With technological advances and years of frenzied open source development, access to additive manufacturing (3D Printing) is finally within the grasp of individuals and small organizations with desktop units now available for under $500 MSRP.
Part of the Facility for Arts Research (FAR) mission is to develop art-based research resources in the larger community. With that in mind, formLab has been using its experience and expertise to advise local schools and individuals with small budgets on which 3D printers they should consider.
Windham Graves, formLab’s head technician has recently been experimenting with one of the cheapest units available today, the Monoprice ‘Maker Select 3D Printer’ which holds a price tag of $350. After weeks of continuously running two of these models through various test prints he can safely conclude that these machines are easy-to-use, solid workhorses with a respectable meantime of about 1000 hours between print failures. His professional assessment is that they are every bit as capable as the better-known brands whose cheapest models are still 3 to 4 times the price.
In February FAR will be giving a tour to students from two SAIL high school classes. This research allows us to confidently share our recommendations with SAIL faculty members who hope to integrate this technology into their students’ curriculum.