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3D Printers
Ack, yuck, you make that sound icky. I don't like the direction Makerbot's gone with some of the newer printers, but the lab @ work seems to like the Z18. Not sure why, the smart extruders don't seem... smart... to me.
I haven't used a replicator, but I've heard nothing good about the 5th gen, or really MakerBot in general after Zachary Smith was forced out, they went closed source, and Bre Pettis took over.  Lot of shadiness in that whole period.

I'm guessing that Savage probably has a Taz of some flavor and/or Josef Prusa's i3 Mk 2.  Those are great printers, and both are open source.

For the interest of those who don't have a printer yet, right now I'm following Thomas Sanladerer's new series on making the cheapest (near) clone of the latter possible without sacrificing too many features or quality.  I don't see a playlist yet, but so far there's Part 1, Part 2   I'm all about cheap, out of necessity, so I might eventually tackle that if his build works well, though space is currently at a premium.  So far, I think the parts have come in between a third and half of what I paid for my printer.

Maybe he'll follow it up with a cheapest Taz clone series...
Printer number second:

Flash Forge Creator Pro

[Image: normal_fashForgeCreatorPro.jpg]

(sorry for the lousy photo)
This is a great printer. As you can see by all the plastic, tools, and debris in the print area, I use it constantly and do a poor job of cleaning up after myself.  (I'm going to have to clean it now, out of shame) The prints are consistently of good quality, the time estimates are accurate and usually a significant amount faster than a number of the other printers. The dual heads are nice. If nothing else when one jams you can switch to the other if you need a print right away and can't take the time to clear the jam. (something that happens to us during competition season) It's versatile, being able to print multiple different plastics on a heated bed.  I wish the print area was a little bigger, but all in all a solid printer.
I keep wondering how this differs from the old one. Can't tell if they "just" changed the case to look like the newer makerbots they were cloning and kept most of the old stuff, or if there're other actual improvements. I'd buy another FF if I needed another printer. (But since discovering the print farm @ work that might be a bit).
printer number third

3D Systems Cube (2nd gen)

[Image: normal_cube.jpg]

Many apologies for this image. I seriously considered not including this printer because of it's current state of disrepair, but I decided to go ahead and do it anyway.  The temperature control for the hot end on this machine failed, and the print head is currently pulled apart for repair. Hence the dangling print head and exposed . . you get the idea.  
The cube was an interesting experiment. It uses cartridges for the filament. I believe this was an attempt on the part of 3D systems to make sure you bought your filament from them. Printers are a one time purchase, but filament you need to buy for the life of the device which makes it a much better income stream.  In the 2nd gen (which is what I have) they even put a chip in the cartridge so it wouldn't print without one and the cartridge tracked how much filament you had used and would tell you when it was time to replace it.  The print volume was small (only 5x5x5) and the slicer and control software that came with the printer doesn't allow for much in the way of adjustment of settings.  The cartridges are considerably more expensive than buying the same amount of filament on a spool.

All of that having been said, I used this printer a great deal prior to the print head breaking. It produced good quality prints and it was fairly reliable.  I could put a print on it and pretty much ignore it until it was done. I used it to print pulleys for robots, spacers, mounting brackets and replacement parts for my other printers. It would print in either PLA or ABS. It had a USB interface, which is much better than the more common SD card. It used this water based liquid glue to adhere parts to the print bed (which was not heated) and the print bed was held on with a magnet so when you were done with a print you could just pull the whole print bed off and submerse it in water, the water would dissolve the glue and the part would pop right off. It was a pain to have to purchase the glue to print, but it was sorta a cool system.

Unfortunately, 3D Systems no longer sells replacement parts for this model and even if they did, they were overpriced. I doubt I will be able to repair this machine and ultimately I will probably strip it for parts and build another printer more suitable for my needs.
Ah, it's so tiny. That warning label is almost as big as it its print bed!

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