View Full Version : Best 3D printer kit or built for reasonable price?

01-21-2013, 12:19 PM
I have been looking at printers for about a week now, and there are so many out there it is hard to pick one.

I am looking for the best quality printing, with the largest print area, for the least money.

Any suggestions? I think I will want to stick with an extruder type since they seem to have the best print area and the material cost is lower. I know some others can give better print quality, but they cost more, the material costs more, and the material is not as stable when done, so I am ruling those out for now.

I don't mind if it is a kit or already built. I would actually prefer a kit, but I want the best quality prints and I am not sure if a kit will give me that. So, kit or prebuilt does not matter.

I was looking at the MenelMax DIY on the ebay ($795 complete kit), but I am not sure if it can make prints as good as something like an Ultimaker (even though it looks better than the wooden Ultimaker). I also see Trinity Labs has a new one out now as well that looks promising (no belts and has Thomson gear on it), although it is much more expensive.

I am not interested in the the old million rods and nuts looking Repraps, I would at least like something like the Mendlemax 1.5+ which uses an extruded frame. I don't mind paying more for something that is going to be less fussy about flex in the design and looks better. I may even consider the Beta Mendelmax 2.0 if anyone thinks it is worth the extra cost.

I don't care about the printer using printed parts in the build, in fact I prefer a more industrial and stronger look of extruded aluminum parts etc. Printed parts are ok though (like the Mendlemax uses some, but has an extruded frame).

I should also note, that building stuff is no problem for me. I have a pretty good home shop with some decent fabrication equipment (welders, cutters, benders, CNC mill, lathe, etc.) So, a kit is fine. I also have no problem with electronics (it's my day job).

I am not interested in sourcing a million parts from different places and reinventing the wheel. If I end up doing a kit, I would want to build a proven design and preferrably buy the kit parts from one or maybe a couple sources.

Anyway, that is some basic info, hopefully we can get a good discussion going and come up with the best choice for me.


01-21-2013, 06:00 PM
My review on the Leapfrog Creatr:

Leapfrog Creatr 3D Printer Review | 3D Printers Australia (http://www.3d-printers.com.au/2013/01/17/leapfrog-creatr-3d-fdm-printer-review/#more-2526)

01-21-2013, 07:14 PM
That is a nice looking printer, but I would guess by the time I got it to the USA, it would be $2500+ with the dual heads?

I like that it is partially enclosed and looks more refined than most (not made with a bunch of printed plastic parts or a wooden box).

However, when you start looking at specs, the Trinity Labs Aluminatus seems like it might be better. It has more build area, no belts (built more like CNC), better accuracy, better movement components, possibly better print bed? easier loading filament, possibly better extruder?

I do not see the Aluminatus offered with dual extruder though. It seems like if you compare the Leapfrog single extruder, they would be similar in price. The leapfrog looks more refined, but I really like the components used in the Trinity over the belts and rods of the leapfrog (although it may not really make much difference?)

TrinityLabs ? Introducing the Aluminatus "TrinityOne" 3d Printer (http://trinitylabs.com/pages/aluminatus-overview)

Does the leapfrog print better than the Ultimaker? I have seen some pretty nice print pictures from this, but I am not crazy about the smaller build area, or the wooden box. (not a fan of anything to do with modern machines made out of wood, wood is for furniture, instruments, and Leonardo da Vinci stuff :) )

It sounds like the Leapfrog is still pretty much an open source printer?

I was also looking at this kit, but I am not sure how good it would print when it is done. Any opinions? I have not really found a link to what Mendelmax this actually is. Anyone have a link with some info on this one? This would be a cheaper option, but it comes with no support and I have no idea how well it would print compared to the others mentioned above? They are calling it the MendelMax V. DIY.

Mendelmax V DIY Full V DIY Mendel Max Unassembled 3D Printer | eBay (http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=281047367135&ssPageName=ADME:X:RTQ:US:1123)

01-22-2013, 07:04 PM
I have't seen any prints off the Ultimaker but the prints I'm making on the Leapfrog Creatr are very good. I have a small amount of Z axis wobble but you're hard pressed to see it on a small to medium print. The Creatr is still open source which Is both good and bad. The open source software is not optimized to the printer, the factory has done a good job of determining default values for Pronterface and Slic3r so it's pretty good out of the box.

The freight from the Netherlands to Australia was 500 euro, landed the printer cost me just under AU$3000. I haven't really taken advantage of the dual extruders yet but I'm glad I got them. Two colour printing is supported by the latest version of Slic3r and I can also print PVA support material which is water soluble.

The Aluminus looks like it would be a good machine. I guess it all depends on your budget but also consider the backup you're able to get. Leapfrog have sold over a thousand units and I can vouch for the online support, they have responded quickly and with good information.

