Hello everyone, a lot of time has passed since I last posted, in fact I haven’t posted a lot here, and for a good reason, I have been 3D printing for most of this time, and I can only say it’s been a blast, but not without issues down the road, let’s look at them now, take a seat and grab some popcorn because this is truly a great tale and it includes all the elements you could possibly think of.
Oh shit, I now want a 3D printer.
I have to admit, the idea of 3d printing is one that has been in my dreams forever, back in the day I learned how the source engine model compilation process worked to be able to port models I found online to Garry’s Mod (and Source Filmmaker, the leaked 2007 version, later the 2012 one) and mess with them, I never really made anything with them, I just loved to play with and as my favorite characters from games and TV shows and I sometimes even kinda solo roleplayed with myself, it sounds weird but keep in mind I was 10-12 years old at the time.
Fast forward to 16 year old me, I rarely use the SFM now, but I still enjoy it as much, now there’s an actual 3d printing community and people are actually printing models and that just makes me happy, this was the point where I realised I truly wanted a 3D printer.
Chosing the printer to buy
When your budget is 400€ the choice is kind of obvious, and we’ll get into that later, but I also thought that maybe I could get one for even lower, the Anet A8 seemed like a good choice, the Anet A8 is a very inexpensive prusa-i3-like 3d printer that has a very big community, it can be bought for around 150€ which is not too much, but I ended up chosing a more expensive printer, the Wanhao Duplicator i3, because it required no building (just a bunch of screws) and because it has superior build quality out of the box and because it’s also made out of .
Getting the thing to work
I bought my machine from 3DPrima, and it arrived on time (although the filament arrived on Friday and the printer arrived the next monday, which made me a little sad), I pulled the machine out of the box, built it leveled the X axis by eye and got it printing the demo print.
… And it came out well, this was truly amazing, I then printed a pikachu, which came out not so good, mainly because i printed it faster and I was still getting the thing dialed in properly in cura, but it worked, and that was nice.
Clogs, leveling and adhesion
My printer clogged, so I had to take out the nozzle and the PTFE tube and soaked them in acetone, after a few minutes I was able to clean off the PLA manually.
I also had leveling issues, which got fixed after I leveled my X axis again, I also had adhesion issues, which I fixed with a combination of lower speeds and a glass bed.
There was a “special person” I knew, but I just ignored my own feelings because I suck at pretty much all human relationships and at making gifts, the first could be fixed the second couldn’t, but then I realised: “Holy shit, I can make cool gifts now!”, this gave me the courage to go ahead and ask her out with an interesting gift that could mean a lot to us, but this was very early in my 3d printing days, so I printed a subscale model of it to be used as a testbed, Machiko by Fantasygraph and tried some painting techniques on that.
I tried with pastel chalks and acrylic, and they both sucked, I asked my local paint expert, Amadeuss, and he suggested a plastic primer spray, which worked beautifuly on my testbed in combination with acrylic paint and an airbrush, I still have the testbed.
The actual gift
I was going to get more experience with printing before attempting the real thing, it’s a really big print, but one morning I had the courage to hit the print button and it took 19 hours in total, there was a terrible issue though, the base of the right leg had dettached, so I taped it down to the bed and it came out like this, it also had a lot of issues with overhangs because I did not have the new cooling fan in yet.
I fixed it with epoxy.
I painted the print with my trusty airbrush that uses custom piping, I started with a few layers of white.
For the actual colors I painted the bigger parts with the airbrush with the help of painter’s tape, and the smaller details with a brush and a toothpick.
This was the end result, kinda shitty in some aspects, but it could be worse I guess.
I then realised valentine’s day was coming up, so I waited a bit until that day instead of giving her the gift right ahead, unfortunately I didn’t see her that day, but I did wait until the next day, and because of that extra time I decided to throw in a fox too.
It truly was one of the only times I set myself a challenge and did it quickly and better than I expected, I was quite happy with the result.
Yet another part done without a bloody cooling fan, it broke too so I don’t have high res pics.
The cooling fan
I finally got one, the difference was astonishing.
Around that time I made a pic of all the things I had printed until now.
It was around this time that I also added Z-Braces to my printer, they allowed the thing to vibrate less (because of it’s design the Di3 vibrates a lot), I also added a glass bed, which made first layer adhesion astonishingly good and made the bottom of prints look injection molded.
Another fantasygraph print.
I then experimented with meslab’s supports which are quite a sight to behold, I’m not a fan of meshlab because it’s proprietary software, but it did it’s job fine, I don’t think i’m going to use it a lot, since slicing stuff in pieces seems like a better idea anyways.
I then printed a figure of Annie from league of legends, I don’t play the game anymore, but she was my favorite character to play (as a support) and I wanted to print a big figure I found online, I sliced her into parts after having issues printing it all in one piece, and it came out great, I’m going to give her a layer of single color paint to hide the connections though.
My long term plans consist of testing as much stuff as I can in my wanhao for my future Prusa i3 MK2 build, mainly the extruder and electronics.
- Upgrade my extruder to an E3D v6 that uses the same extruder parts as the MK2.
- Replace my Melzi board with a RAMPS.
- Get a prusa i3 mk2 frame laser cut in alumium, and maybe the Y-Carriage (I might end up getting it in carbon fiber instead).
- Replace the wanhao alltogether with a prusa i3 mk2, reusing the motors, electronics, extruder and possibly the heated bed until mk42s become widely available.
Thanks to everyone that has ever helped me in my learning process, I have enjoyed every minute of the last three months and 3D printing has become a really great hobby, seriously, the community rocks.