About 4-5 years ago, I started hearing about 3D Printing and I thought at the time that it was an interesting, but maybe a little gimmicky an idea. The first mention I remember of it was of a guy (student?) who made a 3D Printer in the desert using solar magnification (check it out) which could make things out of sand. Seemed pretty cool, but impractical. Then I heard about some companies who were prototyping toys with 3D printers. That made sense. Shortly thereafter, I heard about projects where you could get the plans and make your own, then kits became available, then you could buy a pre-built model.
For the longest time the idea grew on me, but whenever I would read about them, one thing was clear: prepare to spend more time tinkering with the 3D printer than actually making anything. That was kind of a bummer. As the past few years have passed, more companies have been born with different models of printers. Most people have heard of MakerBot, which was one of the earliest companies selling kits and pre-built models. At some point, I decided I was definitely going to make the jump, but there were so many options and every model seems to have serious pros and serious cons. There are $500 models and some that go all the way up to $3500+ (in the consumer line, I’m sure you can go to 6-figures easily in the pro lines) Reading reviews online didn’t help a whole lot because every model has good and bad reviews. When I changed jobs in February, I earmarkeda budget of $2500 from my signing bonus for it.
Once our house sold and we got moved in to our new place in Chattanooga (still a work-in-progress), I was ready. I decided on the Ultimaker 2 printer due to it’s quality and speed of printing, size of the printing area, and ease of use as reported by and consistently used by several YouTube folks I follow. Check out @Barnacules and his YouTube videos, Tested’s YouTube Review, and just do a search for Ultimaker on YouTube or Google). It was right at the $2500 budget mark. The other candidates were the Lulzbot Taz 5 (used by James Bruton extensively) and the MendelMax. I ruled out MakerBot’s products due to common failure issues, lack of multi-material support, and numerous bad reviews (pretty much nothing BUT bad reviews, really).
I didn’t end up buying the Ultimaker.
Something came up. Actually 2 things: