My Adventures in 3D Printing

tri4sale

Daniel
Corporate Member
Long post, I'm sure there are errors in my assumptions and how I did things with my first 3D printer, but here's my story....

My Adventures in 3D Printing

Research and Deciding What To Buy

This was a very long, ongoing process for me. I’ve been looking at and toying with buying a 3D printer for about 18 months. A friend has one, but it was too small for some things I was interested in doing, and to buy the size I wanted was too expensive. Or so I thought. Cost is a subjective thing, and what’s too expensive for one is not for another person, so that’s definitely a personal decision. And it was a Christmas gift to myself, so that’s the justification I’m using for paying for a large printer

As I said, my friend had a small one, and I just decided that size was too small for me. Then he came across a great deal on a much larger bed 3D printer, this thing was huge! And it did a good job, but it was a kit and looked home made with CNC cut MaxMetal for the frame. I wanted something a little nicer finish. Personal preference there too.

So looking around, I decided I wanted a 15in x 15in print area minimum. That narrowed down my choices, so I started asking for people’s experience (see previous thread) and got good info on what other’s have. Looking at what was out there, I came to the conclusion I didn’t really want to spend 5 to 10 hours assembling the 3D printer, I wanted something that was closer to ready to print out of the box. After looking some more, I settled on the AnyCubic Chiron with it’s 400x400x450 print area (15.74W x 15.74D x 17.7H) and simple build. Basically it’s about 4 screws and 2 “T” Plates and then plug in some wiring harness and it’s ready to print. Well, kinda ready to print, but we’ll get to that later.

Shopping / Ordering
So pretty much I’m an Amazon guy, buy 90% of my stuff off Amazon, and I always Smile when I do, but for the 3D printer I did look at a few other places once I’d settled on my printer. I checked the manufacturers web site, as well as some other 3D dedicated websites. There was a $100 difference between Amazon and the Manufacturer’s website, with Amazon being $100 more expensive. But Amazon was listed in stock and manufacturer said out of stock. I had joined a Facebook page for the printer when I was looking and lots of people were complaining about very long delivery times for the printer. And some people complained about not working or other issues, so I figured I’d order from Amazon incase I did have some issues, I can always complain to Amazon about problems with manufacturer (who was also the seller on Amazon) and possible get some help from Amazon with issues (they’ve helped me in the past with a few issues with items I’ve bought). So went ahead and ordered, and it arrived in 2 days (and a Sunday delivery at that).

Setup / Leveling
It’s packed nice and tight in a big, heavy box. Put it up on table and cut open the box. Styrofoam is packed in tight, and pulled off the top layer, and stared at the parts. Ran into a problem here, they pack it in tight, and I tried removing the first part, but it was stuck, and I was afraid of breaking something if I pulled to hard. I did finally figure out how to get it apart, and removed everything and set on bench to build. Did find a piece of plastic loose in the box, and took a quick picture and posted on the Facebook group asking if anyone knew what it was. Pretty quickly got my answer, it as a small piece that broke off the machine, a few other had same problem and basically said it won’t affect printer. That’s one reason I liked this printer, it has good community support.

Once out of the box, setup was as easy as I had hoped, opened the box, and pulled it out and 4 screws and 2 “T” plates later it was assembled. Plugged in the wiring harnesses (missed one to the Z axis motor, but quickly realized my mistake after the first leveling attempt.) This thing is huge, takes up a lot of desk space.

This particular printer tells you to do a manual level first, which is basically taking a piece of paper and running it under the print head and adjusting the manual knobs under the print beds four corners until you get resistance but can still move the paper. After doing that for 5 locations on the bed (four corners and the middle) you then go to the auto-leveling process, where you use a probe mounted on print head and it checks 25 locations on the print bed. After that you start a test print to see the quality. The manufacturer has a target design of a bunch of circles, but someone created a much better test where it prints 25 small circles and after a few tries with the target circle and it not printing good, I switched to the 25 small circles. The AnyCubic Chiron is nice in that while it’s printing you can fine tune each of 25 locations on the print bed. Since the print bed is so large, the manufacturer straight out tells you it won’t be 100% flat. And they were right. After print the first test of 25 circles, I could identify a bunch of locations that needed further adjustment. Made adjustments and printed it again, needed a little more fine tuning, so printed a 3rd time and was 90% happy with my results. I did use a Sharpie to mark each printed circle, labeling the space they were from, and did each in a different color so I could see any changes in prints and determine where I needed to adjust and what could be left as is. At this point, my impatience got ahold of me and I decide to print something for real!

