Which printer

Good afternoon from the Netherlands.
I have a question… I’m looking for een new printer with automatic bedleveling. My short list is a Creality CR 6se or a Anet ET 5. What is your opinion?

When I bought my Ender 3 v2 I considered the CR 6SE but after reading and watching reviews on Youtube and I decided on the Ender 3 v2 also had a Ender 5 Plus on the list but didn’t think it would fit as well in my limited space. Automatic bed leveling can be added to most 3D printers.

Hi folks, I’m 69 yrs old and already own an AnyCubic i3 Mega FDM printer. While it is good, I keep seeing that you can achieve better quality prints from more recent machines. I’m considering replacing the i3 and my short list is a) AnyCubic Vyper, b) Creality Ender 5 Pro, or Original Prusa Mini+ Kit. Both the Vyper and Ender 5 Pro I can get for around Aud $550, while the Prusa Kit will set me back around Aud $700 if I buy direct.

My question is: Given that my objective is best quality prints and I’m not fussy with smaller print volume, is the Prusa worth the extra cash? Also, should I keep my i3 Mega or sell it to offset some of the price difference?

Bear in mind that I’m a simple hobbyist and wanna be tinkerer, with aspirations of producing quality miniatures, and that I’m not interested in resin printing & the toxic chemicals that go with it.

As good as the i3 Mega is, most of my prints show that newer design printers are capable of better than I’m getting. 3 years is a long time in this field.

My apologies for being long winded, but I wanted to provide enough data for responders not to have to play 20 Questions (hopefully my details are adequate).

thanks vey much, Ian

I would go for the upgrade route.

Even 5 year old FDM printers are creating the same result than modern ones, as the technology is the same. It all comes back to a robust frame, Nema17 steppers, a main board and marlin firmware.

If you want miniatures you need to go for SLA printing. FDM printing is nowhere near.

So if your printer has issues try to locate them and e.g. replace the extruder or update the frame. Even the oldest printer can give the same results as a modern one. The only reason I see to really buy a new printer is when you’re up to gain more printing speed (delta printer), you want to avoid a shaking bed (CoreXY) or your goal is to increase the print volume.

There weren’t many innovations over the years and most of them are just to increase the comfort of the user like color touch displays, stock filament sensors and auto bed levelling, which all is stuff you can tinker to any printer yourself or simply ignore. In fact many modern printers produce less quality prints over time as they need more maintenance. Instead of quality bearings and rods, “modern” printers often use plastic wheels to drive inside an extrusion. This makes a printer cheap, but not better. You constantly need to re-tighten them and (filament) dust is causing them to bump over time. If not used for some time they even get a flat side and need to be replaced. These cheap solution is not helping in the quality department.

Search thingiverse.com for your printer and you will find enhancements that improve the print quality or give you a hint where the problems are located. Replace parts and perform upgrades. Buying a new printer does only reset the print quality to max for some time and in the end you are exactly where you are now with your old printer.

The main issue of all printers is the frame. If it is metal you are in a good position and there is no need to buy a new device. If it has an acrylic or even wood frame a new printer may be a good idea. There are upgrade kits for frames available. I did that with my old ANet A8 printer beginning of this year, too. Now the print quality of this old workhorse is fantastic again.

That is the only advice I can give you. If you don’t want to tinker around, a new printer may be a solution, but only for some time. Quality wise there won’t be much benefit at all.

If you are massive into figurines SLA is the only way. It gives you so much detail FDM can never ever provide. It is messy, but there are solutions, like washing and curing stations available to minimize the hassle.

I’ve never used SLA, but I have read & seen that it is the best at fine detail, especially with small figurines. That said, upgrading your printer & fine-tuning it to the max, so it can use a 0.2 or even a 0.1 mm nozzle reliably should increase the level of detail you can achieve. I haven’t tried nozzles that small yet myself, so I can’t say how difficult or frustrating it might get, but smaller layer heights obviously could make finer detail possible.

Thinking about upgrades, a few things come to mind:

  • convert all axes to linear bearing rails
  • add angular supports to vertical frame members, to stiffen them & reduce vibration (to coin a new term, [I]triangularize[/I] the frame)
  • mount the entire printer on shock absorbing supports
  • replace all frame members with beefier extrusions: e.g. replace 2020 members with 3030 or even 4040
I would [U]not[/U] get an Ender 5 Pro. I have 1. The problem, as our friend @Geit has pointed out, is that the Ender 5 has a "forklift" printbed. It is thus very subject to vibration. I don't have 1, but I suspect an Ender 5 Plus would be a better option, vibration-wise, because it is supported from 2 sides.

You might want to check out this video: [U]3D Printing with Extremely Fine Nozzles - YouTube
Or this 1: [U]Creality Ender 3 - 3D Print Fine Detail Using Smaller Nozzle - YouTube
Or: [U]How to pick a 3D printer nozzle and how to install it! - YouTube

I evaluated one very low-end SLA (specifically MSLA) 3d printer for a review and notified the vendor I was going to decline to review the product. The problem I had was getting the print to stick to the print surface consistently which is a very different process than with an FDM 3d printer. I have been offered other SLA printers, higher-end, for review but have declined because I found the overall workflow painful. The SLA resins are at a minimum irritating to the skin and respiratory system and potentially toxic. Wearing gloves and full protective gear when working with a 3d printer was no fun.

If you are printing objects that require high resolution, less than about .2mm you probably have no choice. For my needs, mostly replacements parts, toys, desktop accessories, woodworking gadgets (a future video about this is in the works), and similar parts FDM works great.

While I have printed costume jewelry for my grandchildren real jewelry making probable requires an SLA device.

As I have been writing this I realize I probably should make a video comparing nozzle size and print quality. A good sample to use would be to put type on a surface.

@Irv_Shapiro I do not want, in any way, to discourage you from making a video, because you bring your own inimitable style to your videos. I just thought I would point out a couple the CHEP has done, in case you hadn’t seen them. Your mention of putting type on a face reminded me of this 1: [U]Creality Ender 3 - 3D Print Fine Detail Using Smaller Nozzle - YouTube. There’s also this 1 about printing tiny in more general terms: [U]Quick and Easy Tiny Prints with 0.4 Nozzle on Creality Ender 3 - YouTube.

1 topic I’m not sure has been covered enough is using nozzles smaller than 0.4mm. I gather it can be aggravating but have never tried it.