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3D printer recommendations

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Tony Jeffree21/11/2019 18:27:55
393 forum posts
8 photos

I'm considering having a go at 3D printing and am wondering what others would recommend as a good machine to get a feel for the technology and what it can do. I haven't any particular project in mind yet.

Tony Jeffree21/11/2019 18:30:10
393 forum posts
8 photos

Also, do commercial printers generally come complete with design software, or not? If the latter, what do people use?

jimmy b21/11/2019 18:51:44
660 forum posts
38 photos

It all depends on your budget.

I'm now using the Balco one from Aldi. £250 and worth every penny, to me.

I use Fusion360 (for free) to design things.


Jeff Dayman21/11/2019 18:53:50
1854 forum posts
45 photos

Hi Tony, I have had great success printing with an inexpensive Creality Ender 3 printer. It came with Cura slicing software which prepares your stl format CAD file for printing. For making the CAD file I use Solidworks as I have a license for it for work use (not cheap) but others have reported using Autodesk Fusion 360, Alibre, and others.

There are lots of free downloads of stl files ready for printing at Thingiverse and other sites. Thingiverse is well worth a look.

For good instructional video of all aspects of 3D printers, and several types of print process, you can look up Myfordboy on Youtube. There is also a guy under the Teaching Tech label on Youtube whose videos are also good, particularly comparing machines and accessories / upgrades for common machines.

Hope this helps.

Edited By Jeff Dayman on 21/11/2019 18:54:39

Edited By Jeff Dayman on 21/11/2019 18:56:19

Vidar21/11/2019 18:59:24
57 forum posts

There are many types of 3D printing technology so it might be useful to consider what you want to use it for? They have different strengths and weaknesses. The most common consumer technologies are based around either welding strands of filament or using UV light to harden a UV sensitive liquid. It might be worth checking out their basic differences before looking for a specific machine.

Some printers come with slicing software but all that does is prepare the 3D models you already have for printing. To actually make the 3D models pretty much any 3D software can make 3D models in a format the slicing software will accept.

What 3D modelling software is right for you will again depend on what you intent to use it for? There are major differences between 3D modelling programs and what use they are optimized towards. For instance making organic shapes in a mechanical CAD program is next to hopeless, and equally, making mechanical assemblies in an organic 3D modeller is pretty hopeless too.

If I were to suggest something take a look at Sketchup and Rhino3D.

Steve F21/11/2019 19:19:48
79 forum posts
22 photos

Hello Tony

I have 3 different 3d printers at variuos price points

CEL Robox £900

DIY CoreXy £350 ish

Creality Ender 3 £140

The CEL Robox is very much plug & play. Chipped filament rolls that set most of the printing parameters for you (you can override these). It comes with CELs own printing software that simplfyies the settings. It does a huge range of plastic types including ABS. It is a closed box with temperature control. NO drawing software.

The Creality Ender3 el cheapo £140 shipped from Germany on Aliexepress. Uses CURA to print (free software) results are on the level with the CEL until you start to try flashy plastic types. Buy eco PLA filament from 3D Jake in Austria. Spend £45 ish to get free shipping. This is my recommended starter choice cheap setup. It will teach you loads and give you an idea if you want more but in reality it will probably do all you want. It can do ABS , has a huge build volume that you wont use. 220 X 220 X 250. If you try and print that it will probably take 2 days.

Fusion 360 hobbyist for drawing.

The Core xy is a self build. This is for higher speed printing as the head has a low moving mass.

Get the Ender 3 and start learning.



Neil Wyatt22/11/2019 22:00:40
18140 forum posts
713 photos
77 articles

I keep coming across people praising the Creality Ender 3, as above.

Cheap enough and capable enough to cut your teeth on, then decide if you want to upgrade.


fizzy22/11/2019 22:06:41
1725 forum posts
116 photos

for sheer out the box plug and play you cant get much better than the Flashforge Finder - incudes slicing and gmail software. Easy to design basic stuff in Tinkercad. Limited only by a bed of 140 x 140 but ideal entry level, very well built and under £200.

