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Laser Cutting or 3D Printing? Which is Appropriate?

A rather fancy laser-cut 3D printer spool holder

A rather fancy laser-cut 3D printer spool holder

I’m reading an Instructables on how to laser-cut a 3D printer spool holder and had a thought. 

The Instructables is a straightforward procedure to transform a sheet of wood and a dowel into a highly functional spool holder for filament. There’s 2D diagrams that can be instantly cut from the wood - if you happen to have a laser cutter of sufficient power handy, and steps to follow to glue them together. 

It works and could be done rather quickly, too. 

But here’s the thought: how many times have we seen 3D printable spool holders? Lots. In fact, a current search of Thingiverse reveals no less than 7,119 results for “Spool Holder”. It’s obviously a very popular item to make. 

But my question is this: virtually all of these 7K+ designs were intended to be 3D printed. Should they be 3D printed? 

They say that if you have a hammer, every problem is a nail. And that is often the case with those owning a desktop 3D printer: how can I 3D print the answer? 

In many cases other equipment might be better suited to produce a superior, cheaper or faster result. In some cases, you may not even need to make a solution - just use duct tape to solve the problem. 

I think that some 3D printer owners are looking overly hard to find things to make on their device, and have forgotten that there are other ways to make things. Ways that in many dimensions could be better solutions. 

If you have a 3D printer, don’t jump at any opportunity to 3D print objects. Think about what you require and consider alternative means to produce an answer. You may be very surprised about the speed and cost of those other methods. 

Via Instructables

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