What Path to Take?

I’m have been building furniture for a long time but never really thought about getting a 3D printer until my search for an entry level CNC led me to this site. I think of myself more of a woodworker than a maker.

My initial thought was to purchase a complete MPCNC kit and leave the printing to someone else. After reading a bunch of the forum posts it seems that many beginners who purchase the kit with all of the printed parts end up purchasing a 3D printer at some point in their journey. Maintenance, additions, upgrades or just being inquisitive leads them to a printer purchase.

Instead of starting with the complete MPCNC kit does it make more sense to focus on getting a printer and becoming proficient at printing before moving on to the CNC? If yes, what attributes should I look for in a printer that would be a great machine to learn on but still be capable of printing the parts for a MPCNC as my skills improve?

You can get an ender 3 and 3 rolls of pla (just shy of 2 for the mpcnc and the first roll for figuring out your printer) for about double the price of printed parts. If you have any inclination to learn printing or want to hedge against those broken parts or upgrades, then make the purchase. Up side is that Ryan picked marlin firmware because a lot of us already 3d print, so most of that experience will be transferable as well.
If money isn’t too tight, maybe get the printer and a roll, plus order the printed parts. You’ll get them a lot faster (some of us take weeks to get them printed) and you’ll know what a great part looks like. Of course, you wouldn’t have to buy the printer right away, you’d just be stuck paying for replacement parts and upgrades until you do.

I was in exact same boat as you! Buy a 3D printer (I will give you a link to what I bought need to find it). Here is why.

There are all kinds of “accessories” you will be able to print. Like dust collection adapters, spacers, and hold down clamps. Plus you can printer things for wood working. Like battery holders for your tools, things like that.

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I bought this. I happen to be in Canada. There we lots of good reviews and videos on how to assemble (simple) and bed level.


A 3D printer will help you get a nice workflow and 3D design skills. Also it will allow you to print all the other bits and bobs you will want for your MPCNC. Wondering if you might go for the LowRider from the start if you are doing furniture and stuff.

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My $0.02:

There is a learning curve with any CNC machine. Some of the skills you need you can learn with 3D printing. There is a lot of things you’ll learn in 3D printing that will not be applicable, but much of it is the same. If you are an expert at 3D printing, you will still have a lot to learn about CNC machines. Having a 3D printer to make detailed components and a CNC machine to create larger flat pieces with some details really opens the doors on what you can do.

There are a lot of other functional projects you could do if you had a 3D printer and a CNC machine. Things like making a machine to cut foam, or to build a jig or machine for other shop tools. Or even a robot platform.

They do compliment each other very well, but saying you need to get a 3D printer to get a CNC machine is a bit like saying you need to get a road bike if you want to get a mountain bike. Naturally, the community here is also going to skew on the enthusiast side, so you’ll see more people doing both.

You could easily buy the package from Ryan, be careful with assembly, and have years of use without needing to print anything. If you broke a part or two, you might also convince Ryan to just ship you a replacement part for a few bucks.

In my mind, it comes down to what your interests are. If you are more interested in learning, and creating in new ways, then get a 3D printer first. If you are more interested in just having the tool, and having it work, then a CNC is a faster, cheaper, and less frustrating way to get there. Do you want to take the scenic route?


Welcome to the crew! V1Engineering opened me up to a world of things I would never, ever have fathomed. I took the semi-hard road. I built the MPCNC using parts printed by Ryan (or one of his minions…kidding - he didn’t have any minions when I joined the family…wonder if he does now - he could sure use a few hundred). Once the MPCNC was running I needed projects for it so it seemed only natural to start building an MP3DP. THAT was a journey. But the things I learned through those two machines gave me the confidence to print and build my own second MPCNC with the JTech laser. And it didn’t stop there.

I’ve now done deep dives into all kinds of Arduino projects and robots, Raspberry Pi projects, motion control camera rigs for stop motion animation, computer controlled Christmas lights, general electronics, PCB soldering…the list goes on. But the list is only because I was able to dip my toes in with V1 and all the cool cats here and learn with confidence.

No matter what path you take, you’re embarking on a journey that might just take you farther than you ever thought you would!


V1 Engineering, your gateway to tech.

Thanks Kelly, that is just about how I would like this to be for most people! Force people to get in a little deeper than expected, find out it isn’t all that bad and then have the doors to all this low cost tech get flung wide open!


Thanks for all of the great suggestions. I will continue to read & research for a bit.