Andrew Lindsey (R) explains his latest 3-D
print to an eager crowd at FUBAR labs.
This Delta printer’s
print head is
connected to the
three vertical linear
XYZ axis printers. An
advantage of a Delta
printer is speed.
Learn more about the history of 3D printing here
or online at www.ModelAviation.com/3Dprinting.
So, you want a 3-D printer, but where do you start? What printer is right for
you? I wish I could offer you a list of printers and compare them on their merits so
you could choose the one that makes it to the top of the list, but new printers, new
features, and new technologies are entering the marketplace every day.
While I was writing this article, Stratasys, the creators of the Fused Deposition
Modeling (FDM) process, purchased MakerBot Industries, possibly creating a whole
new direction for 3-D printer options.
RepRap printers, such as the Printbot SIMPLE, retail for roughly $300 and can fit
next to your keyboard, while other printers are larger than a 4 x 8 sheet of plywood.
I want to help you narrow down some of the key features and research venues to
start your search for a 3-D printer.
Make a list of what you want and do not want from the printer. Price may be a
guiding factor, but not if you have to build it yourself.
Some key considerations could include: What is the purpose for the printer? What
is the size and type of objects you want to print? What materials do you want to
print with? What software works with the printer? Can you upgrade the hardware or
software later? What is your budget? Are you willing to scratch-build a printer, build
from a kit, or do you want a ready-to-print printer? Answering
these questions seems daunting, but with a little research you
will see some trends in the printers that pique your interest.
There is plenty of online information about 3-D printing
and I have included a list of key websites in the “Sources”
section for your reference. If you learn best with hands-on
knowledge, then visit your local Makerspace or Hackerspace.
These are clubs that are part of the Maker movement where
like-minded people come together to share do-it-yourself
56 Model Aviation OCTOBER2013 www.ModelAviation.com