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  1. #11
    m_c's Avatar
    Lives in East Lothian, United Kingdom. Last Activity: 9 Hours Ago Forum Superstar, has done so much to help others, they deserve a medal. Has been a member for 9-10 years. Has a total post count of 2,466. Received thanks 282 times, giving thanks to others 7 times.
    3D printers can be useful things, but as with most machines, it all depends on what you do.

    I've had a 3D printer since August, and the most useful item I've printed, are modular storage containers.

    I have however printed plenty of interesting things, which have no practical value what so ever, and spent even more money on upgrading it. I'm sure I'll print something useful with it at some point.
    Avoiding the rubbish customer service from AluminiumWarehouse since July '13.

  2. #12
    I have has a Wanhao 4DS for about 6 years now and it is still performing OK despite a lot of use. The most expensive replacement was the dual extruder head, but the old one was probably OK but needed cleaning and setting up, but I just lost patience with it and then found the carriage was distorted and that was the root cause of the problems. Now it is printing well with just a bit of shimming to correct the misalignment.

    I bought a £70 Anet I8 kit before Christmas and it has become a project to beef up the plywood frame, make it electrically safe and put in better slide bearings. I haven't tested it yet, but it will be interesting to see how it performs against the 4DS, which was nearer £700.

    The only other upgrade to the 4DS is a WIFI SD card, which is beautiful if the printer is less than 3 feet away from the WIFI dongle, but over 5 feet and it doesn't connect at all.

  3. #13
    I had, for years, the same question as Agathon.

    Having friend with 3d printers, I never had the need to ask them for anything 3d printed. Only recently I needed a coupling for a hand blender, found the 3d model online for free, had it printed in ABS and works perfectly.

    Now there are a lot more interesting and stronger material filaments available and could be used in industrial machinery. Where the design is no longer limited to what can be milled/turned. And yo can have them quickly and a lot cheaper than CNCed for small runs.

    But for those materials you need a high temperature heated chamber and there is a patent (still) for the heated chamber so the few printers on the market have prices above 40-50k €

    I just started to design such a 3d printer and it is not easy to have everything except the hotend built around a 250 degC oven without leaking too much heat... :)

  4. #14
    Oh - by the way, if you have a heated bed you can use it to keep your coffee warm.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Must print some more choccy bikkies.
    Last edited by cropwell; 03-06-2020 at 06:54 PM.

  5. #15
    RobC's Avatar
    Lives in manchester, United Kingdom. Last Activity: 1 Week Ago Has been a member for 3-4 years. Has a total post count of 69. Received thanks 13 times, giving thanks to others 5 times.
    Been using printers for over 7 years now, started them using them as a teenager and not knowing a lot so used to play about with things. Now using them as prototyping ideas, jigs for woodworking, making my own parts and also general use items for tools or on a machine. Others are using them for making molds so they can cast items, structural bits and bobs for their designs, printing parts for other people so a little income from that.

    If you are looking for a good starter, don't buy one of the cheap ones as you will have head ache after head ache. Problems with adhesion and bed warp, the list can go on.

    PLA is a much better plastic to start out with, or PETG. ABS can be hard work if you are new to the printing scene as it often warps and can suffer layer bonding issues if you do not set your temperatures correctly.

    If you haven't already purchased one.
    I'd recommend going for an Ender 3 or Ender 5, fairly well priced and a lot of support out there for modifications already done so all you need to do is print them.

  6. #16
    I've only used an in-house 3d printer for one real job, although I send out stuff to Shapeways etc now and again. That job was to print some mounting plates with some captured nuts behind some stainless plate for some switches to screw into. If you're a bit picky, like me, you won't like the accuracy or the finish much of home 3D printing. For the job I described where you wouldn't be able to see the parts and they didn't need much strength, it worked fine.

    The 3D print bureaus produce much better finish and have better materials (not that I like Shapeways much btw). Small parts are best for bureaus as they usually charge by the cm^3. So I use them for little parts that need a somewhat OK finish and don't have to be particularly strong. If you only have one part that you need right now, you might get some quotes from 3D print services.

  7. regarding printing useful things: as said before, jigs and fixtures are a great idea, as they sometimes don't have to be too mechanically demanding. Assembly tools, holders, covers

    Mechanically functional parts or structural parts can be made but just have to design them with 3DP in mind to avoid its weaknesses

    An use that may surprise you: sheet metal tooling. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsxFXTKaXdI You'd be surprised how well it can work!

  8. #18
    Wal's Avatar
    Lives in Stockport, United Kingdom. Last Activity: 19-06-2020 Has been a member for 8-9 years. Has a total post count of 469. Received thanks 57 times, giving thanks to others 25 times.
    How useful..? This useful...

    Click image for larger version. 

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  9. #19
    Neale's Avatar
    Lives in Plymouth, United Kingdom. Last Activity: 8 Hours Ago Has been a member for 7-8 years. Has a total post count of 1,448. Received thanks 271 times, giving thanks to others 9 times.
    The ideal tool for a cheap Chinese router!

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