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Building or buying

Posted by Martin K 
Building or buying
August 11, 2018 01:01AM

prices for fdm printers have drastically come down the past few years.

I wonder if it is still worth building a 3d printer from a standpoint of value/price relation.
What are the main points that speak for building.

kind regards
Re: Building or buying
August 11, 2018 03:55AM
From a price perspective, it makes next to no sense. Unless you're going to be building a really niche machine (i.e. super small, super big, or with some very unique feature set), you won't get a cheaper price on components than you will on a complete chinese kit.

That being said, some people find the process of building, designing and modifying a printer fun. Others just want it to work. It's similar to many other hobbies out there. Some people just want a computer that works, others like to trick it out and tinker with it.
Re: Building or buying
August 11, 2018 06:29AM
If you buy a 3D printer with the initial price as the main criterion, and then you really use it, there is a very good chance that you want to replace this or that critical component, to have better performance. Your low initial price will mean nothing anymore.

And by the time you get there, you'll probably already have spent more on filament than the machine was originally worth.

In my opinion, low-cost machines target those who want to try 3D printing out of curiosity. Many of these machines will end up on shelves, collecting dust.

I designed the Zatsit mechanical kit with these thoughts in mind, so that it serves those who really want to use their machine, and adapt it to technological change without wasting.
Re: Building or buying
August 11, 2018 08:08AM
Cheap kits are mostly junk composed of minimally functioning parts. The concept of buying a $200 printer kit and upgrading it is a fantasy. None of the parts in it are upgradeable without a complete rebuild. Example: the bed heater takes too long to heat up or doesn't get hot enough (all $200 kits have this problem). You decide to "upgrade" it. The power supply won't be able to handle a higher powered heater, and neither will the controller MOSFETs or PCB that are switching power to it.

Build your own machine, taking ideas from other machines, or create your own entirely. Don't use the cheapest, crappiest available parts like the kit sellers do. Decide how big you want to print, choose the architecture you like, ask a lot of questions in the forums, and then start gathering parts and buy them when you find good deals. Measure those parts and model them in CAD as you go and the design will take shape. Don't know how to CAD? This is a perfect excuse to learn. Once you have a printer, you're probably going to get tired of printing other people's designs. CAD skills will let you design you own stuff to print. The whole process will take a while, but you'll learn a lot, save some money, and end up with a better printer that will be upgradeable when the time comes.

One more thing... don't plan on building a printer with a 1 m^3 print envelope for your first machine. Start small, learn where the problems are, and once you get things figured out on a smaller scale, try your hand at a larger machine.

Ultra MegaMax Dominator 3D printer: [drmrehorst.blogspot.com]
Re: Building or buying
August 11, 2018 09:34AM
Hi Martin,

It is strongly dependent of what are your aims.

If you want to develop some of your skills like CAD drawing / DIY / electronic / programming etc... => build a reprap of your choice

If your aims is to "print" at once, make 3d printed part for artistic or technical project => buy something ready to use

Remember that you always get what you pay for.

with a 2000 $ plug and play machine you will have something working in the 2 next hours
with a 250 $ kit to mount you will have something ready to use in the next 3 monthes

If you decide to construct something from A to Z you will need for sure 12 monthes

it is really up to your need indeeds and whishes.

ADG AKA GA3D_tech ------ [www.instagram.com]------ [github.com] ------ [ga3d.tech]
Re: Building or buying
August 11, 2018 12:32PM
At this point, I could make an extremely reliable printer of my own design for less then £500 and that will have all the features you expect (32 bit board, all metal hotend, reliable heated flat build surface). I would say this is better then any £200-300 Chinese product.

