they've come up with.

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Re: Help me choose a dual extruder printer please
December 16, 2013 02:53PM
Thanks for all the info! I ordered a Bukobot 8 Duo.

My deciding factors:
Dual extruders. I'm really interested in disolvable support materials.
Ability to print with ABS, HIPS, Nylon, polycarbonate.
8x8x8 build volume.
I like the aluminum frame, and the syncromesh cables.
I won't have to call overseas for support.
They have a brick and mortar retail location.
open source
The more I read into 3D printers the more I want to build it myself.

Thanks again,
Re: Help me choose a dual extruder printer please
December 16, 2013 03:13PM
I doubt you going to be happy with any FFM or FdM printer for eyeglass frames either a professional one or the semiprofessional or home ones.
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