One of my best used deals was a small ShopSmith Dust collector. It is small, relatively quiet compared to a shop vac, but has great air flow velocity. It is only 1 HP, but it has 3 2-1/2 inlets on it, which match my CNC machine perfectly. I've had it for a year now, and my only complaint was that I needed a better way to plug the unused ports. The previous owner employed the handyman's secret weapon (duct tape), and I followed suit replacing it when needed.
I had thought of cutting a couple of MDF plugs to fit in the unused hole, or conning my youngest to turn me a pair of nice plugs on her lathe, but I never seemed to get around to it. Then inspiration struck. I found out that the local library has 3D printers free to use. I inquired about the process, took the orientation and badging course to prove I was qualified to operate them, and then I was ready to go.
I started my model in my CNC software, but it looked a little clunky. My oldest had an engineering course in high school were they did rapid prototyping with a 3D printer. While she has been home from college this summer, I tasked her with putting those skill to good (AKA 'my') use. We took the calipers out into the garage and measured everything, and she took her sketch up to her room. In about 8 minutes she brought me the file she had created and I was good to go.
I booked my time in the library and I was off. I only intended to print 1, so I could take it home and try it. That's when I learned the dirty secret of 3d printing. It takes FOREVER. The first cap 'should' have only taken 1 hour to print based on the software's estimate. It took me 25 minutes to get the machine ready, and then almost 90 minutes to print. But in the end, the result was perfect.
The following week I reserved the machine again, and things went more quickly. I had made some changes, so the model took less time to build, and I was much faster setting up the machine this time. Unfortunately, they were out of the snazzy purple filament I had used on the first one. I was in no mood to change from the white to blue or gray, so cap 2 is a little more bland. I should not complain, an anonymous library patron donates all of the consumables to the library, so whatever color are there is fine with me.
The result of the project is a more professional looking setup, thanks to the duct tape being gone.
There are a lot of neat models on Thingiverse.com that can be used in the workshop. Jigs, knobs, alignment fixtures, etc. all free to download. The unfortunate problem is that I can only book the machine for 3 hours at a time. Most of the models will be pushing that time limit. I have to talk more with the Research Librarian who is responsible for that machine and see what other options are.
While I see no reason to own a 3D printer, I can see how it can be a handy tool. Like all of the digital fabrication tools, it requires only basic skills to run, but to get the most out of it you have to practice and learn different techniques. I hope to try and sneak in there once a month or so and try making other shop improvements.
Check your library, they may have similar tools available in your area as well. And look at the models on https://www.thingiverse.com/search?q...95d1112f546996