I've been looking at buying a 3D printer for ages,

I’ve been looking at buying a 3D printer for ages, and I finally have the funds to purchase one. Anything below $2,000 is an option, though I’d prefer not to spend that much. I’ve looked over the Make magazine buyer’s guide, which helped narrow it down, but I’m not sure which one I should go with. Any advice from people who have experience is very appreciated.

Background - I’ve got no experience with assembly/hobby building, but I’m happy to learn and live with an engineer. I’m looking to make large prints for artwork/molds/costuming, so leaning more towards “print and forget” than calibration.

MakerGear M2 - $1450 kit/$1750 assembled - looks to be solidly built with IRC tech support (definitely a plus, since lack of experience would multiply downtime for me).

MendelMax Pro - I was originally going to go with this from Trinity Labs, but they started retooling their operation right after I put down a placeholder deposit. Now, almost half a year later, they’re shipping units again, but of a new machine, the Aluminatus TrinityOne. It’s more expensive, and I can’t find any user reviews yet - if anybody has information or hands-on experience with it, I’d love to hear it.

Type A Series 1 - $1,400 assembled - This got best in class, and looks tempting, but no heated bed, and the support seems marginal. (Their COO is on reddit, though, so easily accessible at least.) Coupled with the fact that it appears to be an original design, and I’m concerned that my lack of tech skill would make any repairs/calibrations much harder.

Ultimaker - ~$1600 assembled - A bit on the expensive side, but Make rated it as quick, accurate, and solid across the board. Plus, the support seems to be significant, with wiki, forums, and Google group.

Help me narrow this down so I can finally buy one, please!

Ultimater sounds good.

I prefer a reprappro over anything else every day. But that’s just me.

Maybe the new MendelMax? http://store.makerstoolworks.com/

@Ultimaker is awesome btw … sorry i am biased, it’s just very good

I just purchased (had a it a week, done a few prints) an Afinia H-Series, and am very pleased with the setup, software, and the quality of the prints. If you are in the states, it ships from MN, so you’ll get it within a few days of ordering it.

I’m a tinkerer, pseudo-engineer, type, so it was hard to avoid the temptation to buy a kit, or build something from scratch. In the end, I decided that my first printer should be a “means-to-an-end” and that I would be better suited having something that works out of the box (setup + calibration to first successful print was under an hour).

So, my advice is that if you are concerned about down-time, and that the attraction to 3D printing (to you) is not the process of printing, but rather the end-result, then buy something that is just going to work out of the box.

Clearly, by the looks of everyone around here, 3D printers are like tattoos, and if the bug bites you, you’ll be using your first printer to make bigger and better printers soon enough.

My inclination is to buy something that works out of the box, but everything I’ve read about 3D printing says that even those are going to run across some glitches and miscalibrations, which is why easy access to support is important to me. I did look at the Afinia H-Series, and I was tempted, but I’m looking to print fairly large pieces, so I’m thinking a bigger build envelope is better.

@Alexandra_Smith have you considered buying a Protos 400?

No, I’m afraid this is the first I’ve heard of the model.

Out of your price range at $2,800 but definitely worth considering: https://store.makerbot.com/replicator2x.html

They have a retail store in Manhattan if you’re close enough to check it out: http://www.makerbot.com/retail-store/

Why worth considering? It seems heavily overpriced compared to a really good Ultimaker.
You can buy 14 Makibox LT for that kind of money.

I would recommend taking a look at the Bukobot. http://deezmaker.com/bukobot/

The only issue is a bit of a lead time for delivery, but the printer is a pretty fantastic design. If I were looking to buy a printer at the moment that’s what I’d go with.

Don’t compare a Printer (which is called Makibox btw ^^) that isn’t properly reviewed to one, that is working/on sale/tested please.

Also: yes they are overpriced, but they work out of the Box afaik. #Ultimaker has to be assembled/tested first, which can (with a big C) a pain in the ass/and costs around 5-8 hours. If you calculate a WorkHour of yourself with around $ 50 (which you should) that is another 250 - 400 $ you would need to add on top - which makes the Ultimaker still less expensive, but not all of us WANT to assemble things.

And YES, i know that you can buy an assembled Ultimaker - but you shouldn’t ignore Import/Shipping Cost when you are US-based.

And now can we PLEASE stop that PrinterWar Shit (i am also telling this myself, i am not an angel when it comes to this) - it doesn’t help

While I do like the resolution the Replicators offer, their price tags are steep, and the 2X isn’t showing me enough extra features that I’d want to justify the price. (Dual head extrusion is fairly useless when I plan on painting prints - unless there’s some other reason I’d want it?)

You might want Dual Extrusion for Support Material that can be dissolved later, but you’re right - it’s not worth the additional Price

Based on past experience I really can’t support the Makerbox Industries models.

So what’s the current lineup for Alexandra? Can anyone summarise?

The lead time on the Bukobot IS pretty daunting, and I’m a little wary of long waits after a deposit at Trinity Labs went from “4-6 weeks to availability” to 5 months and a new printer model. It does look like it’d fit my specs otherwise.

Bukobot seems quite trustworthy, but you can get in touch with @Whosa_whatsis about it too. He’s quite active on G+ and the 3D printing groups and is one of the people behind the Bukobot.

pffff Resolution … i beat the Replicator any time

Yeah… Resolution is more of a marketing tool than a useful measurement. Basically any current generation printer is capable of the same resolution. A more important measure is how fast you can print and still achieve good results at that resolution and the amount of backlash (which should be basically none) in its axes. That’ll dictate the quality of your prints, and your happiness with the machine, more than the theoretical maximum resolution of the stepper motors.