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View Full Version : Why can't I find a single "parts focused" objective review of 3d printers?



salukikev
06-16-2017, 10:36 AM
I'm preparing to invest in a nice FDM (FFF) printer soon and of course I'm primarily interested in the physical features of the output parts- layer bonding, materials, texture, support structure and it's effect on surface finish. These are all properties of the actual output part, and I wish I could find a review, author, or organization that would evaluate the output part blindly on these merits alone rather than all the superfluous details of the machine itself (eg. interior lighting, interface, software, etc.). Not that machine details are totally inconsequential but at the end of the day pretty much the only thing that matters to me is the physical performance characteristics of my parts. I wish someone would do a review where the same file is printed on a collection of popular printers and the reviewer(s) only get the resultant part to base their entire assessment. Things like strength, accuracy, surface finish, and material matter to me, it doesn't matter so much how we got there. Sure there are some details like how big a part you can make or how long it took to make it that are relevant, but I'd like to take those out of the equation so that we can just talk about the result objectively.

The same double-blind testing of wine (https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/jun/23/wine-tasting-junk-science-analysis)s I found pretty revealing and I can't help but think we might see some similar results in this industry- or even better, a distinct winner in the "bang for the buck" category when we're just looking at parts. Tests could/should include destructive testing to evaluate layer strength and flex/toughness, heat resistance.

Anyway, if anyone has seen some reviews like this I'd LOVE to hear from you! Maybe we could organize a test here on the forum?

awerby
06-16-2017, 04:22 PM
The trouble with relying on individual users for reviews of their machines is that nobody's getting one each of every one that's made and comparing them head-to-head. It takes an organization like Consumer Reports to do something like that. The closest I've seen anyone come is Make Magazine, which puts out an annual list of best printers (heavily skewed toward FDM-type printers): 3D Printer Buyer's Guide | Make: DIY Projects and Ideas for Makers (http://makezine.com/comparison/3dprinters/)

Most of these machines are pretty similar to one another, and the differences are fairly subtle, involving how well they handle various different filaments, and how they keep the parts from warping when printed in some of them. You really need to define exactly what you want to do, which materials you want to use, and what features you need - heated bed? dual nozzles for support materials? capacity to handle flex filament? large work envelope? good manufacturer support? - before you can make a meaningful choice.

salukikev
06-16-2017, 04:52 PM
Thanks- and I agree, the differences can be subtle. I had this same conversation elsewhere and wear and tear on the machine was brought up as a valid strong contributing factor. I think the cool thing about such a comparison is that you could design a "test part" that is intentionally challenging to build due to various factors and simply request that a sample part be printed on assorted printer manufacturers to the best of their ability, and using a common material like PLA. If it has a heated bed- great! that should be reflected in the result an count toward the score. Dual nozzles? great! Use dissolving support and reap the rewards! Don't have any of these? Well, your resultant part/score is likely to suffer. Also, since many machines spec their own materials, I guess that would play a role too.

awerby
06-17-2017, 05:01 PM
You don't need a heated bed for PLA, but it's pretty essential for ABS. Some parts print fine without any support; others won't work at all. Some machines work fine for a while, then stop making parts to spec. The trouble with your idea is that the manufacturers whose machines are suitable for that part might respond, but the others won't. But maybe I'm being too negative - go ahead and design your part, send it to a lot of folks, and see how it goes. Let us know who wins, okay?

salukikev
06-18-2017, 09:57 PM
Well, I guess you could look at it as machines that COULD produce a good result would want to tout that as an accomplishment, and no response would just suggest that machine isn't up to snuff. I actually think a better scenario would be to focus on unbiased customers running these parts- that way results would be more validated- also preferred because machines would have more realistic wear & tear.
I don't mean to focus on the assorted details I mentioned(eg. Heated bed), only that all these features as well as other more subtle design details can effect the end result.

the_real_skimmy
01-14-2018, 04:41 PM
The thing is way more simple than you might think: It needs very little effort to get a good print despite some time tweaking what you have.
I am telling this, after building a dozen printers from 500€ to 4000€. Then I got sent a "CR10" for free and did some minor modifications to it (nothing special, just switching to key components to stuff I like, before even trying the stock - switched controllerboard, hotend, cooling, belt) and I am astonished by the quality I get out of this cheap-ass printer.
After all, it is laying down a hot sausage of molten plastic (in most cases) 0.4mm thickness. Not more, not less. The only question is: How comfortable or fast can you lay that sausage down precisely ;)

- - - Updated - - -

The thing is way more simple than you might think: It needs very little effort to get a good print despite some time tweaking what you have.
I am telling this, after building a dozen printers from 500€ to 4000€. Then I got sent a "CR10" for free and did some minor modifications to it (nothing special, just switching to key components to stuff I like, before even trying the stock - switched controllerboard, hotend, cooling, belt) and I am astonished by the quality I get out of this cheap-ass printer.
After all, it is laying down a hot sausage of molten plastic (in most cases) 0.4mm thickness. Not more, not less. The only question is: How comfortable or fast can you lay that sausage down precisely ;)

dharmic
01-15-2018, 05:41 PM
It's why reference parts like the benchy boat and various torture tests were designed. But, really, the filament is the limitation in most cases.