I was thinking of buying a 3D printer for a long time. Right now it’s over one month since I have one. What have I learned so far?
It’s tons of fun
I have a lot of fun with my printer. It was much easier to assemble than I expected and I started printing the same day it arrived. I made some mistakes initially, but also the same day I had few things on my desk which were printed just a few minutes ago. I’m not euphoric by heart, but I was really glad.
My wife asked me to print few Totoro models because she likes it and because they are not easily accessible here. It was great to see the satisfaction and joy on her face once I hand the prints to her. Now also our kids have their own requests.
It’s amazing to see how your idea becomes reality. How the thing you invented and designed appears in front of you layer by layer. This is very satisfying feeling.
It’s also time-consuming
Once I spent some time testing (printing test cubes and test printouts), I started really creating something useful. I had a list full of things I want to print. The problem was that I had no time to draw them. Fortunately, I found some ready-made models on Thingiverse. Some people already had the same problem before and they shared their creations.
For other ideas, things that should fit my design exactly, I had to spend some time. I was using CAD applications before, but I don’t own one currently. I have chosen OnShape because it is available online for free if you don’t want to have private projects. My creations can be accessible to everyone, I like the idea of someone make use of them. An online tool is also very handy if you are working from various locations.
Sometimes I spent few minutes measuring, to prepare the design of the thing I need and then I spent an hour or two to draw it properly. It was not that easy for me to think of the way the thing will be printed – layer by layer from the bottom to top. How should the thing be positioned? What should be considered as the bottom? I don’t think that all my ideas were perfect, but all worked.
My list of things to print is currently mostly growing. I have not enough time to prepare drawings and to print them. But I will eventually do. Here comes another time-consuming aspect of 3D printing – the printing process itself is not quick. Small things containing only a few grams of the filament can take an hour to complete. The biggest things I printed so far took over four hours each. For me, this means that I can print one, maybe two of them during the day. But this also means that the filament does not wear out so quickly.
Did I mention that we own an old RV? So, we do. The problem with such an old car is that some things are no longer available on the market and you have to figure them out somehow. Before 3D printer, I was using pieces of wood and metal to create joints, elements of furniture or covers. Right now I can design even very fancy shape and have it ready the same day.
Recently I bought power converter that should have mounting holes. Unfortunately, this model was not equipped with them. So I designed corner holders and used them to screw my converter on to the place it belongs. I also had a LED which is very useful but was too bright and was disturbing during the night. So I designed a kind of shutter to cover it.
The thing is that once you find the way of thinking of the 3D printed solutions, ideas are appearing every day. As I wrote before – my list of things I want to print is growing.
Would I buy it again? Definitely!
To be honest, I already started thinking about the better version of the printer. Mine is cheap and basic, but I already find it convenient and effective. I’m not sure if I really need more expensive one though. I think that I will spend few more months using this one and make sure that I really need higher print quality or other features this one lack.