You may think that if you choose a 3D printer, especially one of the closed systems that are easier to use like a MakerBot, you will not need a support package. Especially because the closed system printers are more user friendly than the typical RepRap style 3d printers. In my experience, regardless of the features considered when you choose a 3d printer, even if it is considered the best 3D printer for ease of use, I would only buy a 3D printer from a manufacturer that has a good support and training package. Let’s discuss why.
After a short period of time, if you don’t have a support package, and you call up tech support, most are not going to talk to you unless you have purchased a package first. Very often support packages will include an extended warranty on the printer. This was the case on our MakerBot 3D printer, and whenever they updated something like their smart extruder, they just send us a new one without us having to call them.
In my opinion, there is no such thing as the best 3D printer. You can read all the 3d printer reviews available in your quest to find the best 3D printer, and make sure you make a wise choice as you choose a 3d printer to buy. The 3D printer price does not even matter, if you are considering cheap printers or expensive ones, it only matters if the 3d printer for sale will meet your needs to print your “what.” There are hundreds of thousands of printers being sold today. The projection is between 2018-2022, there will be millions of printers sold. But every printer has its own issues and problems. It’s still a little in beta, even the 3d printers for sale that appear to be mature. You need to have somebody who you can talk to when you come to problems because these things haven’t been tested to death, that’s just the way they work.
I also think most companies have rushed so much to get their 3d printer to market, that users are experiencing things that some printer manufacturers haven’t experienced. So support and training is even more critical when you buy an open source RepRap machine. Think about it, what is a 3d printer? Most are a complex collection of motors and circuits build by hardware only companies, following commands issued by another company’s software for slicing and driving the printer. It becomes the path of lease resistance for the 3d printer manufacturer to blame the software company for any problems, and vice versa.
I have owned a few open source 3d printers, and it was a really rough experience. It was not obvious how to get training. In fact, I bought it through a dealer, and that further complicated it because the dealer gave us some instructions on how to level the build plate and calibrate it that were very different from what the manufacturer recommends. That kind of communication gap can happen, especially with open source 3D printers.
With one printer I was lucky enough to live close enough to the manufacturer that I could drive there, and they offered training. For $100, two of us were able to go there, sit down, and get trained in how to run the recommended software, which again they didn’t create. It was third party software. And we were able to get trained in the actual processes and procedures for how to calibrate the printer. It was critical. If I hadn’t gone for that training, I would have been doing it all alone, incorrectly.
Every 3D printer has its nuances, things that are a little bit different. I’ll give you one example. Our latest 3D printer that we bought is a Leapfrog Creatr HS. There is fairly good documentation and online resources for how to get going on that. Because we had had some experience on another printer, it was a little easier for us getting started.
However, I participated in a YouTube live event on the basics of using that printer and learned some things that were not documented anywhere else, like exactly how to easily tell when your build platform is at the right level to be able to do that calibration. There is a simple way that they don’t ever tell you that I got out of that meeting.
Use all the resources that those manufacturers have, wherever they have that. Find out, join their Google hangout groups. Some have LinkedIn groups as well. Join those things. Check out their videos. Make sure you are subscribed to their YouTube channel. That can be really useful.
The bottom line is, if there are support and training packages available, as long as you can afford it, do not hesitate, it is worth it.