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3d printers hot take 

3d printers are a tool. They are suited to very specific types of fabrication and prototyping. They are not categorically different from a stick welder or a table saw or a sewing machine.

If you buy one because you like the abstract idea of owning a 3d printer, the most likely outcome is printing knicknacks for a few months, then having it sit in a corner collecting dust. I recommend against that!

Now, if you already often find yourself thinking "hm, in this application I really wish I could print a specific component", then, maybe? But also, first consider commercial print-on-demand services, or asking folks in your community to run the part off for you.

I love my printer. At the same time, it's another tool, not a revolution in the way I relate to manufacturing or products.

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3d printers hot take, part 2 

Anyway, if you do think that a 3D printer would be a useful tool to add to your making-stuff capabilities

seriously consider just starting with a resin printer, instead of a more classic filament printer.

Upsides:

  • prints can be so much more detailed and better-finished, like, wow, holy heck. I kind of can't overstate this. My printer's resolution is 50x50x10 ΞΌm.
  • configuration and tuning is far less complex. My first print came out damn near perfect, in a way that just doesn't happen with any filament printer.
  • supports are (often) easier to remove, and remove cleanly

Downsides

  • per dollar, build areas are smaller.
  • raw resin is a bit toxic (gloves mandatory)
  • parts need some post-processing -- cleaning & a UV cure
  • dealing with waste products of uncured resin and wash isopropanol (reusable) is kind of a hassle to do responsibly -- not unreasonable by any means, but you do need to be mindful.

The design constraints are different between resin and filament. I dunno if I can say one is strictly better, but they're definitely different. Print time is also a function of z-height instead of volume.

I think it can be a great idea to get going with a resin printer, especially if print detail is a thing you care about.

re: 3d printers hot take 

@starkatt Fox, I thought you said this take was hot. ;)

3d printers hot take 

@starkatt this is exactly why I don't own one even though I've got two publications on how to print scientific data with them. it would be really cool to be able to print off my scientific data whenever I want, but I only have so much shelf space. plus actually keeping one running is a huge challenge.

re: 3d printers hot take 

@starkatt TBH I half-learned this the hard way. The original use case -was-, in fact, the same reason you find them in cock shops. And even PLA where I have to spend hours sanding the damn layer lines off is a little miracle compared to what I can do with hand-sculpts alone.

But outside of that kind of thing? Yea. Literally printing a few knick-knacks then wondering why my filament has humidity damage by the time I get around to using it again. :p

re: 3d printers hot take 

@starkatt my old library had a 3d print on demand service where they would basically just charge you the filament cost and they would print stuff for you, I loved it, being one of those people who just wanted little nicknacks printed occasionally

3d printers hot take 

@starkatt Some libraries have very affordable 3D printers!

3d printers hot take 

@starkatt I'm a huge 3D printing nerd and I own like four of them now, and I gotta agree.

They're a lot of work and only fill very specialized roles. I don't even print that much, but when I do it's worth it for me to have the printers. But a lot of that is because I've gone out of my way to make them useful for me. Usually the things I design and print could be done much more easily and sustainably with wood or sheet metal and basic hand tools.

3d printers hot take 

@starkatt Yeah, your local public library might have one, and honesty, even if you want one, seeing if you actually USE the local one on a regular basis is a good idea first.

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