Hollowpoint22/11/2019 22:59:34
331 forum posts
31 photos

I recently bought a 3d printer, after many hours of research and loads of recommendations I went with an Ender 3 Pro. I have not been disappointed with my purchase, it's a very nicely put together machine which seems way better quality than the meagre price tag would suggest, the print quality supprised me as it is really quite good! One of the things that swung it for me is that there is hundreds of spares, accessories and upgrades available for this machine at very reasonable prices. There is also a big support community which is a bonus if you ever need any help. I would readily recommend the Ender 3!

As for software. I use fusion 360 and cura. Both good, both free.

Old School23/11/2019 08:05:14
351 forum posts
30 photos

I use the Balco one from Aldi worked straight out of box came with a SD card full of things to make, also Cura software.

Like a lot of the others I use Fusion 360 to do the drawings very much at start of 3D drawing but getting better, the printer gets used to prove drawings before I start cutting metal on the cnc mill.

John C23/11/2019 08:19:21
260 forum posts
92 photos

+1 for the Aldi printer, Cura software and Fusion 360 CAD.

Tony Jeffree23/11/2019 09:25:25
393 forum posts
8 photos

Many thanks to everyone for the very useful replies - lots to investigate there. I suspect Santa may have difficulty getting one of these down the chimney...

IanT23/11/2019 10:35:35
1581 forum posts
145 photos

Hi Tony,

I'm just one step in front of you, in that I finally decided to try 3DP(rint) a few weeks ago. Mrs Santa ordered a Sovol SV01 for me. I follow Myfordboy and he's recently acquired one (not his first 3D printer) and he seems to like it. Other reviews have also been generally positive. It seems to have most of the new 'features' of affordable 3DP and it comes virtually assembled. Not something I'd have been bothered about at one time but it seems more sensible these days (I've already got a lifetimes TUIT list)

With regards 3D CAD - this was really what was putting me off starting 3DP - the prospect of learning 3D CAD, which I'd struggled with previously. I know many here use Fusion and also (more recently) Alibre - but frankly I'm not keen on investing my time in either (nor having my content stored in the Cloud). So I've been looking at open source and a friend in the Gauge 3 Society recommended Open SCAD.

I wasn't too impressed after a first look at their website but decided I should watch a few 'user' videos before ruling it out and now I'm definitely going to try it for a few simple 'starter' 3DP workshop jobs I have in mind. It's really a scripting language that builds graphically as you instruct it. It's possible to build libraries of re-usable code (modules) and to also use & modify other peoples scripts, something not possible with most published CAD.

I do have other 3D CAD needs that SCAD might not be so good at (e.g. 3D to 2D) but I've also been looking at FreeCAD for those 'future needs'. FreeCAD seems to be able to collaborate with SCAD in some very interesting (and useful) ways. All open source of course, no licences, no fees, no cloud.

I'd recommend you look at 'Myfordboy' for a Sovol review - and 'Mathcodeprint' for an interesting overview of SCAD (and FreeCAD transfers) - all on YouTube of course.

To be clear - this is not the voice of experience, I'm just starting out too. My Sovol arrived (well packed) a few days ago but has been embarged by Mrs Santa until Xmas. I decided to jump into 3DP with something reasonably current (rather than an older model) and this is where I am at the moment...



PS Thank you for the many useful ideas, articles and projects I've used/enjoyed/tried over the years.

Vidar23/11/2019 17:12:07
57 forum posts

I mentioned above to maybe first checkout your potential use against the strength and weakness of the two most common consumer 3D print technologies - filement welding and liquid UV light hardening.

Since then I've given a bit of thought. I own and use both types of printers (a BCN Sigma and an Anycubic Photon), and the types of tasks I use them for are quite different. It is mostly a matter of scale and precision (accuracy though is hard on both), and to a lesser degree choice of physical end properties and material choices.

