What does it all mean?
At the end of the day this TweakTown article is just a guide that is here to aid you in making your own decision, I have never owned any of the kits I've listed, but based my suggestions off reviews from friends and the overwhelming positive feedback I have noticed on 3D printing forums. 3D printing is a fun hobby, but it is a hobby that has a fairly steep learning curve. You will need to learn how the software works, how to modify 3D files and even how to create your own. You will also need to learn how to maintain your printer, as well as repair it when things break. This is why I am such an advocate of building your printer from a kit. You learn the ins and outs, the proper way to assemble and disassemble things, and you get street credit for building your own 3D printer.
I have went down the path of sourcing parts for my own printer before, and if you're looking for a long-term project that you can accomplish piece by piece during your free time, this is the way to go. However, you do need to be somewhat mechanically inclined if you decide to take this path, as it will involve cutting, drilling, tapping and even some custom machining.
Purchasing a preassembled DIY kit removes a lot of the custom modification work, but you still must be able to assemble things using screwdrivers wrenches and other hand tools. There is some assurance from a preassembled kit as you know that everything you need to build your printer is in the box.
Both methods are can require hours of tuning and adjusting to get your 3D printer printing at a high level of quality. This usually just involves tweaking things such as the axis position and threaded rod positions. As I mentioned earlier, there are several 3D printing communities that are full of people willing to help you get through this process.
If the idea of building your own 3D printer from scratch or a kit does not appeal to you, stay tuned for next month where we will cover what I consider to be the best of the preassembled 3D printers, as well as the ones you should avoid at all costs. Stay tuned for part 3!