Should I buy a printer before college?

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astroboy907
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Should I buy a printer before college?

Post by astroboy907 » Sat Sep 13, 2014 11:34 pm

I just wanted to see if anyone has thoughts about this. I am currently a high school senior, and I've been interested in 3D printing for quite a long time. Being able to fast track prototypes and create structures that would be difficult to machine is something I could really use, even in my budding electronics interest.
However, because I am a high school senior, I don't have much time left at home. I'm currently planning on continuing my education onto college, which would mean that I only have about a year left at home before I will be going to move out to live in a dorm. Me and my family are fine with a printer at home, but having one in a college dorm would be... interesting to say the least (and most likely not feasible with a roommate). If it were even possible to keep using it (or at least have a location at school to use it at), transportation may become an issue because all of the colleges I am currently looking at are >12 hours away.

But the flip side of that is that I really like 3D printing and would love to have a printer of my own that I can fiddle with and just... well, build stuff.
So, would a year or so of printing be worth it, or should I hold off for a couple years until I am settled in college and have a spot of my own to work with??
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Re: Should I buy a printer before college?

Post by bubbasnow » Sun Sep 14, 2014 12:22 am

get a small printer like the printrbot, its tiny and inexpensive

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Re: Should I buy a printer before college?

Post by astroboy907 » Sun Sep 14, 2014 1:02 am

bubbasnow wrote:get a small printer like the printrbot, its tiny and inexpensive

But bigger is better, right? :D
As for funding, cost isn't so much of an issue right now between having a part time job and 3 side businesses. I've been saving for a while. Though the Prusa/Mendel RepRaps look like they have decent enough build volume for a small-ish space.

Look at me, discussing Prusa printers on the SeeMe site... :?
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Re: Should I buy a printer before college?

Post by Flateric » Sun Sep 14, 2014 2:45 am

If I were in your shoes, knowing what I know now and knowing that study and collage are going to be major priorities....

I would probably go with a printerbot simple metal because of cost, but if you can swing it then the pre-built and calibrated Orion would be my first choice over almost everything, including the Max2.

Depends on the money question and second on the ease of use question is how I weight my answers here. Orion is best, and better in every way but pricier!
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Re: Should I buy a printer before college?

Post by teoman » Sun Sep 14, 2014 9:44 am

What will you be studiying?

Mechanics/mechatronics or most of the engineering fields will become much more informative if you have a 3d printer.

I have a half built reprap, abandonned due to lack of time and a rostock max v2. I would go for the rostock if i were in your shoes.
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Re: Should I buy a printer before college?

Post by astroboy907 » Sun Sep 14, 2014 10:36 am

teoman wrote:What will you be studiying?


Likely Electrical Engineering, however there are many engineering fields that I have had no experience with that I might like more. Aeronautical, astronautical, and mechanical engineering all seem fairly interesting to me, but they don't exactly teach those at a high school level :)
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Re: Should I buy a printer before college?

Post by teoman » Sun Sep 14, 2014 11:56 am

High school is the best time of your life to try out new things when you have time to fiddle with stuff. Most of what i know came from my years of education and "experimentation" back then.
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Re: Should I buy a printer before college?

Post by bubbasnow » Sun Sep 14, 2014 4:34 pm

I'm EE, you wont have spare time >.<

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Re: Should I buy a printer before college?

Post by Generic Default » Sun Sep 14, 2014 5:43 pm

I'm in engineering school right now for electrical and computer.

The summer after my first year I bought the Rostock V1. I learned a lot, printed a lot, and because of it I started a business in the additive manufacturing field.

I brought my Rostock to my dorm room (TINY ROOM) and kept it there for all of the second year. My roommate didn't mind at all and I did a lot printing during the day and during the night. I never ran overnight prints though, just because it was two meters away from me and Rostocks aren't the quietest printers....

If you decide to bring it, get the Orion and put stepper motor dampers on it. I almost always printed trimmer line because it doesn't smell bad like ABS, but PLA won't bug anyone either. Having a printer will be a huge advantage in any project or design classes you have. I printed a clock enclosure for my circuits class a few months ago and got extra credit.

The printer will draw a crowd. Guys will ask if you can print them guns, girls will ask if you can print them shot glasses. For whatever reason I got the party room in the engineering dorm I was in. At one point there was a horde of like 15 alcoholics in my room playing beer pong, 10 half naked party girls and my Rostock was just printing in the corner the entire time. Luckily nobody smashed it. You probably won't have to deal with stuff like that though. Worst case is that your roommate doesn't want you printing, in which case you take the printer home or only print when your roommate isn't there.

