View Full Version : Any woodworkers also have a 3-d printer?

Eric C Stoltzfus
04-04-2018, 3:52 PM
I've been thinking about getting a 3-d printer. Ever since they have been getting so cheap I have been getting quite interested in getting one. What I want to ask is are they useful at all for anything practical, especially woodworking?

Myk Rian
04-04-2018, 4:22 PM
Prepare to spend at least $750 for one worth messing with. Here is one respected brand. It was a start-up in the fellows garage.
https://shop.prusa3d.com/en/3d-printers/180-original-prusa-i3-mk3-kit.html# The MK2 model for $600 https://shop.prusa3d.com/en/3d-printers/59-original-prusa-i3-mk2-kit.html
I could probably come up with a bunch of things to make with one.

Bill Dufour
04-04-2018, 5:59 PM
They do make them for wood. The finished product is like particle board or better.
Bill D

Matt Day
04-04-2018, 7:30 PM
You're local library probably has one you can use for free. One of the local colleges has about a dozen of them I can use for free as well. Seems silly, at least for me, to spend money on one especially if there aren't really all that many uses.

Bill Bukovec
04-04-2018, 10:09 PM
I have used the industrial ($25,000) 3d printers at my last two jobs. They are great at creating fixtures and prototypes. One of the places I worked was a manufacturer of 3d printers and the consumables for the printers. Since we had access to printers and excess material, we printed anything we liked. I made personalized minions for a kids soccer team.

I no longer have the option to print personal things on the printer at work. Even so, there's not much I would print for my own use.

Another thing to consider is if you intend to print your own designs. I use Solidworks, but it's rather expensive. Uh

Eric C Stoltzfus
04-05-2018, 7:55 AM
This is the one that I was thinking of getting: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B073ZLSMFT/ref=s9_acsd_hps_bw_c_x_3_w?tag=product-widget-20&th=1. It has very good reviews. Basically what I wanted to ask is are there any real world uses for them or are they just toys. I did a quick search on thing verse for woodworking stuff and look what came up: https://www.thingiverse.com/search/page:1?q=woodworking&sa=&dwh=215ac60eb5df6bc.

Matt Day
04-05-2018, 7:58 AM
I think you have your answer already above.

William Adams
04-05-2018, 12:00 PM
I had one for a while, and found it more convenient to use than the CNC machine for jigs and fixtures and so forth (and much quieter). Gave it away, but have considering buying an inexpensive one as my next toy.

Also great for a quick / inexpensive prototype.

Jon Shank
04-07-2018, 9:02 PM
If you like tech toys they are a lot of fun, in terms of practicality it depends on what uses you have. My wife makes jewelry and sells it at craft/art shows and we have printed a ton of smaller displays for that, also some 3d letters and the like also for displays. For the shop I've printed different sized handles for saw files in the "tough ink" which is a rubbery 3d ink that has worked and held up really well. I've printed a bunch of other little shop doodads but have to admit mostly just for the novelty, although a couple of different dovetail saddle squares aren't all that bad, and the ABS based 3d inks can be pretty durable. We've also printed a ton of little video game characters and cartoon characters for nieces and nephews, but you start to see where the utility goes. That's just us of course and someone else might have great applications that would be really useful. And that said, we've had a blast printing all manner of different little things whether they are "useful" or not and still do. The 3d inks come in a widening variety of types and aren't all that expensive that you can't have a couple different types and several colors floating around for whatever. My wife designed and printed a little Mario Kart trophy (video-game) for her nephew in 3 or 4 colors that was a huge hit when they had a little tournament together while they were visiting.

