I’ve been doing a little Christmas dreaming lately. No sugar plum fairies for me t – I’m dreaming of 3D Printers and desktop CNCs. I’ve been watching these spaces for a while and I think the price / performance ratio is finally at a place where will take the plunge. I really am just looking to tinker and have one more go at getting the kids interested in engineering ;-). The question is what to get? I’ve listed the top contenders in each category below. If anyone has any experience (positive or negative) with any of these, I would appreciate a comment. Also, of course any others I should look at are appreciated too.
- MakerBot Thing-o-matic – this seems to be the top choice now. Lots of unit sold, reliable company backing and lots of mod options.
- Printrbot – this one doesn’t look like its available yet, but its got some good funding behind it through Kickstarter and I like the price (less than half of a MakerBot kit).
- Fabbster – this one also isn’t available yet, but does come from a big time 3D Printing company so it should be solid. Price is in line with MakerBot.
- MicroMill DSLS 3000 – I think this is the same CNC that Taig Tools sells. Seems to have good reviews and be fairly robust.
- micRo – this looks cool (and is the cheapest option) but from the forum posts it looks like the “company” behind it may not be the most stable.
- MyDiyCNC – this comes from another Kickstarter project, and is only a little more expensive than the micRo. Only shown working on wood though, so wonder if you can mill any metal with it?
Software & Sites:
- Thingverse – the place to get and share 3D models of things you can print or cut.
- Sketchup – seems to be one of the free modeling tools of choice for feeding things to 3D printers and/or CNCs.
- LinuxCNC.org – the home of the open source machine control software EMC. Have to get one of my machines sitting around in the closet setup with the latest version of Ubuntu I guess to be a controller.
- GRBL – controller software that runs completely on the Arduino chipset that is the brains of alot of the printers and CNCs.
- Phlatscript – a sketchup plugin that spits out gcode from some guys that make machines to build your own model airplane parts.
- Blender – all the cool kids make their action figures using this one 😉
- Autodesk 123 Catch – an app that turns a series of 2D pictures into 3D models. Personal action figures anyone?
If I can get this figured out then I can make my own toys next Christmas 😉
UPDATE: Just saw this article from the Economist which mentioned another 3D printer I was unaware of: Ultimaker (looks like a European MakerBot)