And Now for Something Completely Different….

Hey all!  Sorry I didn’t do a post yesterday (as much as I really wanted to)…. I was busy tweaking the 3d print room a little bit, so now that that’s done, I can finally get a round to it: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:6016!

Now, all punning aside, as I mentioned in my first post, my future projects will be done on a Hyrel 3d printer.  So, as I said, I want to make sure I communicate why I have chosen a Hyrel printer over the others that I have worked with!  In order to do that, I’ll evaluate the pros and cons of all the printers I have worked with (over the course of about a week).

First up: The Up Mini and Afinia H480!

These two printers are both fantastic machines.  From a construction standpoint, they are very well built, with the Afinia H480 having all metal construction (http://afinia.com/3d-printers/h480/)and the Up Mini being enclosed in it’s own little box (http://www.up3dusa.com/#!up-mini/c12oh).  The heads on both these printers are virtually interchangeable, since they have the same internal components, and the heads are very easily disassembled and reassembled (for cleaning and declogging).  At this point, you might be asking “If they both have the same internal components, why is the Afinia H480 more expensive?”…. Fear not dear consumer!  The Afinia H480 is slightly more expensive since it has a bigger build volume (5x5x5 inches-ish) than the Up Mini (4x4x4 inches-ish).  Also, the Afinia H480’s resolution is slightly higher, with 150 micron being the minimum resolution instead of the 200 micron the Up Mini has.

Oh, and they last forever!  I recall hearing from Afinia and Tiertime (the company that makes the Up Mini) that 1000 printing hours is the lifespan of the printers…. However, the Invention Studio has significantly surpassed that.  We have had most of our 36 Up Minis and Afinias for about 1.5 years now (some are newer)… By my calculations (20 hours a day of printing for 1.5 years), the oldest ones have 10,000-ish hours of printing on them, and they’re still going!  That estimate is a bit high since it doesn’t account for school vacations and things where they aren’t in use as much, but it’s still on that order of magnitude past the 1000 hour limit the companies have set!

Bottom Line: These are fantastic printers for an introductory foray into 3d printing and will serve their owners well.

That being said, these printers do have their limitations.

  1. ) The build size if fairly small if you are looking to do anything bigger than action figures or pencil cups.
  2. ) The software is closed source, so you can’t run some of the cooler filaments that exist (i.e. things like ninjaflex, HIPS, etc).  The Up Minis and Afinias only run ABS and PLA, which are fine for most things, but not everything.
  3. ) Up Mini support is very hard to reach for simple questions (although, it stands to mention that Afinia offers tremendous support).

So there you have it!  A review of the bread and butter printers of the 3d printing world (in my opinion… always have to qualify that haha).  Next up, the Up Box, and the Formlab Form1+.  Stay Tuned!

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