This is seemingly the most crucial decision you will make on your journey into 3D printing. Where in actual fact, deciding on which method of 3D printing is best suited to your purpose, is the most crucial decision you will make. Only after solving this, can you begin to ask yourself: “What’s the best printer for my money..?”, “How easy is this printer to use..?” and “Can I fix this printer easily/cheaply if I break something..?”
Initially, having gathered little to no in-depth research, you will quickly find pricey machines made by the big names in 3D printing. All the kinks have been ironed out and the bugs fixed. These machines allow anyone with almost no knowledge on how it works, to attain awesome 3D printed parts in the comfort of their own home.
However, if you’re looking into 3D Printing, chances are high that you are able to solder two wires together. If this is the case, you should search a little deeper.
You will begin to see the small manufacturers, making better, cheaper, more easily upgradable machines that are open source and easy enough to DIY at home. You will find these individuals answering the difficult questions in online maker forums and uploading their latest efforts to social media, on developing cheaper more effective machines. These companies are run by helpful, down to earth makers.
I searched around for two years before settling on the perfect 3D printer for my needs.
My parameters were: Extremely high detail; Easy to understand and use; Open-source and Easy to customise (should my needs change) and finally affordable enough to fit into a small budget.
Initially, there were very few machines that met this list of criteria, but as my research deepened, the list grew to roughly 20 from all over the world. As I began to understand better what was available, I began to dissect my list of machines based on detail quality vs. price and less so on print area, I kept coming back to the same machine.
The LittleRP was the one. She comes in an easy to assemble kit with a well laid out and comprehensive list of build instructions online. She has a print quality of 12.5 micron voxels (WAY higher even than printers largely above her price bracket). She is customisable, with various extra kit options to suit my needs right out of the box. She is easily affordable even amongst lower resolution brackets. She uses open-source software (allowing me to even tinker with the machine code to fine-tune the prints).
Ladies and gentlemen, I was smitten. I had found a beacon of hope in a wasteland of ‘knock-offs’ and ‘flashy lights’.
I have never looked back and I am glad that I spent the extra time doing my homework.