Thinking about getting an UP! and have some questions...

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UPUPandAway
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Thinking about getting an UP! and have some questions...

Post by UPUPandAway » Sun Aug 14, 2011 7:27 pm

*if you're in a hurry/don't like long winded introductions, skip to the numbered section below where the actual questions are.

Hi all,

I've been following the UP! and its progress ever since I saw X-Object demo it at the 2011 Atlantic Design and Manufacturing trade show. Thus far, I'm blown away at the quality compared to printers that cost at least 5x as much (Stratasys Dimension uPrint) and at about $3000, it's actually within reach for an individual to buy. I've been reading around these forums off and on for a few weeks now and I'm almost convinced that I should go for it, but I have some questions first:

1. Is this thing really safe for a home environment? I live in an apartment (in New York City, you don't have a choice) so I don't have a garage/basement/etc. to "banish" this to for printing. I just read a thread about people suspecting their recent breathing/throat problems are a result of the UP!, so how do most people feel about that? Would I be OK in a medium sized room with the UP! 10 feet away? Furthermore, this isn't really worth it to me if I can't leave it unattended since prints can take a few hours. Is there any possibility of a fire or other problems due to leaving the printer to print overnight or while I take a shower, etc.? Lastly, is there anything particularly messy about it that would make it undesirable for an indoor environment?

2. I've seen some really impressive looking prints, but I have to ask: how many tries does it normally take an experienced UP!er to print a successful print and how much setup and post-processing does it take (besides support removal)? If it takes me 5 tries and an hour of setup/post processing every time I want to print something new, I might as well just use an online printing service and have it arrive perfect to my door.

3. I've read about 3 solutions to warp reduction: blue painter's tape, kapton tape, and prototyping perf board. Has anyone used all three enough to firmly claim a superior method? What exactly is it about kapton tape that holds the plastic to the platform? I get the proto board since the ABS prints into the holes, but why would a smooth high-temp tape hold it?

4. Do you feel these printers are capable of running for a long time without maintenance/part replacement if they're kept in a climate-controlled indoor environment? I've read about bearing failures and such, but leaving things in a garage could easily do that.

5. Can I use the 1.75mm plastic filament sold on eBay? At present, it appears that X-Object only sells natural ABS filament and I'd like to use other colors (namely black).

6. I read about some using acetone to bond parts to make larger parts. How strong are these bonds? Is there anyway to bond two pieces in a dimensionally sound way (i.e. for engineering prototypes) that has a similar strength to the rest of the print?

Thanks for reading and answer whatever you can. If all of this checks out, I'll probably be printing alongside all of you soon.

-soapy-
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Re: Thinking about getting an UP! and have some questions...

