Adventures - and misadventures - in 3D printing

An Ender 2 a Means?

One of the things I see posted time and time again in every 3D Printing Facebook group is – can’t you guess it?

How can I make money 3D Printing?

First off – why does everyone need things spoon fed to them? It’s the same process for almost any market – create or find something to sell, define your audience and push your product. But I guess everyone wants the easy, Crib Notes version.

Anyway – you maximize your profit by reducing your production and overhead costs as much as possible. Do you need a full retail store, or can you do it out of your house? Do you need to use the $45/kg spool of plastic or can you do it with a $23/kg spool? Do you need a $3,000 printer, or can you get away with a $300 printer?

Now things are starting to get interesting! Most entry level printers that people find affordable may not be the best option for starting a business.

But you just said minimize your costs…

Yeah – but I didn’t say shoot yourself in the foot. Quite a few (most?) entry level printers, while in a decent price range of $175 – $400, may seem like a bargain, they may not be the most economical for a business. You need to factor in hidden costs such as upgrades required and down time.

Take that $149.99 Troxy X8 or the $143.99 ANet A8 printer. Now does it need a power supply upgrade out of the box – most likely yes. Does it need a mosfet upgrade out of the box – most likely yes. Are you proficient at soldering or crimping connectors to reduce the chance that they might short out and on the outside chance start a fire? Are you ready to print cable support and frame supports and upgraded mounts just to make it reliable enough to use on a day to day basis? Now how much time do you need to invest if you want to grow your business past one printer? See? It adds up.

So what is the means to the profiting with 3d end? I’d say to get your feet wet, the $159.99 Creality Ender 2


But you just said cheap isn’t good

Not quite. Not all cheap is bad! Creality does an amazing job and turning out high quality products at very affordable prices. Their CR-10 line of printers has set the bar in the price to performance ratio in the $350-$1,000 range and they’ve followed it up with the Ender 2 which blows away the competition in the $150-300 range.

What makes it so good? Just check out the quality of the prints! Keep in mind that these two prints were my first two that came off this printer. No tweaking, no modifications, no nothing. I loaded up the Simplify3D profile that Chris Elkins created and printed away.

OK – yes this is a kit printer. If you’re not familiar with 3D printer, it might take you two hours to assemble. But as far as kits goes, it’s probably one of the easiest. All the components are well thought out and the more complex assemblies (X axis to Z Axis assembly, Extruder assembly) are all pre-built. I found when assembling mine that I had to tweak one eccentric nut on the Y carriage assembly. Everything else was aligned, square and perfect out of the box.

This is a printer that out of the box, needs nothing. Assemble, load filament, print. That’s it. Can you do upgrades – sure! A couple of the most performed upgrades are larger bed leveling thumb wheels for easier adjustment, belt tensioners, and adding a 5015 blower fan and shroud for a part cooling fan.

With nothing more than an hour or two of time and less than $200, you have a printer that you can run practically 24×7, turning out print after print. It’s a cheap, easy way to build a farm of 3, 4, 10!, for less than the cost of a single high end printer. And they don’t take up much space so creating a farm can be done in a closet.

Ok – so what’s the trade off? Print size. It’s 150x150x200mm build volume. Is it really a trade off though? How many prints do you do that are over 150mm in size? Probably not as many as you think! In all the prints I’ve done so far, not one has been over 150mm. Need to go larger than 150 – step up to a CR-10 for a couple hundred more dollars and use your Enders for the majority of your prints.

Printing size: 150 x 150 x 200mm
Filament material: PLA/ABS/PETG/etc.
Filament diameter: 1.75mm
Nozzle diameter: Default 0.4mm, support 0.3 / 0.2mm
Printing speed: ≤200mm/s
Accuracy: ±0.1mm
Working mode: Online or SD card offline
Printing thickness: 0.1-0.4 adjustable
Voltage: 12V
Rated power: 120W
Actual power: 100W
Power requirement: 110-240V input, 12V output
Machine size: 300330540mm
Net weight: 4.2KG
Packing size: 445400115mm
Packing weight: 5.5KG

The Ender 2 is available on Gearbest.com for the next two days for $159.99. After that, it goes up to $209 so enjoy a 15% off coupon for Gearbest.com if you miss the flash sale.
Gearbest 15% OFF Coupon 'GBTE' for Electrical & Tools Products promotion
15% OFF Coupon ‘GBTE’ for Electrical & Tools Products

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