3D printer for smaller protypes?
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  1. #1
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    Default 3D printer for smaller protypes?

    Just getting started into looking at 3D printing as we do a lot of prototyping altough that's not or core of our business as we we have our own product line we build and market.

    Some of our needs are as follows;

    1. Dimensional stability to +/- .005"
    2. Work cube 6"x 6"x 4".
    3. Reasonable processing speed.
    4. Not looking for a DYI kit but would like to spend less the $1,000 as we implement this I'm sure we'll soon discover what our future needs are.
    5. Ease of use, We have several CAD/CAM systems including Fusion 360 which I like for modeling and will output STL files and has mesh mixer as an add on.

    We have sent out several jobs to be printed and have had good results but the time lag in shipping is getting too much.

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    You're not going to find real +-.005 under a grand.

    The difference between the machines the services use and the consumer machines is like trying to take work done on a 10EE and moving it to a Harbor Freight mini-lathe. Yes you might be able to make a similar shape, but you'll tear your hair out doing it.

    Try 3dhubs, you can probably find someone closer to you with a real machine if shipping time and cost is the killer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Comatose View Post
    You're not going to find real +-.005 under a grand.

    The difference between the machines the services use and the consumer machines is like trying to take work done on a 10EE and moving it to a Harbor Freight mini-lathe. Yes you might be able to make a similar shape, but you'll tear your hair out doing it.

    Try 3dhubs, you can probably find someone closer to you with a real machine if shipping time and cost is the killer.
    Expanding on this topic... what would it cost for something in this realm of accuracy?

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    We purchased a Form 2 from FormLabs last fall, about $4000 when we were done. A far cry from the $40,000 spent on a Dimension Elite 10 years ago. I didn't see anything under $1000 except homeshopper stuff.

    The Form 2 has performed well so far, user friendly, good software. Parts look great,+/-0.005 easily, more materials to choose from, and the parts are slightly better strength wise using the "Black" material than the FDM ABS parts I'm used to. The parts do get brittle over time. We have another material called "Tough", seems to be stronger, but it is blue. Marketing guys can get hung up on color and it clouds their lack of vision.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Comatose View Post
    You're not going to find real +-.005 under a grand.

    The difference between the machines the services use and the consumer machines is like trying to take work done on a 10EE and moving it to a Harbor Freight mini-lathe. Yes you might be able to make a similar shape, but you'll tear your hair out doing it.

    Try 3dhubs, you can probably find someone closer to you with a real machine if shipping time and cost is the killer.
    We have been using a guy on the other side of town we found through 3Dhubs and he generally turns it around same day then normally 1-2 days we have it in hand. I'm not complaining but if it needs 2-3 revisions then we're 2 weeks into a project.

    If it takes 3-4K then that's what it will be to get a good model or two in the same day then so be it, just another machine tool in the shop.

    What type of material does it use I'm guessing a liquid resin? What size work cube is normal with this type of machine?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kyle Smith View Post
    We purchased a Form 2 from FormLabs last fall, about $4000 when we were done. A far cry from the $40,000 spent on a Dimension Elite 10 years ago. I didn't see anything under $1000 except homeshopper stuff.

    The Form 2 has performed well so far, user friendly, good software. Parts look great,+/-0.005 easily, more materials to choose from, and the parts are slightly better strength wise using the "Black" material than the FDM ABS parts I'm used to. The parts do get brittle over time. We have another material called "Tough", seems to be stronger, but it is blue. Marketing guys can get hung up on color and it clouds their lack of vision.
    Found their website and looks like like a nice machine. Did you purchase the wash and cure and is it necessary for models that are for form, fit and function? Normally we just pitch them in the trash when were done with them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Captdave View Post
    Found their website and looks like like a nice machine. Did you purchase the wash and cure and is it necessary for models that are for form, fit and function? Normally we just pitch them in the trash when were done with them.
    We did not purchase the wash and cure. It did come with two containers that we have filled with alcohol. The parts sit in the first alcohol bath for ten minutes then the second alcohol bath for ten minutes. We have a simple UV bulb in a heat lamp fixture and rotate the part very hour or so. I did not price the wash and cure, but I could see where it would be handy.

    You have a small amount of finishing required with 220 emery paper to remove the tits from the support structure. You try to orientate the model so the support structure isn't on important surfaces, but not always feasible.








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    Awesome, thanks for the update!

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    I bought a Monoprice Mini for about $200 a year or two ago. The build area is 120mm cube, so smaller than what you spec'd, but it greatly exceeded my expectations in that price range. I just measured a part that I had on my desk and it was within .005-.010. With some tweaking it could probably get better than that. I made a plastic gear for the wire feed gearbox on my mig welder and it held up for ~80,000 cycles. I only planned to leave it on until the nylon gear came in, but as long as it was working I let it go.

    Move up to the Maker Select V2 and you have 200x200x180mm build area. It sells for $300.

    For that kind of money, I think it's a good starting point to see how close it can get you. You can do a lot of learning on that to see what you like or don't like before spending more on a bigger unit.

    There's a good forum at reddit.com/r/3Dprinting which has more info

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    I have the Monoprice maker ultimate, which will allow a layer resolution of 0.02mm - where most FDM 3d printers are 0.1mm- it's met my needs but I would not call it relatively quick, espeically at the finer resolutions.

    One thing to be careful of, if you want all the axes to have ball screws, your price goes up considerably. Most of the sub $1000 printers use a belt system. Some use ball screws for Z but belts for X&Y. I think the BoxZY uses ball screws in all axes, but it's more expensive.

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    What type of material do you normally use and what do you find to be more dimensionaly stable?

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    We're using the Carbon3D machines at my job. They're in the 6 figure range but they are absolutely amazing. The detail that they can achieve is just remarkable; we're really living in the future. We can get down to 25 micron resolution with them and they are layerless so the parts are strong enough to be used in production.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Captdave View Post
    What type of material do you normally use and what do you find to be more dimensionaly stable?
    I’m not sure if this is directed at me, but my answer is, I don’t know. I don’t have enough experience with it. The “Tough” and “Black” materials seem to be pretty good dimensionally, but I haven’t cared much on the parts made thus far. As a test it would be nice to make a 1/2” cube and 1/2” ball to measure. Those material names are what Formlabs calls them.

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    I bought a Cetus MKII and have held .002" on Parts. When I purchased it they ran $300 but are now $400. Runs on real linear rails, My model is 7" cube capacity and with a non heated bed so I only print in PLA. First Part I printed to see how small I could Print was a Mitutoyo Dial Caliper Bezel Clamp. The software is really good and it would run parts that other people printers would glitch on and will also run G-Code.

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    Ended up buying a Flash Forge creator pro $895 on Amazon and finally got it out of the box yesterday and did a few quick prints that were loaded in the machine, looked like crap. I noticed it really jerked a lot while printing but never having anything with stepper motors didn't have a good reference point but just looked odd. So after a little piddling around inside I noticed that one of the two Y axis belt was very loose so tightened it up.

    What a difference that made! Nice and smooth motion and the print quality is night and day. Drew a 1" x 1" x 1/2 block and using the default setting printed a test piece, .005" under on the Y, .008" in the X but the Z was dead nuts on.

    Maybe next week I'll have more time to test some of the settings and see if I can get it closer on size.

    I made some replacement clips for a valance on a window blind for home, the first pic is with the loose belt the other is after repair.

    clip-crap.jpg
    clip-good.jpg

    The wall finish now is excellent, just at a glance is probably better than a 32 but the top and bottom need some work.

    So it looks like it will fit my needs for now at least.

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