Hey guys,

I’m pretty new to the 3D printing world and I’ve been researching 3D printers for my company. I’m looking for a 3D printer that is under $10,000 and can print usable parts and some prototypes. The majority of what it will be used for is fixtures (templates that parts can be placed on and modified) and possible some end-of-arm-tooling. So the prints need to be strong.

My question is whether an SLA or an FDM/FFF printer will suit these needs better. I know that SLA prints degrade after some time in sunlight. Would they degrade if used indoors? How durable are SLA prints compared to FDM prints?

Some printers I’ve been considering are the Stratasys Mojo, the Zortrax Inventure, the Leapfrog Xeed, the Formlabs Form 1+, the FSL Pegasus Touch and the Tangible Engineering Solidator.

Any suggestions/information/tips are welcome.

Thanks for the help!

Brian

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What build volume do you need?

The Zortrax (M200) is great for it’s price. It can compete with the Mojo in print quality. The Inventure looks really great on paper but it’s not on the market yet so i can’t tell you first hand how it will work.

The Mojo is a good printer but not very cheap and also the material is a little more expensive than other brands,

FFF/FDM is a cheap way to print usable parts and strong prototypes.

SLA can be great for prototyping but it’s a more messy way of printing and limited in it’s material choice. The Formlabs is a nice printer for a good price.

SLA is good for detailed and small objects. It’s not great for usable parts.

Do you want to experiment and tweak with your printer too? For example try out new and exotic materials? Than you need a machine that can do that too like an Ultimaker, Mankati, Creatbot (big printers).

The Leapfrog is not my first choice due to it’s price, printing quality and stability.

I use multiple printers to fill the gaps each brand leaves in possibilities.

Thanks for the info Rada.

The Mojo’s build volume of 5 x 5 x 5 in. is the smallest we want to go.

Why are SLA printers not good for usable parts? Aren’t they stronger because the layers bond better than FDM printing?

It’s not practical possible/practical to print massive objects with SLA, the liquid needs to come out. With FDM you can choose different types of infill to give a object structural strength. The resin is also sensitive for UV and most of the resins are quit brittle (depends of the resin and brand). Changing colors or materials is also a hassle with SLA.

ABS on a FFF/FDM machine is a very useful material for all kind of products and if you have a good printer the layers will bond strong enough for most of the uses.

I will advise you to get some test prints of the type of models you want to print. The ideal 3d printer doesn’t exist so it will always be a compromise or a combination of printers. I have 4 printers (5 next week) just to cover a wider range of possibilities.

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SLA printers only print with resins and those are usually very hard / brittle. If you drop a resin print it may break instead of “absorb” the shock. FDM printers can handle a bunch of materials and some of them can be post treated to be even stronger then SLA. you could also adjust the material according to your model needs. I own the leapfrog Creatr HS and have absolutely no idea what was ment with the lack of stability. The leapfrog printers are all very well build with nearly 100% metal components and appropriate linear rods etc. Also the leapfrog printers are the only ones, that use an appropriate spindle to transfer the rotational force from the motor to the linear Z axis movement. Most other FDM printers use threaded rods for Z movement and those are basically very long head-less screws, threaded rods arent made to transfer movement or momentum back and forth and (for my needs) have too much play when you try to move a hexhead nut precisely on it. I’m talking about moving distances of 0,05mm and less, you just CANT expect a threaded rod with common tolerances to be that precise. PS: I know, that there are some special rods, that are somewhat more useful for the linear motion, but still 3 massive spindles with a diameter of up to 20mm is the right way to go. All belts are adjustable in their tension and the aluminum profiles frame of the other leapfrog printers makes the printer a really rock solid piece of technology. There are some things about the printhead that I don’t like that much, but I already printed my own modifications for the printer to add what the factory new Creatr HS is missing. PS: you allways have to expect to pay a lot more for printing material, if you buy a printer, that can only be used with proprietary material cartridges. Generally speaking FDM printing is the cheapest, SLA is second and machines with proprietary technology (like the MOJO) cost the most as they can only be used with the material, tat the printer brand sells, and be sure, that they know about this and make most use of this fact… FDM material (called “filament”) is also the most flexible in price ranges, from 90$/kg for brass-plastic alloy materials to 20$/kg for everyday plastic spools with medium quality, everything is available. Flexible, foodsafe, translucent, water soluble, 50+ different colors and effects, composites with wood, metals and carbon Fibres, very smooth and slippery or grippy, heat resistant up to 150C, glowing in the dark, biodegradable, forever-lasting (UV light and weather resistant) and everyday a new Filament is discovered. Cheers, Marius Breuer

I have been following the markforged printer that will extrude carbon fiber, fiberglass and Kevlar along with nylon to print truly functional parts. markforged.com/materials

Looks interesting. To bad for the cheap components (spindle and bearing) on a machine of this price.

Ok, I didn’t know about the zortak.

Zortrax also have a ball spindle. The Stratasys Mojo is a FDM machine. It’s good to hear that you don’t have problems with the Leapfrog.

Hi,

as others said. It depends on products you want to build.

In general SLAs comparing to FDMs:

-more expensive material

-smaller material selection

-very few non brittle materials

-smaller build area

-parts exposed to the direct sunlight should be protected with paint or similar(for use indoor on indirect sunlight there will be no major problem with material degradation)

BUT,

-precision and surface smoothness is superior

-smaller deformation/schrinkage

Anyway if your budget is up to 10k just go for two machines:

FORM1+ and Ultimaker II (larger version)

That way you are gona cover all your needs in beginning.

Cheers

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The form1+ should definitely be chosen. I would consider the Lulzbot mini, leapfrog Creatr HS and the BigBox (coming spring 2016) as alternatives to the UM 2 extended. Especially the Lulzbot mini is easy to use and has some nice features (automated nozzle cleaning and bed tilt compensation), that other printers miss out. The Lulzbot can also print with the widest range of materials. The Creatr HS features dual extrusion and is capable of fast printing speeds and VERY large objects. The BigBox combines the Lulzbot and leapfrog creatr HS in most specifications. The BigBox has the biggest buildvolume of all listed printers and comes with a lot of features as standard or upgradable later on.

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Hey Brian,

Were are you located I would be more then happy to send you some print sample from the form 1+. Zortrax, Mojo and Pegasus

Hi Brian,

I’m very happy with the Leapfrog Xeed. This is a nice printer between the standard FDM desktop models and the high end industrial printers. I personally think is perfect for engineers.

For its kind it is accurate and fast and relatively cheap. I have looked for high end industrial printers but prices up to 20.000 euro plus are way to expansive for me. It uses a open source system which is great for cartridges and has a resolution of 10-20 micron.

Cheers Vincent!

I have a hobby level printer (a Type Series-A that a buddy of mine built for me - he calls it the Super CupCake - since the electronics he pulled from my older dead MBI CupCake) - and I have a Mojo. I use the Mojo for printing client jobs. Some of my clients have raved that the printed pieces look professionally manufactured - so, that output from the Mojo is hard to beat. I’ve actually produced pieces with small delicate hinges - which work perfectly functional after removal from the Bath system!

Kurt