The Solidoodle

Things that were 3d printed
Travis7s
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Joined: Mon Jan 10, 2011 9:45 pm

The Solidoodle

Post by Travis7s » Wed Jun 19, 2013 10:30 am

My work is looking at getting a cheap printer, how has the Solidoodle been working for you guys? Any regrets?

Kaldonis
Posts: 348
Joined: Wed Jan 12, 2011 3:29 pm

Re: The Solidoodle

Post by Kaldonis » Thu Jun 20, 2013 9:24 am

I don't regret purchasing it at all. For the price, I don't think there's a better 3d printer you can buy. Even if you doubled the price, I would still call it fairly competitive. That said, there are a few mods that are almost necessities in order to get consistently good prints - for us this included adding a garolite bed (tried glass, had some issues with it cracking) & making an enclosure for it to better keep the heat in. There's a really good community site with tons of info - http://www.soliforum.com/.

James should be posting his opinion shortly too... His employer recently purchased a Replicator 2, so he has experienced both ends of the entry-level 3d printer spectrum.

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thesaxmachine
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Re: The Solidoodle

Post by thesaxmachine » Thu Jun 20, 2013 9:42 am

For the price I will agree with Jeremy that the Solidoodle is pretty good. I'm pleased with the results of the prints I have done so far. The only challenge I had with it was getting stuff to stick to the printing bed. But I believe we have that figured out now.

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JamesCooper
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Re: The Solidoodle

Post by JamesCooper » Thu Jun 20, 2013 1:55 pm

Luckily, I have had the privilege of doing work with both the Solidoodle 3 and the Makerbot Replicator 2. Here's what I can tell you:

Neither one worked particularly well out of the box. The Solidoodle had trouble getting things to stick, with parts regularly coming off the bed. We made several modifications to help this, including a new bed surface and adding exterior panels to keep out external air currents. The Replicator had a tremendously warped bed, and even after replacing the bed twice, it still had trouble getting the parts to stick, with considerable warping and major inconsistencies from run-to-run and between locations in the build area.

The Replicator was very well supported. We bought ours from Thorstad Computers in Outlook and they sent us replacement parts and even drove here to service it without charging us a dime. I've heard that Solidoodle offers good support too, but we've honestly never asked for it.

Documentation for the Replicator was much better than the Solidoodle. It has an LCD on the front that steps you through the initial setup. It also comes with a reasonable manual for getting started. All together, it makes it easy to get things tuned up and get printing your first item. After that, the documentation isn't very helpful; troubleshooting and additional configuration were poor. The Solidoodle was worse; it came with almost zero documentation. Their website does have some good guides, but they are buried within blog posts. The one benefit of the Solidoodle was that it used the same software as many open source projects, so finding guides and documentation for that was easier, given that others had already done the work. Both will require you to read much about 3D printing elsewhere and learn much about the process and configuration.

Performance-wise, the Replicator seems considerably faster, but it's also quite a bit louder. The Replicator is designed for PLA only and the Solidoodle is designed for ABS only -- each has pros and cons that I won't cover here.

Both printers had major performance problems, which seems to be common for all printers. Both had trouble getting the part to stick, often having it come loose half-way through printing. Both also had issues with the corners of the pieces curling up. It took dozens of prints and days of tweaking to get consistent prints on the Replicator, and even then we would have things go wrong at least 1 in 10 times. Neither printer can safely be left unattended. Small parts would take 1hr+ to make, while larger parts (such as an iPod dock) would take a full work day, not counting the wasted time of having to restart a failed job.

We seemed to have more major failures with the Replicator, though it was also a small sample (one printer) and over many more prints (more opportunities for failures). We went through 3 different beds of various levels of unevenness, but all too uneven to be useful. During one run, a part came loose and stuck to the hot end, creating a massive bunch of plastic that eventually broke pieces on the hot end itself (which Thorstad promptly replaced). We also had a complete failure of the electronics once (which Thorstad replaced with a brand new printer). We haven't done as much printing with the Solidoodle, but so far no major damage has occurred that I'm aware of.

