Discussion Affordable 3d printers

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So I've been thinking of getting a 3d printer for a while and I would like to get some advice as to which one i should buy. I'm short on money and I'm just buying it to learn the basics of 3d printing so I am looking at the cheaper models (under 500$). Here are the three i am looking at after a few hours of searching:

Reprapguru's prusa i3 kit: Pros:
- made in America
- excellent customer support
- Quality parts
- very affordable
Cons:
- does not have the fancy features (no auto-leveling bed, no lcd display and no filament roll holder)
-frame is made of acrylic, not aluminum

Hictop's prusa i3 kit:
Pros:
- auto-leveling bed, lcd display, and filament roll holder
- aluminum frame
- huge printing area
- produces quality prints according to reviews
Cons:
- made in china
- reviews report terrible customer support and missing or broken parts
- building manual translated from Chinese and rather incomplete (may be a deal breaker considering I'ts my first time building a printer)

Q3D ThreeUp v3 kit:
Pros:
- quality build
- melamine frame
Cons:
- no heated bed
- no housing for the electronics, making it a big mess of wires

What are your thoughts on those? Or would you recommend an other printer in that price range?
 
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I have Folgertech's Prusa i3
It prints well, and they have AMAZING customer service. My extrusion motor turned out to be poorly assembled (it was pre-assembled by Folgertech) which lead to months of frustration, but even after the long troubleshooting period, they send me a brand new one free of charge.

However, I do not see any other benefits to this printer as opposed to a cheap Chinese kit. All the parts are made in China anyways, so there isn't a difference apart from customer service and delivery time.

If you're very short on money, I suggest just going with a cheap $200 kit from Aliexpress.
 

Matthew

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If I can add in my two cents, If you are planning on using this for portablizing and case work, then be sure to get a large print bed. I have a solidoodle 2 which runs decent but only have a 6in by 6in print bed which makes it a pain to print off a case.

One I'm personally looking at is the Rigidbot : http://rigidbot.com/

They are a US based company in Utah. Good customer service and a large print bed,pre assembled machine they are slightly above your price range $600 dollars but although you say you want a cheap printer to start off, I guarantee that you will want to upgrade pretty quickly because the small print beds really limit what you can do.

I have a co-worker who has the older version and he really likes it a lot. This newer version is supposed to be way better.

Good luck!
 
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That's also a good point. I find the 200x200mm print area on the Prusa i3 to be pretty limiting, although it is enough for the case I'm currently designing.
 

cheese

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If you plan on building one yourself, do yourself a favor and look at the build instructions before buying, my kit had no instructions and I had to piece it together based on other similar models. It really sucked when I spent a few hours only to have to undo it because I used the wrong screw way back. Also, if you get a heated bed, double check it's on the right way around, otherwise you might melt your printer instead of heating the bed. Finally, you'll want to double triple check your polarity on your wiring so you don't accidentally put 12v to ground, electronics generally hate being run with the wrong polarity :p
 

Noah

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Can anyone recommend a good printer for a newbie to the scene? I have no experience with printers but I want to get one :P

I've taken a look at the ones Pinotte was asking about and they all seem pretty reasonable.
 
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Folgertech FT-5 is $500 for the kit and has a 12" by 12" by 15.6" build area. Plenty for portable cases.
 

cheese

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Only downside I can see is that it looks like it doesn't have a SD/USB slot so it can't print on it's own, it will require a computer running the printer software throughout the entire print (something like a rasp pi would work tho, they can run stuff like octopi).
 
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Noah

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I think I'll be looking into getting this printer. Folgertech doesn't have the best reputation in terms of packing all parts needed in their kits but for what I'll be using a printer for I want to have a large print area and also SD printing and the likes.
 

Matthew

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I think I'll be looking into getting this printer. Folgertech doesn't have the best reputation in terms of packing all parts needed in their kits but for what I'll be using a printer for I want to have a large print area and also SD printing and the likes.

Yeah, I'd love to see your experience with this. It may be useful to document this (and any who have printers) and put it in a thread somewhere. I'm interested to see what others have, especially because I'm in the market for a new printer, plus it could help out those who want to try something other than frakencasing.
 

Noah

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Yeah, I'll be documenting the build and everything once it arrives. I've also joined the Folgertech Facebook group since they are the quickest way to get help if any problems arise in assembling the printer.

3D printing (in my opinion, at least) is the easiest way to make a case and ergo a good portable. Hot glue and frankencasing aren't worth the time if you have access to a printer (and even if you don't there are people and companies who are willing to print for some monies!) In the end you'd wind up have a nicely assembled unit that is as close to "professionally made and assembled" as anyone in this community will probably get for a long time.
 
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