Evolution of a Blog

This blog has evolved as I have as a maker. It starts at the beginning of my journey where I began to re-tread my tires in the useful lore of micro electronics and the open-source software that can drive them. While building solutions around micro-electronics are still an occasional topic my more recent focus has been on the 3D Printing side of making.

Monday, March 2, 2015

What 3D Printer do we Need?

The first thing that I did was look for 3D printer reviews on the web.  There are a fair number of reviews out there but not that many from what I would consider a "reputable" source (that you did not have to pay for) and that were recent.   Looking at the first items returned on a search you get titles like:
  • Best 3D Printer 2015 - Top-Rated 3D Printers - Tom's Guide 
  • Best 3D Printers Review 2015 | Best Afforadable 3D Printers
I am not sure who "Tom" is but at least he can spell.   Neither filled me with confidence!

The guide that I found and liked was the one from 3D Hubs.  The guide is based on user feedback from the 3D Hubs community and since these are people that actively use their printers, and since at least three reviews are required for a listing, I feel good about the believing what I would read there.

I had already read a lot about Ultimaker and really liked their new printer but absolutely did not want to spend more than 1,000 pounds (a lot more, and before even buying the second extruder option)!  So ruling that out I started to focus on the Flashforge Creator Pro.  This is one of a whole crew of Chinese clones of the Makerbot Replicator.  Not surprising given that the Makerbot Replicator is a successful printer based on the open-source model.  Since the Makerbot models are all over my price point, and the clones are getting good reviews, the Flashforge looked good.  The review on 3D Hubs was pretty compelling as well.

Note that a lot of printers fell by the wayside when applying some of my requirements:
  • Heated bed (needed to print ABS), 
  • Enclosed (quiet and helps with printing ABS), 
  • Dual extruders, and
  • Build platform large enough to print any of my cases.
Having decided on the Flashforge Creator Pro it was time to look for sellers.   They are available on eBay and through Amazon but there is a reseller in the UK (midlands area) that sells the Flashforge so I took a closer look at them (Technology Outlet).

One of my questions was whether they had a glass plate that fit the Flashforge that could be included in the order.  I contacted them and asked that question.   We chatted a bit and I got the recommendation that I might want to look at the Wanhao Duplicator 4S as it comes with a glass plate, is pretty much the same as the Flashforge (e.g. it is yet another Makerbot clone), and was a little less expensive.   So, with the Wanhao putting me firmly closer to 500 pounds than to 1000 pounds I decided that I would go for it and buy it from the Technology Outlet.

Which is exactly what I did a couple of days later once I had escaped from the hospital.  See, being in the hospital may have been what tipped my wife towards the idea that we really needed a new printer.  I am not below exploiting sympathy!

Next post the unboxing and initial impressions.

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