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Author Topic: I want to get into 3d printing...  (Read 1602 times)
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Oregon USA
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...but I haven't the foggiest how or where to get started.  I'm in the United States and if possible, I'd like to purchase domestically (if for no other reason than to cut down on shipping costs, increase the ease of support and such).  I understand there are three options for this.  1.  Build everything yourself from scratch, 2.  Buy a parts kit and assemble it (preferably one with all the parts as opposed to having to source some unobtanium here locally) -or- 3.  Buy a fully assembled unit.  But I have issues with each approach.  The first approach infers a level of knowledge that I do not possess.  I'm probably MacGiver-ish enough to cobble together a serviceable Cartesian table complete with steppers and driver circuitry... but the print head and control circuitry, yeah that gives me the willies.  I just don't know enough.  The second and third approach suffer from a common malady...  Either I'm too dense to find places that offer them or they are rare as hen's teeth.  The third approach seems to lead down one of two trails... Either too danged expensive or too danged expensive and very proprietary.  Unfortunately I haven't any spare body parts to part with.  The second approach is probably the most practical for me, if only I could find a good reputable retailer that offered kits.  Could someone with knowledge provide me with the Cliff's notes for how to get started with this and where to source things?  Also can someone give me kind of an intro into the software tools that one can use?  (I have some 3d modelling experience) I would greatly appreciate any help and pointers that you can give.
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Search out a copy of the latest Wired magaazine, was about 3D printers.

http://www.wired.com/design/2012/11/coolest-3d-prints-movies-art-environment/
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Designing & building electrical circuits for over 25 years. Check out the ATMega1284P based Bobuino and other '328P & '1284P creations & offerings at  www.crossroadsfencing.com/BobuinoRev17.
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http://www.reprap.org/

This is where I've found most of my information.  There is a forum there too.  I'm about 1/3 complete with a Prusa Mendel.  I've been buying some parts from my local hardware store--all thread and nuts, washers, etc.
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I've been "half way" through a Prusa Mendel build for months, using a kit from Maker Gear: http://www.makergear.com/
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@wildbill

You have the whole kit and are only half-way?  My bottle neck is money.  I'm trying not to spend too much at one time so that I stay out of trouble at home.  Mine is as complete as it can be right now without more parts, which will arrive tomorrow.  By the end of this weekend, I'll be back to waiting for the next parts order.

This is your official kick in the pants to get going on that thing  smiley
I want to hear how it's going and see pictures!
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This guy has some pretty reasonable full kits: http://printrbot.com/shop/  What's your impression of his machines?
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I think they look pretty good.  I'm one of those stubborn people who has to do everything himself.  You know, save some money and spend twice the time.  I'm a mechanical engineer by trade, so I guess it comes with the territory.  I've looked into the printerbot, I think when it was on Kickstarter.  They look like nice machines and seem to be well designed.  It depends on what size you're planning to get as to what I'd recommend.  The Jr. model looks to be a good price.  The Plus and LC models go for about the same as an assembled Prusa Mendel on Ebay.  Pick your poison, I guess.  I would do some checking around to see what kind of reviews people who have bought the Printrbot would give.  Don't get into a hurry and research well.  You'll be glad you did.  Have fun, that's the most important part, along with the learning.

Update on my machine:
I just got my smooth rods, bearings, belts, and pulleys today.  Only a few major parts left to get.  Electronics, hot end, and heated bed, plus nickel and dime stuff.  It's coming along nicely.
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I would do some checking around to see what kind of reviews people who have bought the Printrbot would give.  Don't get into a hurry and research well.

This is really good advice. It's also important to watch for reviews from people doing the sorts of things you want to do with it.

As flyboy can tell you, precision costs a lot more than it would seem to the "uninitiated".  My cheap Chinese lathe looks as good as ones that cost 3 to 5 times as much, on the surface (mostly: there are some non-critical areas where, e.g.,  they didn't polish castings the way they would for a top-quality machine).  But it can't easily be turned into a CNC machine, because there's so much slop in the lead screws and other areas: if I want to make a shaft that's exactly .087 diameter, I can't just stick a piece of stock in the jaws and crank the cross-slide according to the markings on its dial.  I have to use my expensive high-precision dial caliper to measure what's being cut and "close the feedback loop".  That's fine with me, because I bought it knowing that I would have to pay for my upfront savings with additional manual work compensating for that.

A low-cost machine might be ideal for you if you want to make custom accessories for your kids' Lego minifigs, or build a robotic sculptor, but be a huge disappointment if you want to make custom gear trains for your robots.
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I know someone else with a low precision x-y table who is trying to measure by screw-turns. I told him to put measuring instruments right on the bed. In his case I think that an inverted optical mouse would do, he's cutting wood.

But the principle of measuring the movement directly rather than implicitly is good. The only thing it doesn't cover is tool wear.

 
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I find it harder to express logic in English than in Code.
Sometimes an example says more than many times as many words.

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