As I consider replacing my Sunhokey 3D printer, I am looking back at where I have spent my time and how money much I have spent on this neat machine.
Nearly five years ago, I entered the world of 3D printing. I had become fascinated with these machines, both in terms of how they work, and what I could do with one. After a lot of research, I decided to take the plunge and see what happened.
I chose a cheap Chinese clone of a proven open source design, the Prusa i3. My cost was around CDN $400 for the kit, which I put together myself. Interestingly, you will find this same printer on the market today at around CDN$300 delivered. It’s called Sunhokey Prusa i3.
So, why am I talking about replacing my Sunhokey 3D printer? First, it is no longer working that well. Second, I accomplished my learning objectives with this machine, and now I am more interested in making rather than fiddling. This second point really hit home when my friend Rupert bought a printer to support his main hobby (model railroading) as opposed to the 3D printer becoming a hobby in itself.
My main challenges are maintenance and calibration. I have had to upgrade or replace some parts over the five years. In some cases, faulty parts, in other cases, wear and tear, which was surprising since I am not a heavy user. Recently, I am experiencing lots of issues with skipping and layer shifting, and inconsistent motor driver currents. Plug and play has turned into plug and play around with the printer.
You can review my Sunhokey 3D printer experiences here. No regrets for a first printer, but now time for something better.
Replacing my Sunhokey 3D Printer – How Much to Spend?
While this clone was relatively inexpensive, it turns out that I have actually spent around CDN $800 not counting consumables and normal wear and tear maintenance. With the original kit of parts, one of the linear rods was bent and the controller board failed almost immediately. I replaced both at my own cost. Then, I added my own auto-leveling system. I am on my third hot end and heater bed; I find the clones wear out very fast.
Lastly, the physical machine is not that stable. I have reduced my print speeds in half to get decent results.
So, can I get a better quality printer for the equivalent of the $800 I have invested? I think so, and it’s time to look at alternatives for replacing my Sunhokey.