Buy second hand 3d printer
A Guide to Buying Second-Hand 3D Printers
3D Insider is ad supported and earns money from clicks, commissions from sales, and other ways.
Buying second-hand hardware isn’t uncommon, and this trend also applies to 3D printers. With 3D printing hobbyists upgrading to better models every year, there is now a flourishing market for used 3D printers. This has become an inexpensive way for other people to get into the hobby, particularly for those who have no experience on it whatsoever.
However, buying second-hand technology always comes with an inherent risk. Buying used is particularly challenging for 3D printers, as there is no way for you to confirm how heavily it has been used. If you’re buying used, here are some tips for avoiding a bad deal.
Why buy a used 3D printer?
Should you even consider buying a used 3D printer? The short answer is yes, whether you’re a beginner or experienced user. Buying a used 3D printer provides a couple of very good benefits in terms of cost and quality. Of course, there are also a few possible pitfalls.
A used 3D printer should be significantly less expensive than its brand-new counterpart. Depending on how much the 3D printer has been used, discounts can go up to the 50% region. This is a great way to save money, especially for those who want to get into the hobby but do not want to make too much of an investment.
High quality to cost ratio
If you’re fairly experienced in 3D printing, there is still some value in buying a used 3D printer. High-end 3D printers can be very expensive, but you may be able to find a used printer that is closer to your budget. By looking at the second-hand market, you may be able to buy a premium 3D printer at close to entry-level prices.
Chance of support
The 3D printing community has proven to be very friendly and supportive, particularly to beginners. Buying a used 3D printer can instantly hook you up with someone who has more experience and might be willing to help you out with the initial kinks of the hobby. The best thing about this experience is that you are buying from a seller who already knows the ins and outs of the printer, and is probably the best resource person if you need some help.
Lastly, buying any used but functional technology is simply better for the environment. We live in a day and age when people generate way too much solid waste, a significant portion of which comes from discarded electronic devices. By buying used, you do your part in recycling technology and slowing down the accumulation of this electronic waste.
Many of these benefits generally apply to the second-hand market of any products, be it electronic devices, household appliances, or furniture. Aside from saving money, you also get to salvage that object from ending up in a landfill.
Best practices for buying a used 3D printer
Buying anything second-hand definitely has its risks, which has become the primary reason for many people becoming averse with the idea. These concerns are valid, but there are a couple of measures you can take to minimize these risks. In the case of 3D printers, here are some best practices that we recommend:
Buy from someone you know
The best scenario would be for you to buy a used 3D printer from someone that you personally know. This massively reduces the chances of you getting screwed over or ending up with a lemon. This also makes post-sales communications easier, should you run into any issues.
If you can’t buy from someone you know, then you should at least buy from someone who lives in the same city. You will want to be able to travel to the seller’s location and see the product for yourself before committing to a sale. 3D printers can be incredibly finicky, and the smallest signs of damage can be deal breakers. There are just some details that cannot be captured in photos or videos.
Do an in-person inspection
The main reason for wanting to buy a used 3D printer from someone local is that you will want to do an in-person inspection of the goods. We can come up with a very long list of items to check for but we will condense it into just the most important:
- Check the integrity of the frame. Are there any cracks or bent beams? Any damage to the frame will compromise the stability of the 3D printer.
- Check if all the heating elements can attain the maximum temperature of the 3D printer. This applies to both the heated bed and the hot end nozzle. Can these temperatures be reached at a reasonable amount of time?
- Can you move the nozzle and gantry freely while the printer is powered down? Any problems here can affect the quality of prints made from the 3D printer. If the motion is not smooth, there might be problems with the lubrication of the rods or the tension of the belts. The worst that could happen is that the rods have been bent, providing resistance to the movement.
- Can you feed filament through the nozzle manually? To do this, just heat up the nozzle to the appropriate temperature and feed in the filament. You will want to see a constant and consistent flow of filament through the nozzle. Anything otherwise may suggest problems with the extruder or a clogged nozzle.