In EE you may or may not have a lot of time. But since it's an automated CNC machine, you just have to set it up and start the prints so time probably won't be too big of an issue.
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Re: Should I buy a printer before college?

Post by RegB » Sun Sep 14, 2014 8:01 pm

Probably a GOOD idea to get one built NOW, tweak it, tune it, have it printing PARTS THAT FIT before you really need them, so you can concentrate on the prototypes and not the printer itself.

As an EE student, I would also get a student license for SolidWorks and get started with CircuitWorks.

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Re: Should I buy a printer before college?

Post by McSlappy » Mon Sep 15, 2014 5:59 am

The obvious answer hasn't been mentioned here:

Buy a 3d printer INSTEAD of going to college! After 4 years you'll have no qualifications but you'll be great at 3d printing and when you go for that big job interview you can just walk in wearing your 3d printed cowboy hat with your 3d printed 6 shooter and spurs. Pause for effect and yell "stick 'em up!" as you toss over a sweet 3d printed Yoda head. When the HR person catches it, just twirl that six gun and holster that bad boy in your 3d printed holster. Guaranteed they'll be so blown away by your mad skilz that any question of qualifications will drift right out the window.

Any questions?
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Re: Should I buy a printer before college?

Post by RegB » Mon Sep 15, 2014 10:29 am

In 4 years FFF (aka threeee deeee printing) will be SO passe as to be useless as a job skill.

Right now it is fun, but this era is coming to a close.
Standardization, proprietary hardware & software, etc will lead to lockouts.
I foresee the sub $100 FFF before current high schoolers graduate with a Bachelor's degree.
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Re: Should I buy a printer before college?

Post by Generic Default » Mon Sep 15, 2014 10:18 pm

I guess engineering is one of the few degrees left in the US that actually pays for itself. But if you were going for arts and sciences or something, do what McSlappy says instead.

Or just take that 30 thousand dollars that you would spend the first year and buy a small warehouse and fill it with 3d printers, then hire a bunch of your unemployed high school peers to maintain the printers. Maybe just print a bunch of liberators all day and all night, then sell them at local gun shows. I'm assuming if the nearest college is 12 hours away you're in the midwest? 12 hours of driving in the US is like a timezone and a half. There are plenty of people who would pay $40 for a printed liberator pistol.

I meant it as a joke but it actually sounds like a half-decent business plan...

Get a printer and bring it to college. You will be glad you did.
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Re: Should I buy a printer before college?

Post by astroboy907 » Tue Sep 16, 2014 12:23 am

McSlappy wrote:.... when you go for that big job interview you can just walk in wearing your 3d printed cowboy hat with your 3d printed 6 shooter and spurs. Pause for effect and yell "stick 'em up!" as you toss over a sweet 3d printed Yoda head. When the HR person catches it, just twirl that six gun and holster that bad boy in your 3d printed holster. Guaranteed they'll be so blown away by your mad skilz that any question of qualifications will drift right out the window.

Any questions?


Yes, just one.
Is this a common stereotype for the average American in Australia? :mrgreen:

Generic Default wrote:I guess engineering is one of the few degrees left in the US that actually pays for itself. But if you were going for arts and sciences or something, do what McSlappy says instead.


Going for hardcore engineering, no arts and sciences here.


I'm assuming if the nearest college is 12 hours away you're in the midwest?

Yep, southern Idaho. Not neccesarily the nearest college but the nearest one with any real reputation for engineering (I'm not that far in the middle of nowhere! :D).

Or just take that 30 thousand dollars that you would spend the first year and buy a small warehouse and fill it with 3d printers, then hire a bunch of your unemployed high school peers to maintain the printers. Maybe just print a bunch of liberators all day and all night, then sell them at local gun shows. [snip] There are plenty of people who would pay $40 for a printed liberator pistol.

I meant it as a joke but it actually sounds like a half-decent business plan...

Get a printer and bring it to college. You will be glad you did.


You have no idea... Man, I could make tons of $$$ from that. You should've seen this place when people started to press for gun reform. You couldn't find ammo for weeks, everything was flying off the shelves.


RegB wrote:Probably a GOOD idea to get one built NOW, tweak it, tune it, have it printing PARTS THAT FIT before you really need them, so you can concentrate on the prototypes and not the printer itself.

As an EE student, I would also get a student license for SolidWorks and get started with CircuitWorks.

