As the name suggests, the intention of this series is to guide the 3D printing beginner through the entire process of purchasing, setting up, using, maintaining, upgrading and tweaking a 3D printer.
What better way to do this than to buy a new 3D printer and follow the entire process myself? That’s exactly what I’ve started to do…
I’ll no doubt make mistakes along the way but that’s the best way to learn and as I report back exactly what I do, as I do it, you’ll never have to make the same mistakes yourself.
Why I Chose a MakerBot Replicator 2
Step one is to buy a 3D printer and after a lot of research I decided on a MakerBot Replicator 2.
There were many reasons for this decision including the following:
- Cost – it’s price point is affordable for many home or small business users.
- Support – it’s one of the most popular printers out there, with a large user community.
- Simplicity – it prints PLA, which is probably the easiest plastics to print with.
- Quality – the print quality is amongst the best for printers of this type.
- Assembly – it’s arrives pre-built, although building from a kit would have been interesting.
- Upgrades – with a large user base there are many potential upgrades and tweaks available.
- Aesthetics – as 3D printers go it’ll look pretty cool sat on my desk.
For a while I was considering a PrintrBot Simple Kit which would have been much more affordable and would have given me the experience of building it too. I didn’t think it had nearly the potential of the Replicator 2 in other areas though, so I decided against it.
Where to Buy This New Beast of a 3D Printer
If I lived in America, as do most of my readers, ordering this printer would have been much easier as most 3D printing companies seem to be based in the USA, including MakerBot. I would have bought it from Amazons 3D Printers & Supplies section, but living in the UK this isn’t a viable option without paying large shipping costs.
After checking out the MakerBot website resellers section it seems that the only official reseller in the UK is Computers Unlimited. I called Computers Unlimited and after spending 20 minutes being continually cut off after two rings, I finally got though.
I spoke to someone at Computers Unlimited and they said I could only buy through them if I had business account with them. Luckily I own Tycoon Software Ltd which hopefully would have allowed me to buy though them.
However, I realise that for many 3D printing beginners this isn’t even an option because most people don’t own a business. As a result and for the benefit of my readers I decided to look elsewhere.
After a little more research I found a company called RoboSavvy. I’d heard of these before, reviews of them were good, eBay feedback was good and their website was really easy to use and full of useful info. They also sold to the consumer, not just businesses so that would be far more useful for my readers.
Ordering one was really easy and the price was about the same as Computers Unlimited (£1345 + 20% VAT), but with free shipping throughout the UK. Maybe Computers Unlimited also do free shipping, I don’t know.
Before I Hit the ‘Buy’ Button
Just before I committed to buying I added 1kg of RoboSavvy Light Green 1.75mm PLA filament and another 1kg of Grape, a light purple colour. I know that genuine MakerBot filament usually works great in their own printers so maybe I should have started with that. The RoboSavvy filament was a little cheaper and also receives good reviews, so I took the chance.
This could be one of those mistakes we were talking about earlier, but we’ll have to wait and see how it goes when the printer and filament arrive and I try them together.
I’m not sure about delivery time but I received an email today saying it was being packaged up ready for dispatch and I believe it’s only travelling about 100 miles from the warehouse to where I live.
After ordering my mind wandered onto other stuff I might need to accompany this new printer, so I had a quick skim read of my FREE Beginners Guide to 3D Printing at Home. Yes, I really do refer back to this eBook sometimes, even though I wrote a lot of it myself.
It reminded me that Digital Vernia Callipers were really useful. I headed off over to Amazon to order those and while I was there I ordered some 3M Blue Painters Tape. This stuff is great for lining the build plate on PLA printers and MakerBot themselves recommend it. There may even be some included with the printer (I have a feeling there is) but I couldn’t be sure so I ordered it as it’s not expensive and no doubt I’ll use it.
With the printer, filament, painter tape and calipers all ordered that’s about all I need for now. I already have some tools and anything else I need I’ll buy as and when I need it.
What Happens Next..?
All I can do now is sit back and wait for the my MakerBot to arrive, so the next stage of this little 3D printing adventure can unfold. I hope you’ll join me and maybe even buy your own printer, even if it’s not a MakerBot.
Much of what you’ll learn in this Beginner Series will apply to any Polylactic Acid Thermoplastic Extrusion printer. Ha, that reminds me, have you seen our new 3D Printing Jargon Busting Glossary? I use that myself a lot too 🙂
Anyway, I’ll report back here as soon as the printer arrives so we can continue our journey. In the meantime feel free to leave a comment and share this post with your friends…