I'm thinking of getting a 3d Printer to play around with. I'd like something that has decent quality.

I'm overwhelmed by the various options. I've so far discovered at least 9 different types of print technology.

Can anyone with any experience of 3d printers help guide me to get the right type of machine?

@gomez That depends on what you want to do. If want a printer that's reliable and just prints I would suggest a Original Prusa i3 (or the mini if that's more appropriate for your budget).

If you want to tinker with the 3dprinter itself I would suggest the Creality Ender or Ender v2.

All printers mentioned have an excellent community and also you'll have no problem getting parts for these printers in the future (either for uprgading or repair).

@gomez All printers that I mentioned above are FDM (fusion deposit modeling) printers. This type of printer is the most suitable for a beginner (and if you ask me the least hazardous and most environmental friendly). For this reason I stay away from everything that needs hazardous chemicals (e.g. SLA printers) or printers that use particles e.g. SLS printers. I don't think that the last category has any printer for hobbyist anyway.

@ericbuijs Thanks for that. The Prusa would be in budget.
Whilst I don't mind tinkering I'd prefer something that was reliable, produced good quality prints and I'd rather spend a bit more up front than buy something cheap I'd have to replace quickly.

@ericbuijs @gomez

What he said
I have an Ender 3 Very affordable, needs assembly and adjusting to setup Lots of mods to improve function, add features, and such
If you can afford it, get a Prusa
Higher quality Designed and build to just work

Sorry the software for modelling, I assume the slicer software comes with the printer.

@gomez I see. If you want to do 3dcad I suggest Solvespace, OpenSCAD or FreeCAD. OpenSCAD is, I suppose, more suitable for programmers. Solvespace and FreeCAD are more like 'traditional' 3dcad software.

If you want to do more creative modeling I suggest Blender or Dust3D. Blender is great but has a steep learning curve. Dust3D only allows for low poly 3d models (for now).

I don't know anything about proprietary modeling software but perhaps someone else can answer that.



Thank you again, I really appreciate all your help and advice.


@gomez What kind of thing are you thinking of printing? For bigger / less detailed / stronger stuff an extrusion-type printer like @ericbuijs recommended will be more appropriate.

If you're looking for sub-millimetre detail you're probably looking for a resin printer (SLA or similar). I've seen the Anycubic Photon and Elegoo Mars recommended for printing miniatures/figures, but haven't used them personally.

@gbrnt @gomez

I agree that if you want very small details, as mentioned by @gbrnt, SLA is likely your only option.

@gbrnt I don't really have anything I specifically want to print. I'm not into model figurines or anything like that. I'm just looking for something to play with that has a bit of versatility if I get into it.


@gomez In that case, I'd say that an FDM/FFF printer like the Ender-3 or Prusa i3 is more versatile.

If you ever wanted to, it can do small detailed parts if needed, just with a load less detail than a resin printer. But it can also do larger parts and you can try out different types of plastic, etc.

@gbrnt great thanks for the advice.
Ignoring the price which of those 2 would be your first choice?

@gomez Personally the Ender 3 (because I actually have one). Like Eric said, it's down to whether you're happy to tweak the printer. The Prusa will almost certainly print perfectly out of the box. The Ender may or may not need some tweaking - it's the luck of the draw.

@gbrnt Thanks, Prusa also has something they call a Multi Material upgrade is there anything like that for the Ender 3?

@gomez Not sure, but I think some might be printer-agnostic (maybe the Palette 2?). I don't have any experience with those, sorry.

@gomez think about your use cases first. The different technologies each have their own strengths and weaknesses.

For small intricate details and the most fidelity resin or laser sintering is great. But build size is relatively small, resin is stinky and messy (requiring a separate, well-ventilated room), and laser sintering is costly.

For larger build volumes, FDM is probably better but details are not going to be very crisp and the printers are more complicated mechanically.

@fedops problem is I don't really know my use case. I don't want it for a specific purpose.
I'm not going to be printing miniature figurines so I think I can skip SLA.
Someone told me about a Snapmaker 2 which can print, etch and engrave. That versatility is appealing but I don't know if I'd be buying the worst version of everything by having a 3 in 1.

