I built a 3D Printer!

I finally had time to sit down and build our printer! Unfortunately I didn’t take any good pictures of the process, I was too excited.

All in all it took about 12 hours to build and calibrate to get to my first print. The build was difficult, not too difficult but it took all of those 10 or so hours of build time. If it hadn’t have been for the online manual I really don’t know if I could have done it, the high resolution photos were a life saver.

The most difficult part was, in all honesty, dealing with the printed parts. Most of them were fine and worked first try, but there were a couple that made things nearly impossible. The worst parts were those involving placing M3 nuts in deep holes in which the tolerances didn’t allow for a friction fit, namely in the extruder assembly. In a few other areas there were some screw holes that were either slightly too small making threading difficult or the holes were a little out of place. The other major issue I had was in the height of the P.I.N.D.A. probe but I’ll touch on that in a sec. But for the most part it was smooth sailing.

Calibration was also a little troublesome. My main issues were as follows:

  1. My first issue came in during the self test when the Y-axis stop switch was not being triggered. It turns out that the placement of the Y belt pully/motor was more important than I thought from the instructions and that moving the Y-axis motor assembly would be very difficult later. In my opinion they should have supplied specific measurements for that like they did with the nuts for securing to the upright frame. Either way, it took about 15-20 minutes to get that right.
  2. I managed to seat the Y frame in the upright VERY unevenly, honestly I impressed myself with how bad it was and how much I missed it, which caused the right side calibration points to be unreachable but that was an easy fix, just loosening the double M4 nuts and seating the frame correctly.
  3. The P.I.N.D.A. probe. This thing is actually still giving me problems requiring me to test different Z-heights for almost every print because I don’t want to keep adjusting it physically cause I’m lazy, I expect this to come back to bite me. Like the Y belt pulleys I wish they would have provided specific measurements rather than having us eyeball it.

Since then it’s been mostly live Z-height adjusts and playing with Slic3r settings.

Despite these issues the printer has been absolutely fantastic. Now I have nothing to compare it to but from the research I’ve done into other printers mine is performing admirably. I’m excited to continue learning about the machine and finding more and more way to improve upon it and my methods.

 

We ordered a 3D Printer!

Finally!

Yesterday (11/28) I placed an order for the Prusa i3 MK2 with black printed parts. At the time of purchase the kit was $699 plus shipping, which to Ohio for 2-3 day was ~$70. The kit included a 1kg spool of white PLA, unfortunately when I placed my order the silver was unavailable (but I’ll probably order it after the white runs out, or before) and the site said that orders would not ship by Christmas due to 5-6 weeks of lead time. Oh well, it’ll give me time to work on my 3D modeling skills which haven’t been touched since those 3 weeks in 2011 during my only semester of Mechanical Engineering.

Prusa Research also sells the MK2 as a pre-assembled and tested product for $899. My wife and I opted for the kit because it sounded more fun (we hope). I felt comfortable doing that due to the inbuilt tests that Prusa has included to make sure that you’ve put it together correctly, which is great since this is our first printer and we’ll have no idea what we’re doing…

I’m in the process of building a new PC for development/modeling/gaming/Netflix (let’s be honest) so I plan on reconfiguring my old build to be the home server and dedicated printing machine. Or I’ll give it to my wife and use hers, we’ll see, depends on if she gets that laptop.

I don’t have a first print planned but I’ve certainly got a few ideas:

  • 3D Catan Pieces
  • A dice tower for D&D
  • Nerf stuff (so many things…)
  • Enclosures for the home automation system I want to build (but that’s a whole ‘nother post of its own…)
  • A fix for my car’s horrible cupholders
  • ALL THE THINGS
  • But for real, a lot of stuff

I can’t wait to get it and put it together! I’ll be sure to make another post detailing our experience building it and doing our first print!

UPDATE 12/6: I noticed that the silver PLA was back in stock so I messaged customer service to see if they would switch out the white I chose for the silver and within a few hours I got a response that said they would! Great customer service!