So for my use the filament 3D printer is used mostly for larger and less detailed items, while the UV liquid one is used mostly for items that are small and/ or detailed. The tipping point for me is objects somewhere around 8-10 cm long in some dimension. Both printers can be used to print wax for making forms for casting if that is of interest - same distinction applies there, but with the liquid one have a clear quality advantage. The filament printer is the only though that can print with more than one material, or where I can add metal inserts (threads, fasterners etc) as needed during the print.

For my use the liquid printer is the one I go to. It is a lot less hassle to setup, very few settings to fiddle with, and the result is usually good on first try. The filament printer on the other hand have quite a few settings to fiddle about, different materials behave quite differently, and it takes time to iterate towards good results.

Edited By Vidar on 23/11/2019 17:13:20

Lainchy23/11/2019 20:33:00
247 forum posts
98 photos

+1 more for the Ender 3, but be prepared to tinker (there's a reaon why they don't sell them at Currys and the like). There is a huge community for these printers though, and they sure print well when assembled correctly

Lars Christensen on YouTube has a fantastic playlist for beginners on Fusion 360, which is still free for hobbyists, and as others have said... thingyverse has thousands of free STL files to play with.


Ian Skeldon 223/11/2019 20:43:51
487 forum posts
41 photos

I love my ender 3 and found no reason to upgrade, amazing at the price.

Tony Jeffree29/11/2019 10:25:12
393 forum posts
8 photos

Looks like Santa will be struggling with an Ender 3 - thanks for the help!

Bazyle29/11/2019 12:51:34
5395 forum posts
206 photos

Nobody has mentioned the versions of basic Prusa 3 available on ebay........

Limpet05/12/2019 22:50:41
135 forum posts
5 photos


I've had the same dilemma, I've been looking for months now and just ordered the ender 3. I'm unable to dither any longer as my next main project will need me to test parts before cutting metal


Jeff Dayman06/12/2019 02:29:40
1854 forum posts
45 photos

To those receiving an Ender 3 soon, prior to or during assembly do check out Myfordboy on Youtube. He has an excellent set of build notes for careful assembly that will contribute to great prints.

There are also a lot of free downloadable stl files to print "hot rod" parts to improve your Ender 3 on sites like Thingiverse. Before spending time downloading them, I would suggest waiting to see if your received machine actually needs them. In many cases Creality has fixed issues over time that some of these parts were designed to address. One example - a long time ago Ender 3's controller box had a fan vent hole on top of the electrical box that all sorts of bits would fall into, jamming the fan. There were several designs of fan ducts on Thingiverse designed to stop this happening. I spent a bit of time downloading, improving the design etc. while I waited for my machine to arrive. I thought the duct would be one of the first prints. Machine arrives - no hole in the box top! Creality had improved the design! I was also told " oh be sure to get a special filament guide tube from company X, the stock ones are garbage". I bought one of the "hot rod" tubes, it was not expensive, but I built the machine with the stock tube and it has worked just fine - the special tube was not needed at all.

The under-bed pull out home-printed tool tray is a useful improvement, as are various filament guides and cable clips for the ribbon cables. A back cover for the control panel is a useful item if moving the machine much - saves piercing your fingers on sharp wire ends on the open PCB - but this may be improved on newer models.

If your machines come with a glass bed, that's great! in my experience they work FAR better than the peelable bed pad the machine came with. If your machine does not have a glass bed, it's a worthwhile improvement, in my opinion. It is held onto the bed on my machine with 4 small bulldog paper clamps. Not fancy but dirt cheap and they work just fine. You do need to raise bed temp setting a bit for a glass bed due to heat losses - in my case about 12 degrees C hotter than recommended bed temp for any given material, determined my experiment, seems to work well on my Ender 3.

Enjoy! 3D printing is a lot of fun, as well as enabling making some very useful parts.

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