Are they worth purchasing?
If you are an inventor or a CAD Modeller, then you know the frustrations which can occur during the prototyping process. It is rare that you will find a model which is completely ideal for the client or one which does not require some tweaking. Additionally, it is not uncommon that you will have projects which require both 3D Printing and Milling or etching. While you could have multiple machines to fulfil the strains of the profession and the demands of the client, that seems a bit redundant, especially since there is the option of the Multitool Printer. Are they worth the extra associated cost? You decide.
Not just a 3D Printer
Depending upon the model of the Multi-tool Printer, you may find that there is quite a bit of versatility to the machine. Capable of the traditional 3D Printing techniques, as well as the evolving objects through non-filament methods, such as drilling and etching, and even wood burning, the multi-tool printer optimizes the time that one spends on the fabrication. Monitoring of the process is recommended, especially if using an octoprint kit, or another such mobile monitorization device. Keep in mind that the components of the multi-tool must be manually switched from the 3D Printer component to the drill or the milling component. Additionally, if you have objects which are written using specific CAD software, you may find that your multi-tool printer requires specific formatting and setup. Again, this is something which you would want to check upon when choosing the brand.
Why would you want a Multitool Printer?
The average 3D modeller does not require a multi-tool printer as the models which are developed are primarily for 3D Printing. However, those which are in the industrial or the commercial sector of development may find that the printer is extreamly useful. For example: if you have fabricated a simple circular plate for a bike’s interior tire, and then the client wishes to have his or her logo added to the part, if you have 3D Printed the object and only have a 3D Printer, then the only option you have is to re-print the entire model. This is both costs strenuous as well as time-consuming. Yet, if you have a multi-tool printer, you could use the etching feature to drill the logo into the existing part.
Cost and functionality
It should be noted that the multi-tool printer, though versatile, is not a completely automated printer. You must have the materials and the components necessary to perform the task at hand. The 3D Printer aspect of the machine requires filament, the milling portion would require that you have the right drill bits and that you have an ample supply of drill bits should the bit break. Of course, if you have special needs, such as glass or metal fabrication, you would need to have those materials as well.
So, is the multi-tool printer worth it? At a glance, one may conclude that the same amount of material would be necessary for fabrication of a product, and you would be somewhat correct. Yet, if you account that the machine eliminates the superfluous spending of materials by allowing you to work on an existing model and modify that model within the constraints of the multitool printer and your modelling software, then you will see that there is a high probability of material reduction, primarily as it pertains to minimizing the need to re-print components and design.
In terms of the price, the multi-tool printer is on the higher side. But consider the fact that you are getting multiple devices (in a sense) in one machine. Yes, it is large and the price tag is higher, but the advantages are that you do not have multiple devices, that you do not have to constantly re-print your CAD models, that you can have multiple projects going on multiple multitool printers optimizing time and workflow, and that you get the advantage of the multi-axis development which might not have been available on the 3D Printer alone.
The Use in today’s market
With the need for “well rounded” draftsmen and CAD designers, it is critical that those within the profession of 3D development and design utilize the tools which will make them a demand in the market. And, while there is nothing wrong with specializing solely in 3D Printing and 3D design, branching out to include the etching, milling, and such related aspects of prototyping will yield a reputation more sought after in today’s economy.