I was wondering if any SE users have small desktop 3D printers. I've been looking around at some of ones on the market. Makerbot is pretty common and I've also seen the Ultimaker 2. Does anyone have any feedback on the various brands. I know there are limitations to the smaller machines and FDM process but we're considering one for the office for testing out designs.
I've looked at it, but think the "resolution" isn't good enough already.
If we need 3D prints we let it make by shapeways or a local 3D printer seller.
Resolution one of my concerns. We have used outside printing services for proving out some extruded parts where tolerances were important. Those parts were exceptionally accurate but very expensive - although a lot less expensive than making extrusion dies that don't work.
A small desktop printer would be for general concepts etc.
One other item I'm considering is a small CNC router to make smaller plastic parts and even some light alumuminum machines for panels etc.
I have a zortrax M200 FDM printer.
I don't know what's your core business, but what do you call a general concept ?
If you want to print accurate parts, I have to disappoint you, but don't buy one.
None of them is suitable.
They or not sold for this purpose.
They are mostly used for printing parts that don't need accuracy. (Gadgets etc...) Or just to have an idea of form and feel to negotiate with a customer.
roland DG does have some professional products. I think it's just what you are looking for
A lot depends on what tolerences you need to hold, and the mass of your parts. I've got a Lulzbot mini that I'm quite happy with, but If i need to hold a tolerence closer than say +/-.015" on a part, I need to leave material for a second op on a mill or lathe. My mini works fine for prints that are around 3" cube size, larger than that I will start to get excesive warpage or poor adhesion between layers. The finish on the parts isn't bad for a printed part, probably around a 125RMS. Larger or more critical- tolerenced parts would probably be better to farm out to a professional than try to do yourself, unless you can spend big bucks on a professional printing setup.
I used to lease a Stratsys Dimension Elite ($35K http://www.stratasys.com/3d-printers/design-series/dimension-elite) when I was doing a lot of molded parts development.
But after 3 years, I couldn't rationalize the buyout or even keeping one. The problem was maintenance. If it sat for a week or so, something didn't want to work. The nozzle's were alsways getting clogged. And the filament.... if it dried out you had to toss it. And at $350 a cartridge that got old. Service calls where $500+ a call.
Point is I don't believe 3D printing is there just yet for the occasional user. You need to keep them running, to keep them free of issues.
If you want to go the Rolland route, I'd consider buying a Tormach CNC Miller (http://www.tormach.com/) It'll cost about $12,000 with all the bells and whistles, and you'll have a lot more capabilities then the Roland.And the Rolands are not cheap for what you get. The Tormach is caste iron... very important for heavier machining.
Here's the newest version...
The Roland stuff is high Precision and designed for the Jewery industry. But it will not cut tougher materials.
We've owned a Tormach for 6 years and I love it. It's the best low cost CNC you will find. They even have a Lath attachment for $1,395 that gives you even more flexability... it's sort of the modern day "ShopSmith"
Just came across this today- http://www.practicalmachinist.com/modern-machine-shop/one-offs-without-tradeoffs/ -maybe the next level of 3D printers is closer than I thought. Embedding a fiber like carbon in the print is an interesting idea, I hope it works out.
I've been using a Makerbot Replicator 2 for almost 2 years and very happy with it. Also heard good things about the Ultimakers but mixed reports on the new Gen5 Makerbots.
I also paid for Simplify3d to do the slicing and G-code which is well worth the price for more advanced features. It works with pretty much every FDM printer out there.
With regards the quality and/or precision - of course it's not as good as a professional CNC mill, but that's not the point. They are great for small concept or test pieces quickly and cheaply. I'm also using it to make parts for a 3-axis CNC mill/router so it's perfectly good for 'proper' parts when you design with fabrication in mind (which you have to do for any method of fab).