In the last few months, the ecosystem of “hobbistic” 3d printers litterally exploded: hundreds of different models are now available and this multiplicity may confuse someone who intends to build his first 3d printer.
RTP vs to be assembled
First, you have to decide if you want a Ready to Print printer, that is a printer sold already assembled, tested and usually with all what you need (filament…) to print your first object just after having unboxed it. An example, the Replicator 2 by MakerBot:
This kind of printers is perfect if you want a 3d printer to print immediatly good-quality objects; the drawback is that their cost is (much) higher than the cost of 3d printers you have to build by yourself. For me, the fun and the challenge will be building and tuning the printer, so I chose to build my printer by myself.
KIT vs sourcing single parts
On Internet you can find the complete BoM (Bill of material) of many 3d printers; it’s so possible to source the single parts from diffent stores / websites. Although this approach may result in some saving, this is my first 3d printer so I chose to buy a kit with (almost) all I need to build it to be sure not to make mistakes in choosing parts and to avoid delays:
As I wrote, you can find many different models just typing “3d printer” in Google; moreover every month on Kickstarter a new project is started… each model has pros and cons and sometimes in specialized forums you can read flames between “fans” of this or that model. My choice was conservative: I chose the most widespread model, the Prusa Mendel i2
This model was built by many users so you can find many articles, blog posts, forum messages… that may help to solve any problems. It’s also available on many webstores and its design is constantly improved.
I chose to buy a Prusa kit from MakerFarm. I read very good reviews about it and this kit has some pros compared to the one sold by competitors:
- the price is very competitive
- it includes bearings instead of the original bushings
- motors’ pinions are made by alluminium rather than plastic
- all the connectors (motors, switches…) come pre-soldered
- it includes the heated bed
The kit does not includes any rods (smooth and threaded ones) so I brought them from Charlie’s 3d Technologies that offers rods pre-cut at the correct length.
All the orders have been places… now I’m waiting for them to arrive!