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Seriously considering picking up a low end fdm printer for doing occasional terrain pieces and other random bits and pieces. I also know my 14yo will go crazy with it for a while, he's done a little bit at school. 

Is it actually worth the expense and effort? Having to level it every time, power cost, filament cost, time and failures etc?

Would I just be better off finding someone local willing to do print's for me and paying them when I want stuff? 

Edited by Kn'Thrak
Adding carriage returns. Stupid phone.
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having got mine for free, yes absolutely worth it. Seriously though, if you have a bit of an idea of the things you're going to print, then go for it. There's lots of cool terrain on Thingiverse, including a modular trench system and a modular river. i've printed, probably, well over a hundred things and haven't designed anything yet. There are also some really cool paid stl's you can get if thingiverse doesn't have what you're looking for. Again, i've only used thingiverse so far.

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It really depends on how much you're planning to use it. If it really is only random use and not regular then it may not be worth it. 

The biggest cost is time, power use is negligible in the grand scheme of things, levelling depends on the printer, some rarely need to be levelled, others need it constantly (but most have upgrades that you can either purchase or make on the printer to reduce the amount of levelling you need to do), filament cost varies depending on the size of the objects you're printing, but at $30-$40 for a 1kg roll the cost is significantly lower than the equivalent items purchsed.

 

So end of the day it comes down to how much use you're expecting to get out of it and which printer you buy. 
 

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Yeah, as Oceanborn said, the biggest cost is time.  Once you get the bed levelled, it's usually pretty good for a while unless you are really rough with it.  Well, my Ender 3 is OK at least.

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Alrighty - decision made.  I'm not getting one, we're going to get one for our son as part of a combined b'day/xmas gift (he's 14 in Jan).  Which hopefully means I can convince him to print some terrain for me.

He's done some printing at school and loved it - big focus on stem subjects with him so we're happy to encourage this.

Currently thinking either:

Ender 3 pro or Flashforge Finder

 

The Ender option is the easy one - he'll be able to get support easily, but I've read they're not as reliable and you're regularly modding them. 

The flashforge is the more 'kid friendly' option - doesn't do abs so there's no heated bed and no fumes, the bed levelling is semi-automatic and it's in an enclosure.

 

Both are roughly the same cost, the flashforge is EOL and a bit trickier to track down.  Opinions?

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I have an unmodded ender3 and it works ok, probably be easier if I put some locktite on the bed levelling screws - there are a lot of mods you can do, but the basic model does a pretty good job in my experience.

No experience with the Flashforge, but I do recall seeing somewhere that they are restricted on what filament they can use, which may be a sticking point - and also being EOL could be an issue

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