Some Questions I have about 3D printing

I have visited this and a lot of other 3D printer sites a lot because I have been very interested in getting a 3D printer but I still have some questions that I am hoping some of the people on this forum can answer.

General printer questions

I am still trying to understand exactly what is the resolution of a 3D printer and how exactly resolution on a 3D printer works? I know the layer hight, but what about how thick the lines you are printing out are going to be?
Is the line thickness something that can be adjusted by changing the amount of plastic being pushed through?
And if you can change the line thickness does that also affect other properties like the strength of the layers bonding together or how smooth the finish is?

Also how smooth are the lines going to be, or how accurately can the print nozzle be positioned. If you print a line diagonally across the print surface or a circle and zoom in really close is it lots of small steps or is it one smooth movement?

Are there any videos online of a single printed line under a microscope or just magnified so I can get an idea of the line thickness compared to the layer height and accuracy of the printer nozzle?

I would also like to understand how good the printer is with stopping and starting and how stopping and starting affects the print quality? For example if I wanted to print a single dot of plastic is that possible or do I need to print a line that is at least a of a certain length so the plastic will stick to the surface being printed to more than it sticks to the printer nozzle?

If you could print a single dot then I would think you would be able to build up a picture by printing all the dots for one color and then changing colors and printing the next color.

Plastic Questions

Do you get any plastic when you get the printer?

The plastic is sold in Kilogram but I am interested in how that relates back to how much printing you could actually do. How long is 1Kg of plastic? How long would it take to a printer running none stop to print 1Kg of plastic? And will these answers change for different types of plastic/materials? For example will the same print in ABS take longer or use more plastic than it would if printer with PLA? Will properties like melting point change with different colors or with different batches of plastic?

Changing color or materials, do you need to clean the nozzle when changing from one color or material to another? Or can you change them quickly during a print?

Is cleaning the nozzle something easy to do or a big task? What do you have to do?

More printer hardware questions

I am also interested in seeing what else you could use the printer for.

So if I attach a pen (or paint brush) to the printer could I use it as a plotter and draw on paper? (has anyone done this already?)

Could you attach a small drill and turn it into a CNC machine?

I think it could be interesting to setup a chess board and have the printer move the pieces around, or make a different tool for it so it could be used as a pick and place machine. I think there are lots of other things the printer could do, (rake small desk zen garden, type on keyboard, play a piano, play guitar, draw, paint) but a lot would depend on how much force the printer can put out to be able to push on objects or to lift objects.

Software (Programming)

I am a software developer and I am interested in trying to write software to use the 3D printer as a plotter or for playing chess. So I would like to know how you can communicate with the printer from a computer to tell it to move. Is it just a usb to comm port and you can just send text strings, or is there a drive and an api used for communication with the 3D printer?

Where is a good place to get started with trying to program for the 3D printer?

Purchasing and postage

I live in Australia and would be really interested in hearing from anyone else in Australia that has brought a 3D printer and what your experience was like getting it through customs? And if you had to pay import tax on the printer?

I am also interested in finding out where the printer is shipped from because that also affects weather I would need to pay an import tax on the printer or not? (I am interested in the KITTAZ printer)

Lulzbot has international warehouses, but I don’t know if they have one in Australia. You can fill out the order profile online without purchasing and see what the shipping is that way. I’d e-mail them directly and ask what they have available near you. I do know they have distribution centers in the UK if that helps at all.