THANK YOU guys so much for your replies, and assistance! Once we start printing, I'd like to post some pics of our braces and the kids who are benefitting as a little thanks to you all for your contribution towards their health and wellness!
Please see below for my replies to your responses.
Thanks, it was helpful reading your thought process/analysis of what you would do if you were in my shoes! Fortunately funds are enough that I can purchase a printer at this time, the UM2+ is at the top end of my budget, but still in budget. However funds aren't enough that I can purchase multiple machines at this time :-D. If this takes off and we're making a significant number of braces for kids, than perhaps I can raise funds to purchase a 2nd machine in the future.
To answer your question, primarily will be printing PLA for hands. Will want to use a harder/stronger plastic for ankle/leg braces, but unsure if that would be ABS, PETG, or some other plastic. Given that info, does that influence you one way significantly more than another? I am liking the continual refrain of the UM brand reliability.
Thanks, that's really helpful to think through, I will set aside the CR-10 because of the lack of community component. Since I'm physically isolated from others with this technology, I will be dependent on the online community to assist as needed and help troubleshoot. It does me no good to buy a less expensive machine with significantly less support/community, then run into a problem and not be able to use said machine.
I am looking at the MK3 because of the upgraded features and stability I've read about compared to MK2. They seem to have very active boards and a growing support community. Wait time isn't a problem as I have a few months before our next visitor who would courier out the printer for us. HOWEVER, per StephanK's earlier post, I don't want to wind up with a "Czech Diva". I'm ok taking the time to assemble a kit, have some technical/tinkering in my background - but for close to $1k, I would expect it to perform well, consistently, and reliably once up and running. Difficulty of getting replacement parts for a temperamental machine is a big strike for me.
I will definitely follow up to let everyone know which way we go.
Thanks for this idea! I will definitely consider it. I'm absolutely ok with a kit, especially when there are good directions and a supportive community in case I run into a hiccup.
Do modifications to UMO+ void any kind of warranty? I will search and read up on the upgrade options out there and report back if I have any questions. There's a big learning curve for someone completely new to 3d printing about what each upgrade does for the print output, best bang for the buck, or even what the applicability of an upgrade will be for my use of the machine.
One question, I know I'll be using PLA for my hand braces as I can shape them after warming the plastic. For my foot braces/AFO/prosthetic hands, I will likely want to use a harder plastic, but I'm not sure what type yet. I know ABS is fairly common and someone in another thread recommended PETG. Enabling the future also recommends nylon for some parts of their prosthetic hand designs. Would the Ultimaker Original + handle Nylon - it's not listed on the table - or would their be some upgrade that would allow the use of Nylon? And again, being brand new to this, I'm not even sure how often I would need to print in Nylon - so for the difference in price, maybe I could do without Nylon if the original is not able to print Nylon.
One other point - our buildings here don't have any heating/cooling. So it's quite cold indoors in the winter (55ºF/12ºC). Are any of the aforementioned printers maybe setup to be more successful in that type of enviornment?