3D printer ordered

Well, I went ahead and ordered a Prusa Mendel 3D printer kit from MakerGear. I saw them over at Maker Fair Detroit.
I came very close to ordering one of their Mosaics instead, as they say you can get the same quality out of either of them but the Mosaic is more for people who just want to print, the Prusa is more for people who want to screw with the printer too. I think it's likely that I'll want to experiment; for instance, with a Prusa there are all kinds of extruders available including ones that can print in cake frosting, Nutella, or ceramics clay.

The Prusa is also $175 cheaper and is more capable, having an 8x8x8" build area instead of 5x5x5" for the Mosaic printer.

It's a 2 week lead time on the Prusa. Build time will probably be a few weeks at least since even the electronics are a few circuit boards and a bag of parts. I get to learn surface mount soldering on this. I think I'd better order some flux paste.

  • +3 by Todd Johnson, dermot dobson, Andrew Meyer
  • dermot dobson - With enormous anticipation, I wait to see how you get on. I've been thinking of getting one too, but choices here ar ea bit more limited, unless I pay a lot for shipping.
  • John Ridley - Interesting, there do seem to be a lot of users in the UK/EU but perhaps all experimenters rather than complete kit suppliers.

    It's becoming clear to me that this is definitely an experimenter's machine. It is the farthest thing imaginable from plug-and-play. Assembly is only the beginning; calibration seems to be an ongoing exercise and can take significant time. The software tool chain is yet another learning curve involving at least 3 or 4 pieces of software; Google Sketchup for modeling (others are available), then Skeinforge to turn the file into a tool path layer set, another piece of software to drive that out to the controller, and the firmware on the controller.

    There's not a single aspect of this thing from the print head to the controller firmware that people aren't constantly messing around with.

    I'm sure that at some point in the future this printer will be as much a quaint antique as a daisy wheel printer is today. However, one thing that I like is that there is a chance of it paying for itself; it can print more Mendel parts which are going for a decent price online, and also a simply assembled and calibrated unit is going for a few hundred dollars more than the kit costs.
  • Inu no Taisho - Ooooooh! Jealous! I eagerly await your reviews both of the machine and the output!
  • dermot dobson - When you get it setup, I'll send you a file to print out, say, a sheep mandible reconstructed from a 3D CT scan.
  • John Ridley - I'm not sure what the print limitations are. I guess you can't have overhanging ledges, for instance, because there has to be something to support the plastic at all stages. Some of the 3D printers would allow that since they lay down a cube of material and only solidify that which they want to be in the final model. This type doesn't do that. I have seen some people experimenting with having the print stop and laying down support material manually then resuming the print.

    I also once saw someone talking about multiple print heads and I guess this could be one use for such a thing.
  • Bill Higgins - After assembling his device, John might go on to become the first person in Southeastern Michigan to assemble a complete sheep!