I have been following the progress of 3D printers for a while now, since about the inception of the old RepRap, the open source printer that was lauded to be able to print a copy of itself (which is not true, you could print some of the pieces, but much still needed to come from conventional means, but it's still fun to think about). Especially the progress of the Makerbot. As many of you know I have been saving money to buy one. There are other 3D printers on the market, and I have looked into several, weighed the pros and cons, and carefully considered them all, and I just keep returning to the Makerbot.
Replicator 2, which has an amazing software suite (which is one of the important factors for me) and now has an excellent resolution, of 100 microns. When printing things for games and toys, resolution is important. 3D prints of this method would form this ribbed texture, or ridges, from the layers being built up one small later at a time. Low resolution prints have thicker layers, therefor more ribbed texture, therefor less detail. High resolution prints have thinner layers, and therefor less ribbing, and a smoother appearance. 100 microns is a lot. For personal home 3D printers, that's a milestone. All other printers on the market can achieve this with careful calibrating and sometimes special tooling, but with the new Replicator 2 it is built right into default mode. This is very attractive to me.
Unfortunately there is a downside to this: expense. As Makerbot is upgrading their models, the price is rising higher and higher. My savings goal was $1800 to buy one of these, but now with this newer model it will need to be $2100. When I first started this little fund, the saving goal was about $1500. It's a shame because as I slowly build the money, the goal keeps getting farther and farther away. So I will have to get a loan to buy one.
I wanted to seriously avoid getting a loan to buy one because you generally do not want to take out loans to get things you do not really NEED. I have some plans of turning one of these into a small business, and even prototype products I would like to get made in much larger quantities, so my thinking is this will eventually hopefully turn into a business, which would justify the loan part. However, I still would like to avoid getting the loan because if my little venture amounts to nothing then I merely ended up with a cool toy. Now the risk with taking a loan is if it fails, I have a cool toy, and a monthly bill.
So Beth and I have decided to get to a certain point with our finances, which will hopefully be soon, use the current money I have saved up to help reach that financial safe point, then take out the loan. I can promise you that when I do get it, this will be ground zero for an explosion of cool stuff and projects I make with it.
For right now I will keep the little thermometer to the right up, but not updating the number anymore. It's to be a reminder for me.