How To Initially Compare 3D Printers Using Price Per Build Volume

I get asked all the time about which 3d printer is best to buy, or which printer is better between two options. There is SO much to take into account, and we need a better metric to initially compare 3d printers.

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Robert Norris says:

Cost quality and build volume are to me the things i look at in a printer.

Nerys says:

fluid oz is a very bad analogy. people never buy drinks versus size. they buy for TASTE. once they have selected a flavor then and only then might they compare the “same brand and flavor” by size IE 20oz or 2liter.

3d printers have far more metrics involved. DIY or assemble? support? print volume? bowden or direct? metal or plastic?

Probably the best way to compare 3d printers is to “class” them. decide on a “leader” in the class and then compare all printers that fall in that class based on price and position.

so for the anet e10 I would put that in the wanhao/maker select I3 class. the wanhao/maker select is a primary leader in that class so I would compare it relative to that.

the CR10 would be compared to things like the gmax and the koala one and the gmax printers. the CR10 oddly enough would likely end up as the primary of the class now (the one you compare others to for metrics)

the reason pure volume is a bad metric is consider a $300 e10 or wanhao I3 and a $200 Anet A8.

by a pure volume metric the A8 wins but by any other relevant metric at all its dead last.

The Crow says:

Hey Make WarHammer 40K Figures or Bolt Action figures

Punished Props says:

Great info Joel! Digging the slick graphics too. =D

Cyberdactyl says:

Mind numbingly bizarre and silly to use build volume.

the German Printing Nerd says:

OMG ‘HIGHFIVE JOEL and althogh late i do wish you a Happy Nerd Day

Nerys says:

had gearbest told me to compare the E10 to the CR10 I would have told them no. that is an invalid comparison and would look bad for the E10. the proper comparison for the E10 is the Wanhao Duplicator I3 Maker Select V2.

its even almost exactly the same foot print as the Wanhao (40cm for the E10 40.5cm for the Wanhao)

the only way to truly compare 3d printers is one of two ways.

Price. $300 printer? fine. compare it to OTHER $300 printers. price by volume would enter into this equation after you have grouped them by price.

Mission Directive. You need to do X group printers by which will do X. again now you can compare price and volume etc..

Keeree Lewah says:

While I think the general idea has some merit, as someone with a delta with a build height of ~250mm and a diameter of 180mm, I don’t think this can even paint a full picture of usable volume. I think a better metric would weigh the area of the build plate more than the total volume, as it is very rare, in my experience at least, to use too much build height. I’m more concerned with how much, or how big of a part, I can pack onto my plate.

rob viggers says:

Clever way of getting on the E10 gravy train controversy and rubbishing it in a different way LOL Regards

RJ_Make says:

I think it’s a good initial metric to start off with. Maybe we can build on the volume metric and add a feature and quality metric, ending with a single score system. ie Higher = better. It’s early so I may have not thought this out. 🙂

Haim Bilia says:

you should really lay off the energy drinks. they are pure poison.

DigChaos says:

Damn Joel, you stepped up your graphics game! Lol

Jacob Franz says:

I personally don’t like by surface area for this type of comparison. And I think one thing you have to remember is it isn’t the final deciding factor on which one to get. But this is a helpful way to narrow down your search.

That 3D Print Guy says:

Who thinks Joel would look good with a Fu Manchu moustache??

deelahn says:

I’m new to this stuff but I like the content of this video (and your entire channel). As some one ready to jump in for the first time, this type of perspective is really valuable and I think its obvious that this isn’t intended to be the only deciding factor. I’d be interested to see a video, or series of videos, troubleshooting an entry level kit build. Is it possible to take a SUPER cheapo and fine tune it to make clean, consistent products? Or would it be too much of a constant struggle. I’m a meticulous tinkerer and don’t mind troubleshooting. I actually find that it is the best way to really learn the ins and outs of something new. Thanks for the great content Joel. Cheers.

Ian Baum says:

i would love to see a graph of the $/cm³ of the printers you have reviewed… maybe versus a 1-10 or 100% score of how good your experience was.

자연치유하늘건강나음터 says:

오늘도 행복한 하루 보내세요~!

Joel Reid says:

A huge consideration is that many users want more width than height, the best example for this being model makers and roleplayers, thus measuring by volume can be extremely deceptive for many people.

Jim Shafer says:

I agree with many that the cost /size is low on the list of factors. Reliability of printing, ease of use, durability, accuracy of build, ability to print smaller details are all important.

orbitalair says:

Yes, Joel do a followup. Heres a formulation I came up with.

BPE* formula,

B : +1 directdrive, -1 bowden
PR: +1 if it says Prusa, -1 other
E3: +1 REAL E3D hotend, -1 fake or other
H : +1 heated bed, -1 nope
EN: +1 enclosure, -1 nope
PA: +1 preassembled, -1 kit
F : +1 metal frame, -1 plastic

Biggest number is *best printer evah !

** HOWEVER obviously a $4000 printer is the Best Printer Evah, because , duh, $4k was spent.

Stuff With Kirby says:

Your comparisons are also kinda crap because ones a dual extruder printer and the other isnt. Using the same logic my geo metro is a far better car than a ferrari because it has 4 seats and more trunk space

Truvak T says:

I think you are the first one to do this kind of exercise for the industry, great job! now: how can you factor filament cost and different filament materials in to the equation? Thanks and cheers from Mexico.

Ashton Animations says:

Almost 150k subs whooo!!!

Chris Mitchell says:

this was MUCH nerdier than usual, i luv it!
Oh and good job on the graphics 🙂
Go Math!

Jason Baker says:

Good Looking AND clever. Double threat guy! Nice! I honestly yawned at the title but loved the video. Thanks Joel!

Drew Lakebrink says:

It’s interesting reading some of the comments on this video. You can tell who stuck around for the whole video or who commented early. As Joel said, this calculation isn’t the be-all end-all way to determine if a printer is good or not. However, when comparing the Anet A10 and the CR-10 you can tell which one is the best value for the build area it provides. It would be nice if we could measure the likelihood of a print failing or succeeding, but there are too many variables to do that without actually getting a video review. Someone pointed out that the Prusa i3 would be a bad printer based on these calculations. The calculation doesn’t say the printer is bad. It just says it’s expensive or not for that build volume at that price. It’s well known that Prusa printers are good, reliable printers that are well tested before they’re sent out. You’re paying extra for all of that. Take this video as it was intended. The cost for build volume is just another way to determine if you’re getting a good value. More info never hurt anyone.

TheSolderingGuy007 says:

As a first time buyer, price / build volume was least of my concerns. What I would worry about is :

1) Ability to return or get support
2) What materials it can print
3) What connectivity it provides usb, sd card, usb drive)
4) Software support (and if it comes with any)
5) Place for it in my home and the noise it creates.
6) How to get wife’s approval

TheTownHero says:

pretty cool 3d printing shirt –

3D Printing Nerd says:

Wow, I didn’t know this video would generate so much interest, both pro and against, and spur so much conversation. Should I do a follow-up video?

Nick Hildenbrandt says:

Deltas do not have a cylinder build area. They can print higher in the middle of the build platform than on the edge.

Patrick Deselich says:

Hey joel, can you 3d print the hyper cube 3d printer from thingiverse?

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