After much consideration and further research into 3D printing technology and practices as a whole, I’ve come to compare two options for a printer. I thought that perhaps those of you with more experience that actually own and have used a printer on a more regular basis could provide some insight into your personal experience and, considering the wide range of knowledge and talent we have here, any thoughts on general mechanical design and physics.
I used to be of the Monoprice Maker Select Plus group, thinking that I had decided on this being the printer to get… some time later I found the MPCNC and it turned out to be the more desired project. I love it so much - technology, making, everything in an affordable and accessible package. Everyone I show it to is impressed and all I can say is that some guy that graduated from SDSU came up with the idea and plans; all I did was buy the stuff and build it (San Diegans gotta rep their fellows - sorry Ryan if this description offends you, but there is only so in depth an explanation you can give to people in passing).
That being said, while the MPCNC hits the multipurpose points, I don’t think an extruder on conduit is quite precise enough for 3D printing, therefore the MP3DP seems great. It is designed by Ryan and supported by several members here, not to mention it’s RepRap as well. I’ve been searching and pricing components, ready to build it (gotta focus on college), when I began doing some more research on Reddit (and the most popular 3D printers - the Monoprice Select Plus and the Creality CR-10 being the main focus) and was shown a new model from Creality called the Ender 3. It is nearly identical to the MP3DP in every way, save the frame being aluminum extrusion, the control board, and the power supply (I think 24V, good for faster heating of the bed); the overall price is around $200, give or take, whereas the MP3DP is about $300, give or take.
So I now come to you, community who seems more trustable and experienced than a group of Redditors - is there something I’m skipping over? Given equivalent build volumes, both with heated beds, similar form factors…
- Is there an advantage to the v-slot/extruded aluminum frame over a milled wood/mdf/aluminum frame (MP)?
- Is 24 volts for a power supply really that much better or does it just heat the bed faster (seems like not that big of a deal, maybe 10-20 mins at most to heat the extruder and bed)?
- Control board - how things change. I have the pleasure to do some 3D printing work for a summer school program and I have been calibrating some unknown printer. I can't find what board it is for sure without taking it apart (cannot do), but I believe it is a rebranded Makerbot Replicator Dual Extruder model (its name is Imaginator 3d). The options for configuration using the 4 arrow button and center selection button are very limited. It offers a five point guided bed leveling (front, back, sides, and center) for the four screw bed, which is kind of nice, but other than temperature, other options are extremely limited. Acceleration can be ON/OFF; all files on the SD card must be in a proprietary .x3g format (see Makerware). Slic3r and Repetier (read: open-source, as far as I know) are so much nicer - so many options to fine tune prints, use supports, rafts, etc. - this is locking all of those options behind a board which I tried to flash with any other firmware but found it useless as they aren't personal, though I got the bed leveled using a business card and appropriate resistance and turned out good calibration prints, so they aren't bad printers.
- Pardon the rant, but overall, I was having a hard time deciding whether I wanted to go with a mini-Rambo (no reason to go full size like I did for the MPCNC, I figured, or I could swap the boards if I really saw the need), or cut costs and use a RAMPS 1.4 (and read horror stories about fires and open up a world of needing MOSFETS and any other bunch of stuff; I like learning things but there's only so much iceberg to look at). Even more, if I wanted a safe, proven, feature-filled board, maybe a Smoothieboard or Duet Wifi/Ethernet would be an option. However, the Rambo series is vetted by Ryan. Ultimachine is also Prusa's choice. These are two valuable recommendations. Thoughts?
tl;dr: Want a 3D printer. Originally decided on a Monoprice Select Plus. Then found MPCNC, which seems a little too large for 3D printing details (am I wrong here? ultimate cost savings - attach extruder and buy heated plate; adjust firmware; 3D printer for <$100; downside, only 4" Z-height), especially once I expand it a bit.
MP3DP then seems like best option. While pricing components, came across Creality again (it now seems further vouched, especially the CR-10 with its 300x300x400mm build volume, by average users and not just Youtubers with free printers). Seems more expensive for size I may not need. Found new Creality printer (new to me), the Ender 3. Great price, same build volume as MP3DP, 12864 screen. It is pretty well recommended, and has aluminum extrusion frame. Can’t decide between price and several other factors. Don’t mind building things (sourced and built MPCNC, fun). Why is a mostly built printer with nearly all the same specs as the MP3DP being sold cheaper than I could build it DIY, not to mention with a heavier style frame (I’m really not trying to be a shill, it’s just perplexing to me)?
Thanks for reading, you’re awesome.