Definitely! Though I have to ask, if anyone has experience, how hard is it to get back going after a disassembly? I know everything has to be recalibrated, but aside from that is there are large amount of tweaking?


bubbasnow wrote:I'm EE, you wont have spare time >.<

:cry: I don't have much now! College applications kill...
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Re: Should I buy a printer before college?

Post by McSlappy » Tue Sep 16, 2014 2:43 am

astroboy907 wrote:Is this a common stereotype for the average American in Australia? :mrgreen:


You know there's some Aussies who do actually think that's what America is like yes. Since I'm actually an American (by naturalization) it's not the stereotype I have of the USA (even though I spent my time living in Western Colorado). I think I was thinking of the most outrageous 3d printable items and I settled on a mental image of Woody from Toy Story for some reason. I began with the cowboy hat and then the 6 gun was a natural progression :mrgreen:

Back to the original question anyway. Yeah get a printer!
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Re: Should I buy a printer before college?

Post by 626Pilot » Tue Sep 16, 2014 3:08 am

You would need an ATF permit to produce Liberators. Also, a selective laser sintering machine. You're not going to fire bullets out of a PLASTIC gun, are you?

Dorm life is a mixed bag. Everyone comes from having spent 19 years in a controlled environment with specific rules, boundaries, expectations, ways of resolving problems (each with their own unique pathology, which is worse for you since your brain won't be fully online for the next 15 years), etc. The trouble is that everyone's expectations are different (through no fault of their own - parents set all that up). You and everyone else there will have varying abilities to deal with the differences between peoples' expectations. One person expects to be loud all the time, another expects to be able to have peace and quiet all the time. They both feel totally entitled to have their way, so who prevails? Easy - read the contract and whatever handbook they give you for the rules of the dorm community BEFORE you sign up. You need to know what you're getting yourself into before you get yourself into it. Doing this will prepare you to advocate for yourself should another resident cross the line. It will also help you avoid crossing the line, which is something you should be mindful of; the rules apply to you as much as everyone else. In fact, you won't really know where the line is until you read all that stuff because whatever you're used to at home is not going to be a perfect match for the rules you'll be expected to abide in college. If the RAs do a meeting where they introduce themselves to you and go over the rulebook and all that, take advantage of it even if it isn't mandatory. They will do this right at the beginning of the term. Use this opportunity to talk to your roommate(s) about how much noise is acceptable, quiet hours, what to hang on the doorknob when you need time alone, etc. Don't leave this to chance because it can bite you later.

The above will help you keep peaceful relations with whoever you live with, which is essential because your roomies are basically strangers that you trust to be around your stuff when you aren't around. Don't get lulled into a false sense of security; the dorm isn't your parents' house and your parents aren't going to toss everyone's room to look for your stuff. If something gets stolen, you will have to get the cops involved, and they require a much steeper standard of evidence than your folks. If the 3D printer produces noises and smells, you want smooth relations so that the printer doesn't become "the straw that broke the camel's back". If they give you a locking closet to use for yourself, put the printer in there during parties and when you're going to be away for awhile. I've been in rooms where there were parties, small parties, and the next day someone's laptop is nowhere to be found, and it turns out that one of the people at the party had a grudge no one knew about beforehand. You never know what the random dude you or your roomie invited over to visit is going to do when you have your back turned. I once walked in on a guest installing a proxy and IRC client on my guest computer without asking. (What the heck does he need with a proxy? Nothing good I bet.)

Now that that's out of the way, yes, you should get a 3D printer. Market forecasts suggest a huge increase in market adoption over the rest of the decade. On top of that, you're studying for EE, which means that you'll want to be able to fabricate custom enclosures, mounts, mechanisms, articulations, etc. for your projects. You want to play to your professors' prejudices, and they will be impressed if you show up with something like that. Some of them may expect you to fabricate custom stuff like that in the school's lab, and if you have your own printer, you don't have to go to the lab. In that way, it's like the question of whether or not to bring a computer to college. Of course you should!

On top of all that, you'll be coming out of college with 5+ years of experience in CAD and 3D printing. I can't tell you how many interviews I've sat in with people who never did anything extracurricular. They only did the things their professors told them to do. I usually recommended against hiring these people. Frankly I don't trust people to do creative work (like CAD or programming) that they don't like enough to do it in their spare time. That mistrust is because I've seen what they do on the job. They always want other people to help them because they have only ever worked with the safety net of having an instructor to talk to. They haven't gone through the process of making mistakes and failing at things enough to know how to work on their own. They haven't gone through the frustration and hair-pulling that's necessary to get really good at something difficult, which means their employer has to deal with a woefully incomplete skillset. One of my employers ignored my advice on two such people and neither lasted beyond two months. Don't be like them. Whatever you love to do, don't just do what the instructors tell you. If you can't stand doing it when you're not getting a grade for it, you'd probably dislike doing it for a career anyway.

