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Years ago (2006 or 2007 I think) my college purchased a 3D printer. One of those bulky, $30,000 or so powder based units. Friends of mine in 3D modeling classes were the first to have access, and I was excited, knowing I would be able to gain access soon enough (A new media major meant I could get access to many things mainly reserved for conservatory students.) I saw the basic models people printed, and was excited but also saddened. They fell apart so easily, and were really not practical for anything beyond display or mold making. Fast forward to December 2013. Having just come out of a startup that attempted to develop a hardware product, I was actively looking to get a ABS/PLA extruding 3D printer. I was fairly certain I could do a lot, but I also wanted an entry model.
I read a lot of blogs about it before making my first purchase, and finally settled on a wooden PrintrBot Simple. Cheap, upgradable, and open source.
Fast forward to now. I've customized it primarily for detailed prints, since that suites my needs best.
Here you can clearly see the printing bed. I have the heated bed mounted under an aluminum plate, expanding the heated area to cover the bet completely. The glass sits on top, and a light touch of hair spray before each print insures it stays on nicely.
Here is a close up of the hot end, and the space where the pre-bowden extruder used to sit. This was by far the hardest upgrade, but I am happy with the results.
Here you can see the full hight capability, and the bowden extruder mounted where the ABS/PLA spool would sit.
So where do the spools stay? On a custom rack making color changes very quick!