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Buy The Tool You Want; Substitutes Will Never Satisfy You

Printer #1: The Davinci 1.0 Pro Jr

This story goes all the way back to April of 2017 when I got my first 3D printer. It was a DaVinci 1.0 Jr Pro and I was mesmerized by it. Oh sure, I had seen 3D printers before but I hadn't owned one and after extensive research, I came to the conclusion that the DaVinci was the one for me and for many months, it was. Sure it had its shortcomings but I was able to accomplish a lot of things with it and, since it was enclosed, I didn't have to worry about my cats getting involved. Fast forward to October of last year and all was not so rosy. The automatic bed-leveling stopped working and every print failed since there was no way to manually level the bed. It was a frustrating mess, so out it went and in came the Creality CR-10S. This is where the story starts to fit the title.

Printer #2: The Creality CR-10S

I didn't want the CR-10S. The only upside was the bigger bed, which was cool because I was very constrained by the DaVinci, but what I really wanted was a Prusa I3. It was the one that caught my eye. It was the "perfect" printer (I use perfect in quotes because, let's be honest, no printer is perfect, but when you're in love the object of your affection looks perfect). It did everything and produced stunning results, but the wait time was too much. I needed it now. I bit the bullet and ordered the CR-10S because I could have it in 2 days. The night I got it I spent what felt like an eternity putting it together and before I went to bed I kicked off a print that, when I woke up the next morning, was perfect. I could totally live with this, right? Yeah, mostly. Until it all went wrong.

The CR-10S is a great printer, but it's fiddly. Very fiddly. You have to be willing to tinker with it constantly. Bed leveling is a pain in the butt. Things aren't made very well. The firmware is glitchy (out of the box) and I felt like I spent more time fiddling with it than using it. Even when I got it dialed in and I was happy with it, that happiness almost never lasted more than a single print. Recently, I got a design / print job from a client and in the middle of it the CR-10S would not let the print adhere to the bed. When it prints it prints amazingly well, but I need something I can set and forget and the CR-10S is not it. It required too much babying to be the kind of printer I needed.

I had to make a decision on the spot. I needed to finish this job and future jobs, so again I started looking at printers, and now I wanted the Prusa I3 Mk3 more than ever. All the fiddliness of the CR-10S gone? I'm in. Sign me up.

Printer #3: The Robo R2

But the wait times were too much. I couldn't do it. I went to Matterhackers, and ordered a printer that I was convinced would fill the bill. I ordered a Robo R2. I got it home a few days later, set it up, and boom. Off to the races. On the first weekend I had it, it was a bit fiddly, but once I got the settings squared away everything was stellar. In fact, the R2 up to this point has been the single most reliable printer I have ever owned. I set a print and leave the house. When it's done, it messages me on Telegram with a picture. It's flawless.

Printer #5: The Prusa i3 Mk3

Have you heard this story before? In my mind, the R2 was doing fine but I couldn't shake the feeling that I've been down this road before; everything starts great and a few months later I'm not happy, so as an insurance policy I finally caved in and splurged and ordered a Prusa I3 Mk3. I now have two printers set up in my office; The R2 and the I3. Why? Because if the R2 ever stopped working and I had to buy a printer again I'd be pressured into buying something I wasn't 100% sold on just to fill the gap. I definitely didn't want to do that again.

The RoboR2 has been a rock star, and even with the I3 in the house I'll keep using it. No need not to. The upside now is that I have two very good very reliable printers, and if one of them goes down I have the other, but there's something else to this story. Since I've always wanted a Prusa, I got one. Why? Because the continued regret of not investing in one was nagging. Moral of the story? Buy the tool you want, even if it's just to quell your irrational urges because every substitute will always feel like just that: a substitute.

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