I finally got myself my first 3D printer. YAY!
In fact there has been so much “YAY I’ve got a 3D Printer at last” of late that I’ve not done much of anything else. I should have wrote this page out last week when I uploaded my first 3D printer video to YouTube but the lure of the 3D printer is strong 🙂 Below is an image of my printer. It is the exact same one and it is A 2017 Upgraded I3 Pro B Prusa DIY 3D Printer from eBay.
I had originally planned to make one video per week about my journey of learning through the 3D printer world and then do a little write up here to accompany it but it hasn’t panned out that way. Instead, this post will be playing catch up. I’ve now got TWO videos on Youtube so I’ll combine the write ups for them here in this one post.
The first part of this post will cover my thoughts, impressions and experiences etc of my first week of owning, assembling and using the 3D printer and goes along with the first Youtube video here (also embedded below).
3D Printer Assembly and Powering Up
So at this point, I’ve assembled the printer which took me about 3 – 4 hours at a gentle pace and I’ve had it set up on my main bench before moving it to it’s final position on the bench on the wall behind me.
The instructions (which came on the CD provided) were semi-helpful. They got me started but I had to refer to the internet once or twice for a relevant image of the board wiring – which incidentally appears to be a GT2560 or at least a close approximation of one. When following the instructions the machine came with, I seemed to end up with muddled stepper motors. One Z motor ended up connected wrong if I remember. Thankfully Google came to my rescue.
Providing you take your time and work logically and methodically they’re not too bad to assemble. I only cursed a few times during the assembly process and that’s only because the instructions have you working back in places you’ve already worked and end up working over yourself or parts that get in the way that could have been fitted while working there the first time. Just be patient and keep the tea flowing and it isn’t long before you get the feel of how the whole assembly is going to work and then it becomes intuitive. It can be very tempting at that point to get carried away and make assumptions to bolt this there because the other one went on that way. That’s not always the case so check everything before you get ahead of yourself.
One thing that wasn’t clear to me was why my XY frame came with a nut and bolt (which wasn’t the same as the rest in the kit) already installed. Foolishly I removed it and cast it aside. I later worked out why they provide a flush screw pre-installed and why you shouldn’t replace it with an ordinary one out of the kit provided. If you don’t use the flush screw they provide already installed in the XY frame then the X carriage get jammed when you try to lower the carriage down nearer to the bed. Because I used a normal screw, it jammed against the X belt tensioner and made a hideous noise of grinding. My first thought were the threads on the Z rods but soon discovered what the problem was. So take note of that little doozy!
Settings, Adjustments and First Prints
I must confess to having some prior knowledge on 3D printing from a friend who first purchased one last year. I spent some time assisting him to get his running so I have some prior concept of 3D printers and how they function to some extent. This probably aided in making the process of setting up Repetier Host and Slic3r a lot less painful for me than some.
I really didn’t have many issues setting up Repetier / Slic3r and setting up the bed levelling was a cross between common sense and a little prior experience. I also did a heck of a lot of reading and Youtube video watching prior to purchasing my printer.
I won’t go in to detail on the settings I used as I briefly cover what I did in my second Youtube video which I’ll get to shortly. I may make a short video covering the settings for Slic3r / Repetier at a later date.
As far as the printer firmware goes, I’ve not touched a single thing. The firmware on the printer is as it came and I believe it’s Marlin. Repetier host didn’t have much trouble communicating with my printer and aside from selecting a baud rate it connected virtually un-aided. From Repetier I was able to control the printer axis motors with ease. I did initially try to print directly from Repetier host across the USB connection but every attempt to print would keep failing. Either the printer would start and then just stop mid print after only a layer or two OR the printer head would make erratic moves and head off away from the print and then come back and do all sorts of crazy stuff. I decided from that point onwards to just use Repetier for slicing, object placement etc and would save the Gcode to SD card and print from that instead.