Under the dressing, both printers appear to be made of basically the same type and quality of parts. The Replicator looks more polished, but the technology and its implementation are very similar.

All in all, I'd still suggest the Solidoodle. The Replicator may look more polished, but it's still an FDM printer with all the same problems. If you're going to have to tweak and mod your printer anyway, you might as well start with something cheaper.

The biggest thing to consider when looking at buying a 3D printer is: why? Though it's a neat concept, they are still quite terrible for producing things. They are very slow, the quality is generally poor, and they are quite unreliable. Our CNC mill has been far more performant and reliable for producing prototypes and I believe it cost similar to what the Replicator did. If you absolutely need an additive process, SLA appears to be a much more reliable technology than FDM, even if the raw materials are much more expensive; the cost of your time to make FDM work is probably far more than the extra cost of resins for SLA. Neither is really practical for mass production; 3D printing should really only be used for one-offs, such as prototypes or molds.

Hope that helps!

Kaldonis
Posts: 348
Joined: Wed Jan 12, 2011 3:29 pm

Re: The Solidoodle

Post by Kaldonis » Thu Jun 20, 2013 2:10 pm

JamesCooper wrote:The Solidoodle was worse; it came with almost zero documentation. Their website does have some good guides, but they are buried within blog posts.
I'd argue with that... their wiki is pretty decent: http://wiki.solidoodle.com/. I agree with everything else you said.

Travis7s
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Joined: Mon Jan 10, 2011 9:45 pm

Re: The Solidoodle

Post by Travis7s » Thu Jun 20, 2013 2:12 pm

Good info, thanks.

We're just looking to create one off prototypes. We had a small 3"x 2"x 2" object made with the University's Objet printer and they quoted us $180, dso dropping a grand or 2 of a printer doesn't seem like a bad idea.
Last edited by Travis7s on Thu Jun 20, 2013 2:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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JamesCooper
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Re: The Solidoodle

Post by JamesCooper » Thu Jun 20, 2013 2:13 pm

Kaldonis wrote:
JamesCooper wrote:The Solidoodle was worse; it came with almost zero documentation. Their website does have some good guides, but they are buried within blog posts.
I'd argue with that... their wiki is pretty decent: http://wiki.solidoodle.com/. I agree with everything else you said.
is that new? I'd never seen that before. Their main website doesn't link to it. I was referring to the stuff in the How To section of their main website, http://www.solidoodle.com/. Yes, the wiki looks much better.

Kaldonis
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Re: The Solidoodle

Post by Kaldonis » Thu Jun 20, 2013 2:15 pm

Travis7s wrote:Good info, thanks.

We're just looking to create one off prototypes. We had a small 3"x 2"x 2" object made with the University's Objet printer and they quoted us $180
Maybe you should just get a membership to TechWorks? $50/mo for all the 3d printing you want (you have to cover material cost, but that's next to nothing). I don't think anyone would have an issue with you doing work related stuff there.

Alternatively, we will be offering 3d printing services at some point in the future. It will be much cheaper than the University or any other online service...

Travis7s
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Re: The Solidoodle

Post by Travis7s » Thu Jun 20, 2013 2:21 pm

If I was to send the CAD files would any of you guys be willing to print the same enclosure we had the university make? It would a great way to see how the Solidoodle compares and you guys could make some money at the same time...

Kaldonis
Posts: 348
Joined: Wed Jan 12, 2011 3:29 pm

Re: The Solidoodle

Post by Kaldonis » Thu Jun 20, 2013 6:08 pm

Travis7s wrote:If I was to send the CAD files would any of you guys be willing to print the same enclosure we had the university make? It would a great way to see how the Solidoodle compares and you guys could make some money at the same time...
Sure! You can send the file(s) to thespace@sktechworks.ca.

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