- How warped is the print bed? Some warping is expected of any print bed after heavy use, even those made of glass. If the printer has an auto-bed leveling feature, you can use it to check specifically for warped portions. A heavily warped print bed should be replaced unless you’re ready to deal with bed adhesion issues.
- Does the used 3D printer come with any filament or accessories? Some sellers may sweeten the deal by throwing in a few other items on top of the 3D printer. Some filament spools would be really nice if you’re just starting out.
It would be a good idea for you to check out how a brand-new version of the 3D printer looks like before going an in-person inspection. This established a visual bench mark of what the 3D printer should look like, although a bit of wear and tear should be expected.
Ask about upgrades and mods
People who have been in the 3D printing hobby for a long time tend to upgrade their 3D printers with accessories and modifications. This is very common and should not be surprising in a used 3D printer. The most common upgrades include a swapped build plate, nozzle, cooling fans, stepper drivers, or hot end. In some cases, a dedicated user could have even upgraded the printer’s controller board!
Modifications are not necessarily a bad thing and can be very beneficial in the hands of someone who knows what they are doing. However, adding any third-party accessories or doing a DIY upgrade of any 3D printer typically nulls its warranty. This is something you need to clarify with the seller.
Do some test prints
Finally, it is well within reason to ask the seller to do a test print. It doesn’t have to be anything complex – a standard Benchy or any 3D printing torture test model will do just fine. This will allow you to see if the printer wobbles during printing or if the extruder makes any unusual sounds. Be on the lookout for common 3D printing issues such as layer shifting, stringing, or warping.
Ask about support
Since you’re not buying directly from the manufacturer, the best after-sales support that you can expect to receive is from the seller themselves. Ask them if they are willing to take the time to help you out withy setting up the 3D printer, even for just the first few weeks of ownership. This is likely just an informal agreement but is considered appropriate behavior from sellers of used products.
A lot of trust goes into a deal for used products, so do not be afraid to back out if something does not feel right. It’s hard to explain but sometimes you just have to trust your gut.
Unavoidable drawbacks of buying used 3D printers
When buying a used 3D printer, it is also good to keep in mind that expectations have to be managed. You’re getting a 3D printer at a low cost, so there will certainly be compromises in other areas. Here are some hard truths that you will have to accept:
Wear and tear
No matter how well a 3D printer has been taken cared of, it will inevitably have signs of wear and tear. This just means that problems can come up or parts can break down sooner rather than later. This isn’t overly concerning since almost all the parts of a 3D printer can be replaced.
Lack of warranty
If the 3D printer has been used for a couple of years, then there’s a good chance that it’s already past the warranty period. This can be doubly concerning since the 3D printer is also at a later stage of its life cycle. You probably will not get as many years out of a used 3D printer as you would if you bought brand-new, but the low acquisition cost hopefully makes up for this shortened life span.
Where to buy second-hand 3D printers
As mentioned, it is best to buy a second-hand 3D printer from someone that you personally know. If this is not an option, then you can scan through the usual online marketplaces for used products – eBay, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and Gumtree, just to name a few.
It’s also possible to stumble upon good deals for refurbished 3D printers on official retailers for some 3D printer brands. These might be a bit more expensive than buying used directly from the previous owners, but refurbished products provide a bit more buyer guarantee.
Refurbished typically means that the defective parts of the printer have been replaced with brand-new or close to new spare parts. The refurbishment may not have been done by the original manufacturer, so it’s still recommended to buy them from trusted or popular retailers. Some retailers may even offer limited warranties with refurbished 3D printers.
It’s not a very common practice to buy used 3D printers, but it’s a valid strategy for the penny-pinching 3D printing newbie. In the hands of an experienced and responsible user, even a 3D printer that has seen a lot of action should still be in pretty good quality.
