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3d printer recommendation

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I know its been done before but its easier to start again. 


We have a new 3d CAD package here and i have tasked with finding a 3d printer so we can prototype bits before mashing metal. I am told £300 is the budget. 


What is good for that sort of money? i know nothing about 3d printers but i know many of you guys are well versed so suggestions would be most welcome. 

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4 hours ago, Jon - Laser Engines said:

thanks guys. We are not looking for anything super special, just as long as we can print out a few parts to get a feel for how they look. 3d cad is brilliant, but having something in hand can tell a different story to a picture on a screen. 

Hi Jon.

I'm in a similar position myself regarding a 3D printer.

I shall watch this thread with interest.


I am also being very good and refrained from inserting a picture of a pretty lady and saying "I know what you mean ?"

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Prusa Mini is a little over budget, but not much. The difference is that it is not primarily a hobbyist printer. We have a couple of the MK3 and a mini at work. They are pretty low faff to set up compared with many others (apparently, it is not me who has to do it. I have had a look at the instructions and they are very clear). The Prusa slicer has all the standard settings built in for their printers. As a user I just slice and print.

There are quite a lot of things that just work, and part of that is because Prusa print parts for Prusa printers on Prusa printers, including the Mini. They have that incentive to deal with the little annoying things, and make something that is easy to use, and reliable.

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I replaced my Malyan M150 printer with a Creality Ender 5 Pro before Christmas for just under 300 quid delivered and it has been excellent. Very easy to set up, print quality and consistency is much better than the M150 and really trouble free printing. So count that as another vote for the Creality Ender printers.

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I started with an Anet A8, bad choice on my part. I was attracted by the low cost build it yourself option.

What I failed to realise was that the low cost was in my case also reflected in the quality of the prints. Said machine now languishes in the loft and my be repurposed to a CNC machine at a future date.


So around this time last year I purchased an Ender3. Suddenly my prints were usable and of decent quality. Spent the first 2 or 3 months printing face shield holders for my wife and her colleagues in the NHS.


Buy the best you can for the £300 

An Ender5 can be had for just under your budget if you look around.


For my own use I would probably go with an Ender3 V2 when and if I upgrade.


Some people take the whole modding of the machine to the extreme. The only diversion from stock on mine is upgraded bed springs.


You say you have a CAD package. Can it export STL files which your slicer will need to generate the G code that the printer requires? Many of the slicer programs are a free download and I mainly use Cura and Prusa slicer,


It is quite a journey but well worth it in my opinion.



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Thanks again for the input. 


We definitely need something plug and play. We dont have time to faff with it for weeks trying to get it to work and print nicely. It needs to plug in, and work with no messing about. 


This is important as the idea is to quickly make a part on the printer to check various things. If it takes a week to get it printing well, we might as well just make a metal one. 

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+1 for the Ender-3 V2

Fortunately I got mine in Dec from Aliexpress in Europe for £181 delivered including 1kg PLA free. Since 1st of Jan not now available but can't fault the printer quality for the money ? 

The V2 upgrades aid quality and although not self leveling I did upgrade the std bed springs at first assembly and so far the bed is still true with no adjustments required. Apparently many entry level printers use bed springs to a price, which are softer and therefore more likely to wander out of true faster requiring more frequent adjustment, hence the £5 investment at initial build = no additional hassle.

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I have just been thinking about the 3D prints for your prototypes. Fused filament is a relatively quick and cheap way of getting a physical version from your CAD, but the limitations of 3D printing and the limitations of physical machining are different. It may not be so straightforward to print things that are designed for machining. Overhangs are the big one that sets apart designing for 3D printing. Once I have something that is designed to 3D print well, it is usually something that would be a nightmare to machine. Often it would be impossible to make other than with a 3D printer.


Some of this can be overcome with 'support', or by printing in pieces. Supports are best avoided if one is designing a part that will be 3D printed as the final part. If you are just interested in looking at the shape or size, to spot errors or to check that there would be tool access it does not matter so much. If you are not trying to make the prototype part work then you don't necessarily need to dig out the support, you can imagine it gone and still have the other benefits.

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