Post by -soapy- » Sun Aug 14, 2011 8:38 pm

UPUPandAway wrote: 1. Is this thing really safe for a home environment? I live in an apartment (in New York City, you don't have a choice) so I don't have a garage/basement/etc. to "banish" this to for printing. I just read a thread about people suspecting their recent breathing/throat problems are a result of the UP!, so how do most people feel about that? Would I be OK in a medium sized room with the UP! 10 feet away? Furthermore, this isn't really worth it to me if I can't leave it unattended since prints can take a few hours. Is there any possibility of a fire or other problems due to leaving the printer to print overnight or while I take a shower, etc.? Lastly, is there anything particularly messy about it that would make it undesirable for an indoor environment?
You will probably need to build a fume cupboard sort of thing for it, then. Also, make that fairly fireproof, and you are sorted. (Not that there is a special fire risk, but it is a hot thing working away for hours. All electrical stuff can start a fire...) As for mess, I've got a layer of little plastic raft and support clippings all over the floor. You might want to vacuum.
UPUPandAway wrote: 2. I've seen some really impressive looking prints, but I have to ask: how many tries does it normally take an experienced UP!er to print a successful print and how much setup and post-processing does it take (besides support removal)? If it takes me 5 tries and an hour of setup/post processing every time I want to print something new, I might as well just use an online printing service and have it arrive perfect to my door.
Depends what you class as perfect!! The print generally goes right the first time, unless you are pushing the envelope. However, once printed, you tend to find changes you want to make, not least because that's why you are using a rapid prototyper in the first place. Things like getting hole sizes perfect for integration with another part can be tricky, if you want to avoid hand finishing, but for doing "art" and stuff that doesn't matter. Most of the stuff I make is small and has tolerances close to the limits of the printer, so I have to fiddle a lot sometimes.
UPUPandAway wrote: 3. I've read about 3 solutions to warp reduction: blue painter's tape, kapton tape, and prototyping perf board. Has anyone used all three enough to firmly claim a superior method? What exactly is it about kapton tape that holds the plastic to the platform? I get the proto board since the ABS prints into the holes, but why would a smooth high-temp tape hold it?
Again, depends what you are doing, as well as drafts, ambient temps, etc. I use the perfboard, and unless it is down near or below freezing, I get perfect prints. (Though I did have a failure the other month for no apparent reason - it just didn't stick down! First one in ages, though.) Blue painters tape would probably be fine for me at the moment, as the summer temps are far higher than freezing, and I did have some success with it before buying the perfboard. I haven't bothered trying Kapton tape. Now that raftless printing is an option, I might.
UPUPandAway wrote: 4. Do you feel these printers are capable of running for a long time without maintenance/part replacement if they're kept in a climate-controlled indoor environment? I've read about bearing failures and such, but leaving things in a garage could easily do that.
I've had an issue with a plug coming loose, which was easily fixed, and that's it. Oh, and one of hte 5V PSUs failed after a few hours, but the newer machines don't have that design any more.
UPUPandAway wrote: 5. Can I use the 1.75mm plastic filament sold on eBay? At present, it appears that X-Object only sells natural ABS filament and I'd like to use other colors (namely black).
No idea. I've only ever printed white, though if a UK supplier gets some other colours in in the right thickness, I'll buy some for sure.
UPUPandAway wrote: 6. I read about some using acetone to bond parts to make larger parts. How strong are these bonds? Is there anyway to bond two pieces in a dimensionally sound way (i.e. for engineering prototypes) that has a similar strength to the rest of the print?
Personally I flood it with superglue. Dimensions don't change at all, and it makes it as strong as a bit of plastic from an injection mould. The parts are pretty strong anyway, though.
UPUPandAway wrote: Thanks for reading and answer whatever you can. If all of this checks out, I'll probably be printing alongside all of you soon.
Good stuff! I really don't regret buying mine.

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Re: Thinking about getting an UP! and have some questions...

Post by Wolfy » Sun Aug 14, 2011 10:14 pm

1. I'd agree with what soapy said. At the very least you'll want some kind of extractor hood.

2. It takes a bit of getting used to but generally you should have some satisfactory things within your first few prints. There are certain things to look out for in the geometry. Convex undersides never work well (I went for ages thinking this was a software problem :P ). Degenerate triangles will kill your model - but thats something you might not have control over. Be careful with small features and always have then aligned optimally.

3. I've finally started to get the hang of that: a decent coat of paint and making sure to preheat the platform for several minutes before printing.

4. This is what scares me. I've only had a minor part fail so far but some of the other posts are a bit worrying. If youre going to get one, be prepared to get your hands dirty. When things go wrong, your first port of call is going to be the user community rather than the manufacturers and you'll have to make alot of repairs on your own (this is also part of my motivation for building a new feeder).

5. I cant comment as I've only used the white stuff. I've found a couple of places selling different colours but the widths are slightly different. While probably insignificant, I think I'll get a spare extruder if I try it just in case.

6. I've had some excellent results with hot glue. I tried superglue but it didnt take. Other than that, the design of your parts can be a factor - its a good idea to have them slot or clip together, or somewhere you can screw in a bracket. Wood screws tend to work well with the plastic.

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Re: Thinking about getting an UP! and have some questions...

Post by Madox » Sun Aug 14, 2011 10:36 pm

Your mileage will vary on print quality :)

1)Funnily enough my first prints were my best and depends on how you orient the model :-
e.g. https://plus.google.com/photos/11450626 ... 5891472578
Original 'vertical' had support on the nose etc which reduced the quality of the print, printing it on an angle or 'flat' put the support on the back of the head/hair where detail is not so important.

It depends also on the type of models you want to print, characters/freeform shapes or engineering style models?

