Choosing a 3D Printer

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chris350
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Choosing a 3D Printer

Wed Dec 09, 2020 3:59 am

Hey guys,
I'm a high school art teacher and I'm looking at getting a 3D printer for my students. What do you guys recommend? I'm pretty clueless about where to start. I want a solid machine that makes high quality prints. What do you guys that 3D print use? Any help or links would be great!

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Re: Choosing a 3D Printer

Wed Dec 09, 2020 5:19 am

The ones I see a lot of miniature and cosplay Youtubers use are the Anycubic Photon printers.
https://www.anycubic.com/products/anycu ... 3d-printer

Youtube links.
https://www.youtube.com/results?search_ ... ic+photon+

I've watched the Adam Savage Tested and the Odin Makes reviews before.

Those are liquid resin, from what I have seen, seem to offer the best result in prints, as opposed to PLA plastic that extrudes hot melted plastic.
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Re: Choosing a 3D Printer

Wed Dec 09, 2020 5:47 am

If you are going to let students handle it and work with it, I cannot stress enough how highly toxic (and unregulated) liquid UV resins are and would vehemently advise against those types for your situation. I have an Epax X-1 at home and I love it and swear by it, but the sheer breadth of dangers that it poses to not only the user (as in numerous pathways to toxicity, cancer and reproductive risks, etc) but also the environment if any of it is mishandled is immense. It would be unethical in my opinion to put any of your students in a situation where they could misuse it and cause self harm. Beyond that you'll have to set up specialized hazardous material disposal routines for every object printed and I'm not sure how your school is coded for such things. Anybody, and I mean anybody, that hand waves these concerns away or downplays them should flat out be ignored, and I cannot emphasize that enough because children will be involved.
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Re: Choosing a 3D Printer

Wed Dec 09, 2020 6:22 am

Theres a reason why PLA printers are common. They are used for hobbyist who are getting into it. Its a stepping stone to learn the basics. I might be making presumptions here and forgive me if I am, but you say youre an art teacher looking for something to just make high quality prints.

Well....I dont want to be rude about this, but thats somewhat magical thinking. 3d printing isnt as simple as a click of a button and things come out looking beautiful. And if youre approaching it from the perspective of wanting your students to create art then I think youll be disappointed. 3d printing needs to be approached from an engineering perspective. Theres a learning curve involved in creating successful prints. You need to be thinking about how your designs are actually going to work and thats half art half engineering. You need to learn tons of settings with the printer so you can recognize what needs to be tweaked so your prints dont fail. And a lot of your prints will fail when you start out. So problem solving thats more from an engineering background than an art background. Then theres the patience aspect. Im running a 15hr print right now. Its nothing crazy, just a basic Death Star wall, but this stuff takes time.

Your kids would need to be prepared to start a print, come back the next day and find out what went wrong and start over again. It would take a long time to get through all your students depending on how big your class is. If youre learning along with them then its very much going to be the blind leading the blind as print after print fails....because honestly, thats just how you learn.

Theres also the design aspect, you could definitely spend a whole semester teaching kids 3d modeling software. Id assume since its an art class youd want them to be able to print stuff out nicer than basic shapes. That alone could chew up a ton of time before you even get into printing.

I also agree with the poster above, dont get into liquid resin in a classroom setting. Now youre adding chemistry to the mix of whats supposed to be an art class. I cant imagine the school would clear you to require kids to have PPE for an art class. Or have them sign waivers.

If youre thinking about doing this....I suggest you get a printer first and master it before you introduce it into the classroom setting.
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Re: Choosing a 3D Printer

Wed Dec 09, 2020 7:00 am

Thanks for the input so far - good to know about the resin based printers, I'll avoid those. I guess that my actual question should have been about if more expensive printers have a better print quality than the cheaper ones (is a dremel or MakerBot better than a $200-300 3D printer?). I'll be writing a grant for it, so I want to make sure I am asking for a quality machine to create quality prints.

Learning how to do it is the fun. We got a laser engraver last year and the kids have had a blast learning how to use it and making stuff on it.

For my class and me, using a 3D printer would be an option for students choosing to spend the time, energy, and dedication to mastering the software, learning about the machine and troubleshooting prints. I have seen a big range on the quality of prints and would prefer that if a student that chose to go down that rabbit hole, they would be able to make the best 3D print possible.

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Re: Choosing a 3D Printer

Wed Dec 09, 2020 7:41 am

Maybe an Ender 3, then? They're modular with a high marking for self-servicing/repairability, have a large community for support and troubleshooting, the pricing shouldn't be an issue, and they work well with Amazon's cheap spools.
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Re: Choosing a 3D Printer

Tue Jan 05, 2021 1:41 pm

Mars Elegoo.
Affordable, many available replacement parts available via amazon.
pretty great print quality considering the price.
anything higher quality than what it can do, is pretty much professional level only .
i'm a big fan, but you can easily fudge it up, with one poor setting choice.
best of luck and a 100 comendations for doing this as a teacher.
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Re: Choosing a 3D Printer

Tue Jan 05, 2021 1:44 pm

Oh and yes.... my chest hurts, if i dont have my printer in another room with the windows open. When i print, i close the doors, and open the windows. I have a 6 year old, and there is no way i'm putting his body through filtering resin fumes in the air.
even if i have a glass of juice or water in the vicinity, i can taste the contamination when i drink it. its literally palpable.
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Re: Choosing a 3D Printer

Sun Jan 10, 2021 9:57 am

Aaand that is why I still resist 3d printing. It's too early still I think, for any fun or acceptable use, that doesn't involve a tremendous amount of effort put into it. For all practical purposes, except very very advanced professional purposes, it is much quicker easier and fun to make it yourself.

