Inexpensive 3D printer to augment the Forge

I ran across a Kickstarter for an inexpensive ($169–oops sold out, make that $219) 3D printer. It might be a good companion to the Forge. It says it’s designed for kids, so I’m leery of its capabilities/resolution.

I’m curious what others think of this.

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Hmmm… Now I’m even more leery, now that I see they launched this product previously and cancelled the funding.

By the end of your first week with it, you’re going to want a larger build area. You’ll need the real estate to make anything truly useful (beyond palm-sized toys/figures).

Also, you’ll need to be ready to learn some sort of 3D design software. Cool kids version of the tool, though!

I’m pretty happy with my Monoprice dual extruder, large, heated print bed, inexpensive, and built from inexpensive off the shelf parts. I have had a few things break on it, but it has been easy to fix. I’m hoping the GlowForge gantry is as easy to repair if needed.

Take a look at the Zortrax M200 if you want to just print your designs without lots of slicer fiddling. I bought one last year shortly after their KS campaign ended and was a little surprised to see how well it has been working for the past 18 months.

I’m still awaiting my Tiki Printer from Kickstarter

As a “thought-exercise” I considered the possibilities of the GF, the more I thought about what could be achieved with a GF the more I “discovered” its limitations. I may have had the same idea as @fanofglowforge, it seemed to me that there were synergies to be had from combining a GF and a small CNC router.

Looking at these (almost) desktop CNC machines I couldn’t help comparing their similarities to 3D printers, it looks like the only “real” difference is the printer head versus the router. I know there’s a bit more to it than that but on a simplistic level, if you swap in an extruder and hot end with an appropriate controller, any CNC router can be made to function as a 3D printer.

To leverage the accuracy and finesse of the GF I’ve ordered a small CNC machine and all the bits I think I will need to have it 3D print.

Damn you GF, you’ve turned me into some kind of monster.

There are at least two machines I know of which are just the XYZ gantry, and you can swap out the head for a 3D printer, a laser engraver, or a CNC router (and some of them go even further, adding things like pick and place. I am sure some additional options beyond that, though I cannot think of what at the moment)

There are a host of good 3D printers in full production - Make Magazine speaks highly of the Printr Simple.

The problem with the all-in-ones is that by the time you’ve added stiffness (for the CNC), laser power (for cutting), high speed (for engraving), etc, you have a machine that’s either fantastically expensive or not very good at any of them. Or both.


As my micro maker space grows, I learn more and more not to try and have one thing do it all. Having an XYZ gantry that works as a CNC and a 3D printer sounds good but too much time would go into reconfiguring it from one job to another.

As to 3D printers, I say don’t try to go too cheap, if you do it will not do much useful and fall out of use. Get something that has a new hotter hot end so it can handle the latest filaments. ABS and PLA are cute for a few prints but after a bit it is the nylons and polyesters that make the great prints.


Thanks @markevans36301, that sounds like sage advice. What’s the best deal you know of for a 3D printer that can print nylons and polyesters? (Best deal = best balance between cost and quality.)

I ordered Monoprices “Maker architect” printer yesterday. Marked down to $299 this weekend.
Hope I’m not disappointed. Never used a 3d printer in my life so I’ve got some learning to do…

The one printer I ordered from Monoprice arrived with one stepper motor snapped off and loose in the container. Fortunately I had another printer already, so was able to belt out a replacement mount. But their shipping leaves much to be desired.

Personally, I would say make sure whatever printer you get can handle the Diamond Hotend. Doesn’t do multimaterial very well, but the multicolor access really is phenomenal. Palett is the other option for multicolor if you cannot use a Diamond.

With basically any 3D printer, what you get out depends on what you put in. Take the time to do calibration prints and tweak your settings. Get full dimensional accuracy and proper adhesion figured out. Do some prints where you are purposefully using too much or too little heat (and others for speed), just so you can see what the results look like. In some few cases, you actually want to have the effect of using the wrong settings. But mostly, when dealing with a new supplier or a new color, you can recognize how to adjust your settings with just one test print.

I try to stay away from specific recommendations as 1) if you do your research you will tend to be happier with your choice, and 2) everyone thinks the one they bought is the best.

That said, I went with the Lulzbot mini and love it but now that I know how much I use it if I was buying again I’d go with their Taz 5. Essentially the same but bigger. Not cheap by any means, it will set you back a GF basic but very well made and will print most all filaments right out of the box.

I feel better about recommending filaments. T-glase and Bridge are both fine filaments, Bridge being one of the easiest nylons to use and T-glase is a Polyethylene terephthalate polymer and produces great prints as well, the difference being in overall stiffness. The T-glase is stiffer and thus more brittle. Neither of these will print off a cheap printer made just for PLA or ABS.

One last filament recommendation. PETG is great for having a quality print but not spending much more than for ABS or PLA. I use the eSun brand, but it is made by several companies. Again, you have to have something like a Lulzbot to use it as it extrudes at around 240dc.

A new term for $2,000.= GF Basic. I like it.


The meaning of many words evolve over time. It often takes a generation or more. However in this case $2395.= GF Basic.

Your “autistic thought process” is showing again… lol

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It just occurred to me… To anyone new to this forum with an uber-sensitive sense of political correctness. Spike is spot-on accurate with this inside joke about the way I process things. Made me smile and that’s not normal.


My first thought when reading that was “someone will find that offensive”

To the original question - you might want to consider buying an inexpensive used 3D printer; there are plenty of them on Craigslist and eBay. Practice with it, learn basic 3D CAD, figure out all of the variables, find ways to make it useful… and if it shows promise, go for a ‘better’ machine.

We picked up a Flashforge (no relation) Creator Pro on eBay for $600 (normally $1100) for that reason. We’re experimenting with it now with an eye to a possible upgrade next summer.