Got a 3D printer? Help make a giant bust of Poe!


What if I hand carve my section to the proper specifications instead of using a 3D printer? 24 hours doesn’t seem like a lot of time, but if I’m given a nice forehead section…


Even cooler, I think, is their link to, where, if you have a 3D printer, you can be matched with someone who needs a prosthetic hand that you can print. Kudos!


Printing a PLA plastic piece o’ Poe at the present. Will package and post, posthaste.

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So what’s the financial hurdle for purchasing/operating a 3D printer? I don’t really have any particular use for it in mind, but I’m moderately curious and monetarily tightfisted.

There are many options, from building your own (based on designs found online) to kits and manufactured machines. If you have no interest in building your machine, and you just want to get in as cheap as possible (yet buy a machine from a reputable company), the Printrbot Metal Simple is $599 (assembled). They’ll be releasing the “Printrbot Play” model soon, which has a smaller print volume, but it will set you back only $399.

The plastic averages about $30 per 1kg spool (2.2lbs), and you can print an amazing amount of stuff with that much plastic. The problem is, you probably want a selection of colors. You soon end up with $200 worth of plastic in your closet.

Then there’s the time cost. No matter what the marketing material might tell you, these machines need tinkering to get them working well, and it’s a learning process for the operator. If that doesn’t sound fun to you, now’s not the time to jump in.

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Much appreciated! 3D printing is interesting and I’d like to try it even though I’m mildly intimidated by a process I would expect can be math intensive (although maybe that’s confined to the folks building their own shape files as opposed to using shapefiles found on the Interwebs?).
What do you tend to 3d-print? Is it more of a utilitarian device for you (“I need a widget to fit this hoo-ha, so I’ll print one up”) or do you create artwork with it? I suspect people do both (hence the busts of Mr. Poe and Mr. Franklin before him), but I’m wondering what I’ll do with the machine once it’s built. But the whole process strikes me as, dare I use the cliche, a game-changer on many levels…and maybe I can print a better version of that damned clamp on my m/c that keeps breaking!
EDIT: One last question: I would hope that a properly home-built printer could make items as robust (and use that word in a variety of ways here) as the proprietary designs–is that the case?

I leave content, but strangely disappointed… is a great repository for designs of all sorts people have shared. is a hotbed for 3D printers, but a caution: most of these are startup companies, expect delays, and some might never deliver. I’ve seen some for under $200 that look pretty decent. has lot of good information, and a quick Google search will find tons more.

And yes, well designed home-built units make fine parts, but keep in mind there are different materials and techniques (laser sintering, plastic extrusion) that will affect quality and durability. Also the “slicer” software that converts your 3D design into individual layers that get printed make a big difference. Typically you print 2 or 3 solid shell for the surfaces, and the “fill” is mostly hollow, with a lattice of some sort for the interior. There’s usually no reason to build a solid block, it wastes material. Thicker walls and denser in-fill will make stronger, heavier parts.

Like kongorilla says, you’ll have to tinker. I look at it like ink-jet printers used to be. I remember having to install a printer driver with dozens of parameters for dot-bleed, under-color removal and such. Once you got everything right you could get some pretty decent images. Today you just put in your paper, click “print”, and a photograph pops out. Eventually standard drivers will develop and you’ll just hook it up, load your media and print away.

I’ve designed and printed many handy widgets that I’d never be able to do otherwise. You start looking at problems in a different way for fixing or improving things.

One key is getting 3D design software that makes sense to you. Most have a pretty steep learning curve, and I’ve found some that just make no sense to me, while others seem quite intuitive, and a lot of that is personal preference. Many come with a try before you buy version, so shop around.

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I’m familiar with Thingiverse, but I hadn’t really considered the computing platform and the necessary drivers. I run OS X and Linux machines, I would expect that Windows and OS X are the most common end-users of the drivers, so hopefully that will be less of an issue.

So, essentially the things to consider are the printer itself, the material being used in the printer, the 3d design software, and the slicer that, I assume, essentially ports the shapefile to the printer.

It’s funny you mention that because ever since I considered getting into 3d printing, I’m constantly looking at stuff and wondering if it could be fabricated in such a manner.

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