[Lab] your personal experience with 3d printing

j ross waterfallclose at gmail.com
Thu Sep 3 01:14:34 EDT 2015

My opinion only, but basically the story (probably apocryphal with many
holes) goes like this:
- One of the early makers of 3D printers that were more accessible and was
based on open source work in the reprap community.
- makerbot replicator was one of the first really popular 3D printers that
sort of worked well and had a large community
- Replicator 2, 2X were the first really successful "commercial" 3D
printers to hit the market in numbers, slick, good looking and well hyped.
Software was pretty complete, simple and well integrated and time had
actually been spent on industrial design.  Bre Pettis, teacher & maker,
becomes poster boy for 3D printing and the maker movement in general.
- Sold to Stratasys then came out with the current gen Replicator family.

Maker-to-market success story right? Problem?

Basically they built on the open source hw/sw community and the more
successful they got, the more closed their product became, pissing-off
everyone that was on the journey with them at the expense of a big corp
buyout. Now Makerbot is owned by one of the two big players that have been
in the market since the beginning (Stratasys and 3D Systems) and that have
very little real interest in making better and cheaper products for the
maker market as a whole since they make most of there money from business.
The newest generation of printers are not that great at all compared with
even some of the kits available - arguably because most of the original
staff were fired or left in the process.  But they are flashy and have some
"advanced" features like wifi and cameras but the reliability and print
quality is no better (many will say worse since they have several known
issues) and they're still very expensive. $8k for a Makerbot? Please... But
they have a sales and marketing machine with a corporate budget now so can
market much more broadly. The product is completely closed and the maker
open ethos has been left behind.  The documentary "Print the Legend" is
worth watching.

I for one was quite dismayed to watch this unfold since I bought an early
2X and really enjoyed using it. And I met and talked to Bre in New York
before the World Maker faire a few years ago and really liked him.  But
when my 2X's brain died recently and I checked the replacement cost, there
was no question in my mind that I would not be supporting them anymore.  I
look forward to my "Frankenstein" coming back to life soon with a fresh,
open source, smoothie board brain, giving it a new paint job and very
likely a slew of other mods and upgrades - it was sold as "Experimental"
after all :).
As I mentioned above, the Ultimaker 2 is, I believe, one of the best 3D
printers out of the box at the moment and has stepped in to remove the bad
taste left in my mouth by Makerbot.  They are a successful company with a
great community and committed to the ideals of openness in the maker
movement.  Their product is just as slick as Makerbot and much better
quality in every way.  For someone or group that just wants a printer that
works so they can focus on the business of learning 3D design and rapid
prototyping - this is the current leader, in my opinion.  Expensive but all
high quality parts and great software - very important. There are so many
others out there now (even Dremel has one) that you can certainly find ones
that are cheaper and arguably just as good for the job.  There are sooo
many caveats to this though.  The main one is that hobbyist 3D printing is
really still a "hands-on" activity and no one should confuse them with the
fire-and-forget technologies we have around us like document printers.
Even the so-called pro printers require regular maintenance.  And as
Michael said, constructing your own is a good way to learn how to maintain
it. But don't buy a low cost printer - or any hobbyist level printer for
that matter - if you have no intention of "getting under the hood"
occasionally. And as a corollary to that, and to paraphrase Stephen, best
to get one that will not penalize you for trying to do so.

On Wed, Sep 2, 2015 at 2:39 PM, Jason Cobill <jason.cobill at gmail.com> wrote:

>    I'm not up on the gossip - what's Makerbot doing (or not doing) to
> disenchant their user base?
>    I ask because if I was going to buy one, I'd probably consider them
> first - they seem to have a pretty robust hardware and software product.
>    -Jason Cobill
> On Wed, Sep 2, 2015 at 12:13 AM, j ross <waterfallclose at gmail.com> wrote:
>> I own a Makerbot Replicator 2X and an Ultimaker 2.  There are lots of
>> great printers around right now, but after doing my own research I recently
>> settled on the Ultimaker 2. Not cheap, but it's open, great quality, has
>> all the points that Stephan mentioned (standard filament, heated bed, large
>> print area, open, etc.) great community, good software, hackable and very
>> reliable (as this gen of printers goes) and takes lots of different
>> filaments.  I've done many successful ABS and PLA prints with it - no
>> problems so far.  In my opinion, it's a solid, no regrets choice if it's
>> within your budget.
>> My Makerbot 2X is getting a brain transplant - the main board fried after
>> the stepper cable came loose - too many demos.  I've replaced it (almost
>> done) with a smoothie board since I (like many others) have become quite
>> disenchanted with Makerbot of late.
>> Jeff
>> On Mon, Aug 24, 2015 at 3:42 PM, Tom Burns <tom.i.burns at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> I own two 3d printers*
>>> * if you consider kickstarter payment to be "ownership".. Neither have
>>> shipped yet.  Peachy printer's a year overdue, and the Genesis Duo's now
>>> talking about being 4 months or so late.
>>> The technology's changing very quickly so I'd suggest you buy the best
>>> available printer when you're ready, and not buy into a project that will
>>> likely be out of date by the time it's ready.
>>> On Mon, Aug 24, 2015 at 3:23 PM, Stephen Burke <steve at envirolaser.com>
>>> wrote:
>>>> Hi Benoit,
>>>> My personal experience over the past 6 years has taught me that if you
>>>> want to build one, and this is your first 3D printer, make sure it is a
>>>> VERY simple kit, otherwise it may become one of those unfinished projects.
>>>> It would make sense in high school only if the focus was assembling a
>>>> device, not necessarily using it.  You can expect to put 30 to 40 hours
>>>> into assembling a 3D printer, and another 10+ making sure it works properly
>>>> and consistently.
>>>> If the need is to have a working 3D printer for use in class as a tool
>>>> to make projects, then buy a printer that allows for generic filament and
>>>> uses open source components and software.  Find something that can handle
>>>> multiple materials (PLA, Nylon, ABS, Carbon Fibre, etc), has a heated build
>>>> plate, and a large print volume (8” x 8” x 6” or larger is nice).  A
>>>> machine like this will have very few limitations so it could be used for
>>>> multiple projects.
>>>> I sell 3D printers from MakerBot, ROBO, 3D Systems, Cubify, Full
>>>> Spectrum and, maybe soon, Printrbot.  I also sell a wide variety of
>>>> filaments from Taulman 3D, ColorFabb, FlashForge, Proto-pasta and MakerBot.
>>>> Chances are, I will have the 3D printer and material that will suit
>>>> your needs for your high school.
>>>> Stephen Burke
>>>> 3D Artist
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