Thinking about getting a 3D printer....

Sumner May 9, 2020

  1. SLSF Freak

    SLSF Freak Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I've heard good things but I have no experience with them. Would be interested in getting opinions if anyone here has tried them...
     
  2. FlightRisk

    FlightRisk TrainBoard Member

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    Are they not making the regular Ender 3 for $179 anymore? Are people buying from the "official" site or some of the other American and Chinese e-market places?
     
  3. FlightRisk

    FlightRisk TrainBoard Member

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    One more question. I know there are lots of videos out there for general differences, but for modeling N sized things, what do you thing of a filament printer vs. resin printers like the photon?
     
  4. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member

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    Disclaimer: I have no experience with 3d 3D printing, but have seen filament prints up close. The lines in the layers are far more visible than resin prints. In larger scales, it may not be an issue. It would bug me to have bought a FDM printer and not be able to use it to my full expectations. I figure the steeper learning curve with resin is worth the trouble for cleaner prints.

    It's all my personal opinion about how clean or accurate the FDM will print, and I don't feel it is up to my expectations. YMMV...

    Just read up on the challenges of resin printing before you pull the trigger. Leveling the print head, FEP films, exposure times, layers, slicing, supports, and a bajillion resins that each cure differently and require specific exposure times. Again, a lot of experienced folks have done the hard work figuring it all out and even made an exhaustive spreadsheet for exposre times. It takes a lot of patience and trial and error to get great prints, if you are willing to spend the time to dial everything in. There's a busy reddit on 3d printing, and subreddits on resin printing and the Anycubic Photon series for very specific info.
    There's a great beginner's guide for resin printing that has links to videos on how to do most things. It's super!
     
  5. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

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    If you want detail like you are going to see on a loco or car you wouldn't be happy with a filament printer. When I'm designing I don't try to add any detail that is under 2-3 inches in N scale. But two to three inches is .013 to .019 inches which is pretty darn small.

    [​IMG]

    But down to that the newer filament printers are plenty good enough for me. At normal viewing distance of 10 inches or so you aren't going to see the print lines in my view, at least not with the Ender. In fact I can hold some of the items up a lot closer than that and not see them. If you want to hold something right up to your face and expect to see rivet detail then a filament printer isn't probably going to be good enough for you.

    If you are big into getting into design work using something like Fusion 360 then I think a filament printer might well be your best first choice. I'm really into the design side and I can design and immediately print and redesign while the print is going on and print again 5 to 20 minutes later with the new revision after the print is over. No cleaning the print or having to deal with fumes that could be offensive to some. I've printed hundreds of items in the last month or so and designed over 60 items and that wouldn't of been possible with a resin printer ( http://1fatgmc.com/RailRoad/3D-Printer/3D-Printer-Index.html ).

    If you are going to be mainly downloading prints that someone else has posted that could be a different story as you aren't trying to go through the design stage and all the prints you will probably need to do. I'd compare it to the old programming days of having to deal with punch cards. You left the cards at the computer center and came back the next morning to see if your program ran or not. Compare that to writing a program on your own computer where you knew almost instantly if the program runs or not.

    For myself I'm glad that I got the Ender 3 Pro for what I want to do. If I wanted to print loco and car shells I'd need to get a resin printer but for the N scale items I'm printing I'm more than happy with the print quality. Only you will know what is the best solution for you. On buying an Ender. I spent about $250 on Amazon when I could of maybe saved about $30 on another site but I felt if I had a problem, which I didn't, I could send it right back and I got it faster.

    Get a printer, either kind, and start having some fun with it. I couldn't imagine life without one now :),

    Sumner
     
  6. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

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    This morning I designed and printed this ...

    [​IMG]

    ... pump house to go under the water tank on a tower I posted about recently. I'm posting it to show the print quality that is possible with the Ender 3 Pro filament printer. I'm not sure what the print quality of other filament printers are since I've never seen any of the prints in person, but for a lot of N scale projects I think this is pretty good.

    [​IMG]

    The print is really blown up in the first picture shown above this picture. I see things there that I don't with the building 6 inches from my eyes. I think this second picture gives a little better idea of what it looks like in a more normal viewing perspective where it was about 12 inches from the camera.