And if you're pretty handy, which I mean look at the site we're on, I'm guessing you're handy, you can build one from a kit for a pretty huge discount. Our first printer can only print about a 4" by 4" cube maximum and was a little short of $300 onsale, but was very plug and play out of the box. Our second one was a little less than that but can print a part 8" by 12" by 10" high. And because I specced the parts I decided what features to have. The frame was a kit period and some of the electronics but I chose a control board with a couple extra channels to add a second print nozzle out of the box and the ability to add a 3rd and either a 4th or another feature (special print cooling fan for instance). I will point out that I work in technology and I'm pretty experienced with the materials, controller programming etc, so your mileage may vary depending on your level of tech comfort. And also because I chose the control board I had some pretty annoying hiccups that you might not have with a straight up kit, specifically installing and updating the firmware to the control board is a kludge at best and a real PITA if you mistype a single character during calibrations. So you know, buyer beware and all that, that's on me for not doing more research when I picked it, and it does work it's just a pain to change calibrations. But you can find a ton of reviews of the available kits etc to help you make better choices, and if you go with a straight up kit where you don't change anything you would probably avoid those kind of hiccups. To me it was a sometimes annoying challenge and frankly good work experience, to my wife it was "like pulling teeth while getting a lobotomy" (colorful woman, my wife).

A good and fairly cheap site to look at a bunch of options, with the caveat that you should do your due diligence and look for reviews there as well as elsewhere. https://www.3dprintersonlinestore.com/

Sorry, that turned into a bit of a book. We've had a blast with them, so I'd say go for it if you've got the interest, hope it helped at all.


Dave Richards
04-09-2018, 1:22 PM
I've been thinking about getting a 3D printer but haven't done it yet. It's like shopping for a computer. About the time you make up your mind, a new 'better' model comes out. I've had a few things printed like this model of a Penguin Donkey (https://flic.kr/p/bCyxDp) which I modeled in SketchUp. A friend of mine is printing up a replacement part for one of our counter top kitchen appliances after the original broke. I modeled it in SketchUp and sent him the file for printing. I'm hoping the printers that can do sintered metals will come down in price enough that I can afford one of them.

Steve Peterson
04-09-2018, 3:20 PM
I have a 3D printer and find it to be quite a lot of fun. I also have a CNC router. Both are similar in that they use a computer to move in 3 directions. One adds material, while the other takes away material.

One goal with both the CNC router and the 3D printer is to build clocks. The smallest gear that can be cut on the CNC router using a 1/8" router bit is around 10 dot pitch. Dot pitch (DP) is a term meaning that a 10DP gear with 10 teeth would be 1" in diameter.

I did an experiment over the weekend printing 16DP, 20DP, 24DP, and 30DP gears. The 24DP gears look very clean. A 24DP gear with 10 teeth would be around 0.42" in diameter. Smaller gears (higher DP) are possible, but the teeth appear to be less robust. One project downloaded from the web has gears around 38DP. They are printable, but the teeth are so small that they are prone to skip or break off. The 24DP gears look strong enough and much smaller than anything I would attempt on the CNC router.

My point is that 3D printing can do things that are not feasible with wood. There is an amazing community that shares projects for downloading. Another bonus is that a 3D printer can be inside your house all year long. Some people have wood shops that are not usable during the middle of winter or peak summer heat. The downside is that 3D printing is slow. I printed 48 tooth and 12 tooth gears in the 4 sizes listed above. The print time for these 8 gears was around 3 hours. The printer can be quietly working while you are doing other things.

John McClanahan
04-10-2018, 8:16 AM
Research what kind of file formats it accepts, and if you have to design with included software of if you can choose your own design program. I would never buy a low priced printer that forced you to use proprietary design software.


Steve Shepherd
04-12-2018, 3:54 PM
Prices have come down significantly since I bought mine....it seems you can get a prusa clone for under 200 USD...i read a ton on upgrades, etc that you can do, but as a woodworker and metalworker, I find that manual levelling is fine, don't need the fanciest software (use sketchup for free to model most things), etc...
I have printed several jig components out of ABS that are rock solid, including a lot of the parts for a home built shark guard for my saw. I've also been mocking up metal parts for concept before going to the effort of trying to mill them. If you're at all interested, and already have some 3d modelling experience, I'd definitely recommend. Plus, printing out little things for the kids is always fun! Check out thingiverse.com .....tons of tools there, among other things to print out.