After reading about and following 3D printing for a couple of years, I finally got my own printer when I found the Solidoodle (Gen 1). At $700 it was one of few printers under $1000, and the only assembled printer under $2000. Since then I have upgraded to the Solidoodle 2 which is bigger and even cheaper.
With the Solidoodle 2, 3D printing is even more accessible, especially to people who don’t have the time to assemble a kit, and just want to start printing. Of the thousands who have ordered and are waiting for their own Solidoodle printers, many (or most) don’t have any experience with 3D printing, so I wanted to share what I have learned so far.
3D printing at this level is not plug and play. There is a bit of craft to it, and I like to think of it as being a little like woodworking. You can cut a bunch of pieces with some power tools and glue them together and have a project that is functional. To do the best work you need to know something about your materials, and which tools (or settings) will bring the results you are looking for. And a part that comes out of the printer may not be any more complete than a wood project that has just been assembled. There may be more sanding, buffing, and painting needed to realize the work’s full potential.
Even so it is amazing to watch something created in the computer become physical reality, especially when it is something that couldn’t be created by any other means.