3d Printing

With respect to SBCs 3d printing can be a wonderful resource for custom cases, controller housings, buttons, and other small plastic components to complete a build.

NOTE: 3d printing is NEVER a 'fire and forget' process, even with a $5000 printer you are going to have to calibrate, finagle, adjust and otherwise work with a series of calibrations.

There are three general categories of 3d printers:

Note that price DOES NOT always reflect which category a printer falls into. The replicator series of printers are cheap despite being priced like they are professional quality devices. The sparkmaker HD is priced like a cheap printer, but outside of the build volume performs like a professional printer.

Cheap 3d printers: Out of the box can often meet or exceed quality or professional level printers- so they can be a great way to get into 3d printing. Where the cost cutting in their design will come int play however is corner cutting that makes things break down faster, or for prints to fail more catastrophically. The company creality is famous for this- they produce some of the cheapest, but also best printing, 3d printers- however most of the components they include are marginal at best which require replacement far sooner than a quality or professional printer.

Quality 3d Printers: Out of the box will generally impress with the quality of components, everything is stiffer, more sturdy, better thought out, extensible- the prusa series of printers get well regarded in this category. Note that this will not save you any of the calibration that you would have to do with a cheap printer, you will have to do just as much, perhaps even more; but that calibration will last longer, and you'll replace parts less often.

Professional 3d printers: Out of the box will generally be able to produce levels of detail that far exceed cheap and quality 3d printers; they generally use a different technology than FDM, or if they
do use FDM they do it in a very precise manner that can't be replicated by lower-costing components. They generally use very specialized parts and you won't be able to replace them with generic components.

There are multiple printing technologies to consider as well

FDM- your standard 'waves around a glue gun and prints in layers' printer- cheap to run, gets quite the emmery board finish, durable, and multi-material

Resin- uses UV cured resin, which is generally capable of far higher quality that FDM, and finer detail; but is a more expensive printing component that required quite a bit of getting used to.

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