3D Printer Recommendations?

I’m looking to buy a 3d printer for the office and wanted to see if anyone had any recommendations?

My priorities are:

  1. low maintenance
  2. ease of use
  3. good surface quality and resolution

I’m less concerned about the integrity of the part or anything like that. It would need to be able to print at a pretty fine resolution to be able to nicely print things like in ear headphones at scale.

A few I am looking at:


Some of the paper laminate printers intrigue me as well. We had a vendor in at frog showing us some parts and they were pretty nice:

Projet 1500:
anyone familiar with any of the 3D Systems Projets?

I wish I could be more help, the only one from your list that I have gotten many parts from is the Objet (obviously). I’ve been very pleased with the objet parts I’ve recieved and the ability to do different durometer elastomers is great, and I imagine would be great for applications like in-ear headphones. Just from what I’ve heard and seem, Objet seems to be the way to go.

I don’t have in-house experience with them but I’ve been researching a bit myself (at smaller “desktop” units). Not sure what size you are looking for, but I found this interesting …

FDM(material) provides a very nice finish with tight tolerances right out of the machine. Sands well and minimum prep is needed to get a nice paint finish in comparison to sls and sla.

Chevis W.

+1. Whenever we are doing a silicon mold they recommend using FDM as master over any others.

yo: are you sure you want a printer inhouse? We decided against it because we felt it would limit us to that one single machine/material. Whenever there was a more suitable material to evaluate a product, there would inevitably be a manager saying “hey you’ve got a machine, now you’re saying you want something else from outside? ehm maybe next time”.

We use a bureau specialized in 3dprinting that got a ton of different machines. I don’t know what all machines or methods are called, I don’t care. I call them and explain my product and what I want to evaluate, and they recommend me the best method. I love it.

I’ve had in house machines for 10+ years. Invaluable to run quick look see prints whenever you want. Of course, you always have to go out of house for things, but having a printer on site is a nice gut check tool. I’ve just never gotten to buy one myself. Most of the ones I have experience with practically needed their own full time staff and I like something that is a little cleaner and easier.

I have not been very happy with the surface resolution and maintenance on FDM parts, but the machine I’ve had access to is a little older. Do you have a machine you recommend looking at?

I’ve been following these guys for a few years and it intruigues me, especially that the material is a ream of A4 paper. I thought they had turned to vapourware…

Have you thought of a desktop mill? The consultancy where I’m doing some work experience gets RP parts done by a guy with a CNC mill, the surface quality is unbelieveable.
I was surprised how cheap some of them are, and some models even have scanners:

hmmm, interesting… I hadn’t thought about a desk top CNC.

A desk top cnc would be a step back from a stand point of being able to reproduce designs that would be injection molded.

Chevis W.

Chevis -
We got a ZCorp 450 about 2 years ago and love it.
Its not the best res but for down and dirty modesl and even the quick models for a meeting you can’t beat it.
It’s not terribly expensive and neither is the maintence or upkeep. It CAN get messy if you let it get out of hand, but it really comes down to how much of a mess your or your team are.
We probably use it at least once a day here for something.

Z Corp: Very fast and easy to use machines, but fairly dusty. If you have a workshop, stick it there. In the office, I’d recommend against it.

Objet: Check and see how the service is in your area. Very nice machines. I don’t know how reliable or easy to use it is though.

Zcorps have come a long way in regards to mess from when they first came out. Our 450 is totally in closed and to add powder you hook up a vacuum and hit the fill button. Everything has the ability to be a mess if you’re not careful with it.

I’ve used zcorp, FDM and Objet in office settings and if you are building something like an earbud I think the only option is Objet.

Surface finish, material selection and speed are good.
We made some earbuds with small b-side details that were around 0.03" with no problem.

If you need to do large builds something like zcorp is nice.

If you need good material analogs, FDMs are nice because you can build in a PC or ABS like resin.

my fav is the Objet.

I have a different 3d systems printer, and it is FDM, I’m happy with the service, quality, and ease of use. I have also worked with a Deminsions machine, and a z corp. They both worked without a hitch for me for years so I would say. Talk to your local vendors and see who can be the most at your disposal when/ if you need something. Z corp offers like all the consumables you can eat in a year for like $3k, that’s nice. I am looking at an Objet, I have heard good things but I have also heard that you should shoot for the middle of the road models and that the low end ones are well low end.

I’ve used Objet, StrataSys (fdm), and Zcorp. The newer Zcorps are probably better what with the vacuum chamber and no-fuss extraction but still have that powdery feeling and weird texture. The reliability of our old 310 wasn’t great either. Where I work now uses a small Objet, without the elastomer add-on, but it has been trouble free and quite reliable. When set to ‘high resolution’ the builds take longer obviously but require very little finish work. I’d pick an Objet if I had a purchase decision.

We just got a MakerBot Replicator™ 2!

What do you think about it so far?