    In the pictures here it is fresh off the printer with no cleanup. I'll add trim boards at the corners of the building and under where the roof will sit and maybe another window. I was surprised that the window printed as well as it did with no real problem with the overhang at the top of the window and no print supports. Not sure how much wider the opening could be and still make it without support.

    [​IMG]

    Again I wouldn't use it to print a loco or car shell but it will work for a great deal of objects that you'd like on your layout. The bed size is another thing to consider if you want to print larger objects, train related or other, as it can print a fairly large object.

    I find it truly amazing the software (Fusion 360) and the printers that are now available to a person for well under $300 and what you can achieve with them. Again one has to consider how they want to use the printer before making a final decision on which type printer, filament or resin, is best for you, or buy both. I might still end up with a resin printer at some point.

    Sumner
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2020
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  7. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member

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    I must say, your prints look great, and the speed of printing is what sets it apart from resin. There's a 3D modeler on Facebook (Baldylox Designs) that is doing a resin printed agricultural plowing implement, and while it successfully printed (down to the chisel points), he spent MANY hours getting supports placed just right, and dialing in the exposure time, probably by the layer. I don't know how many failed prints he went thru to get this one right, but it's unreal. There's pros and cons to each--ya just gotta weigh them and figure out if speed and efficiency with ease of use is more important than detail and smoothness with a steep leaning curve and messy chemicals. Many 3D modelers have both kinds; because like a wood cutting band saw, resawing wide boards down thinner will work, a table saw is a more approopriate tool for the job...
     
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  8. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks, and I wish I could take credit for the prints but I'm just using Cura as the slicer and the only change I made in it was to click on 'Super Quality' in the 'Profile Section' of the menu. I'm using a stock .4 nozzle and haven't tried tweaking any of the other settings. Some are going down to a .2 nozzle and changing some of the other settings to improve the quality.

    I add this to assure someone that is considering getting a printer it isn't black magic. I was printing the first day I had the printer setup using someone else's file they had put up to download. Probably thousands of those with a RR theme,

    Sumner
     
  9. Stephane Savard

    Stephane Savard TrainBoard Member

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    I am currently using Siraya Tech Fast Grey resin for my prints. This is the third resin I've tried. I started with Anycubic Green, switched to Anycubic Grey, and finally went with Siraya Fast. My Experiences is that for detail work, Anycubic Transparent Green was absolutely the best, but very brittle. Anycubic Grey is just as brittle, and has less detail. Siraya Fast still bloats the details, but can take more bending before snapping... see here:

    test.jpg

    (It snapped at the bottom of the middle window shortly after when I tried to push it further, but before then, I was able to spring it back to normal)

    I have printed an n-scale gondola and a ho-scale cattle car so far on my printer. Both are not quite finished and I need to go back and change some stuff and re-print. One of many projects I've got going on. But both were printed with the Anycubic brittle resins, and both have the stirrups broken much too easily. I have yet to repeat the prints with Siraya Tech.

    Just a PSA, water-soluable resins are just as toxic as the alcohol soluble resins! Please please don't wash them in the sink and let the resin into the environment! Anyway, I have no actual experience with them.

    I'll show off my water tower now :ROFLMAO:

    IMG_20191020_184613844.JPG

    IMG_20191003_215443099.JPG

    So yeah, a resin printer can get better details than a filament printer. However it does have it's flaws! I have trouble printing large stuff without warping (notice that the roof line warps!), and I've broken the nozzle hinge twice now (printed in Anycubic Grey). Despite the better resolution though, I am considering getting a filament printer in addition to my photon! I'm severely limited by size: the build plate only accepts approx. 120mm by 65mm by 150mm height. The water tower (HO scale) was printed in sections (roof, reservoir, legs). and took over 20 hours in total.

    I'm pretty sure I could have done a bigger tower on an FDM printer, but printed the details on the photon. And I think this is where having both printers would really shine.

    Plus, my twin daughters are getting to the age (11) where they are showing an interest in 3d printing (we're currently designing an Arduino gripper claw for their Makeblock robots). There's a lot of 3D printing projects I'd like to get into with them that isn't possible on a resin printer.

    Now I'm waiting for Sumner to get one of those 0.2 nozzles and show us how much more detail he can cram out of the FDM printer! He's definitely showing that an FDM printer can be very useful for even n-scale stuff!
     