However, there is an exceptional level of precaution that must be practiced when buying a used 3D printer. Unlike a car, you can’t exactly tell how heavily a 3D printer has been used at first glance. The best thing you can do is to see the printer for yourself and do a couple of test prints.
Warning; 3D printers should never be left unattended. They can pose a firesafety hazard.
Refurbished 3D Printers and Machines
MatterHackers refurbished 3D printers are fully functional printers that are certified and tested by the Pros here at HQ - plus, they come with a six-month warranty. These reconditioned, gently used 3D printers are the perfect source for makers, manufacturers, and educators that need high-quality 3D printers at an affordable price. Of course, all refurbished 3D printers come with lifetime support via email or phone. We realize that cost can be a factor for some buyers, that’s why we are excited to offer this option for everyone! Refurbished 3D printers come in two classifications; A Stock and B Stock. Don’t see the machine you are looking for? Check back often - we could be testing the affordable 3D printer of your dreams right now!
Guides & Articles
What is 3D Printing?
3D printing is a process where physical, three-dimensional objects, parts, or models are made layer-by-layer from Computer-Aided Design, or CAD, and digital files.
Anatomy of a 3D Printer
Get an understanding of how 3D printing works, from the inside and out. This guide will walk you through each of the critical components of a 3D Printer, answering the question: "How does a 3D printer work?"
The Top Ten Tips For Getting Started With 3D Printing
We were all noobs at one point! Here the ten best tips for getting started with 3D printing - whether it's your first time 3D printing or you need to brush up on the basics, this guide will help you out!
3D Printer Troubleshooting Guide
Use this guide to help you identify and solve the most common issues that may occur while 3D printing.
How To Calibrate Your 3D Printer's Extruder
This quick and informative guide will help you calibrate your extruder perfectly, resulting in accurate, quality prints.
3D Printing 101: How to Succeed with a Perfect First Layer for Every 3D Print
The first layer of your 3D print is the foundation of everything that comes after, which makes it such an important part of the 3D printing process.
How To Get The Best 3D Printed Parts By Understanding Extrusion Settings
Melting is a critical concept to 3D printing, and yet it hasn’t received a lot of in-depth attention. This article will teach you how to extrude your filament properly so it flows smoothly. Make filament jamming, delamination, and weak parts things of the past.
3D Printing Essentials: How to Succeed with Every Bed Surface Solution
Matching 3D printing filaments with the proper bed surface material is an important part of the 3D printing process. Read more to find out the best path to success.
3D Printing Essentials: Filament Loading
Proper filament loading and unloading is a necessary part of 3D printing without trouble. Read on to learn the essential method you should be following.
3D Printing Essentials: Bed Leveling
For some, levelling a 3D printer's bed can be challenging, but it doesn't need to be. Read this essential guide to see what it takes to do it right.
Quick Tips: How To Get Started With Batch 3D Printing
Utilizing 3D printer time most efficiently is much easier once you start batch printing parts to maintain 3D printer uptime and minimize downtime.
Refurbished "A Stock" description:
- Fully functional printer, professionally inspected and tested
- Used, like new condition
- May contain minor cosmetic blemishes
- A nonessential item may be missing (thumb drive etc.)
- Comes with a 6 month warranty
Refurbished "B Stock" description:
- Fully functional printer, professionally inspected and tested
- Used, good condition
- May contain minor cosmetic blemishes
- May or may not include the original packaging
- Some nonessential items may be missing (filament, SD cards, etc.)
- Comes with a 6 month warranty
13 BEST CONSTRUCTION 3D PRINTERS OF 2019
A 3D construction printer is a machine that can build houses by applying material (concrete) layer by layer. The paste type material used, in this case concrete or earth, is forced through the nozzle in layers to print buildings.
Concrete 3D printing in the construction industry saves time, effort and material when compared to traditional methods. However, it is important to note that 3D printers are not yet capable of creating a fully functional home, only the frame and walls can be created, other elements such as windows, electricity or plumbing must be installed separately. Concrete 3D printers can also be used to print bridges, benches, or simply outdoor decorations.