But.... It took 4 to 10 times that cost to make the first machine and hundreds of hours of my time. I would have it no other way... Why buy it if I can build it?
Re: Building or buying
August 11, 2018 02:26PM
There is some middle ground between building your own quality printer and a cheap $200 off-the-shelf printer. There are a number of reliable mid-priced printers that produce good quality prints. The main advantage I see in building your own, however, is that you become intimately familiar with every aspect of the printer, which is really valuable when something stops working (which will happen even on the best of printers).
Re: Building or buying
August 11, 2018 07:14PM
I started with a flimsey 3d printer kit knowing it wouldn't print very well. I've learned a lot and build an ok ish cnc router from a kit, just able to cut aluminium. Now I'm having a great time designing my own corexy version using what I've learned from both experiences.
It's probably going to cost much more than you can buy as a kit. To be honest I'm a person who likes to build tools to build more tools to build more etc. I possibky don't have a real use for a 3d printer other than the fun of designing, selecting parts and building it. I use the cnc router a lot more and got more usable and aesthetically pleasing results from it than a 3d printer could.

Kind regards

NFAN CoreXY printer:
Re: Building or buying
August 11, 2018 09:45PM
I've done both conversion/upgrade of an existing printer and built from scratch. Other than designing specific parts in cad to replace to shabby initial build with the printer itself, my cad design has been pretty minimal. I did most of the rest of the design on paper, and a little bit of trial and error.

The result has been a great learning experience (ongoing) and very rewarding watching perfect prints come off the build plate.
If you don't have time to build, tinker and fiddle then maybe a kit would better suit you.

Either way, expect a large time investment.
Re: Building or buying
August 12, 2018 12:16PM
My Delta build was $700. (330 mm x 450mm) Every thing on it is one of the best you can buy. You cannot buy one with the same quality and options. Most kits come with the very cheapest components and are mostly crap for production printing.
If you want some examples take a look at:
Re: Building or buying
August 13, 2018 01:05PM
My first I3 kit was crap. No idea what I've spent on filament printing replacement parts, and I don't think that I really want to. I redesigned it from scratch, re-using a few of the less crappy parts. Currently redesigning again to get rid of more crappy parts.

My newer kit was better, and cheaper. It still needed stuff, but I went into this knowing more about what I wanted from it, and having identified many of the shortcomings before the kit even arrived. there are certainly reasonably priced usable kits out there now. Much better than a few years ago.

Building piecemeal can get pretty spendy. I'm sure that I could buy a kit using 2020 v-slot aluminum extrusion for less than the purchase price of the V-slot aluminum, fasteners and other hardware, and the kit will come with motors, gears and pulleys, and other usable parts. I would say that starting with a decent kit is probably the most economical way to get started. If you view it as a "get to know what's what" I'm a hands-on kind of person, and I would likely have spent more than the cost of the kit in extra parts that I wouldn't have ended up using to get started. I'm not sure that I'd have done better as a first design either, and as far as printed parts, that's something that you can only do once you have a functioning printer.

If you're a patient person, and can take the time to research things long-distance, or you know people who have 3D printers (Find a local group, go talk to them, see their machines!) you can probably avoid a lot of pitfalls. That's not me. I'm a hands on kind of guy who will plunge into things headlong, so a kit that I could get up and running "out of the box" -- or at least as much so as these kits get -- was the way to get me started. I could decide what I liked and what I didn't, what I'd improve on, and sometimes why things were done the way they were and not the different way I'd have started with.

Just remember though that you usually get what you pay for. The cheapest kits might get you an idea, but count on them teaching you why certain cheap parts are to be avoided.

MBot3D Printer
MakerBot clone Kit from Amazon
Added heated bed.

Leadscrew self-built printer (in progress)
Duet Wifi, Precision Piezo parts
Re: Building or buying
February 07, 2020 12:59AM
It's up to you buddy! But if you're a beginner and have zero idea how to build one or how to use one, I recommend you to buy instead. This will help you not only save time but money as well. Also, don't hesitate to check this out [www.allthat3d.com] (this may help you, especially if you're new to 3D printers) Good luck and have fun!
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