Welcome to Synthiam!

The easiest way to program the most powerful robots. Use technologies by leading industry experts. ARC is a free-to-use robot programming software that makes servo automation, computer vision, autonomous navigation, and artificial intelligence easy.

Get Started
Asked — Edited

Entry Level 3D Printer

I am looking for recommendations on an entry level 3d printer. Something that I can use to print some parts but also learn without breaking the bank. Any suggestions?


Upgrade to ARC Pro

ARC Pro will give you immediate updates and new features needed to unleash your robot's potential!

Thanks. I assume a spare could be printed or fabricated out of metal for some of the parts. Files are available for all?
Again thank you for taking the time to help me out.


PS: Some day I may ask you for more about how to do Scripting (101).
I found this thread very informative. Now ... what I'm wondering, is there any printer that doesn't require all this constant tweaking, strengthing, maintenence, etc.? Something in the $2,000 to $3,000 range maybe? Doesn't have to be large volume, just really accurate (and stays that way) and easy to use and maintain. The more I read about these things the more I think it's better to become proficient at using the 3D creation/modification software and pay someone else to do the printing as needed. Still, it would be nice to do it myself, but I'm not sure I really want all the hassles.
There are companies that are trying to produce "drop in place and print" printers. I would say that the best one at doing this so far, from the research that I have done is the Ultimaker.

There are issues with ALL 3d printing types. There are 3 different types that I know about that are mainstream. 1 of them is extremely expensive and isn't good for parts like gears and the like. This is through a powder that has resin spit on it from a nozzle. The second is the laser/resin type where laser hardens the resin on a build plate. Still pretty expensive and there is some post processing that is required. It does produce amazing prints though. This type, I would guess, would require less maintenance if it were in a very clean environment. The third is the most common where a print head moves around on rods to lay down layers of melted plastic. This is the least expensive, but I would guess it has the most maintenance required. There are belts, and pulleys, wheels, gears and bearings, along with fans, springs, motors and screws. As such, there will be maintenance to keep the printer printing at a high quality level.

Technology on these printers is improving all of the time. Unfortunately, when a company jumps out with something really revolutionary and fails, they get bashed more then applauded. Makerbot is an example. I wouldn't touch their new printers with a 10 foot pole right now, but they are trying to do some things that are needed in this area. They are trying to push to make the industry much better, but unfortunately, they came out with a product that wasn't tested enough. My guess is that they were trying to rush it to market they were purchased by another company, who wanted to get this product out of the way to work on other projects with them. I don't know what happened but it wasn't good. MakerBot's name got tarnished even though they had a great previous product line.

If you dont want to do any maintenance, and want it to work like a light switch (which sometimes break also) I would not get into 3D printing at all and pay 10X the cost to print the part. If you want to be able to print your own parts, no matter what technology you go with, you will be doing maintenance. Even computer printers, which have been around for what, 40 years or so, have springs, screws, belts, motors and many other components that go bad. The difference is that they are cheap enough to just go buy a new one so people really don't fret much about them. I used to work for a company that used very expensive laser printers to print out hundreds of thousands of documents at a time. These broke a lot and even caught the print shop on fire on a couple of occasions. The reasons for the fires were lack of maintenance on the printers.
Thank you for the information. That's pretty much what I thought. I used to build everything from scratch. Hardware, metal work, software, whatever. But I'm at a point in my life where I no longer find as much pleasure in that as I did so I look more to just buying what I need so I can concentrate on my end goal and not so much the details. Not that all that was a waste of time as I learned a lot and it was fun at the time. Still, I think I'll just pay the 10X cost and let the maker deal with the headaches. Thanks again.
Any time. It sounds like you are making the right decision for you.
I due to a change in plans ( cash shortage LOL ) I bought a Borlee 602 3D printer kit. I will be assembling it when I return from a trip. I have heard good and bad about kits, but I have looked at the features of this one and decided to get it. I will build it and report how it went together and how it works.

Sorry Dave, but the Solidoodle was not affordable and this one comes with Wifi and an SD card reader which allows stand alone printing thus freeing up my computer. Thanks for all your time discussing the Solidoodle 4.


No need to be sorry. I just was offering my opinion based on what I had seen. Glad your getting a printer.

On a side note, the schools solidoodle is going back to the school on the 15th. I too am now in the market for a 3d printer:)
I liked the idea of the SD card option. Wifi I won't use but it is nice to have. I planned on modifications anyway so at least if I build it I will know how it goes together. It didn't get a great review on the assembly quality but again the basic layout of the machine looks ok. I'm a tinkerer so $385.00 is a decent price for a machine which should be upgradeable in the future.

3D printing is still new and many changes and improvements are being made daily. I won't feel like I am throwing away big money if major changes come up down the road.

I will post my results when all is done and I am happy I will have a 3D printer to play with.

Andy Very interested to see how well this printer works for you as I have been wanting a cheaper 3d printer to just play around with and this one fits my price range nicely.
Cant wait to hear about it.
I will be away for about a week. I will report once I'm back and it is complete. Meanwhile check ebay for the kits. Many to choose from and many reviews. Some good info on Youtube.

Ok,,, all done, after much effort, and making parts on my kit. I will start a new thread in a day or so. Got back from vacation and need to finish catching up.

Hi Dave,

How did your old Reprap run when you used it? Does it still live?
I couldn't ever get it to reliably work. It would run great for about a week and then something would change and it would start printing like junk. I tried 3 different controller boards, 3 different hot ends, 2 different sets of stepper motors, many different software configurations and about 5 months of tweeting things. After having about $1800 tied up in the printer I decided to cut my losses and took it all apart so that I would quit spending money on it.

The solidoodle 4 has printed far better with much less headache for 1/3 of what I put into the reprap but I also learned a lot from the reprap.
Dave, Thanks for getting back to me... Sorry to hear you had problems with your Reprap. I hope I have better luck with mine. I will be posting my runs in the next few days. So far the system seems to be dependable and easy to use. I have only run a few smaller parts in pla, and they came out decent. I used a middle setting and got a decent quality but I will try a fine setting on the next part I run. Next week I will try ABS and plan on printing larger projects. Stay tuned..
I didnt go with a kit, which I should have. I chose the route of piecing mine together from parts and then trying to make it work. I am glad you went with a kit. With a kit you have a starting point. Piecing it together like I did, there was no starting point which caused a lot of issues.

I wish you the best. Let us know.
@69 developer

I have 10 hours of printing on my kit and so far so good. Print errors on my part, but it is running. Take a look at the thread I posted.