I was looking at purchasing a 3D printer for our household for a few reasons. Reason 1: I wanted to be able to create parts from scratch. Reason 2: I want to be able to bring this to my kids schools and lead a class or two about 3d printers.
I purchased a 3D printer in April of 2014. There were quite a number to choose from, but I ended up buying one from a company that started a kickstarter campaign for their 3D printer called the Rigidbot ($599). I compared it to Makerbot (too expensive), the Phoenix 3D kickstarter, and others. There were specific things that I liked about this specific printer, the Rigidbot.
The Phoenix 3D printer had a couple of things going for it, and I actually ordered it but ended up cancelling the order. The 2 major benefits of this printer were the cost ($399) and the software. They have special software that allows you to rewind the printing and go back to a certain step to continue from there. No other printer has this feature. These 2 reasons are why I ordered this printer.
I ended up cancelling this printer for one very specific reason, durability. They were updating their kickstarter with updates on how they were having problems getting the printer shipped without breaking. I wanted something more robust. Even though I would be giving up the “rewind” feature, structural integrity won out.
The Rigidbot printer had one major feature over the rest of the printers: structural integrity. It is a large box frame. I ordered this post kick-starter (like the other printer) in April of 2014. I ended up receiving the printer after several delays, on my birthday August 15, 2014. Only 4 months to what was supposed to be 6 weeks. That’s ok as this is a new industry and many kickstarter projects are having lots of problems delivering. In fact, I can’t tell if the Phoenix has actually delivered (as of December 2014).
Now that I’ve had the Rigidbot for 6 months, how has it been? Well, there are lots of reports of various parts that are not up to snuff, such as the power supply being a fire hazard, the electronics board going out, cables that are underrated and pose a fire hazard, and a couple of other smaller issues. I’ve customized my Rigidbot to head off some of these problems: replaced power supply with a Meanwell 24v 450W supply, plan on replacing the main board, plan on replacing the heated bed wiring. The rest of the printer just works, even the original extruder. I’ve had some failed prints, but no mechanical or electrical failures yet.
My total cost so far is: $600+60+70 or approximately $750, not including any filament. I have about 10 rolls of filament and they are about $15-25 each depending on the brand.
Updates that I’ve done:
- Internally routed stepper wires to make things neater and cleaner
- Replaced the original power supply (rigidbrick) with a Meanwell SE-450-24 (about $60)
- Mounted power supply under the bed and inside the frame (about $10 in parts)
- Graphics LCD control panel that also allows me to print from SD cards (about $30)
- 12v LED Lighting run off the 24v power supply (about $10)
- Emergency Stop button on the front panel (about $10)
- Direct wire of the power supply bypassing the unreliable Kycon connector on the main board using XT60 connectors (about $10)
- I purchased a Cyclops hot-end, which allows me to use 2 different color filaments at the same time. I can’t wait to get this up and running. This is my first priority, and it requires that I purchase 2 bowden extruders to feed the filament.I am planning on using a modified airtripper extruder to handle the cold-end side of things.
- Along with the dual extrusion, I want to replace the proprietary main board with a RAMPS 1.4 solution. This is the controller that is used for many 3d printers, and gives me standard wiring and standard open-source firmware. Both of these are an advantage to the proprietary Rigidboard.
- Another modification is to somehow enclose the Rigidbot. I would like to add panels to all the sides of it so that I can filter the air inside it better.
- I decided not to use the Cyclops hotend for dual extrusion. I’m heading along the path of dual e3d hotends. I have purchased 2 e3d lite hotends ($35 each) and will use Peter Stoneham’s dual e3d mount kit.
If you are thinking of purchasing a 3D printer, I would suggest getting stared with one of the following. I cannot recommend the Rigidbot as it has too many proprietary pieces that are poorly constructed. The Rigidbot frame kit may be just fine because you wouldn’t be using the proprietary board nor power supply that they spec.
- $349 – Printrbot.com Simple Maker’s Kit has a 4x4x4 build volume.
$500 – $1000:
- $599 – Printerbot.com Simple Metal Assembled has a 6x6x6 build volume.
- $999 – Dremel Idea Builder 3D Printer
- Printerbot.com Metal Plus Assembled has a 10x10x10 build volume.
- Flashforge Creator Pro Dual Extruder has an 8x6x6 build volume
- Ultimaker 2 has about a 9x9x8 build volume.