2)Your mileage will vary, shrinking depends a lot on ambient temperature and we don't all live together so we get varying results. I've tried kapton, PCB and blue tape and I've gone back to blue tape for my prints.

a)For me :- Kapton is great for 'flat' prints but tall and thin prints,the model tends to come off the tape.
b)For me :- PCB is great for 'flat' prints but tall and thin prints,the model tends to come off the tape.
c)For me :- 3M Painters Tape (Blue tape) is generally good for me, however on large 'flat' prints, the tape's sticky surface may get pulled off the platform [i.e. model is still sticking to the tape]. The trick with that is wrapping the tape around the platform base and for me sometimes I wrap another layer in a different orientation.

The above is for 'white stuff' ABS from pp3dp, will probably go to kapton for PLA.

5)I'll only use the OEM stuff, it doesn't cost much more and aanecdotally it is far superior to the other stuff.

6)If you're doing engineering parts I'm sure you can think of a way to bond two models strongly ;)
soapy mentioned wood screws, I use a lot of those for other reasons. Self tapping screws cut into the ABS really well.

UPUPandAway
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Re: Thinking about getting an UP! and have some questions...

Post by UPUPandAway » Sun Aug 14, 2011 10:38 pm

Hmmm, well that mostly sounds good.

One reason I'm concerned with quality the first go round is because I plan to sell prints to the company I work for at a lower price than the company we currently outsource prints to that uses Stratasys printers. I've tried to convince my bosses to just buy an UP!, but a combination of not understanding the value of cheap iterative prototyping and turning their noses up at its simplistic design is making it a hard sell. The way I see it, I'll pay for my UP! by selling them prints and show them that they should've listened to me in the first place and pay off a 3D printer in the meantime, making it win-win for me. Even if that aspect doesn't work out, I'll still use it for prototyping my own side design projects that I aim to sell to companies and my sister will use it as an alternative to ceramic castings for her artwork since that requires a kiln and is messy/expensive.

The only thing that still concerns me is the smoke (or lets say odor as it doesn't really smoke) and the potential as a fire hazard. I guess I could maybe make a box out of a flame-retardant plastic or something. As for the smoke/odor, has anyone tried using one of these http://www.tequipment.net/HakkoFA400-04.html ? The technicians at work use an older variant of these for soldering and they seem to work pretty well, so I imagine it would do the trick in this instance. A little pricey at $80+, but next to a $3000 printer and even one trip to the doctor, it's cheap insurance.

Lastly, if anyone else has differing opinions or different concerns to bring to my attention, by all means speak up! While I won't be starving if I buy one of these, I would hate to plop down that kind of money and it not meet my needs. Then again, I guess I could get most of my money back if I sold it, yes? Anyone have any idea what the resale value is for a very lightly used UP!? Thanks again!

edit: wow, 2 people posted while I was typing this comment! I feel a need to emphasize that at least for work purposes I won't be able to alter the design as it has to be dimensionally similar if not identical to the final aluminum part. Thus, screwing in external brackets and such is an absolute no-go as it could cause other fitment issues and undermine the point of a fitment prototype. At this point, my best idea has been to put small through holes about 1/8" and "shish-kebab" the parts together with some aluminum rods that I can buy cheaply from McMaster-Carr and cut to length since they're aluminum. Still, it would be nice if I could bond parts more simply by just applying a chemical (acetone, glue, etc.) and having the end result be as if it was made as one continuous plate/part.

Oh, and I'm not worried about having to fix the printer myself, I know that's sort of a given for lower-end printers, just that it isn't going to cost me an arm and a leg and I'm not going to have to put hours and hours of work every few prints. In fact, one of the first things I plan to do is print improved parts for anything I find subject to an issue.

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Re: Thinking about getting an UP! and have some questions...

Post by Madox » Sun Aug 14, 2011 11:36 pm

I'll have reservations on large parts where dimensional tolerance is important.

What size parts are you printing?

e.g. I printed a 50mmx50mmx120mm part. To reduce bending/warping I printed it vertically, but my calibration wasn't right and my platform was at say 2-3degrees from the horizontal and the print looked odd due to the entire model being on an approximately 3 degree slant.

I should get a photo ;)

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Re: Thinking about getting an UP! and have some questions...

Post by odiegel » Mon Aug 15, 2011 2:52 am

Hi,

I am completely happy with my Up printer(s), but I would be careful if I were comparing them directly against Dimension parts...