To provide a complete overview of the construction 3D printer market, we have listed the top 12 construction 3D printing solutions. Some of them are 3D printers already available for sale, while others are still in the prototype stage or provide 3D printing services for external structures.
HOW TO BUILD A 3D PRINTED HOUSE?
Construction 3D printers use extrusion technology. Some construction 3D printers are similar to FFF/FDM desktop 3D printers, only larger (gantry style), while others consist of a rotating mechanical arm.
In both cases, paste-type components such as concrete are used as the filament. The material is ejected from a special nozzle to form layers. In simpler (very) extrusion of pasta is like using a bag to dispense frosting on a cake.
The printer builds foundations and walls layer by layer. The base is literally the printer's build plate. However, some concrete 3D printers are used to 3D print brick molds. Once molded, the bricks are stacked on top of each other manually (or with a robotic arm).
Benefits of building 3D printing
• Eco-friendly : 3D printed houses can be built with sustainable materials. What's more, some construction 3D printers use solar energy and emit little CO2.
• Affordable: 3D construction printers can build affordable housing, providing great relief to people in poor areas or after natural disasters.
• Scalability: 3D construction printing reduces certain construction costs. For example, the cost of 1 square meter of wall using traditional construction methods is approximately $75, while for an Apis Cor house 3D printer it is only $27.
• Efficient: Because materials are 3D printed on demand, machines produce less waste. In addition, 3D construction printers can complete the foundation of a house in less than a few days, while traditional construction methods take weeks or even months.
• Design flexibility: Curved walls and unique facades can be easily created with a 3D printer
Disadvantages of 3D construction
• Expensive initial investment: These 3D printers can sometimes cost up to a million dollars.
• Partially Built Houses : Only house frames are built. The 3D printing process is usually paused to manually install plumbing, wiring, and fittings.
• Rough Appearance : The exterior of most 3D printed houses is not as smooth as traditional houses.
• Lack of Certification: Construction sites are regulated by law and there are important safety standards that must be met, which can be difficult with 3D printing methods (different repeatability, dimensional stability, etc.).
CONSTRUCTION 3D PRINTERS: OVERVIEW
We divide construction 3D printers into three categories: house building 3D printers that you can buy, prototype concrete printers, and concrete 3D printing services.
Home 3D printers available
Pictured: AMT S-6044 Long and AMT S-300
), 11 x 31 x 80 (maximum)
• Material: Concrete / Clay / Gypsum
• Country: Russia
Equipment manufactured by AMT-SPETSAVIA - workshop and field portal construction 3D printers (COP-printers, Construction Objects Printing): and from small-format (for printing small architectural forms ) to large (for printing buildings up to 30 floors high). Productivity from 0.5 to 2.5 cubic meters per hour, management by 2 people. AMT printers are capable of printing with any kind of concrete, clay and gypsum.
• Assembly size : 1.6 x 8.2 x 2.5 m
• Material : Concrete
• Country : Slovenia
BetAbram is a small Slovenian team that has been working on building 3D printing equipment since 2012. Their flagship home 3D printer, the BetAbram P1, is currently in its second iteration and is available with additional printheads: basic, "Orto" for smoother layers, and rotatable for more design options.
• Build size : 11.98 x 45.07 x 1.53 m
• Material : Concrete
• Country : Denmark
This construction 3D printer is fast, with a speed of up to 18 meters per minute. BOD2 is modular and can be adapted to various sizes. COBOD is a 3D Printhuset company.
Constructions-3D 3D Constructor
• Assembly size : 13 x 13 x 3.8 m
• Material : Concrete
• Country : France Their 3D Constructor machine is mobile thanks to its rubber tracks and fits in a 20ft shipping container for easy transportation from one construction site to another.
CyBe Construction CyBe RC 3Dp
• Assembly size: 2.75 x 2.75 x 2.75 m
• Material: Concrete
• Country: Netherlands This easy-to-use 3D printer is capable of reaching heights of up to 2.75 meters and only requires two people to operate.