I once commissioned a small 1/72 scale armoured car from a nearby 3d printer entrepeneur, and I spoke with him at length. To make a very small thing, with tons of lines, it was about 3-4 hours. This was with ABS plastic, that unless you want to print something tremendously full with lines, not very recommendable.

There is also the 3d printers that use resin dust, that is solidified with laser, but I am afraid also very very toxic too.

Even the ABS makes noticeable fumes, and ones I wouldn't ignore (is basically, melting plastic. If you wouldn't melt a pen in the fire, don't use a 3d Printer). Of course one could always cleverly make a sort of box for the 3d printer, airtight against a window or ventilation opening, but that's some extra work and effort into it.
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Re: Choosing a 3D Printer

Mon Jan 11, 2021 4:56 pm

For first time 3d printing id go with fdm printers not resin. Resin is still an early entry tech that is just now getting more widely available and priced for hobby use but as others said requires alot of chemical handling and safety measures due to fumes and materials. Also curing required for every print after its been completed. Resin offers smoother final products and less post processing but more hazardous materials and risks.

Fdm printing is a little simpler both in its materials and process but also learning how to use in terms of manipulating models for print, supports etc.

The best way to go about it is look at YouTube videos on 3d printing, channels like 3dprinting nerd, makers muse, and uncle Jesse are all good places to see reviews and informative videos on different types of printing and printers.

As for actual printers for classroom use id go with a larger company brand like creality and their most common printer the ender 3 for a starting point. Its not super expensive, has decent size for printing various size models and tons of support because of how popular it is as an entry level printer.

As others said there's alot of work involved in 3d printing its not a plug and play device, beyond having to learn how to operate the machine(bed leveling, print settings etc) but also software to setup models for printing, its a dense and sometimes complicated hobby.

I watched alot of videos and looked around alot before I bought my printer, I went a slightly different route because my end goal was having something that could print large items like props or masks/helmets. So I went for a lesser known brand printer for something bigger but at a decent price and got an artillery sidewinder x1.

That said I did have a few issues in both the learning curve of what works with what depending on materials and settings but also my printer actually broke. I spent time trying to talk to tech support but they were in China and limited in their answers they could give for the problem I had which wasn't easy to diagnose. I ended up fixing it somehow that I never figured out but the printer worked again and was fine.

Here's some of the prints I've done(very amateur, basic settings with pla, so obvious print lines and occasional issues )
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image

Like I said my main interest was props, I've dabbled with various things outside lightsabers and even my wife got into printing things as gifts for family so its been worth the investment for me. I think a class would have alot of fun with it but understand the investment beyond money, mechanical and software learning and time.

Time is the biggest thing as printing requires alot of time for anything bigger than small items. I printed lightsabers in multiple pieces and they take hours, 8 to 10 for a full hilt worth of parts assuming no issues. Print fails are another factor you will have to contend with. Alot of people leave their printer for hours I never leave the house while printing because their is always a risk for a print to fail and a fire could happen.

I had one major failure where my wife was printing and the print came free from the bed and the extruder had no solid object to keep adhering filament to so it kept extruding till it completely encased itself in plastic and I had to dissassemble it to clean it out and get it working again.

Safe to say it's a big thing to get into so do your homework as best you can.
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Re: Choosing a 3D Printer

Mon Apr 12, 2021 6:24 pm

So this isn't in response to the OP but it's tangential I think. I just got my printer back up and running. Took a while to get it dialed in after I replaced the hotend with an upgraded version. I'm working on printing a vintage inspired Death Star Playset (not my design but it looked fun).

I am considering getting a second 3d printer though so I'm somewhat on topic. I currently have a ROBO 3d R1 plus. At the time, it offered a large print size for the price. What's everyone's thoughts on the ender machines? I keep seeing them pop up. Does anyone have any first hand experience and can compare them to other brands out there? I'd want a good sized bed similar to what I have (8" x 9" x 10") and I've become a fan of the glass bed. A second printer would really help me wrap up some projects quicker and although I'm not ready to buy one today....I think it's just a matter of time.
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Re: Choosing a 3D Printer

Mon Apr 12, 2021 9:09 pm

@Maverick Whats the Budget? I'm liking my Original Prusa Mk3S+ so far, though its only been about a week :). I assemble it so, I can attest for the quality components, and structure.

And for the OP, if you can bump the Budget to under $1,000 USD, they sell the Prusa Mk3S+ fully assembled so you shouldn't have to worry about trouble shooting, and there is a huge knowledge base around it.

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