Yep, we joined the club. Luke (son) has been researching 3D printers and found a new company that offered a micro 3D printer. After the obligatory parental warnings, contract negotiations as well as board approval (i.e., wife), Luke received one from Santa.
In short, I’m impressed! It came with all the necessary components and a link to the free software necessary to use the 3D Printer on a Mac or Windows PC. We connected up to a Windows 8 machine with the supplied USB Cable and started looking for sample 3D models at Thingiverse to download and print. The 3D software required STL files, which may be created by commercial applications like SolidWorks, AutoCAD, Mathematica and free applications like Google SketchUp to name a few.
So far, we have printed an animated character with movable legs and arms, a Batarang, and the four components that make up Kylo Ren’s lightsaber. And the printer doesn’t get hot or require an external fan.
To be fair, there are a few things to know up front. Instead of ink, the 3D printer uses filament. Budget $15-$25 per roll plus shipping costs. To reduce your filament usage, it is best to print without filling the 3D object. Also, patience is required. Depending on the object, complexity, and print quality, your 3D printing job may take several hours. For a few models, we printed for 15 hours straight and had no issues. With that said, it is important to note that your computer cannot lose power or go to sleep. Sadly, we learned the 3D printing software cannot “remember” the previous printing location, so you have one attempt or you start over.
I love OUR 3D printer. Catch that, Luke? If you have questions, let me know. We plan to purchase one for the FTDC so folks can see it in action in 2016.
Happy New Year!