Wednesday, 24 February 2021

It's Alive!!! - New 3D Printer at RGP HQ

A sad and sorry tale has finally come to an end...

I have been without a 3D Printer since November 2020 when my something got fried on my CTC i3 Pro B motherboard.  I blame the operator carelessly backdriving the extruder motor when extracting filament although it didn't help that the printer was equipped with an early Mk3 extruder with no way to disengage the drive wheel.

Geetech i3 Prusa Pro W

I took delivery of my new printer last Thursday, but opening the box revealed a kit of parts which filled me with dread.  My previous printer came partially assembled and I had no motivation to get stuck in to what could possibly be the larget single meccano challenge I have embarked upon.

Two days later and the printer was built.  

Geetech Prusa i3 Pro W
My New Geetech Prusa i3 Pro W

What were my initial observations?

No Manual - I am no newbie to 3D printing and this printer is essentially the same as my last one.  I knew I would find a comprehensive guide to building the printer on the Geetech YouTube channel and lo and behold there it was.  What I wasn't expecting was getting to the final stage in the build process, wiring the control board and there being no final step!!!

Luckily the printer uses the ubiquitous GT2560 control board so finding a manual and a picture online was no problem.  However, by following the manual I did manage to connect all the limit switches incorrectly which meant the printer didn't home properly (cue horrible motor clunking sounds as the x-carriage refured to recognise the limit switch).

In addition this printer differs in one respect from my old printer in that the x-axis limit switch is set considerably further back and so the home position is actually off the print bed by about half an inch.  I could have fixed this by updating the printers firmware and setting an offset, but I've been here before.

Half an inch makes all the difference
Half an inch makes all the difference

My old printer had a similar problem in the Y-axis which meant that it would home too far forward.  The solution now as then was to print off an extension finger which would press the x-axis limit switch that half an inch early.  

So off to thingiverse I went and lo and behold someone had made a model and bish bash bosh my printer was off to the races printing out its first part.  Given that the Prusa design is derived from the Rep Rap project itself I think this is quite fitting.

An x-axis trigger extension
First Part Printed - An x-axis trigger extension

Upgraded Parts - The reason I bought this particular printer was that it was one of the cheapest I could find with a Mk8 extruder.  However, this was not the only upgrade that the printer came with.  No siree, I got proper lead screws for the z-axis instead of plain old threaded rod, proper flexible couplers not pieces of rubber tube and a significantly better x-carriage assembly with threaded holes for mounting a second hot end fan.  The hot bed was also an upgraded version without the annoying brass rivet in the middle like my old printer.  The borosilcate glass platter now sits perfectly flat on the hot bed ensuring no distortion in z height and no hot spots.

Laser Cutter Dust - I could not believe how dirty I got when handling the laser cut plywood panels which make up the frame.  Every edge of the printer is covered in a thin film of wood ash which comes off on your clothes and hands.  If I were ever to build another laser cut framed printer then step 1 would be to wipe down all the wooden parts with a damp rag.

Jessie Will Be Chuffed

Now I have a working 3D Printer I can return to blogging about the things that I print in my Jessie's Prints series.  Jessie has been on a severe no PLA diet since June 2020 so he will be chuffed to bits.

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