I can't believe it is already about 3 months since I got my very own 3D printer! After much research and comparing products, my husband recommended we get a TAZ4 by Lulzbot. The base is heated, allowing for better distribution of heat throughout the plastic and easier release of the printed object upon cooling. This printer is also much larger than the Makerbot we occasionally had on loan, is Open Source (I'll explain more about this further down) accommodates a second print head, allowing for the possibility of creating in dual color, and is a heavier duty home machine. This is for serious home printing. Read more here if you are thinking about this printer:
My husband spent a good many hours figuring this machine out. You really need someone with a techie brain in order to use a 3D printer! All sorts of challenges came up that involved him eventually taking the entire thing apart. We have already had to replace the metal head, as they clog easily. It is imperative that you become familiar with plastic sizes/types in order to avoid this. He also printed a larger, better fan after finding out the one that the machine comes with is not good enough to keep the temperature consistent. Right now, it is the users who know the most about 3D printers. They are the on-line source to go to for assistance.
At the beginning, we were using Thingiverse open source plans for pieces, then we moved on to manipulating files, and now he is ahead of me in that he is learning how to design originals. We are almost at the point at which I will begin to learn how to program, a venture I believe will be really difficult, as my brain doesn't work that way! My husband recently designed and executed the scene for this holiday diorama for the company he works for. He is the VP of Future Experiences at Moxie USA.
Handy guy to have around.... http://moxieusa.com/holidaycard
We also watched the documentary Print The Legend, and were so happy we made the decision NOT to go with the brand Makerbot. Makerbot pushes marketing/advertising, and it works because their brand is being defined as "the" 3D printer, much what Kleenex is to tissue, but your best bet is to research the WHOLE company and what is available, and their consumer ethics. If you can't source plans and templates without paying big bucks for them, you are stuck. Makerbot sold out. Which brings me to what Open Source is:
denoting software for which the original source code is made freely available and may be redistributed and modified
something Makerbot USED TO have, and claimed they would always have, before they sold out to no longer have!
The learning goes on, in the meantime, check out my 3D printing gallery here on my site to see what I have done....more is in the works and I will load new photos as pieces are completed and photographed!