I’m seeking a compact, MakerBot-sized, industrial grade 3D printer. One that will print over and over again without a ton of futzing and messing around. Consistently level build plate (or self-leveling) and print head that doesn’t need TLC after the first 50 prints or so.
Does this exist?
The quality has to be comparable to Makerbot and ideally prints PLA. Extra bonus points if it is fed by pellets, not filament.
How much do you want to spend? All of the Makerbot-class machines require substantial amounts of dicking around. They don’t have enough rigidity, and they are built using the cheapest components available.
One of the small Stratasys machines sounds more like what you are looking for, but they are 5x more expensive than a hobbyist machine (and Stratsys doesn’t sell PLA) . The new 3D Systems Cube models look promising, but the old ones didn’t get great reviews. And both those guys use the razor blade business model, so they are going to screw you on filament pricing.
As far as I know, there are no machines that melt pellets directly- the extruder heads all control volume by pushing a filament of a known diameter at a known speed. Trying to measure and control the volume of melted pellets would be really difficult.
If I were to put a price tag on it right now, I’d be looking for sub-$5K. Your comment about the MB-dicking around is bang on. I love the machine for what it does for me in the office, but if I want to set up something that needs to run autonomously in the same capacity of an injection mold machine, it definitely does not fit that bill.
Ideally, I’m looking for someone who is in the industry who is keen on looking at a new 3D printing business model.
My Up! Mini is pretty bullet proof, only major issue is wide flat prints not sticking in cold weather. In the Fab Lab where I work however all the Ups have extrusion and sticking problems at various times, mainly due to them being used a lot.
The lab had borrowed a stratasys mojo which produced beautiful prints on a large platform, but its about $AU 8000, and is ABS.
I’m looking forward to the Dremel printer arriving here, because I think where they will be sold and their supply chain and support means they’ll have to work really reliably all the time, and for you its PLA.
If you want the pellets I’d say just make it yourself. If that is not appealing (I will guess it is not, since you don’t want to “dick around”) I have had very good luck with the Stratasys machines, every once in awhile you will get a hiccup but typically you can figure out what the cause was and that it was the users fault.
Objets are the best way to go. I hear talks about potentially getting one for the studio here, as the Makerbots are good for rough internal stuff, but never really product client facing quality. Might have to pick your brain a bit on it later.
We also have an eden and love it. Can’t beat the quality and speed.
I just came across this website earlier this week: https://www.3dhubs.com/. Pretty interesting concept. I think websites like this and all the RP vendors popping up will drive the cost of RP parts down quickly.
I’ve wanted an Objet from first sight. Hard to justify the cost if you’re not using it daily though:/ We’ve been running a Dimension in house for mechanical stuff and out-sourcing SLAs and Objet prints for occasional pretty model.