Should you get one big 3d printer or multiple, smaller printers?
It’s a question I get asked a lot.
Obviously, the question is usually answered with a question … or 5 …
There is, however, some general guidance I can give you based on my own experience.
Question 1 – What are you going to be printing?
If you are going to be printing for yourself or for sale/services? Is speed, detail, or just size important?
You see, if you are printing for others, all your printing eggs in one 3d printer basket might be a risk. If you are thinking you need to fill a build plate rather than print one, larger item, that might be a mistake too (the whole thing can get wiped out by one failed support).
This question leads naturally to the next question …
Question 2 – how often will you need mega build area?
My biggest 3D printer is the Creality CR-10 S5 which has a build area of 500mm3. I love the CR-10, and the S5 is amazing. The CR-10 S5 is big enough for all but the most specialized uses (like 3d printing a house, say), but I don’t often use the full capacity. Not anywhere close.
You might find the rare occasions you need a larger build area do not make it worth it, especially given the next question …
Question 3 – would you be better off splitting prints into smaller objects?
A Facebook contact had the commission to print a Batman bust. It was going to take days and multiple spools to achieve due to the size and the support required.
My advice? Cut it into pieces and hollow it. Don’t print it all at once.
Question 4 – how reliable is your printer going to be?
Even prints on my most expensive, most “just press print”, most reliable printers fail occasionally. Do you really want to fail 3 days into a print?
Question 5 – what is your budget?
Finances have a big impact, but I guess you can include how much space you have in this answer too.
The reason after looking at CNC options I bought the Sienci Mill One v2 and the X-Carve in the 500mm size is because of space, as well as cost.
For the price of one, huge 3d printer you can get multiple smaller ones. Heck, with the Anet A8 kit you could have a whole print farm for the price of one gMax.
Being able to print huge is nice, but maybe it is a luxury rather than essential.
Nobody can tell you precisely what is right for you, but I know it took me a while before I upgraded to that S5 thinking I was going to use it all the time, but really it’s nice when I need it, but I don’t need it often. 300mm x 300mm seems to be my sweet spot, so the regular Creality CR-10 is my ideal size.
Having more than one 3d printer has actually saved me from expensive repairs or 3d hubs, because I have been able to print parts and upgrades on my good printer for my failing one! Right now as I write this my Craftbot XL is printing ABS parts for my other printers (yes, I liked the Craftbot so much that I actually bought it – full review to come!).