  10. Stephane Savard

    Stephane Savard TrainBoard Member

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    Check out this video...



    This guy, Uncle Jesse, does a lot of resin printer reviews and tips and tricks, but in this video, he compares printing resin vs really pushing the Ender 3 down to 0.8mm layer height with the stock 0.4mm nozzle. It's very interesting to see how much detail he's getting out of the Ender 3. However, it increases the print time significantly, where the Dungeons and Dragons figurine (near the 3 minute mark)) took 4 hours on the resin printer vs 10 hours on the ender 3!
     
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  11. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member

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    I pulled the trigger on a Photon! Just waiting for it to arrive. Excited!
     
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  12. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member

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    I don't always work weekends, but when I do, my new 3D printer arrives....
    So I unpacked it, but that's about it.
     
  13. SLSF Freak

    SLSF Freak Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    And so, it begins... (insert Dr Evil laugh here) (y)
     
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  14. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member

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    It's been a bumpy ride so far. My machine turns out to be a "Fauxton" a Photon with the Photon S motherboard, and requires different firmware. :confused: There's info on the 'net that tells you this, if you know where to look--and I didn't. So, like a day 1 nOOb, I posted on the Facebook Photon group... :LOL:Anyways, it seems my replacement thumb drive is bad too.o_O Gotta replace it. Still no test prints, as the printer didn't recognize files on the thumb drive due to the firmware issue. Cleared up firmware update this morning, and when I get home from work, might try a test cube. I have a castle print on deck next, if my resin/print settings are solid.
     
  15. BNSF FAN

    BNSF FAN TrainBoard Supporter

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    After seeing all the cool 3D printed stuff here, I am seriously considering getting one myself later this year. My real question is honestly how difficult is it dealing with the software and programs. I don't mean designing items, I mean more like what set up is required to print a file from somewhere like Thingverse for example? I know there has to be a lot more than just download and click print?
     
  16. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member

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    Much more than click and print. Getting the supports right on a resin print is the chief frustration for resin printers I have seen. Followed closely by print plate leveling issues. Once you get the plate leveled, you need to dial in the support settings and placement.

    There's a myriad of ways to configure supports. Heavy, medium and light, cone or sphere contact point, various depths for contact points, and placing the supports is a challenge to do effectively. Too heavy, and the model is damaged during support removal post-print. Too light, and the print fails. The model will not "stick" and ends up becoming a solidified mass in the resin vat that needs to be removed and cleaned before you print again. Print failures come in many varieties. Sometimes the print will be warped or misformed, other times, only the support "raft" prints and nothing else, or parts of the model print and then like magic, nothing else and hunks are missing.

    "Auto Support" works to a point, but errs on the side of overkill in my meager experience. I'm sure Mike and others can talk your leg off about the pitfalls of support placement. I found auto support works well for 90% of the support placement. I still have to inspect the supports with a fine toothed comb, as the program (Chitubox) will add supports where they are not necessary, or will cause more damage in removal than it aids supporting the print. For example, when printing the FMC 4200s (the incorrect ones), it added supports between the rungs of the ladders, in the stirrups, under the tub spars, and in more places that were hard to catch. After the first print, I discovered more supports, and they were tough to remove without damaging the model. I removed them, and it printed fine. It's a trial and error process to be sure. The supports under the angular tub sides were a challenge to dial in. Vertical supports left pitted marks that would need to be filled and sanded. After removing those supports and adding angled ones to connect just under the ribs, the model printed as close to perfect as I can ask for.

    screenShot_N_FMC4200_BathtubGon_FINAL.png

    Once your supports and leveling is good, you need to sometimes deal with firmware and USB stick issues. Firmware comes in different varieties, and the USB stick that comes with the machine is notoriously bad at failing and causing unexpected print failures or inability to read a print to start with. USB sticks have to be formatted to FAT32, and newfangled USB3.0 sticks are too big (16GB and smaller works best) and do not natively format to FAT32.

    Post print processing is a messy, stinky experience, but I can go into that later.
    Not to scare you away, but 3D resin printing has a steep technological learning curve... And that's before you start designing your own CAD projects!
     
