I am looking at purchasing my first 3D printer and want to know what some of you more experienced users think.
I am a lover of technology, so I have been fascinated with 3D printing for some time, but only in the last 2-3 weeks have I seriously considered buying one, but the more I read, the more I hear of common issues and worries, so I though I'd lay my intentions out there and hopefully I'll get some honest feedback as to whether it's worth me taking the plunge.
I'm an experienced 3D Animator, and have a decent amount of experience in 3D modelling. I have no CAD experience, but have watched hours of AutoCad/ Inventor videos and I can see the similarities and differences between modelling for Games/TV and designing products in CAD programmes. So I imagine there'll certainly be a lot of learning to get my CAD skills up to scratch, but I'm not coming from a position of no experience.
I have already set up a company and have a URL (no website yet). Before any alarm bells are going off. I feel I have a good understanding of the limitations of 3D printing and I am not expecting this printer will instantly make me a millionaire, it'll be more of a hobby than anything...The main reason I'm running this as a business is that I have no way of funding the purchase of a printer, and when I set up my own small company in the past (I'm self employed/freelance), I was given a £3k overdraft which helped cover setup costs. So I do intend to try and make every effort to at least get back up to £0.00.
I'm hoping to get the Ultimaker 2. I like the idea of getting the kit*, as I see the value of learning the technology, but I worry that I'm going to make it incorrectly in some way and I'll have a £1800 printer that prints like its £300. Any advice on this would be welcomed!
*(does the UM come as a kit, or is that just original?)
The first 6 months or so is aimed at me learning the technology and it's limitations. I've read lots of stuff about the practicality and the limitations of 3D printing, but it's only when you try something yourself, do you really understand, I guess?
After that, I aim to try and make small runs of small products for sale through an online store. I appreciate that this machine will not print off perfect quality items for sale in massive numbers, but I will look at creating 4-5 different items, that I will finish by hand (I have a list of about 30, that I will whittle down once I have some hands on experience with which items will work best).
My thoughts are that I need to print off items that use a small amount of material, would normally have a high retail cost for it's size and preferably items where perfect precision is not necessary, as the finishing would require sanding away a certain amount of detail. I've seen some very nice finishes given to 3D printed products, and for small runs, I am not hoping for great financial gains from this, as it is clear that 3D Printing and hand finishing will mean I'll be limited to what I can print and in what quantities.... but Maybe I'll kickstarter a few little items and I might make a few hundred quid here and there... or maybe not.
In the long run, I see this as a piece of kit that will enable me to get valuable experience in the design and creation of projects, that will eventually lead to the machine being used for prototyping products for mass production using injection moulding (outsourced). Again, using Kickstarter, I hope to fund the run of items in the mid hundreds (and up?). Funding it this way, will mean I already know my costs for tooling, based on an accurate prototype, can set my prices, do the maths and if it's not funded, then I just don't make it.....no huge losses (just a loss of time and effort).... Maybe I'll never design a project that gets funded, but my costs for trying will be low at least (let me know if you think my logic is flawed).
So I just wanted to know if my intentions and expectations were reasonable. I have already read a lot of stories about people thinking that 3D printing will make them a fortune, and I'm certainly not in that camp, but I see it's potential in prototyping a product that could make money.... but to be completely honest, if it takes me 4 years, and I manage to pay off the price of the printer, and I've learned a new hobby and had fun, then I'm cool with that too.
Now please feel free to tear into me, ha ha.,