3D Printer Experience and/or Advice

Anyone have any experience with cheap 3D printers? I’m just looking for something to experiment with and create some small enclosure-y type things.

Looking at a few options under $400 (Prusa I3, A8) but don’t know anyone who has seen them in action.

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I don’t own one in the $400 price range, but I do own Prusa i3 MK2 and it works great. Compared to my original MakerGear Prusa Mendel from 4 years ago, this machine is a dream. Nearly runs like an appliance. There have been many, many YouTube reviews of it. Some of the reviewers have also reviewed the clones and claim certain i3 clones performed very well. The A8 does well in the reviews.

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Excellent, that’s good to hear, thanks!

I have the Wilson 2, designed by my friend Marty:

It’s been great overall, but like anything, 3D printing is a skill building exercise, so have patience while you work through the learning curve.

What are you hoping to build?

That looks like a decent option too, looks solid and compact.

I have a few practical uses, like the clips for the magnets on our shutters that keep breaking or broken/missing parts of toys for the kids. I have a project idea that I’ve been working on with the kids, but can’t find the right hardware to be able to connect things together the way we want and might be able to create. I’d also like to try to come up with some enclosures/holders for PCBs, etc.

10-11 week lead time on Prusa right now. Want one, don’t want to wait, lead time grows longer, rinse, repeat :frowning:

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Yep. I ordered mine on 12.4.2016 and it shipped 1.17.2017. So about 7 weeks back then already.

I got myself a Kossel delta 3d printer about 6 months ago and after multiple converastions with the manufacture, got it working quite well with a heated bed. its about 200 and its a build it yourself kit but once its done and calibrated properly ( wich is not currently in the manual ) it does a great job for a 200 dollar machine. I would reccomend it as its got a small desktop footprint, with the power supply its about a 1 ft X 1ft X 1ft space if you mount the power supply on one of the rails. the customer support is great as I had a heck of a time getting it set up and calibrated but they gave me great pointers and extra documents which I will freely hand out now that I have them. I got it off Amazon BTW.

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@ALeggeUp, did you end up deciding on a printer?

The Prusa i3 MK2 is still working great.

Hey @hedrickbt, I haven’t been able to justify the money yet, I keep getting tempted by $300-ish priced ones and then scared off by reviews and comments… I challenged myself to learn Fusion 360 and come up with 3 designs that I wanted printed and I haven’t been able to do it yet, so something tells me I’m not quite ready for it.

I think I’ll end up paying for the reliability though, I don’t want to end up being a 3d printer mechanic so the feedback on the Prusa i3 MK2 is really helpful, that probably puts that one in the lead in my mind right now.


Have you thought about trying out something like Shapeways for now?

I went for having an in-house printer due to iterations. Maybe 1/3 of the time I get exactly what I need on the first print, but most of the time, it takes at least a couple redesigns. I like keeping the iteration loop tight.

The last time I had looked into it the shipping was prohibitive, but it looks more reasonable now so that is definitely an option, thanks!

What software are you using for your designs?


I use Alibre Design (aka Geomagic ) and have been for about 4 years. I did use Fusion 360 for about 2 months, this year, when it looked like the end was near for Alibre and it worked very well too. Plus, you can use Fusion 360 for 1 year for free. You will have to purchase Alibre after the 30 day trial.

Here are the details on how to get started with Fusion 360 and some of the details you want to pay attention to if you are using it for commercial purposes.

Thanks @hedrickbt, I’ll give that a shot, the license looks pretty good for someone like me just starting up a side business, the $100,000 threshold shouldn’t be an issue for a long while, if ever (hoping it will be an issue).

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If you get a cheap one without a heat bed, I am happy to share my design for the heat bed I built (Arduino based, with lcd screen and peice of glass with head pad underneath. It works well.

Reviving this thread because I’ve been doing a fair amount of SLA 3D printing lately. As a refresh, I have a Prusa i3 clone from Monoprice as a FDM 3D printer and a Anycubic Photon LCD SLA printer.

The FDM printer continues to be a workhorse for prints that can be done on FDM (small amounts of undercuts, “low” precision)

The SLA printer continues to be a mixed bag. I can’t express enough how much of a mess it is, when I use it, it feels like the whole lab gets a thin coat of resin, yuck, I really don’t like that. I’m sure that I need to implement a much better wash/cure process. If I really wanted to continue this, investment in both of those things is IMO a necessity.

Unlike FDM, there is also a lot of variability in SLA resins, they are not all created equal. I hate the Monoprice resin, it stinks more and does not stick well to the print bed.

Also on cleaning, you use a lot of IPA and right now that is in really short supply. I purchased this other detergent based substance called Yellow Magic 7 - as a cleaner it worked great but I learned that it is also wonderful at completely stripping Anodize off of the Print bed!

So I still have a love/hate relationship with the at home SLA printer. When everything works, it is great but that is probably about 50% of the time.

On the other hand I’ve been ordering SLA parts from Shapeways and Xometry. It is very expensive but the parts turn out phenomenal. I’ve found that Xometry is stand out better than Shapeways though in terms of cost, speed and selection of materials.

So if you are a Shapeways customer, definitely check out Xometry.


I’ve been heavily involved with FDM since 2012, but have never really felt the allure of resin printing. The last thing I need is another collection of raw materials and the associated mess to which you allude. My understanding is that the strength of resin-printed parts is not great, but of course they have their place. If one does want to get into resin printing at a very reasonable cost, this might well be the ticket: https://all3dp.com/1/elegoo-saturn-review-the-specs/

I’m thinking about buying the AnyCubic Photon S (actually, my wife said she wanted a 3D printer, so I’m using that as an excuse). She wants to print-out small toys and rings. I want to print-out winding cores for irregular-shaped helicoids (antenna components). I have a garage, which is where I expect it will live. I’ve used a FormLabs in the past and I thought the clean-up procedure was fine. Do you have any reason to say that the Photon is a messier cleanup than a FormLabs?

Did you use the Form Labs dedicated Wash and Cure machines?

All of my complaints circulate around not having those functions and instead trying to use a single ultrasonic washer filled with IPA. I’d say if you go for the Photon, go all in and get their Wash and cure machiene https://www.anycubic.com/collections/anycubic-photon-3d-printers/products/anycubic-washing-curing-machine

I would use two IPA buckets, one that is for the first bulk removal of the resin and another for final rinse. I think Photon will be fine with the right process.

Resin Printing is handy for high precision prints. For example I’m printing some fixtures for optical components, having 50um or 25um accuracy is really handy.

Also SLA can do more in terms of bridging and undercuts while still having good surface quality. In my experience with single extruder FDM, the surface is really bad under the support material. Have not tried dual extruder dis solvable support yet, I bet this is better.

For people who what to print really fine detail figures and toys, SLA is ideal and FDM can’t print these kinds of fine details.

This sounds very fun and perfect for that kind of printer!

Yes, I know :slight_smile: Just haven’t had a pressing need for these capabilities in my work.

Depends a lot on the printer, slicer, settings, and material. Generally I’ve been able to design my parts such that it’s not an issue for my purposes.