So, now that I have decided to replace my Sunhokey 3D printer, what are my new 3D printer options? And, with so many choices, what are my selection criteria?
First, good reliable performance. I want to print stuff without a lot of tinkering and maintenance. No more “hobby in itself” as my friend Rupert says. Second, cost effectiveness. I don’t need a high end or commercial machine, as I am a fairly light user with projects to support other hobbies.
It struck me that a target budget of CDN $800 was a good starting point when considering new 3D printer options. After all, that’s what I actually spent on my clone not withstanding the “low initial price.”
Third, I wanted something with the modern features that have come into play over the past five years. These include smarter electronics, ease of use, and improved print bed. I find this last point very important as I want that great first layer, and later, an easier time removing the print from the plate. Finally, would I buy a kit or pre-assembled machine?
If I am going to get a kit, I think I will stay with the Prusa i3 design. It is very well supported and highly proven. A kit could be either another clone (which would be under my target budget) or an original Prusa i3 MK3S from the inventor himself, which would cost more. There are tons of i3 clones, but none really stand out and, to be honest, “been there, done that”.
On the other hand, if I am going to buy a pre-assembled printer, there are some good choices in my price range.
New 3D Printer Options Pre-Assembled
I narrowed my pre-assembled options down to two machines from major Chines manufacturers, Creality and Flashforge. Creality (“create reality, achieve dreams”) is based in Shenzhen and has been around since 2014. Flashforge is a few years older and larger, also serving medical and dental markets. Both have good reputations.
The Creality 10S Pro (shown left above) is available locally and costs CDN$800. This machine has a very large build area, auto-leveling and a 24 volt power supply. It’s similar to the Prusa, seems to be open source, and gets good reviews.
On the proprietary side, the Flashforge Adventurer 3 (shown right above) is a bit cheaper (less than CDN $600 plus shipping) and smaller, but produces pretty good results in PLA or ABS. But hardware and software are proprietary, and I am not sure I want that.
However, my research shows these are both good options.