After following developments in 3D printing for years, I finally got the opportunity to do something about it in 2012. That is when I joined the Milwaukee Makerspace and suddenly gained access to expertise, tools, and equipment that was previously unavailable to me. If you like to work on projects- ANY kind of project- I strongly urge you to find your local makerspace/hackerspace and pay them a visit. I would not have been able to accomplish what I have without the makerspace.
…When I started my project I set a goal of printing full-size human skulls using models extracted from CT scan data sets. I looked at the kits that were available and found none that could print objects more than about 150mm on a side, not nearly big enough to print a skull. I decided that if I was going to print skulls, I was going to have to design and build the machine myself. At the time I had no idea how to create printable model files from CT scans and had no knowledge of precision machine design. I was literally starting from zero. If I can do it, you can to. All it takes is persistence, determination,a lot of time, and a little money.
MegaMax has a 12×12.5″ print bed and can print objects up to about 11″ high. This meets my original goal of building something that can print a full-size human skull with plenty of margin. …I estimate I’ve spent about $1000 on MegaMax, and have invested hundreds of hours in the design, construction, and debugging process.
A final note about buying 3D printers or kits. Don’t believe any of the hype that says you can just plug it in and hit the go button and it prints. 3D printers are NOT that reliable or user-friendly yet. Plan a spending a LOT of time getting to know the machine, the software, and the materials. Plan on a lot of failed prints. That’s just the way it is and the way it is going to be for a while….
Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!
Have you considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!
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"Don’t believe any of the hype that says you can just plug it in and hit the go button and it prints. 3D printers are NOT that reliable or user-friendly yet. Plan a spending a LOT of time getting to know the machine, the software, and the materials."
Well said. I purchased the most user-friendly printer on the market (at the time, and in my opinion), the Davinci 1.0. Not to plug a highly commercialized and closed source product, of coarse. It should be noted that I bought it because… well… I was too lazy (and laden with other projects) to build one. Big mistake. Despite the NEARLY plug and play nature of the device, it took a while to familiarize myself with both it’s strengths and shortcomings (and boy are there many). Now after many frustrating hair-pulling events, and dealing with shotty manufacturing and deficient tech support, and basically hacking the hell out of it to the point where every warranty is void and the machine may very well be unrecognizable, I finally have something that almost does exactly what I want it to and acts in an open-source way. If I had it all to do over again (and I do!) I would (and will) build one from scratch. You learn so much when you build it yourself.