01-22-2013, 07:40 PM
You might want to take a look at the Ord Bot Hadron (http://www.buildlog.net/wiki/doku.php?id=ord_bot:the_ord_bot#overview).
I'm in the process of building one of these

01-22-2013, 08:06 PM
You might want to take a look at the Ord Bot Hadron (http://www.buildlog.net/wiki/doku.php?id=ord_bot:the_ord_bot#overview).
I'm in the process of building one of these

I just bid on one of these on Ebay, but I was not sure if it is what I wanted and it went over $700 (not bad if you knew this is what you wanted). I am also not a fan of taking over someone elses project unless its a great deal. I would rather build my own from all new stuff if the price is not much different.

The problem I see with Hadron is some rigidity issues (I see some mods out there), seems to use cheep threaded rods? and I have not seen any prints as good as the ones some are getting off the Ultimaker. I really don't like the wood, but I sure do see some nice prints being made.

I also found that Delta printer that might make decent prints with a pretty good size build area?

I still like the more CNC like build of the Trinity Aluminatus, but no one really has it yet to see how fine of a print it can really do. I would think it could out do the Ultimaker, but I have no way to know yet. It seems to make large layer prints pretty nicely from the pictures.

This is a tough decision to make with all these printers available.

01-23-2013, 07:01 AM
From my breif experience with a 3D printer (only had mine a couple of months) The major failings I see are hardware issues.

I like the idea of a printer that's more like a subtractive CNC machine/router. The chassis would be strong and the axes would run on supported rails and be screw driven. Of course, this is where we step out of the realms of an "affordable" machine.

As far as my machine goes, I have already experienced a couple of positioning issues with it where it drives into the end-stops and keeps going causing the belts to slip. As I have a lot of mechanical sympathy, it churns my guts when this sort of thing happens. It could be software related more than hardware so with the bulk of the FDM printers out there, running open source, this type of thing will be a potential issue.

The other problem is with the hardware. Almost by default, the hardware has evolved using allthread as a drive screw, in one or two axes and toothed belts in the other axes. In the case of the Creatr, the allthread is in the Z axis but some of the fixed gantry machines use it in X and Y. Economical as it is, it's rough, fine pitched and often less than straight. I've already begun to think of replacing the threaded rod in my machine with a rolled thread product that I could screen for straightness.

Let's face it, these machines are in their infancy at the present time and I actually question if the FDM process will last long for 3D printing mainly due to its shortcomings. The primary reason it's become so popular is that the patent ran out on the process and it's wide open for anyone to use commercially. Interestingly, some of the other processes like SLS and SLM are nearing the end of their patents too.

In FDM if someone asked me "what's the best printer?" I'd say "there isn't one" All of the current machines have drawbacks of one kind or another.

01-28-2013, 08:59 PM
Well, get rid of the threaded rods and go Delta! The delta platform has a lot of advantages for a printer, speed, accuracy, all axes tuned equally, larger build volume etc... We (open source) do have more work to do to fine tune things for the non-hobbyist users, but it's a rapidly evolving industry, and we're working on it

The FIRST delta 3D printer kits in the world!

01-28-2013, 09:32 PM
I did look at the delta printer. How do you think the fine print capabilities of that machine would be compared to the Ultimaker or the Trinity Aluminatus (just releasing)?

Any links to some fine layer prints to see what it can do?

Rods UP 9000
01-29-2013, 02:25 AM
I have a ORD-Bot Hadron up and running and my prints are just as good as those off of a Ulitimaker. I used 3/8"X12 Acme rod on mine instead of the 1/4"x20 threaded rod that Bart (the guy who designed the Hadron) uses. I have NO wobble in my Z axis as some have. I just about to finish up a 12"X12"X12" expanded version on a Hadron and I have about $600 total in it. Here is some photos of it.



01-29-2013, 12:37 PM
Check out the new Cubex from 3D Systems too. Looks pretty impressive for the money and options. I think they are rolling out next month.....

01-29-2013, 01:23 PM
Im not crazy about the proprietary aspect of the cubex. Paying extra for a fancy spool of filament, having to buy any parts from them in the future, the build area is smaller than some other options. I read the software is easier, but possibly less capable than the open source.

I think some of the other printers like even the ultimaker can make better prints?

I like the Rostock Max, but I am leary on the quality of the prints vs some of the more "industrial" cartisian types. I also wonder about the movement and the fact that where it is changes how precise it can be. Whereas the cartisians have the same properties in any position. I also wonder about the rigity and the used of bearings riding on aluminum extrusions etc.

I would like to see some prints off the Rostock with super fine detail and what people are truly able to achieve after some tinkering. You can find some fairly impressive print pictures that people have posted from the Ultimaker. I would like to see some of that on these other printers. I just dont like the wooden box and I don't plan to buy any machine with wood in it. Wood is not for machine tools in my opinion, it looks too homeade and amatuer, it also expands and contracts etc. I also don't like the price of the ultimaker and I prefer something made in the USA so Idont have to waste a ton on shipping. Of course if I were to get a Rostock it would be the acrylic version.

I really like the Trinity Labs, but the price is becoming too high for me to justify. I have also not seen any real fine layer prints with good hi res pictures to compare. I am looking for the highest quality vs. build volume vs price point. Quality of prints being the most important.

