3D printing brings with it the promise of making your own physical stuff at home. But is constructing a 3D printer from a kit always so complex and time consuming? Recently Jens Chr Brynildsen wrote to us his 3D printer build experience.
"Built an Ultimaker in 1.5 days. Everything went perfect except for a missing power supply (I found a replacement) and some washers that were the wrong size. Both were things that I could fix myself.
Also after this, Ultimaker has provided great customer service and they recently sent me a new z-switch when I needed a replacement."
After playing with his friend's Makerbot for some time, he decided to get one of those for himself. An Ultimaker 3D printer seems to be the best option because of its:
- huge build volume of 21x21x22 cm (L/W/H)
- clever gantry-construction (X/Y axis)
- use of PLA as default material (I dislike the environmental part of ABS)
- Hackability and an active community was also relevant
- short delivery time
Although some problems occurs on his first day of assembly such as wrong size of washers/nuts supplied and missing cable for power supply, he still thinks that was a great experience:
Overall, I'm incredibly impressed by how well the machine is built. Every little detail like the build surface leveling, the nice cable ducts, how all moving parts are really solid, the material feeding, the precision laser cut parts and certainly the speed and resolution that the printer can produce compared to the Makerbot Thing-o-matic.
Brynildsen gave also some tips:
Here's some things I picked up along the way:
- You'll need a wrench, a stanley knife (or similar), tweezers, a tiny screwdriver and some plumbers tape. Luckily I had that last one around, but I think the Teflon-version is probably better as I have a small leakage around my nozzle.
- Improvisation is required - just as the disclaimer says "in some cases you can get better results if you have some improvisation skills"
- Don't touch the Hot-end -> it is VERY hot so don't touch it (really!)
- Makerbot really is more user friendly. With Ultimaker you'll be learning a lot you didn't know you needed to learn
- Most Ultimaker users are PC people. While the Mac software exists, it's probably not too well tested so if you have a PC - use it rather than the Mac.
- If you need help - the Ultimaker Google Group is your best friend, filled with good advice from nice people
In addition, Brynildsen uploaded a detailed tutorial on how to make a heated build platform for Ultimaker. He adapted the PCB designed by Josef Prusa and listed all the components he used as well as an instruction of how to put them together. This new heated build platform is working perfectly for PLA printing.
Models stick like glue when the platform is at 70 degrees, but come loose very easily when the platform cools off.
For ABS, it works but it's not perfect. It takes about 10 minutes to get up to 100 degrees. This is decent, but quite a long time. To get to 110, it's even longer and I can just barely go beyond that. The thing is that I need the bed to go to 110 and maybe also 120 for the ABS to stick properly. Now, it works fine for models that have a large area of contact, but smaller models often come loose since the plastic isn't sticking well enough. Due to this I'm now experimenting with closing the gap around the build surface using high-temperature silicone. This looks good so far, but I'll update here once I get to test a little more.
Though this guide is written for the Ultimaker, "it should also work the same for any RepRap printers with similar RAMPS electronics", notes Brynildsen. Thanks all the 3D printer users sharing useful and well-written resources that benefits the whole community. Stay tuned, we will keep updating with more feedbacks.
Posted in 3D Printers
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Jens Chr wrote at 6/20/2012 11:15:50 AM:
I feel that I should add that getting the software to work was the real issue. However - as soon as I discovered Cura (https://github.com/daid/Cura/wiki) all those problems were gone. Cura really smooths out all the software problems for beginners such as updating firmware and getting good looking prints. J