Down the 3D Printer Rabbit Hole
I knew I’d be making this leap at some point. While recovering from a minor medical procedure seemed like a good time, so after some furious research I ordered a Dremel 3D45 3D printer. B&H had the same price as Amazon, free expedited shipping, and was actually able to deliver faster than Amazon, so I was able to not give Amazon even more of my money, and that made me happy. Oh, and they took Apple Pay!
(No affiliation, just a long-time satisfied customer.)
While I have the skills and knowledge to build a 3D printer from a kit, for now at least my goal is to make 3D prints, not make 3D printers a hobby unto themselves. Similar to how I feel about Linux on the desktop (or at least how it was maybe a decade ago, I know that it’s improved). After a shot at migrating to Linux, I came to the conclusion that if I wanted to play with computers, Linux was a good option. But if I wanted to actually do things with a computer, the Mac was far-and-away the better choice.
Yes, two caveats here. One is that this was the landscape over a decade ago, and two, nothing wrong with playing with computers. I’ve spent a lot of my life doing that. But sometimes you just need a tool to accomplish other things, and not spend all your time and energy on said tool.
Ok, enough of that digression – bottom line is I wanted a 3D printer I could use to make things for fun and to support other projects.
The Dremel seemed like a good choice for a turnkey system, and it has not disappointed me. It’s enclosed, and it looks like a nice piece of equipment on my bench-top. All the software and hardware is well-integrated, and it even comes with a built-in webcam to monitor the printing process and make time-lapse videos. (At least if you go through Dremel’s cloud.)
The biggest cons were the price and the “need” to use Dremel filament. For a turnkey system with good support and backing, I felt the price was high but justified. Again, I wanted it to “just work”. The filament issue is a little overblown IMHO. You can use any filament, it’s not like the system is locked down. What you lose is the nifty RFID detection of filament type and potentially the warranty on the extruder (or maybe the entire printer, have seen mixed answers). For my current needs, the four types of filament Dremel sells will be fine. If I need to use something else, I’ll cross that bridge then. Yes, filament is a little pricier from them, and if I was expecting to do high-volume printing that might be a bigger factor. Note that since a lot of the initial reviews discussed this, that Dremel has bumped the amount of filament on a roll from 0.5 kg to 0.75 kg at what I think is the same price-point, so not the cheapest filament, but more competitive than it was originally.
In an evening I had it unboxed, the firmware updated, connected to the cloud, and printing the obligatory frog. The frog came out well in my inexpert opinion.
What do I plan to do with it? Well, beyond the good excuse to learn some new skills, making enclosures for various electronic projects is on the list. And there will no-doubt be plenty of LEGO and robotics related projects it will come in handy for as well.
Now, time to learn how to actually use 3D CAD, and slicing, and what material is best for what application, and so much more!