ICON Vulcan II
• Build Size : 2.6 x 8.5 x ∞ m
• Material : Concrete
• Country : United States
ICON wants to revolutionize the construction industry with its Vulcan II printer. The whole process is designed to be user friendly with a tablet-based interface, and the ICON Lavacrete concrete mix is optimized for easy printing.
MudBots Concrete 3D Printer
• Build Size : 1.83 x 1.83 x 1.22 m (minimum)
• Material : Concrete
• Country : United States of Mudts003 Concrete 3D Printers USA. Their smallest model (approximately 1830 x 1830 x 1220 mm) is available for $35,000. Large build sizes are also available, reaching up to 30 meters in length.
According to MudBots, their 3D printers can print a small house in just 12 hours and cut costs by 70% compared to traditional building methods.
Build Size : 10m x 15m x 6m
Material : Concrete
Country : United States
StroyBot, also known as the Rudenko 3D Printer, is a versatile mobile design printing system supplied as a build kit user. On average, he can print a 100 square meter house in 48 hours (walls only).
WASP Crane WASP “Infinity 3D Printer”
• Build Size : Ø 6. 3 x 3 m
• Material : Concrete / Earth materials
• Country : Italy
WASP Crane is an evolution of the previous WASP construction printer 12MT. This open source builder is modular and multiple Crane printers can work together on the same project, giving theoretically endless 3D printing possibilities.
Concrete printers work projects
Apis Cor 3D printer
• Assembly size : 8.5 x 1.6 x 1.5 m
• Material : Concrete
• Country : United States
Apis Cor, a 3D based construction company Francisco and claims to be able to 3D print a house in less than 24 hours. Their Apis Cor printer is similar to a robotic arm and won first place in NASA's 3-stage 3D printing competition.
Batiprint3D 3D Printer
• Build Size : -
• Material : Concrete / Other
• Country : France
Batiprint 3D made headlines internationally when it completed the Yhnova 3D print shop in Nantes, France. Their 3D printer not only prints cement but also insulating foam, making it one of the most complete 3D building solutions.
S-Squared ARCS VVS NEPTUNE
• Build Size : 9.1 x 4.4 x ∞
• Material : Concrete
• Country : United States
S-Squared, also known as Square3D "4D printing", which aims to provide fast, reliable, environmentally friendly and affordable housing for poor areas. ARCS VVS NEPTUNE is one of the company's working models, but it will not be available for commercial sale.
Construction printing services
Contour Crafting 3D Printing System
• Material • Material: Concrete
• Country: United States
This automatic construction system is capable of 3D -printing large buildings and high -high infrastings. Contour Crafting (also known as CC Corp) aims to improve the effectiveness of disaster relief through concrete admixture technology.
XtreeE 3D Printer
• Build Size : -
• Material : Concrete
• Country : France
XtreeE develops custom 3D printing solutions for construction, engineering and architectural design. This startup is located in France and has already completed a number of 3D construction projects.
How to build a home 3D printer: recommendations from personal experience
3D printing and assembly of 3D printers is my hobby and passion. Here I will not share detailed diagrams and drawings, there are more than enough of them on specialized resources. The main goal of this material is to tell you where to start, where to dig and how to avoid mistakes in the process of assembling a home 3D printer. Perhaps one of the readers will be inspired by applied engineering achievements.
Why do you need a 3D printer? Use cases for
I first came across the idea of 3D printing back in the 90s when I was watching the Star Trek series. I remember how impressed I was by the moment when the heroes of the cult series printed the things they needed during their journey right on board their starship. They printed anything: from shoes to tools. I thought it would be great someday to have such a thing too. Then it all seemed something incredible. Outside the window are the gloomy 90s, and the Nokia with a monochrome screen was the pinnacle of progress, accessible only to a select few.
