3D Printer Real life experiences

Hi all,

as I have been put into the position to “kill” some additional, seasonal budget on a 3D printer towards the end of the year I’d love to hear your stories.

We run a small product developement and marketing office, which caters to niche applications within industrial manufacturing. We’d like to stack up on our inhouse possibilities after outsourcing 3D printing for years now. Typically we do only 2-3 projects within a year, which benefit from prototyping. The percentage of projects, that make use of 3D printing could increase, if the printer sits next to my desk (or bed).

Budget would ideally be around 2 Grand. Could be upped 50% if sound reasoning provided.

What I’d be looking for is:

  1. Easy workflow. My time is more valuable to the company than any “savings” through self builds or hacks.
  2. ABS resin
  3. Compatible to Rhino 3D
  4. Printing - Bed as big as possible
  5. Printing reliability before time savings.

Till now I have an eye on the Ultimaker, any other hints? IRL experiences?


Just a comment on #2, does it have to be ABS? Only because you mention it sitting next to your desk/bed and ABS will be pretty smelly.

If you can live with PLA the new Makerbot Replicator+ launched a few weeks ago with some nice new features like a new build plate design but it’s not currently designed for ABS.

Good point about the smell. The “bed” part was an exaggeration due to the allnighters we all pulled as trainees. :wink:
But you are right, you’d probably not want that in an office, - visitor area.


The new ultimaker looks pretty amazing. Having the ability to use support material will speed up the process, and get cleaner prints. Lulzbots are pretty solid as well.

Check out Zortrax printers (https://zortrax.com/). Stupid name, but I was very impressed with the sample parts I received from them. They gave me one of their stock parts which you would expect to be good. But they also printed a sample part file that I gave them (for free!) that was designed for injection molding. It had numerous overhangs that they printed perfectly without support structure and some long, thin, drafted features that I would have expected to print poorly via FDM. Another ME I know that actually has a Zortrax M200 as a personal machine, also highly recommended it for both print quality and ease of use.

Unfortunately for me, the powers that be ended up tabling our 3D printer purchase. Maybe you’ll have better luck. But, I would definitely buy one for myself if I had an extra $2k lying around!

For printing with ABS, especially in a visitor area, you need a good ventilation system and a closed-box design machine - the fumes are harmful and unpleasant. I recommend the CEL Robox and Witbox 2 for ABS:

In my experience, PLA parts are mechanically just as good as ABS parts, moreover they release only a slight but pleasant fume not unlike fresh bread and are foodsafe and biodegradable.

Even though Ultimaker gives the most reliability and best print results, for the steep price point I would rather go for a Lulzbot TAZ 4 (if you can find one) or 5. If I were in your shoes, for that budget I would buy two Ultimaker Original machines and upgrade them with dual extruders - those are still fantastic machines and you can find some used ones almost good as new. I have used mine with great results over the past 3 years and it still works wonderfully. Or a larger printer together with a Wanhao i3. Especially for a business there is great value in having multiple print jobs running simultaneously.

Also don’t put it next to your bed unless you have good earplugs :slight_smile:

Hi Mo-i,

I see you are in Germany - there is a guy in the Netherlands selling good quality filament for 30% of the store price.
I just bought a lot of 24 and it’s very good, sealed and in mint condition.


Hi Ralph,

thats seems to be a very good price for a min. quantity of 24 pieces. Hope this is legit. But at 6,- € a kg it still possibly can be.
I am located ca. 100km from the border so a delivery to our place should be a problem.



P.S.: This week I’ll decide on a printer first.


We are now proudly running an Ultimaker 2+.

The machine has so far exceeded my expectations. It has been printing 3 prototypes within the last week. And so far we had only one (severe) crash during unattended night running… It really clogged its printhead with smoldering PLA. But the error was on my side, as I made some designchanges, which rendered the object unprintable. (Edge radii, which led to warping and shrinking.)

But as the machine is built as sturdy and user friendly as a 1950 Ford I was able to clean up the mess and have it running again with only 1 hour downtime. Spareparts are readily available and the results of the prints over all are rather pleasing.

The hint on potential ABS fumes was well placed, though.

Even when only printing PLA the constant odor and grinding noise are going onto my nerves, already. I’ll have to relocate it to the shed, that houses cleansing agents right now. That should provide a sound insulating and climate stable chamber for the new “colleage”.

I’ll keep you posted.


Congratulations on your 3D printer! It is a great choice, the UM2 is the printer I have seen professional designers use the most by far.
These are quite the workhorses so you can have them printing all the time and they will run for 2-3 years at least without major repairs needed.
The only maintenance needed is occassional checking of belt tensions, screw tightening and oiling the shafts -sewing machine oil is best- and Z-screw with Magnalube.
Edge radii can be done with good supports and print settings. Slic3r allows customizable supports as well as variable layer heights which is great for detailed yet fast prints. Post-process ABS with Makerase, PLA with XTC3D.
Is the printer still running well? It would be great seeing some prototypes that you created.
The Ultimaker Original in my studio is still running OK - see attached.

UM2s are pretty good but I’m quite impressed with the Form 2 resin printer. It’s like it’s on a whole another level. We have it in our shop here (Thx to Paul our boss). Resin vs Filament is like David vs Goliath. UM’s are a great personal 3d printer though. Both are out of my current price range so yeah . . . FML :slight_smile:

Yes resin/DLP is a different class of printers. I would rather step to a used Stratasys dimension or Polyjet machine though, because they work well also for mechanical prototypes and the price point is not necessarily much higher than DLP.

I am now considering either an UM2 or BCN3D+ printer because of reliability and quality. Together with Lulzbot (not easily available in the EU) these are the only trusted 3D printer brands at the moment in my view.

Let’s make this the board’s 3D printing thread - we need one!