Once I started printing from SD card I never had any more random print halts with errors such as waiting for user or any more erratic random movements from the print head. I do not know why I cannot print across USB but I do recall seeing lots of errors while repetier was trying to send data to the printer. I saw messages like not at the correct position or expected position or something like that. Almost like Repetier was sending stuff faster than the printer could handle. I’m quite happy printing from SD, it’s not that much of a hassle so I may or may not come back and investigate this issue.
Moving back to Slic3r, I found that (in addition to the set up wizard which guides you to enter all the info relevant to your printer) the following minimum settings needed changing to get a good starting point:-
Temperatures (for PLA)
- First Layer Nozzle Temp = 205 Celcius
- First Layer Bed Temp = 65 Celcius
- All Other Layer Nozzle Temp 197 Celcius
- All Other Layer Bed Temp = 60 Celcius
- Perimeter speed = 25 mm/s
- Small Perimeter Speed =15 mm/s
- External Perimeter Speed = 50% (This means 50 percent of the Perimeter Speed)
- First Layer Speed = 25 mm/s (You can tweak this lower if required)
- First Layer Height = 0.25 mm (The lowest I am currently able to print on the stock extruder and stock 0.4mm nozzle)
- All Other Layers Height = 0.25mm (I try to keep this value the same as the first layer. I find mismatched values lead to messy prints)
Those are really the main settings I play around with. Every other setting in Slic3r is pretty much default. If I think of any other settings I did change in addition to those above, I’ll amend / update this entry.
I should also point out that I’ve not printed with any ABS yet so I cannot comment on printing with ABS. I’m purely using the reel of filament of ABS that comes with the 3D Printer. I was actually surprised at just how much you get. It’s a full roll. Enough to print out hundreds of practice pieces 🙂
I know, I know this entry is getting long and it does feel rushed but that’s because I can feel the pull of the 3D printer drawing me back 😀 Unbeknown to you the reader I’ve had a dinner break in between writing this blog entry. Yummy Fajitas super spicy with lashings of sour cream and salsa. But I digress…
Getting Some 3D Printing Under My Belt
This brings us swiftly and not a moment too soon to my second YouTube video which I shot a couple of days ago bringing us more or less up to date with where I’m at with my lovely wonderful 3D printer at the moment. I have embedded the Update #1 Video below for convenience.
He finally speaks!
As you can gather I’m not much of a rising YouTube star – nor am I any Richard Attenborough when it comes to narration. Especially when filming on a crappy Sony Xperia M5 (useless junk) but I’ll endeavor to improve as I make more videos.
One of my pet hates is when I’ve spent hours trawling the internet and youtube for a video and I finally find something that seems to fit the bill and it’s narrated by Charlie Chaplin (Silent Movie). You can hear the person filming breathing away like a dirty nuisance phone call but that’s it. Just pointing and waving like I’m supposed to know what “point point” means? :S
Anyway, I digress again like I did with the Fajitas.. Mmmm, fajitas (Homer Simpson moment – and yes you know you said it in your mind in Homer’s voice when I said that LOL).
I will let the video above speak for the rest of this entry as I really don’t have any more to add that isn’t said in the video. Hurray I hear you cry 🙂
But wait, before I go I would like to add some pictures of the faulty power supply that came with my 3D printer and the repair I’ve since done on it and confirmed it as working (I have a spare now wooooo – time to print my printer a friend muhahahha).
The pictures are pretty self explanatory so I won’t bother commenting any further. But I will leave you all with this advice. While these machines are fun, they are still powered by HVAC (High Voltage Alternating Current) or Mains Electricity. These are mass produced devices and they’re cheap for a reason. It is always best to check everything on these and any other machines (CNC etc) that all the parts are intact and that any parts that came pre-assembled are fully secured / connected etc. Basically double check everything. And NEVER stick your hands round the power supply / power supply /power switch or any mains wiring without turning off the power and unplugging everything first.
Remember to be safe and treat these things with respect and they’ll give you hours and hours of maker pleasure and enjoyment.
Pictures of my broken 3D Printer Supply Before and After Repair:-