How handy are you? If your a little handy and following mediocre instructions I highly recommend getting a 3D printer and discovering a bunch of things you didn't know you needed or could solve with one. Someone else has solved your issue with a 3d print and there are a bunch of things you didn't know you needed until you have one.
I recommend getting an Anet A8 clone it will run around $139.00 as of April 2018 when on sale its an excellent beginner/intermediate 3D printer. Dont get any that says Anet A8 look for the one with the square motherboard like the ANET V1.0 shown here https://des.gbtcdn.com/u.../06/1467769961811607.jpg Second if possible find the Anet A8 clone that has the dial/wheel controller vs the one with the buttons in a plus configuration a lot of people prefer the dial to the cross/plus buttons. This is the best bang for buck beginner to intermediate 3D printer. Dont be surprised if you find this printer does everything you need. It has an excellent user community and support there is no shortage of people willing to help you.
During your build
Dont overtighten your belts they need to be snug not piano wire tight your moving a small print head it doesn't need to be able to resist the force of a truck.
Take your time if will take you 2-3 hours to build your printer there is no rush some of your prints might take hours or days to produce. Some might be 10 mins.
MUST DOs on your printer
1. Secure your wires with a strain relief on both the extruder (hot glue gun) and your heat bed.
2. Solder your wires to the heatbed instead of using the connector this will require some heat but its much better than the connector. If you must use the connector just keep in mind to one day solder the wires to the bed.
3. Buy a fire extinguisher just in case.
I dont mean to scare you and If you dont know what I mean by this the user community will be more than happy to help you its nothing really you just want to add a way of keeping your cable of flexing back and forth where the wires meet the bed and extruder because over time they can seperate and there is enough current to cause a fire which brings me to the following first highly recommended mod of the firmware to use Marlin.
Highly recommended first mod.
Flash the bios on your controller with Marlin. This will help protect you from potential fires its a much better firmware that monitors certain aspects of the printer like Im supplying current to the heatbed and its not getting warmer hey I might have a wiring issue shut down. Thermal runaway from your extruder which can mess up a print.
As a beginner cover your heatbed with green or blue painters tape. The printer should come with a piece. I got a roll of 4" wide from Amazon and every now and then I have to replace the tape. You can print directly to the bed but I find using painters tape works great. Later on as you advance you might use glass held onto the bed using clips but I never had to do this.
Leveling your bed is bit tricky but once you get the hang of it will take you 2 mins to do. You basically want the nozzle to come down and activate the switch till it stops then turn off the printer and move the nozzle to each corner of the print bed with a piece of paper between the nozzle and bed you want a slight resistance as you move the paper between the bed and nozzle. You can adjust the spring loaded screws till you get it right. If the right side of the bed is too far for the spring loaded bed you can turn the right [censored]ar dont turn the left one where the switch is because that's you set point for height there is a screw to turn to adjust that. There are plenty of videos that should show you how to do this once you get it youll be golden.
Somewhere with your printer should come an SD card on the SD card is usually a test file that you can hit print it might also have settings that work well for your printers slicing program.
Get yourself familiar with http://www.yeggi.com/ and https://www.thingiverse.com/
IF YOUR INTO LEGOS AND MODEL TRAINS
https://printabrick.org/ - oh yea how did you live without a 3d printer?
Cant find the train links but check out Yeggi much better than the cost of some of those models.
Software youll need
Repetier - this is what you will use to slice the STL files you get on Yeggi/Thingverse that tell your printer what to do.
There are multiple slicer algorithms I prefer Slic3r. Cura is also very popular.
You can technically be done there and just print what others have provided STL files for. I found a vesa mount for an HP tablet out there how crazy is that someone already solved an idea I had.
Your first Prints
Your first prints should be with a filament called PLA. PLA is very forgiving to the beginner its an excellent starter filament in fact it might be all you want in a filament but as you advance youll get into others. There are two main settings youll be asked all the time when printing bed temp and extruder temp. For PLA youll have a bed temp of 55-60 degrees and your extruder will likely be around 205. Get your first prints down with PLA and enjoy use the community if you need slic3r settings.
ABS - ABS is more durable than PLA but its also more difficult to print with because ABS was mainly for injection molding and it likes to shrink a little which is perfect for injection molding but trickier to for doing layer by layer. Youll definately need a box to put your 3d printer in to keep the heat contained, no breezes, keeping the print stuck to the bed is trickier and youll have to have the heat bed up around 95-105 and your extruder around 235. A lot more heat than PLA and less forgiving as corners tend to lift. You might have to make ABS slurry (ABS and Acetone) to paint a layer on the bed before your print. Some people just skip ABS all together and move to something like PETG. ABS is really good for doing lineless clean prints because your projects will have the layer lines in then when done. With ABS you can do whats known as an Acetone dip or sit it in a container where the acetone vapors smooth out the lines giving you a very clean final product you might not be able to tell was done on a 3d printer.
PETG - Boy do people love PetG its forgiving like PLA tough like ABS but its kind of a stringy filament now your more advanced settings will look at retraction speeds which is essentially when you need to move the print head to another location and continue printing its basically pulling back on filament enough that none of it leaks out forming a spider like web string through your project.
Its pricier but if you need the durability its worth the spend.
Those are my initial thoughts and suggestions if you have been thinking about 3d Printing and wanted a starting point tog get into the hobby.
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