Anyone want a free 3D printer?

A manufacturer is asking if I’d organise a review of a 3 D printer. This one.

If I can organise it the deal would be they send the printer and you get to keep it. In return we’d want a proper – ie, not just “looks nice, ta” – review of it for Cont Tel.

Can’t be me of course I’ve no friggin’ clue but perhaps among our more technically minded?

OK, we’re two willing to do this now. We’ll see if the manufacturer is willing to part with actual equipment.

15 thoughts on “Anyone want a free 3D printer?”

  1. I wouldn’t object to being given a 3D printer and sure I could write an appropriate review. Not had an opportunity to play with one before but done a fair amount of research and looked at building them myself.

  2. I’d be more than happy to try. Have been thinking of getting one, and looking into 3D printing for years.

  3. I have been watching this technology developing and unfolding. Recently Aldi UK had a printer on offer for under 300 quid. I was so tempted to buy one. But reading more about this and watching some very good Youtube videos about this topic I decided against it All I can think about printing is squares, triangles and round balls, And the odd flower pot. Apparently the 3D printer works on the same principle as an ink-jet printer. Get the sucker to buy one and then we make the money selling him replacement cartridges.

    Any idea how much wastage you have the plastic wire/thread/yarn this thing uses? There are also websites dedicated to discussing what to do with wasted plastics and duff and botched prints.

    I look forward to the feedback from the users you pick, please count me out.

  4. I’ll throw my hat into the ring as well.

    I’ve done a fair amount of 3D printing so I know what to look for and how to judge the quality of the prints (under and over extrusion, stringing, layer shifting etc).

  5. Would also be interested.

    Actually potentially have a work application for one, and also have the ability to create good 3d cad models (this being the hard bit!).

    I did some work with a fairly early example in a previous life nearly 10 years ago now – be interested to see how technology has moved on (or not!)

  6. theProle, if you want to see where the state of the art is today, you may want to take a look at what dropped into my in-box yesterday:

    As an aside, we had the youngest in the dental hospital, Friday last.
    As well as the usual x-rays, they also had an interesting optical scanner system which the NHS uses to create a 3d model of the teeth and jaws. Apparently using some sort of 3d photo grammetry system. I know enough about how it works to have been very impressed at the speed and usability of it. They then use the 3d data to then print a solid model of the teeth and jaws, which then is used as an aid for clinical decisions. Amazing how things have come on on such a short space of time.

  7. The Meissen Bison

    Please on no account have it delivered to me just yet. I’d like to keep it in reserve for an occasion when Mrs Bison annoys me – I hope it’s quite big.

    Also, Tim, if it proves impossible to decide between the serious contenders above, you could send it to Ely programmed so that its test “page” was the fattest head in Cambridgeshire. I’m sure he would put a glowing review on his blog for you to nick.

  8. Bloke in North Dorset

    I recently bought a couple of instrument covers for the boat. OEM ones were eye watering expensive (as always with boats) and someone recommended some from eBay that had been 3D printed.

    I won’t be doing that for a while, really poor quality.

  9. @jollygreenman . These (anet , the ALDI balco and creality and Prusa) do not use proprietary filament. There is a massive competitive market in filaments and very few FDM printers use proprietary cartridges. Some variants do on the somewhat valid guise of allowing push button operation, when most require some operational skills and tuning for filament variants. Currently I use a creality ender 3 (creality competes with the Anet and i would happily do a comapre and contrast!) but these are all to one extent or another modifications of the Prusa reprap open hardware series designs (as in free to duplicate or modify for any purpose modified on open source licences now moving to accrediting the level of openess ).

    Needless to say the economic niche of 3d printing and the various emergent behaviour of firms in open hardware is fascinating.

  10. Oh and wastage depends on those operational skills! There is a learning curve especially for the cheaper ones.

  11. I’d love it!

    I bought one at Xmas (a Geeetech A10M) so am a fair way up the learning curve and reckon I could write a reasonable review…

    The Geeetech is a cheap Chinese clone of a cheap Chinese clone so it doesn’t actually work out of the box as you might expect and the slicing software (Cura) that I use doesn’t even support it so you have to create your own profile…

    I have a camera attached so can produce video reviews too…

  12. @BlokeinBrum

    Similar experience – I needed a crown, they did the optical thing, sent it to a machine in the corner & 20 mins later crown fitted. Used to take weeks.

  13. @Tim Worstall,

    Read through specs and ABS & HIPS printing make it a contender for real parts on demand (rather than prototypes, concept, toy) for eg automotive. Furthermore, the max 250 degree just opens possibility to experiment with sintered metal filaments to manufacture replacement parts on demand. Open-Source design is a further plus which indicates modifiable.

    Hardware thus sounds good, key will be software (ease of use & CAD accuracy & repeatability), print speed and surviving in an industrial setting.

    In conjunction with Eureka magazine and friend’s garage (service, repair, MOT etc and motorsport) should be able to give it a good real world test.

    A review would take weeks/months, but would be a real world test, not a desk/lab review.

    Add me to candidates please.

  14. @Pcar that max temp and hot end maintenance vids suggest its PTFE lined hot end (not specified all metal hot end as far as i can see and pretty sure they would do so if it were – also query cable management as they are suspiciously absent from the pictures!) . That mean’s its borderline at best for ABS & HIPS depending on the breakdown temp of the PTFE tube , normally starting a bit below then albeit there are some high temp variants. Probably do short prints at the cost of more maintenance/replacement of heat breaks It will also not print ABS without an enclosure to keep print temp well above above ambient and avoid the noxious outgassing and warping. Much safer to use PETG unless you absolutely require ABS impact hardness but same borderline temp issues. (Ok a bin liner and some patience will work in a pinch but PETG shrinks less and is harder too – up possible temp by replacing the hot end (and heater maybe?) and even more interesting filaments come viable but well beyond my experience). Be interested to see what the y axis carriage looks like underneath and how well it maintains level (no auto level note). X/y accuracy would be the interesting issue. Dual z screws and direct drive not bad at this price. Not the minimum I would suggest for your use case. All metal hot end, possibly a high geared extruder with heated and vented enclosure and auto bed level and higher quality hot bed with PEI or buildtak coating would be on my list at least especially if it was for use by non specialists and will likely need bed adhesive adding to maintenance. Whilst not bad looking for the price its now into core x/y territory and competing with the likes of the ender 5 so much depends on its ease of set up, mechanics and extruder/hot end but still hobbyist/upgrader territory.

  15. @Chris,

    Useful info, thank you.

    Reinforces why a real world test and review, rather than “make an ornament” lab/desk review would be better.

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