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  17. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

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    It doesn't have to be much more than that depending on what you're printing and the printer you bought. If your needs are printing car bodies and loco shells then you are going to need to go 'resin printer'. I decided to buy those things already done and have bought 3 loco shells at this point for Union Pacific shells that I couldn't find any other way. This is about all I'm going to need for my UP needs and I'm not interested in cars that much.

    I like designing and making other objects for the layout that don't need that level of detail so went with a filament printer (Ender 3 Pro--about $250). I've been really happy with it for my needs. Figure a couple hours to assemble it and then you initially have to level the bed and later will do this occasionally if it gets out of level as the bed springs change tension/compression. Leveling is a few minute job using a print file you can download. I have the links in the first post of this thread ( https://www.trainboard.com/highball/index.php?threads/thinking-about-getting-a-3d-printer.131596/ ).

    From that point printing is pretty much download the file and print it using the free software called Cura. I'll layout the steps here and they take less than a minute and you are printing. It is a matter of downloading the file into Cura and clicking some menu items. Once Cura prepares the file (only seconds in most cases) you take it to the printer on a Micro SD file. Since my printer is by the computer I connected them with a USB cable and this is even easier as I don't have to go through the SD card step. I just press 'Print via USB' in Cura and the print starts.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Since this is a filament print there is no curing or cleaning after the print. I guess you could wash it if you wanted but I just remove it from the print table and cleanup any stray filament and start painting it. I like the simplicity of it. There is also no smell so I have it in the house next to the computer just off the living room and kitchen area and Dottie loves that I've gotten it.

    Now over time you will have to re-level the table and so far out of hundreds of prints I've had to pull the tube that the filament travels through to the hot end (where the filament comes out) and cut an inch or so off the end and reinsert it into the hot end. The filament builds up in the tubing over time in the area where it is heated and melts and it sticks to the inside of the tube. Eventually the filament can't be pushed through the tube by the extruder and out the hot end. When this happens you will hear a clicking as the extruder slips on the filament trying to push it. I ordered some tubing that is suppose to be better and will install it the next time this happens. Other than that and replacing the cheap nozzles a couple times I've had no printer maintenance but have bought some spare parts as like anything mechanical there are upgrades you can do and some parts will eventually have to be replaced as they wear. The Ender is so popular you can find tons of YouTube's on all of this. One reason I bought it.

    I love the design side of it but there are hundreds of train related items where you can download the STL files and print if that is what you need. I think it is like a lot of tools. Once you get one you might wonder why you waited so long. Also it can easily pay for itself. I have lots of turnouts built and by printing the servo brackets and the electric control boxes to control them ( https://www.trainboard.com/highball...ervo-control-the-easy-inexpensive-way.132703/ ) vs. buying commercial equivalents I've easily paid for the printer making all the other projects basically free. I'm still on my first $20 spool of filament and have printed hundreds of items (small ones) at this point.

    If you have any other questions post them here and we will help or PM us,

    Sumner
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2020
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  18. BNSF FAN

    BNSF FAN TrainBoard Supporter

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    Thanks guys. Excellent tips and advice. (y)
     
  19. BNSF FAN

    BNSF FAN TrainBoard Supporter

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    So looking at printers now. This has led to a couple of questions on the filament printers. Would one that has the auto leveling bed be the better way to go? For filament printers, do the prints require any special wash like I always read about for Shapeways items? Guessing that just applies to resin prints? Is there any brand out there that anyone recommends staying away from?
     
  20. SLSF Freak

    SLSF Freak Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Auto leveling is a nice-to-have but I don't think it's absolutely necessary. My first printer had it, it was nice but it wasn't perfect, but my Ender 3 I've had since last fall does not have auto-level and I don't have a problem trimming and adjusting on the fly as it prints the first layer. Most times I don't even have to fuss with that after getting it dialed in. You do not need to wash the filament prints. Aside from maybe sanding and other finish work your prints should be ready to go right off the printer. Avoid brands where you have to use their proprietary equipment or filaments. If you want to spend up to a grand, buy a Prusa i3 MK3S for perfection (it also has auto level). If you don't want to spend a lot just to see if this is the right thing for you, I'd recommend an Ender 3 of any flavor, standard, v2, pro - whatever fits your budget.

    Cheers -Mike
     
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