Posted on

Getting Started with 3D Printing – getting a printer



image courtesy of Printrbot inc


I know we had seemed to go past this already, but with the announcement from Printrbot about the imminent release of their Metal Printrbot Simples into the wild, I just wanted to touch on the awesomeness of Brook and his 3D printing vision.   He went from Kickstarter to incredibly successful company in a few short years…  Brook, I just want to say, congratulations and keep it up.

Now, as most people will look at the picture and think ‘I want one!’, lets start a little closer to home.  The Printrbot Simple (wood version) is available now and is, in my opinion (and Make magazine), the best value 3D printer you can buy.

I’ve looked at quite a few, some cheaper, a lot more expensive.  The one thing I feel about this new technology, and I love it, no mistake (I will happily talk about this stuff for hours!), once you start you will want to print a lot of stuff.  Most of it may be junk, a lot of the first ones will probably look like it was made by a spider on speed, but you made it, yourself, on such a cool little machine.

So, did you buy it assembled?  did you make it from a kit?  Is it your first go with a printer or just your first own printer.

My though would always to build it yourself.  The reason for this is that it is leading edge technology.  We want it to work every day, without fail, but it doesn’t always go the way we like.  If something happens, we know how we put it together and we know how to take it apart if we need to.

If we just took this out of the box, it will always be ‘the printer’, like your desktop printer.  you don’t know how it works, it’s just the thing that you click print with and see what comes out.  Don’t get me wrong, however you get your printer, you will love it, it’s the process and the output that is awesome but, for the day something goes wrong, being able to fix it gets you printing quicker.

So what printer do you want?  When people tell me they want a 3D printer, my first question is ‘what do you want to print?’  If their answer is, ‘I don’t know yet, I just want one’, my answer is ‘Do you really want one?’.  People look at 3D printers as gadgets, fun tech toys to play with, still awesome, but more likely to be dropped when the next toy comes along.

If someone tells me why they want to print and what they want to print, then we can start the serious conversation.  Size of print area, what sorts of filaments they want to print with.  You can see in their eyes the passion they have for design and how they can turn their ideas into things they can hold in their hands.

And that is what all this is about.  We are taking an idea, a thought, a sketch on a napkin and turning it into something we can touch, in our own homes, using 3D printing.