When holding an Up part (of medium complexity) up next to the same part done on our Dimension, the Dimension part is definitely of a better quality (better surface finish and more accurate). This does not mean that I am unhappy with my Up parts. Quite the contrary, I love the machine. But if you are comparing the two head on, then you are pretty much comparing apples to oranges.

There are certain areas where the Up does struggle: large surface area flat parts (ie I still have a challenge out there for people to print a 130 x 130 square, 3mm thick, in solid mode, with no warpage), and curved areas at the bottom of a part (ie, the bottom half of a sphere tends to get a bit ragged on the bottom face).
On the other hand, I have noticed that parts from our Up appear to be somewhat stronger than those from our Dimension. I cant quantify this, but may get a student onto printing some dog-bones to pull appart to confirm one way or the other. :-)

If you are selling the Up parts to the company as early iteration prototypes, then you probably wont have any trouble, but if you are selling them as a direct comparison to what they used to do on the Dimension, you could end up with them being disappointed.

Were the Up does beat the Dimesnion hands down is on its low cost (both to buy and operate). It is less than 1/10th the material running cost of the Dimension. This means that, instead of doing one iteration of a design, you can afford to do 10, whcih is a huge advantage.

Cheers
Olaf

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Re: Thinking about getting an UP! and have some questions...

Post by trebuchet03 » Mon Aug 15, 2011 4:51 am

Lots of good feedback already... But here's my experience anyway...

1. I live in San Francisco - printer lived 3 feet from my bed for almost its entire life and most jobs were unattended or with me in an unconscious state.

2. Setup, for me, is about 3 minutes to initialize the machine and load the file for most files. I print on a perfboard surface - only large items get preheated... Post processing depends on the part size and complexity - I've never spent a hour cleaning a part, but I have spent hours finishing a part (filler, sanding, paint, etc.). Don't expect tiny little supported features to print nicely, that's not within the capability of this type of printer (and many other commercial printers). The machine uses arguably dated technology for support structure.

3. Do what works best for you. Since no one here lives with you, we can't mimic your conditions for ambient temperature, small amounts of draft, etc. At the end of the day for printing, it doesn't matter so much as to why it works so long as you have something that works. Stiction is the answer, however.

4. Mine has. I had my filament feeder blow up partly due to my own handling and partly due to a design oversight (which has been fixed). My machine has had a touch of grease about when I purchased it and that's all. My room isn't even climate controlled save for a small room heater that's rarely used. Remember - your printer has a warranty - if a part fails, make a claim ;) This is one of the things you're paying for. When my feeder went, I made a claim on a Tuesday night and had a part (from China) by Friday morning. Their service/support is awesome! Remember, they're in China - so answers will be delayed.

5. I've never used ebay filament... I've used PP3DP HaveBlue's material, Makerbot, Maker Gear and Statasys'. PP3DP and Stratsys material work great - others are a bit stinkier unless you turn the temperature down (not impossible). There are other issues with non OEM materials, but they can be overcome with fiddling. I, for one, don't like fiddling (that's not why I bought the printer). None of the issues will affect lifetime of the machine.

6. Using acetone is a way to solvent weld ABS. Like any other sort of welding - the joint is what determines how good the bond will be. Butt FDM joints aren't very great (some orientations worse than others) - but this can be overcome with post processing or change in geometry/joint type.



Other comments.... I agree with Madox about accurate dimensions on large parts... I've had great results -but don't expect parts to be dimensionally accurate for engineering purposes. That said, I've never had a screw boss not mate. I have had some snap fittings not work because they were too small. Most of my parts get sold.

The machine's construction is fairly sound - at least in the context of mass production. There are some minor details that will likely be addressed in future iterations of the machine - but nothing too critical. The electronics appear to be decent and the MCU has a lot of extra computing horsepower.
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Re: Thinking about getting an UP! and have some questions...

Post by Madox » Mon Aug 15, 2011 11:01 am

trebuchet03 wrote:Lots of good feedback already... But here's my experience anyway...

1. I live in San Francisco - printer lived 3 feet from my bed for almost its entire life and most jobs were unattended or with me in an unconscious state.
Correlation? :) [Joking, just moved printer from room next door to my own room]

UPUPandAway
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Re: Thinking about getting an UP! and have some questions...

