Just another shameless review – this time of a 3d printer. I have mentioned the product several times in my geek gift guide and also as a tool to be used. First off, 3d printers are interesting. The reality of 3d printing though is you have to take the time to understand what you are doing.
Images, created and then made into 3 dimensional objects have components that must be considered. In adding more depth to an object either by scanning it with a 3d scanner (I recommend the unbelievable iPad attached or tablet attached Structure 3d scanner). You have to convert the object into something the printer understands.
I’ve had a 3d printer now for more than 4 years. I started out using the products from Cube. For 3 years, I wandered that desert and found out three quick things about 3d printer companies.
1. Tech support is not a set of words they use.
2. The people on the tech support desk are learning, right along with you.
3. Expandability does not equal usability.
With that I donated my last printer from Cube, the CubeX and decided to look for a printer that would be more effective and a better fit for me and what I like to print. Frankly, I found a number of reviews out there but all were done with the intent of and support of companies that were building and selling 3d printers, effectively useless.
So, I reached out to a friend who works in the plastic (PLA/ABS) side of the business. I explained my problem. I wanted easy software to use. I wanted to be able to set-up the printer and be printing quickly.
He laughed and said what, you don’t want it to come preloaded with everything you are ever going to print, also?
I wandered around the desert of 3d printers then for the next 2 months. I finally found a printer that had features that were interesting. It had good ratings. So, I decided to once again enter the 3d printing race and try another printer.
Flashforge Dreamer. Available on Amazon and frankly the best 3d printer you can get in the 1200-dollar range. You can go much easier and better, but you will spend a lot more. The Dreamer arrived two days after ordering (ok Amazon prime rocks!).
Unboxing the dreamer was easy, straight forward and without struggle. Literally from box arriving to completely set-up – was around 22 minutes. Part of that was my trying to figure out where I wanted the 3d printer in my space.
Back to my problems with the Cube printers. Software that was impossible to use. FlashPrint, the application that you get with the Dreamer is simple, easy and it even tells you when you make a mistake. I have been downloading various models from various 3d model sites. Most of them are designed in an application and set-up for generic printers. Flashprint tells me right away hey you are off the print area. Then I can quickly move the object around into the area that will print.
Dreamer prints in two colors; I am still playing with printing in only one right now. That is because my first project is to print guardian animals for all our cars. I have a sloth (Flash from Zootopia) in my car. We now have Tad Cooper (the dragon from Galivant) in our van and a Labrador in the other car. Now that I have finished my first project I am actually playing around with what I am going to do next. But the reality is it is so easy to use, I am anticipating doing a much more complex project.
Overall for the cost vs performance for most people (not printing high end things) the FlashForge Dreamer is beyond acceptable. It, combined with the wonderful application Flashprint is without a doubt the best 3d printer I have owned and used (this is my 3rd 3d printer, and I have used a number of other ones).
I print and draw in 3 dimensions!