It's been about a year since I started 3D printing, which has given me a lot of time to reflect on both how much I've learned and how much the industry has developed in a short time.
When Make: Magazine released their 2014 3D Printing Review issue, I didn't expect to be purchasing a 3D printer a few weeks later. I actually wanted to see the review on a different printer, but became enamoured with the Printrbot Simple instead. It won "Best Value", and was the only one where a member of the 16-person review panel said they bought one immediately after testing.
I opted to buy the kit and assemble it myself, mostly because it was a bit cheaper and I was so anxious to get my hands on it I didn't have time to properly budget for a fulled assembled version. It came out to be around $300. For a 3D PRINTER. That's amazing. I didn't tell my wife I bought it.
It took a solid of week of working into the wee hours, backtracking over my misteps, and climbing out of rabbit-hole research*, but I finally got the thing assembled. I hit a few notable snags: getting the 'bot to talk to the software correctly, a few of my motors were wired up backwards, and I had a few of my limit switches mixed up. That's a long way of saying when I hit "GO", parts of the machine slammed into other parts of the machine, and some very exciting grinding noises were coming from somewhere...
I finally got the thing assembled late one evening and operational early the next day. My excitement was clearly expressed through rapid-fire Instagram posts of my first test prints (and failures).
This is a complete misrepresentation of the number of beers invovled:
I remember when I first proposed owning a 3d printer to my wife, her reaction was "what are you even going to print with that?" That question doesn't even make sense - what am I NOT going to print?
*Rabbit-hole research is when Wikipedia leads you from reading about stepper motors, to the differences between AC and DC electricity, to the feud between Edison and Tesla, and then to eidetic memory (because Tesla purportedly had one).