As much as we all wished, I don’t believe 3D printing will every hit mainstream use. Not at the very least until the is an easier learning curve or these systems require less maintenance.
I wouldn’t say I’m anywhere near an expert on this topic, I am more closer if even an amateur when talking about 3d printing. My first printer being a budget FDM printer (Monoprice Maker Select); I remember the excitement I had bringing out the box and putting it all together. At that point I already had some files downloaded waiting to be printed. Then hit the learning, overall the maintenance is basic. Make sure you are using the right PLA and cooking heating at the right temperature and most important make sure your printing plate is perfectly balanced, otherwise your print will fail. A year later an many failed prints, I just could not get the hang of it. And thus my new toy remained gathering dust.
Then along came a new wave of 3D printing devices. Maintenance of the SLA printer systems seemed very minimal compared to a FDM printer, items print out faster and with better detail. The catch, is all the initial prep work you do on an FDM printer gets translated to some other types of steps at the end of your print instead. Now, once your print is over, you will need to clean it and finish “cooking” it under UV light to ensure it has completely hardened. The process itself can be a little messy, as you are now dealing with liquid resin instead of a string of plastic. And it will require the use of a mask and gloves and lots of Isopropyl Alcohol.
There are a number of SLA printers out there, also with a large variety of pricing from $200 for an Anycubic Photon or Elegoo Mars to +$2000 for a Peopoly Phenom. I am currently toying around with an Anycubic Photon model, and loving the ease of the experience. In the next weeks I will be posting on the different designs and models I found fun to print, as well as ideas or tips I found useful.