Years passed, everything changed. Around 2010, the first working models of 3D printers began to appear on sale. Yesterday's fantasy has become a reality. However, the cost of such solutions, to put it mildly, discouraged. But the IT industry would not be itself without an inquisitive community, where there is an active exchange of knowledge and experience and who just let them dig into the brains and giblets of new hardware and software. So, drawings and diagrams of printers began to surface more and more often on the Web. Today, the most informative and voluminous resource on the topic of assembling 3D printers is RepRap - this is a huge knowledge base that contains detailed guides for creating a wide variety of models of these machines.
I assembled the first printer about five years ago. My personal motivation to build my own device is quite prosaic and based on several factors. Firstly, there was an opportunity to try to realize the old dream of having your own device, inspired by a fantasy series. The second factor is that sometimes it was necessary to repair some household items (for example, a baby stroller, car elements, household appliances and other small things), but the necessary parts could not be found. Well, the third aspect of the application is "near-working". On the printer, I make cases for various IoT devices that I assemble at home.
Agree, it is better to place your device based on Raspberry Pi or Arduino in an aesthetically pleasing "body", which is not a shame to put in an apartment or take to the office, than to organize components, for example, in a plastic bowl for food. And yes, you can print parts to build other printers :)
There are a lot of scenarios for using 3D printers. I think everyone can find something of their own.
A complex part in terms of drawing that I printed on my printer. Yes, it's just a figurine, but it has many small elements
Ready solution vs own assembly
When a technology has been tested, its value in the market decreases markedly. The same thing happened in the world of 3D printers. If earlier a ready-made solution cost simply sky-high money, then today acquiring such a machine is more humane for the wallet, but nevertheless not the most affordable for an enthusiast. There are a number of solutions already assembled and ready for home use on the market, their price range ranges from $500-700 (not the best options) to infinity (adequate solutions start from a price tag of about $1000). Yes, there are options for $150, but we, for understandable, I hope, reasons, will not dwell on them.
In short, there are three cases to consider a finished assembly:
- when you plan to print not much and rarely;
- when print accuracy is critical;
- you need to print molds for mass production of parts.
There are several obvious advantages to self-assembly. The first and most important is cost. Buying all the necessary components will cost you a maximum of a couple of hundred dollars. In return, you will receive a complete 3D printing solution with the quality of manufactured products acceptable for domestic needs. The second advantage is that by assembling the printer yourself, you will understand the principles of its design and operation. Believe me, this knowledge will be useful to you during the operation of even an expensive ready-made solution - any 3D printer needs to be serviced regularly, and it can be difficult to do this without understanding the basics.
The main disadvantage of assembly is the need for a large amount of time. I spent about 150 hours on my first build.
What you need to assemble the printer yourself
The most important thing here is the presence of desire. As for any special skills, then, by and large, in order to assemble your first printer, the ability to solder or write code is not critical. Of course, understanding the basics of radio electronics and basic skills in the field of mechanics (that is, "straight hands") will greatly simplify the task and reduce the amount of time that needs to be spent on assembly.
Also, to start we need a mandatory set of parts:
- Extruder is the element that is directly responsible for printing, the print head. There are many options on the market, but for a budget build, I recommend the MK8. Of the minuses: it will not be possible to print with plastics that require high temperatures, there is noticeable overheating during intensive work, which can damage the element. If the budget allows, then you can look at MK10 - all the minuses are taken into account there.
- Processor board. The well-known Arduino Mega is well suited. I didn't notice any downsides to this solution, but you can spend a couple of dollars more and get something more powerful, with a reserve for the future.
- Control board. I'm using RAMPS 1.4 which works great with the Arduino Mega. A more expensive but more reliable board is Shield, which already combines a processor board and a control board. In modern realities, I recommend paying attention to it. In addition to it, you need to purchase at least 5 microstep stepper motor controllers, for example - A4988. And it's better to have a couple of these in stock for replacement.