Post by UPUPandAway » Tue Aug 16, 2011 3:36 pm

I feel I need to clarify a few things.

I've had an UP! demoed at my office and I have a couple sample parts, so I know what the general quality and strength is like. Unfortunately, the part I had him demo was very thin (I believe it was about 1/10" wall thickness all around, an electrical enclosure) and was near the size limits of the printer and thus succumbed to warping in the way of curled edges and being "offset" by a few degrees from one end to the other (the model had screw holes that were perfectly square and the print had them a few thousandths off center from one another). Well, for one, this design was done by the person previously filling my position and I don't design like he did, thus, my parts should be easier to print because I design them to be easy to machine in aluminum and I avoid such goofy geometry.

Most large parts that I plan to print would be simple plates that just need to be print in 2 sections and merged and it's not that common anyway. Worst case, those parts could be outsourced to a 3rd party if it really needed it, but by no means are the dimensions requiring ultra-precise tolerances anyway. Most of the parts I've printed recently could fit within a 3x3" cube and I feel confident the UP! could handle those. The real question is whether or not I can get rid of the angular distortion (i.e. a square becomes a rhombus) via careful calibration and general "know how" via practice and, well, being a mechanical engineer by education and trade.

The 3D printed prototypes for work are mostly so that the various non-engineers at the company (i.e. everyone besides me) have something to hold in their hands and evaluate since they have a hard time understanding scale and function with 3D CAD models as well as to integrate it with existing equipment to make sure there's no glaring conflicts (a large bolt head where a mounting plate needs to go, for example). No matter what you do, a plastic prototype isn't going to tell you much as far as aluminum machining is concerned since a sloppy plastic part will have exaggerated dimensions and a sloppy machined aluminum part will have shrunken dimensions (in most instances). Again, since it's all going to end up in aluminum, there won't be any crazy and meticulous design as off-the-wall designs get very expensive in machined aluminum.

This should give you an idea of the kind of parts I'll generally make (even though this is from another company)
Image

The size of the main plate is probably about 3-4" long and the end pieces are probably about 1/2" thick.

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Re: Thinking about getting an UP! and have some questions...

Post by wackojacko » Tue Aug 16, 2011 7:42 pm

You could print in pla to avoid the warp
Bruce
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trebuchet03
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Re: Thinking about getting an UP! and have some questions...

Post by trebuchet03 » Tue Aug 16, 2011 9:22 pm

Up! Can def. handle that... I would print it on edge so the holes come out nicely and support is minimized....

I haven't printed that exact part - but I've printed things like that (including friction clamps similar to shown) without issues....

Obviously, don't expect plane bearing surfaces - but if you need a "works like" prototype - you can oversize the hole and press in a plane bearing.
The 3D printed prototypes for work are mostly so that the various non-engineers at the company (i.e. everyone besides me) have something to hold in their hands and evaluate since they have a hard time understanding scale and function with 3D CAD models as well as to integrate it with existing equipment to make sure there's no glaring conflicts (a large bolt head where a mounting plate needs to go, for example).
That's exactly how I use my machine for my own jobs. Having parts to mock up assembly really helps, a lot.
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Re: Thinking about getting an UP! and have some questions...

Post by UPUPandAway » Tue Aug 16, 2011 10:07 pm

Well, I have to say, I think I'm sold. Do you guys think I should go for that soldering fan I posted about a couple posts up http://www.tequipment.net/HakkoFA400-04.html ? The post about having the printer 3 feet away instills a little bit of faith for sure. So, I guess once I find out whether or not my company will take me up on the outsourced print offer I'll know if I'm getting one or not. I might get one anyway, but I'll have to do some further cost vs. benefit examination since the profitability will be much more limited and $3000 is too much for just screwing around and making toys with it.

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Re: Thinking about getting an UP! and have some questions...

Post by trebuchet03 » Tue Aug 16, 2011 10:33 pm

UPUPandAway wrote:Well, I have to say, I think I'm sold. Do you guys think I should go for that soldering fan I posted about a couple posts up http://www.tequipment.net/HakkoFA400-04.html ? The post about having the printer 3 feet away instills a little bit of faith for sure. So, I guess once I find out whether or not my company will take me up on the outsourced print offer I'll know if I'm getting one or not. I might get one anyway, but I'll have to do some further cost vs. benefit examination since the profitability will be much more limited and $3000 is too much for just screwing around and making toys with it.
Some people are more sensitive than others to the smell... While I'm able to have it next to my bed, not everyone will.