This is the ground floor and you're on it. Act accordingly.
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Re: Should I buy a printer before college?

Post by teoman » Tue Sep 16, 2014 3:50 am

If you build your own printer then you will have no problems dismantling it and transporting it. You will also learn a lot during the process.

If you have a bunch of projects stacked up, and want to start printing immediately, go for a pre assembled printer. If not i would get the rostock max.


If you were not 6k miles away i would give you a reprap that is % 95 assembled and all parts probably complete. I am not sure if i would be doing you a favor or not.
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Re: Should I buy a printer before college?

Post by astroboy907 » Thu Sep 18, 2014 10:43 pm

So definitely considering it now...
I think I'd probably go for the Rostock because I've never been one for plug-and-play, I love to build things and see how they work. Plus I have enough time to tinker with it a bit for now.

Which leaves me with either buying a new V2 and doing from-scratch, or buying a used (likely V1) printer. I've got my eye on Cambo's printer in the list over here... it looks like a great price for a great machine.
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Re: Should I buy a printer before college?

Post by McSlappy » Fri Sep 19, 2014 1:47 am

Well building your own printer and having it running in your dorm room is a great way to impress the sort of girls that you'd want ;)
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Re: Should I buy a printer before college?

Post by Flateric » Fri Sep 19, 2014 6:37 am

McSlappy wrote:Well building your own printer and having it running in your dorm room is a great way to impress the sort of girls that you'd want ;)


And if not, just print one out! :P
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Re: Should I buy a printer before college?

Post by Eaglezsoar » Fri Sep 19, 2014 9:51 am

astroboy907 wrote:So definitely considering it now...
I think I'd probably go for the Rostock because I've never been one for plug-and-play, I love to build things and see how they work. Plus I have enough time to tinker with it a bit for now.

Which leaves me with either buying a new V2 and doing from-scratch, or buying a used (likely V1) printer. I've got my eye on Cambo's printer in the list over here... it looks like a great price for a great machine.


Cambo's machine would make a great machine. He does great work and his upgrades would be done to perfection. A great selection for someone.

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Re: Should I buy a printer before college?

Post by astroboy907 » Sun Oct 26, 2014 10:24 pm

Eaglezsoar wrote:
Cambo's machine would make a great machine. He does great work and his upgrades would be done to perfection. A great selection for someone.


I haven't heard back from him so far. I see one on eBay that is going for around the same price as cambo. Based on cambos upgrades, do you think it would be worth pestering him about his machine, or going for a brand new V2?
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Re: Should I buy a printer before college?

Post by lightninjay » Sun Oct 26, 2014 11:29 pm

I would definitely recommend pestering him, because I would personally purchase his machine if I didn't think I would feel bad for purchasing it out from under you! lol

But seriously, based on all the work I've read that he's put into that machine, it's a steal for the price he's selling it. Pester him and hopefully he gets back to you!
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Re: Should I buy a printer before college?

Post by astroboy907 » Mon Nov 17, 2014 10:15 pm

lightninjay wrote:I would definitely recommend pestering him, because I would personally purchase his machine if I didn't think I would feel bad for purchasing it out from under you! lol

But seriously, based on all the work I've read that he's put into that machine, it's a steal for the price he's selling it. Pester him and hopefully he gets back to you!


Go for it!... I've thought a lot about it and I just can't bring myself to put that much cash into something like this. I'm just doubting how much I will use it, and my biggest fear is that I want it just for novelty and when that wears off I will just let it sit. It would be an awesome thing to have, but with college around the corner... perhaps not.
:cry: :mrgreen:

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Re: Should I buy a printer before college?

Post by lightninjay » Wed Nov 19, 2014 3:28 pm

Speaking from that perspective, you still have plenty of time to get into 3D printing more before buying your own printer.

Personally, when I bought W.I.S.P.E.R. a few months ago, I was entering my senior year of college, with the intention of using her to complete my honors thesis. That project is still going strong and I cannot see myself having been able to complete it without my own printer. I only made the huge decision to purchase my printer because I had scholarship funds to do so, and I was at a point which I felt I knew enough about the THEORY of 3D printers that I could handle using and maintaining one of my own.

Just make sure you grab a 3D printer before there is potentially too much legislation and corporate mess around the industry to find a really valuable printer like Seeme's Rostock Max v2.
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