01-29-2013, 01:28 PM
I would be interested in a larger version of the ordbot with better hardware, but at what point would it be better to just get the Trinity Aluminatus? Also, there are not really any plans for the larger ordbot that I know of?

I kind of want to buy a complete kit rather than piecing together everything.

It's very hard to weed through all the info on the net and figure out which printer has the best print quality....

01-29-2013, 05:21 PM
Jevs, with the FDM process, I really think there is a limit to how good you can make the prints. Because of the nature of the process, you're always going to be able to see the layering. The ABS/PLA leaves the nozzle as a circular cross section and then is deposited in such a way as the top surface is flattened by the hot nozzle (if your machine is correctly set up) but the sides retain a semicircular profile which would have to be minute to come out looking flat (like a molded part). Furthermore, if you start working the layers down to minute thicknesses, say 0.1, 0.2 mm, the process is slow so your part will be very slow to print. I have upped the speed of my Creatr by about 25% without any issues, but its still pretty tedious, imagine if your CNC router was making 0.2 cuts per pass, same thing :)
I'm liking the delta printers more and more. This one, the DeltaMaker looks very nicely constructed and uses a linear motion system developed as a Kickstarter project.
I like the mechanical simplicity and it has the potential to be the fastest on the FDM process.

As to any printers with proprietary consumables, leave them to the institutions and other places where they have big budgets and operators who need to have their hand held to make a print. 3D systems are doing the old "inkjet" routine on their customers and since they began their legal action against Form 1 and Kickstarter I'd have nothing to do with them purely on moral grounds.

01-29-2013, 05:56 PM
Here's a few


And here's the same part, but printed with Taulman Nylon 618 that we sell


another print


Those are all links to actual users prints, some of ours can be seen at
Flickr: seemecnc's Photostream (http://flickr.com/seemecnc)

01-29-2013, 09:28 PM
Check out

Aluminatus TrinityOne

full SQUARE FOOT of printable space

TrinityLabs ? Introducing the Aluminatus "TrinityOne" 3d Printer (http://trinitylabs.com/pages/aluminatus-overview)

01-29-2013, 10:34 PM
Check out

Aluminatus TrinityOne

full SQUARE FOOT of printable space

TrinityLabs ? Introducing the Aluminatus "TrinityOne" 3d Printer (http://trinitylabs.com/pages/aluminatus-overview)

You did not read this thread did you ;)

01-30-2013, 03:36 AM
There's some nice looking prints there jolafson, but I see the toolmarks!

01-30-2013, 12:28 PM
Jevs Sorry
I was busy using my Ordbot Hadron
and partictipating in a lot of other forums.

I have built Orbot Hadron, and used it extensively
I have used solidoodle's and reprap machines

Lot of arm chair 3D printer experts out there
who haven't squirted a gram of ABS/PLA!

Trinity Ones are finally shipping
Trinity talk google group


01-30-2013, 01:57 PM
Have any pictures of your best ordbot prints? I would like to see what it can do.

The problem I am having with the Trinity is the $1900 price tag and its still beta really

01-30-2013, 03:05 PM
You get what you pay for!

Suggest you read
Solidoodle Tips | 3D Printing with the Solidoodle 2 (http://solidoodletips.wordpress.com/)

Ian Johnson is very knowledgeable

although specific to Solidoodle -- a lot can be applied to all extruder type printers

The Solidform
SoliForum - 3D Printing Community (http://soliforum.com/)

also has a lot of information

Ordbot Hadron info at
buildlog.net ? View forum - ORD Bot (http://buildlog.net/forum/viewforum.php?f=33&sid=a61aea716e7cabb7763d221de62b2e44)

Have Phun

03-03-2013, 09:57 AM
Here's a few


And here's the same part, but printed with Taulman Nylon 618 that we sell


another print


Those are all links to actual users prints, some of ours can be seen at
Flickr: seemecnc's Photostream (http://flickr.com/seemecnc)

I'm not in anyway connected with these guys or sponsored in anyway, but....

I am smack in the middle of building this Delta, my first 3D printer as well I might add and I am really impressed with the quality of parts, the thought and design that went into it.

Nice big build area and one feature I like alot is the fact that I can increase the vertical build volume very easily.

I did alot of reading, research and endless surfing over many months before deciding on this 3d printer. The delta 3d printer seems to be the most forwards moving design IMO.

Oh, and the guys at seemecnc, are honestly just damn nice and helpful type people. Respond to email questions nearly instantly, everytime!

The assembly instructions and videos are also the most complete and detail I have seen for the kit 3d printers out.

My 2 cents.

03-06-2013, 10:20 PM
I think it's better to buy a kit. if any of the components is broken, it's easier to have them repaired.

03-08-2013, 08:41 AM
I already bought a Trinity1 Aluminatus. I think I am around the middle of the second batch. They finally finished shipping the first batch I believe.