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Need Recommendation for 3D Printer for Makerspace Answered

Aloha. I am in charge of purchasing a couple of 3D Printers and associated programs/materials for our developing Makerspace. We are a two-year college. The equipment will be used primarily by students. It may also be used for a credit class. I appreciate any suggestions. Mahalo.


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Penolopy Bulnick
Penolopy Bulnick

2 years ago

What price range are you looking at? I've used the Creality CR10 and the Prusa MK3 and liked them both. I prefer the Prusa but it is more expensive.


2 years ago

See the makers muse Youtube channel, Angus has a ton of videos of 3D printers. Also Mike&Lauren have a video on a 3D printer they like/d.


2 years ago

Damn, I wish I could be on a beach near you now....

You should consider first how and how much the printers will be used.
Same for the type of usage, like just for printing things or for students to take apart and modify.

Do you have anyone with enough knowledge on the topic, able to fix faults and problems with the hardware?
If not and it is a high demand arrangement then it might be best to pay more but get a service contract in return.
Personally I think that quite soon you would someoneone knowing enough to deal with this "for free".

Renting out or accepting print jobs from the general public or other students can provide help to reduce the running costs!
But of course it means you would need someone running these print jobs when the machines are not in use by students.
Could be a good training thing for the students though.
Fixing customer models, printing them and proding the customer with the resulting print.

In terms of recommendations for printers it would be nice to have some more details.
Just filament printers or maybe one DLP printer?
Required build volume? - Maybe just one big printer and then one or two smaller models?
Speed requirements - A big print on a standard printer might take a full day while a high end commercial model might do it in 8 to 10 hours...

Although you are literally in the middle of nowhere it is still a part of the US.
My best recommendation at this point would be to check what is available in your region.
Service, spare parts or a repair is much easier if only "local" companies are involved.
Flexibility is a must in both terms here.
As a student machine you want to be able to use a wide variety of plastics and not just PLA and ABS.
So at least one should be fully capable of handling all common soft and hard filament types.
Upgrading this at a later stage is not just time consuming but in many cases also far more expensive.
Been there, done that :(

Having said all that an maybe given you more than you can chew right now:
If you use more than one machine or have high volumes then considering to recycle make a lot more sense than for a private person.
Although a recycled filament is never as good as the original it is still perfect for drafts or support material.
The additional investment of a filament extruder can be made up quickly, especially if postage costs would drastically increase the price of new filament.
Features are also a big thing to consider.
For most things a plain and dumb printer will do.
Having features like automatic bed levelling, a heated bed or easy and quick to change extruders and nozzles might be vital in the long run.
Things like a webcam or remote control might sound nice but trust me:
Having a stand alone model where people just have to insert a SD card and hit the print button eliminates a lot of hassles.
Last but not least there is the problem of reliablity, especially if used without proper supervision and training.
Accidents happen, especially during very long prints.
Some printers allow for a recovery function.
With that you could clean up a failed print to the last layer that is perfect.
Calibrate the nozzle height accordingly and the printer will resume the print from there.
Usually only found in higher end models, the rest can still do with some manual tweaking of the G-code and some basic calculations.

Personal view on this if money would not be a problem:
IMHO a "near perfect" solution would be to have one big sized X-Y printer, one smaller model and one good sized delta-type printer.
After checking availabilites and postage costs, plus considering the climate I don't think a resin or powder based printer is a good solution.
The running costs would be quite high, same for attention required to keep it all clean and properly working.
A good a and reliable filament printer capable of a build size of 15x15x15cm is good for a lot of print tasks out there.
A bigger model capable of 30x30x30 or more will be of huge benefit if larger parts would be a requirement.
-Especially if you would plan to reduce costs by accepting outside print jobs from the community.
Knowing how great the spirit is on the islands I just assume woul would provide some form of outside access.
The delty printer is of interest because it allows students to compare the two main types of printers out there.
The movements are totally different and prints will come out slightly different on them as well.
Not better, not worse, just "different" - hard to explain.

You will find what suits, with proper details and requirements given someone will be able to provide with some suitable printer models.
If not then I will look some up for you ;)
A hui hou and greetings from the great land downunder!!