@gomez in short: yes. You'll be compromising on everything.

If you want an FDM printer essentially for getting your feet wet and tinkering, Chinese printers like the Ender 3 are cheap enough to not have to compromise on an all-in-one.

@fedops great thanks for the info. Is the Ender 5 a worthwhile improvement over the 3?

@gomez not in terms of print quality and reliability. If the build volume is ok for you then the Ender 3v2 is a great machine.

If I were to buy a 3d printer, I'd have a look at lulzbot. Because like them I like free software and open hardware. If that resonates, have a look

@gomez ice been toying with a similar notion, I have some workshop space that would be out to good use, so interested to hear what you're thinking about

@jaz I think I've been put off SLA printers despite the better quality due to the noxious chemical element. If I had an external workshop however........... 😉

@gomez I've never been disappointed in anything made my Prusa. An Mini+ model for $400 assembled would make a great first printer and would still come in handy for smaller single color prints if you want to get something fancier with multiple extruders or a larger build platform somewhere down the line. If you don't mind a night of assembly, the kits are like $50 cheaper.

@Infoseepage I'm toying with ordering a MK3S+ kit as it's nearly £200 cheaper than the built version here in the UK.

@gomez They are great printers which let you print in a wide variety of materials, have good build volume and are very precise when tuned correctly. Prusa has continued to innovate on both the hardware and software front. I have an earlier edition Mk1 and the latest is a substantial iterative improvement on that same solid design.

I've about 90% convinced myself to get the MKS3+ and the Multi Material kit at the same time to combine the carriage charge. I'm just trying to work out the final cost as everything got complicated importing from EU after Brexit ☹️.
Is there any need to get any other accessories at the same time, like nozzles?
Then it's down to can I wait 4 weeks for shipment!

@gomez You are really diving in head first if you are going multi-material right away. I would definitely get some spare .4 nozzles and some hardened nozzles right away. You might want some larger nozzles for large prints which you don't want to take forever. I developed quite a toolbox of accessories over time. Wide blue painters tape, glue stick, scalpels, flush cutters, glass plates, metal binder clips, various lifting/pry tools, etc.

@Infoseepage due to the wait times and the carriage costs I just figured it makes sense to order everything the one time, even if I don't use it yet.

@gomez Yeah, Brexit has really made a mess of things, along with Covid. In the US, a lot of electronics are 25-40% more expensive atm, in part due to Trump's idiotic tariff war, but a lot of supply chain, manufacturing and shipping cost issues as well. It has lead to some really strange decision making in the IT sector. Can't wait for it to be over as I really dislike some of the dumb choices businesses are making to kick the can down the road.

@gomez I'd honestly recommend passing on multimaterial and sticking to a single extruder printer until you have built experience with all the software building/slicing options and how to get the best results with different materials. Spend the money you save on a variety of filaments colors and types and accessories.

@Infoseepage thanks for the info about the nozzles.
I will spend a deal of time getting my head around single filament before I try multi I promise. 😉
But if I go for the Prusa it just makes sense to get it all in one hit.

@gomez 3d printing is definitely a walk before you run hobby. A lot depends on the experience and skill of the operator in knowing the properties of different materials and the effects of different settings.

@Infoseepage yes, I'm trying to get my head around a basic understanding of the different types of filaments.

Hi Gomez!

That depends on what you want to achieve. As a rough guideline I may suggest FDM printers for mechnaical parts and SLA/DLP for very fine detailed stuff.

Other methods are not really affordable or practical at the moment.

@Bklronin I think I'm going with FDM to start until I've cleared some garage space when I might try a SLA.

@gomez Then I would suggest a Prusa i3 mk3. Has sone really nice features, good quality and is kinda affordable.

@gomez Ender 3PRO autobed leveling must have, never with ABS - only PLA!

For starting out, you can't go wrong with an Ender3. There's a huge number of them out there and much community support.

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