First Print
So for my first print I decided to print a Festool Track mount: Festool Rail holders by gronax as I have a few and I’d like a good way to put them up out of the way. So when you download a file from a place like Thingiverse, a 3D printer can’t directly handle it. You have to put it into a software program that than translates it into a file the 3D printer can work with. The reason for this is that with all the different 3D printers on the market, the design software (which also can be used for 3D CNC work) doesn’t have to worry about what printer you have. For that, we use software that takes the design and put’s it in language the 3D printer understands, commonly referred to as “slicing” (and yes this is a simplification of the process) My 3D printer comes with a copy of Ultimaker Cura so that’s what I used. The copy I first used that came with my printer required me to go in and manually setup the settings specific to my printer. If you don’t put this info in correctly, then your prints will be off. Interesting thing was I downloaded from the Internet a copy of Cura, and it had my printer already listed as a compatible printer.

So I downloaded the file, and then imported it into Cura. I’ve got a tech background, and have a CNC machine, so this process was very familiar to me. I didn’t try to change anything in the file, just said print it with supports and sliced / saved the file. (I little about supports, the 3D printer is printing from the base up, and in this model there was an area that hung in mid-air, so if I didn’t do supports, it would not be able to print those sections, they’d just fall when the plastic filament came out). Software is pretty cool in that it gives you an estimate for time, and an estimate for cost. My time estimate was over 4 hours. Moved the file to a SD card and loaded into printer and told it to get to work!

Nearly 5 hours later (so the Cura estimate isn’t precise) it was done, and it looked like a giant orange blob! I pulled it off the printer and began the tedious process of breaking off the supports I had to use. This took a little time, was a pain, and even drew blood at one point. But I got 98% of the supports off, and while it’s rough it would be usable. I could probable take to the sander and get the rest of the extra support parts off, but that’s an adventure for another day.

Print #2 was the same item, but I said to myself “Self, if you lay it flat on it’s side it won’t need any supports!!” A little playing around in the Cura software and I realized how simple it was to do this. So for Print #2 I laid it down, said no supports, and sliced it. Took the time estimate down to 2 hours, 15 minutes or so, and looked to use about 1/3 less filament. 2 hours and 51 minutes later and I pulled the finish print off the bed and was thrilled with the quality. Smooth sides, feels stiff enough to hold but has a little give. Now to print 2 more so I have 3 good quality finished products to test. Those all took the same 2 hours and 51 minutes as Print #2.

Summary
Overall I’m very happy with my purchase so far, had some frustrations but overall not a bad experience. Glad I picked a printer that required minimal assembly, but some people I know would rather get a box with 100’s of pieces and put together but that’s not me.
 

tri4sale

Daniel
Corporate Member
Adding pictures in this post so it's easier to read the long post above.

Box when first opened and unpacking:
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Fully Assembled:
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Leveling Test Prints:

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First Print

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Forgot to take a picture of finished first print before I removed the supports, but here it is after, and it's not as smooth as I'd like.

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2nd Print

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Bas

Recovering tool addict
Bas
Corporate Member
Congrats on getting your first print done! Always a major milestone to get the machine working. There's always things you can do to tweak the setup, but it's nice when it actually does what it's supposed to.

As for getting an assembled machine vs. a kit, that's definitely a matter of preference. I am usually a plug-n-play kind of guy (time always being limited), but in this case I did buy a kit, thinking that would help me service/ upgrade it down the line. Not sure how true that really is, but many roads lead to Rome.

For supports, you may want to look at a piece of software called Meshmixer. It can do raft supports, which are much easier to remove and also use less filament. The software is free and there are numerous tutorials available.
 

kserdar

Ken
Senior User
Look in the Cura Marketplace for the "Auto-Orientation" plugins. When you just don't know or just starting out. It is a big help for orientation.

There are a ton of setting in Cura that won't make any sense until you either need them or someone else recommends it for better prints.

I would recommend getting a Raspberry Pi for Octoprint and connecting it to your 3D printer.

Also, print a calibration cube and adjust printer until your dimensions are within desired parameters.

For me, printing the Mods for the Ender 3 taught me a lot about Cura and the Printer.
 

tri4sale

Daniel
Corporate Member
What filament material did you use? and what kind of guidance do you have for different projects?

Right now using a roll of PLA that comes with the printer. As for guidance, I'm too new to give any, and I'm getting mine from FB 3D printer groups and youtube.
 

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