Jeric Dy
Life is a Game
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Having a 3D printer is every engineer's dream. That's why last October 8, 2014, I decided to order one online. No, not those expensive ready-made 3D printers. I ordered a DIY kit from China. It costs almost US$400. It's a RepRap Prusa i3 DIY kit.

1. The Excitement

A week later, I received the shipment.

So exciting right? Since the package weighs 10KG, I need to take a cab. So when I got home, I unpacked everything.

2. The Problems

If you plan to buy expensive equipment from China, there are risks. I started assembling immediately, but guess what, problems! (not unexpected though)

I contacted the seller and sent them the images. Their response? They told me what that part is for. I told them I know what the part is for, but it's broken. It went on until they understood my problem. They told me they've checked all the parts before sending, therefore it's the Singapore's customs fault for breaking it. My response was "really? they couldn't even tell the part was broken when I sent the photo" (Who knows what really happened).

The next problem is the wrong screws. I should get 1 pack of M3x25 and 1 pack of M5x25, but instead I got 2 packs of M3x25. They told me just to buy the screw at a near by hardware shop. SERIOUSLY?! The conversation went on until I agreed to pay for the broken acrylic part, and they'll send the shipment with the correct screws.

I continued assembling what's left, without the broken part until there's nothing to assemble anymore.

3. Assembly

About 2 weeks later, I received the new part and the correct screws, continued assembling...

I encountered some problems while assembling. They provided two options for assembly, a PDF file with instructions or a series of video instructions files. The videos were in Chinese, not a problem for me since I can understand Mandarin. I chose to read both the PDF and watch the videos, there were a lot of inconsistency. One example, on the PDF, it says use the 10mm screw, but on the video, use the 8mm screw. I asked the seller, I was told to use any, how can I just choose any?! Blah, I ended up using the 10mm for the stepper motors.

4. Prints

You know, when you have a 3D model of yourself, you just have to print yourself. You just have to, no excuses. So that's what I did.

I was using ABS plastic. I didn't know it was very toxic that time, and I got dizzy and my nose hurts. My room is the size of my bed plus 1 meter, so imagine how quickly it was filled with toxins. It's so small in fact, my closet it outside of my room. Well anyway, while printing, the ABS plastic warped and the whole print became wobbly. Too wobbly in fact, the nozzle hit the shoulder area and the ankle part snapped. I had to stop the print. It turns out, for ABS, the bed temperature needs to be 80 degrees, I set it to 50 degrees that time.

And yes, I've also accidentally printed some spaghetti.

5. Warning

One thing about ABS plastics, if it got burnt, it hardens into a dark brown stain. I'm using Repetier Host as my printing software. I noticed heating up your bed and extruder takes a lot of time. So being the genius that I am, I went to the manual tab and heated up the bed and the extruder, while I slowly browse my Blender file collection on what to print. Guess what happened next, The nozzle was clogged with burnt ABS plastic inside. I can't print properly anymore! I ordered new nozzles and an extra extruder (because I have plans to turn it to a dual extruder in the future). I've waited for about a month to start printing again. I am using PLA plastic now, since it's non-toxic, compare to ABS.

6. Printing, Part II

Got my new extruder, got my nozzles, what am I waiting for? Print!... myself!

For some reason, the extruder motor keeps got stuck. It has to be on the shoulder part again doesn't it?

"successful" because I realized I didn't screw the X axis motor's gear properly, that's why the X axis of the print was flattened by a little bit.

Finally! A successful print! 've changed the base into a flattened semi sphere. I soon realized that I can't remove the print from the base! I can't pull it away from the bed, and since it's a semi sphere, I can't push the base, there's no grip! haha.

Tip: It took me about half an hour, then I decided to heat up the bed to 70 degrees. The PLA plastic began to soften, it became clay-like where you can just warp it and pull the print out of the bed and warp it back on a flat surface.

I printed X's arm separately then super glued it to the body, instead of printing supports.

Another thing I decided to print is a personalized keychain for me and my girlfriend.

Cool, right? I've also printed a Quadpod (link) so I can make a timelapse video of my prints.

7. Remarks

Even with all the head-scratching part, I am still very happy with my 3D printer. I managed to learn a lot while assembling it. I LOVE assembling things. I haven't calibrated my printer though, I haven't received the caliper I ordered online yet.

8. Next

I am currently experimenting on ball and socket joints, and I am also trying to paint my prints. I'll make another post on these, but here's a sneak preview:

Comment on what you want me to print next!