Is 3D printing easier than ever? Yes, you bet it is. Check out Rupert’s story.
My friend Rupert is an avid model railroad guy. Over the years, he has watched me tinker around and build stuff with my 3D printer. We have talked about how easy it would be to 3D print scenery and structural models for his model trains.
So, this summer, Rupert took the plunge and bought his first 3D printer. You can learn a lot from his story, which is quite detailed on his blog. He did a great job of research, setting his criteria, and taking the plunge.
Basically, Rupert decided he wanted to buy a well made tool that would be useful in his context. So, he wasn’t interesting in building his own tool, and did not want 3D printing to become “a hobby in itself”. Minimal mess and fumes. A printer that would work out of the box and easily build all sorts of stuff for his real hobby, model railroads. In essence, keep it cheap and cheerful and explore 3D printing easier than ever.
Eventually, he settled on Flashforge Finder, which he acquired from Amazon for around US$400. After taking it out of the box, he was printing models in less than half an hour. During his research, Rupert watched a lot of videos which got him down the learning curve fast. He has also started designing his own models using TinkerCAD, which he tells me is great and easy to learn.
If you have been considering starting out in 3D printing, read his blog and follow along with his “getting started” process.
3D Printing Easier Than Ever – Flashforge Finder
Flashforge is perhaps the largest Chinese player in 3D printing and makes gear for industrial, commercial and consumer use. The Finder has a reasonable price and comes with important features such as auto bed leveling, removable build plate and great connectivity.
But there are some limitations to make this price point. First, you are pretty much restricted to PLA filament as the build plate is not heated. That’s not so bad as you can do a heck of a lot with PLA, which is my filament of choice.
Second, the build volume is a bit small at 140 mm cubed, which is about 30% smaller than my Sunhokey Prusa i3. Still, large enough for most parts for a miniature model railroad!
Third, the built in filament spool is only 600 grams, versus the more standard 1 kg. But that is easy to replace, and probably one of the first things a new Flashforge Finder owner would build.
All in all, Rupert’s experience tells me that manufacturers have made 3D printing easier than every. Will you take the plunge?