3D Printing Part 3: First Prints, fixing things

The CD had a test file on it, which I made a mess of the first time, as the filament was just flung around in circles. I tightened the belt, and tried again.

It worked!

I can’t describe the relif in printing something recognisable.

Chris and I both started playing on Thingiverse and found plenty of lovely things to print. The crochet hook didn’t work very well, but I think that’s because the base layer didn’t stick very well onto the bed so it couldn’t join the sections.

We did have great success printing small letters for each of the girls, and I printed a coral cuff off because hey, I’m a woman who built a 3D printer! I get new jewellery on a whim.

So, now I have a whole new avenue to explore, and what a learning curve it is!

I would like to try making my own models soon, and experimenting with different types of filament. At the moment I’m using PLA but I would like to try flexible and conductive filaments, and I would like to learn to use Sculptis to make more organic models.

Excuse me while I set go and set about printing a new loom.

3D Printing Part 2: The Build

I build things differently to my husband, and there are big differences in our approach. He’s rather enthusiastic, and gets on with it, while I sit about trying to identify the parts and counting the screws.

It’s probably for the best that he went out, but before he left he brought me tea and toast.

The kit came with a CD containing the manual. Building the frame was pretty straightforward, although the frame was put together with t-nuts which were really tricky. Eventually I realised that it’s best to either put them in and hold them in with a screwdriver while screwing in the part, or set them off very, very loosely – they seem more inclined to turn in the frame that way.
The videos by HackaweekTV on You Tube were really helpful to refer to during the construction, and combined with the manual it was reasonably OK, although I was puzzled about the leftover parts (turned out it was a spare z-axis limit switch).

The wiring was a different kettle of fish. There was a single drawing in the manual. The video started well but didn’t show everything. The Hictop video seemed to be a different model, without the auto-levelling.

I thought it made sense to plug the auto-levelling sensor into the z-axis limit on the mainboard, but the nozzle insisted on alarmingly crashing into the bed. After a few hours, Chris spotted I had mounted the base of the bed the wrong way up – silly mistake but easily sorted.

There were still problems with the height of the nozzle, which I tried to adjust. Eventually I realised I could move the sensor down very, very slightly by moving the mount.

It was just enough and the nozzle cleared the bed when auto-homing.

3D Printing Part 1: Choosing a Printer

You have probably noticed my love of combining technology and art.

Something that has fascinated me for a while is the potential of 3D printing, both as a means to replace or replicate parts and as a tool to help with my art, such as making practical items like crochet hooks, yarn bowls and weaving looms.

As a matter of fact it was partly due to missing my old rigid heddle loom that I ended up buying a 3D printer. I thought I could print one, like other people have.

After lots of research, and consulting with my partner in crime, I settled on this kit – the Prusa i3 DTP-11-ATL which I bought from Amazon.

I decided to buy a kit because I enjoy practical things, like Ikea drawers, and I hoped that building it myself would give me a greater understanding of the processes and set up. Most – if not all – 3D printers require calibration and maintenance to work at their best, so a DIY kit was ideal for learning the ins and outs of the machine.

The kit I chose came with auto-levelling, which would be handy if I wanted to take it out to visit places for projects (although it’s not very easy to transport). It also accepts a wide range of materials, including wood effect and flexible filaments. I’m not sure about chocolate, I’ll look into it.

A few days later this arrived. Yay!

The following Saturday, when I new I had a full weekend, I cleared the dining room table, unboxed, and began to build.