You can only print so many pieces of plastic before you realize you need a printer of your own. Sure I was able to take advantage of some friends for my first two prints, but I was starting to get rather excited by the whole technology of 3D printing and decided it was time to do something about that. Foregoing the expensive preassembled options I’d played with thus far, I thought it’d be more fun to buy the parts and assemble the printer myself. After a bit of research, I settled on a Reprap Prusa i3, for its reliability as a low-cost open-source printer. This is my 3D printer.
The build process itself was, surprisingly, rather straightforward. Reprap printers have so much documentation online, and the community has grown to the point that nearly every problem has a support thread or Reddit post regarding it. Likewise, I was able to source all of the parts from Makerfarm which made getting all the custom pieces of the frame incredibly simple. In the end, I’d strongly recommend them, as their support is impeccable and their product quality very impressive. What follows are some pictures of the build-in-progress.
Again, the printer assembled without too many complications. For me, the newest thing was soldering some of the electrical components; I’d done very limited soldering in the past and so getting everything hooked up was definitely a bit of a new experience. With everything assembled, I attempted to print a calibration cube to ensure everything was set up properly and, sure enough, the printer was well-enough aligned. The cube was the proper size and my only problem came from some warping on the bottom layer and a slight issue of layer adhesion. Both of these problems were fixed with careful tweaks of my build platform and printing temperature. I now have the temperature for my plastics down pat, and I’ve started putting a layer of blue painters tape on the build platform which, believe it or not, helps the first layer of a print adhere better to the surface. Likewise, to reduce warping with the very temperature sensitive ABS plastic, I followed the advice of the internet and printed a fan shroud to help more effectively cool the hotend. Altogether, a successful build.
Next up, the upgrades. Auto-bed leveling and a ventilation cabinet.