It was always a problem to find a proper enclosure for my devices. So, I decided to build a 3D printer for these purposes. It is a great project to build. It can be used not only for customised enclosures but for all sorts of other projects.
I didn’t want to buy a pre-build printer as I preferred to actually build one for fun. I checked available kits on the market which have quite good reviews, can print something bigger than 150mm x 150mm and don’t cost a fortune. Makerfarm Prusa i3 8″ ticked most boxes, so I ordered it. As the kit is sent from USA it didn’t take long to arrive. The kit is great. It has everything in the box except for a piece of glass to print on and a power supply. It even had a 4Gb SD card supplied. I ordered two pieces of glass in the nearest handyman center for $14 and I already had an old ATX power supply to use with the printer. The seller has a great manual with videos which helped a lot in building the printer. It took almost the whole weekend to build it instead of the estimated two hours according to the seller. It was a very interesting process and I enjoyed it a lot. On Sunday afternoon I already was able to print the test cube. It looked good but required some adjustments as Y-axis had a slight shift and the X-motor was overheating. The seller recommends to use a hairspray to avoid wrapping, but large ABS prints still wrapped with it, so I decided to use “ABS juice” instead. It is messier but holds prints significantly better. Also, prints get a glossy surface with this solution. “ABS juice” is acetone with some ABS plastic dissolved in it. It should be milk alike solution and I had to have separate jars for different ABS colours. After printing, the glass needs to be wiped off with some acetone on a tissue and some more “ABS juice” applied with the same tissue. More effort is required to change a colour, but not much. Also, to improve adhesion to the glass, I print with a brim setup of 6-7mm. The brim is easy to remove and I recycle it in “ABS juice” solution. The adhesion is so good with this method that the part and the glass have to cool down completely before it can be removed. Otherwise the glass can be damaged.
For ABS I use 115C heatbed temperature. It proved to show the best results for me. I haven’t tried to print with PLA yet where I still will have to use hairspray. There were three hotend options available with the kit – 0.4 mm Magma hotend and 0.35 mm and 0.5 mm classic J-Head. I chose 0.35mm J-Head. It is good for small details and can print with PLA as well, but it prints quite slow and too small for the new “wooden” and “ceramic” filaments. The 0.5 mm J-Head prints quicker and can use “wooden” and “ceramic” filaments but the details suffer a bit. The choice depends on the main purposes for which the printer is going to be used.
The new 0.4mm Magma hotend is a metal one which allows to print with wider range of materials, such as nylon, poly-carbonate etc. They require the temperature up to 300C which is too high for J-Head. The nozzle diameter is still too small for “wooden” and “ceramic” filaments and it is difficult to use PLA with this head as it melts before reaching its bottom and jams. Unfortunately, it is not easy to change a hotend on this printer. But may be there is a possibility to change a hotend to a competently different model that allows to replace nozzles. I haven’t investigated this opportunity yet.
The printer doesn’t have a spool holder, but I printed it out combining some ideas from thingiverse.com. I’ll describe it in my next blog. Here is the photo of my printer:
And this is an example of a cutlery stand that I’ve printed using yellow and black ABS plastics and assembled them together:
I’ve uploaded this design to thingiverse as well: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:426792.
Overall I’m quite happy with the printer and would definitely recommend this kit. See ya!