Finished Vector 3 printer

3D Printer – an aside

I’ve had a few discussions recently as to why I’m building a 3D printer using one of these collect the parts magazine rather than either a) buying one outright or b) getting a “proper” build-it-yourself kit from an online store.  Now seems like a reasonable time to address the reasons behind this.

If you’ve been following my 3D printing posts you’ll know I’ve subscribed to Eaglemoss’ 3D Create and Print magazine and am gradually building my own printer.  With the weekly cost of the magazine this will eventually cost me £650 and I won’t have a complete printer until the middle of next year.  While this is cheaper than buying one outright now, with the speed of change and improvement it’s likely that the printer will be out of date, and this is not the only argument:

  • Since I won’t be able to print anything until the printer is nearly complete anyway, why not save up and then buy the best possible 3D printer next year
  • If it’s the appeal of building from a kit then why not buy one with all the parts for about £300
  • All the software and files that are the added bonus are freely available online

So why am I of all people doing something illogical?

I love the look of the final printer and it’s a good spec for the price.

I really like putting things together.  I’ve had my own soldering iron since I was 9 and love constructing.  By building a 3D printer from scratch I’ll get an understanding of how it works far better than just buying one and I’ll really enjoy putting it together.

Why not a more traditional kit?  Well, I like the appeal of timed building.  I work full time in a tech startup, am doing a degree and am also parent to a very active and sleep averse toddler.  I don’t get huge amounts of free time.  It’s nice to have a limited number of parts to work with and then have to take a break as I can easily get absorbed in what I’m doing.  This way I can ration the fun for myself :).  I also like the extras that come with the magazine: the software to make your own designs, the pre-made design files and general news and history.  Reading the magazine doesn’t take very long and, while I know all the same software, files and news is available online, I would never deliberately search for this information.

So I’m going to get a lot of fun out of this: building it, learning the software, making my own designs and printing things, as a result the price and timescale are quite low on my priority list..  I’m also hoping that it will be a  good starter printer for my daughter who will be nearly 5 by the time I’ve finished it and who I hope will be excited by the technology she will grow up surrounded by.  The Vector 3D printer doesn’t require any soldering  so I could potentially take it apart for her to build herself when she’s ready.

We had the following conversation a few weeks ago:

Would you like to print your own toys?

(frowning) Can I put sprinkles on them?


Okay then

I guess she’s not ready just yet 🙂

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Dr Janet is a Molecular Biochemistry graduate from Oxford University with a doctorate in Computational Neuroscience from Sussex. I’m currently studying for a third degree in Mathematics with Open University. During the day, and sometimes out of hours, I work as a Chief Science Officer. You can read all about that on my LinkedIn page.