As for the fan.... Just keep it away from the build platform - drafty environments are sub-optimal for excellent prints.
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Re: Thinking about getting an UP! and have some questions...

Post by UPUPandAway » Wed Aug 31, 2011 2:50 pm

Hi guys, new question.

I have a bit of a dilemma of how to best operate the UP! software-wise. Both me and my sister (my roomate) use Macs, but it seems that the mac software lacks calibration settings as well as a few other things here and there. Have any Mac users found that the printer tends to have angular warp (as in, it prints "crooked" in the x-y axis) and there is no way to correct it? I do have parallels/bootcamp on my mac, but my mac literally has almost every port occupied and I don't want to unplug 10 things just to do a single 3D print (the printer will be located in a different room too far to run a USB cable). I will soon be in possession of an older Windows XP laptop (Pentium 4, lol) when my parents come up to visit, so should I go that route instead? Anyone have any idea if the Mac software will be caught up to the Windows version soon?

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Re: Thinking about getting an UP! and have some questions...

Post by Madox » Wed Aug 31, 2011 3:36 pm

My personal experience and opinion is that the calibration is mainly for the X/Z angle... (X? The front-back...vs Z the top-bottom axis)

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josejuako
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Re: Thinking about getting an UP! and have some questions...

Post by josejuako » Wed Aug 31, 2011 8:35 pm

Hi , I use my printer in Mac and in Windows platform whit out problem the Mac is more best print , I´m very happy whit this option .

J
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Re: Thinking about getting an UP! and have some questions...

Post by 3dprinting4me » Sat Sep 03, 2011 3:14 am

This looks pretty cool, but the print area seems small. Has anyone looked at thefutureis3d.com website? Their standard printing platform is 12" x 12" for $1700. It's also heated. I've read up that you get better quality of prints too.

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Re: Thinking about getting an UP! and have some questions...

Post by trebuchet03 » Sat Sep 03, 2011 6:56 am

3dprinting4me wrote:This looks pretty cool, but the print area seems small. Has anyone looked at thefutureis3d.com website? Their standard printing platform is 12" x 12" for $1700. It's also heated. I've read up that you get better quality of prints too.
At the end of the day, it still has the same issues that make the Up! attractive.... Software and consistency from machine to machine (what works for me will work for you, and etc.).

Print area isn't a problem - if you want to print bigger, there are plenty of services around to have big things printed. Otherwise, it's a virtual fight of who has the biggest schlong - as anyone over the age of 16 knows, how you use your machine is more important than it's length*width measurement.

For the very same reason, home printers are sized to do 8.5x11 - that's pretty small when you compare it to a commercial printer yet the complaints aren't about size, they are generally around operation cost.

The DIY 3D printing vendor scene is somewhat odd to me in that everyone is in a race to the bottom - I'm willing to bet there's a big slice of market willing to pay more for higher quality and better expirience. Generally that results in everyone getting their legs cut out from each other, unless its a personal hobby (then who cares if its a viable business). I think Makerbot finally realized this when they launched the TOM - they added a few high value add (and low mfr cost) to justify a significant price bump. Hopefully, they will use their recent investment towards software - the Up! software has its issues, but it's miles ahead in terms of UX compared to Reprap/Makerbot.
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Re: Thinking about getting an UP! and have some questions...

Post by Marcus » Sat Sep 03, 2011 10:03 am

I agree :-)
Also, the UP platform is heated as well, I don't understand the remark?

Also, while some people have reprap based printers tweaked to a point where the quality of the prints is very good, I am not aware of any kit or pre-built device that reaches the detail level of the UP, especially if you consider the easy-use software and the automated support structure.

The things I print are pushing the UP's limit, and it amazes me again and again.

But before the bashing starts, I love the reprap project, and even in the short time I followed it's progress it has gotten more and more user friendly... less parts, easier mentainance, and the software usability increased as well.
When I look at thingiverse or blogs where there are direct comparisons of models printed with the UP or other machines - even professional commercial devices, the UP is still the best buy in my oppinion.

I am sure In a few years some company will come out with a little desktop printer for <$800 assembled, and then things get rolling :-)

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