- Heated table. This is the part where the printed element will be located. Heating is necessary due to the fact that most plastics will not adhere to a cold surface. For example, for printing with PLA plastic, the required surface temperature of the table is 60-80°C, for ABS - 110-130°C, and for polycarbonate it will be even higher.
There are also two options for choosing a table - cheaper and more expensive. Cheaper options are essentially printed circuit boards with preheated wiring. To operate on this type of table, you will need to put borosilicate glass, which will scratch and crack during operation. Therefore, the best solution is an aluminum table.
- Stepper motors. Most models, including the i2 and i3, use NEMA 17 size motors, two for the Z axis and one each for the X and Y axes. Finished extruders usually come with their own stepper motor. It is better to take powerful motors with a current in the motor winding of 1A or more, so that there is enough power to lift the extruder and print without skipping steps at high speed.
- Basic set of plastic fasteners.
- Belt and gears to drive it.
Examples of elements appearance: 1) MK8 extruder; 2) Arduino processor board; 3) RAMPS control board; 4) motor controllers; 5) aluminum heated table; 6) NEMA 17 stepper motor; 7) a set of plastic fasteners; 8) drive gears; 9) drive belt
This is a list of items to be purchased. Hardcore users can assemble some of them themselves, but for beginners, I strongly recommend purchasing ready-made solutions.
Yes, you will also need various small things (studs, bearings, nuts, bolts, washers ...) to assemble the case. In practice, it turned out that using a standard m8 stud leads to low printing accuracy on the Z axis. I would recommend immediately replacing it with a trapezoid of the same size.
M8 trapezoidal stud for the Z axis, the use of which will save you a lot of time and nerves. Available for order on all major online marketplaces
You also need to purchase customized plastic parts for the X axis, such as these from the MendelMax retrofit kit.
Most parts available at your local hardware store. On RepRap you can find a complete list of necessary little things with all sizes and patterns. The kit you need will depend on the choice of platform (we'll talk about platforms later).
What's the price
Before delving into some aspects of the assembly, let's figure out how much such entertainment will cost for your wallet. Below is a list of parts required for purchase with an average price.
The community has already developed a number of different platforms for assembling printers - the most optimal case designs and the location of the main elements, so you do not have to reinvent the wheel.
i2 and i3 are key platforms for self-assembly printer enclosures. There are also many modifications of them with various improvements, but for beginners, these two classic platforms should be considered, since they do not require special skills and fine-tuning.
Actually, illustration of platforms: 1) i2 platform; 2) i3 platform
On the plus side of i2: it has a more reliable and stable design, although it is a little more difficult to assemble; more opportunities for further customization.
The i3 variant requires more special plastic parts to be purchased separately and has a slow print speed. However, it is easier to assemble and maintain, and has a more aesthetically pleasing appearance. You will have to pay for simplicity with the quality of printed parts - the body has less stability than i2, which can affect print accuracy.
Personally, I started my experiments in assembling printers from the i2 platform. She will be discussed further.
Assembly steps, challenges and improvements
In this block, I will only touch on the key assembly steps using the i2 platform as an example. Full step by step instructions can be found here.
The general scheme of all the main components looks something like this. There is nothing particularly complicated here:
I also recommend adding a display to your design. Yes, you can easily do without this element when performing operations on a PC, but it will be much more convenient to work with the printer this way.
Understanding how all components will be connected, let's move on to the mechanical part, where we have two main elements - a frame and a coordinate machine.
Assembling the frame
Detailed frame assembly instructions are available on RepRap. Of the important nuances - you will need a set of plastic parts (I already talked about this above, but I'd better repeat it), which you can either purchase separately or ask your comrades who already have a 3D printer to print.
The frame of the i2 is quite stable thanks to its trapezoid shape.
This is how the frame looks like with parts already partially installed. For greater rigidity, I reinforced the structure with plywood sheets
An extruder is attached to this part. The stepper motors shown in the diagram above are responsible for its movement. After installation, calibration is required along all major axes.
Important - you will need to purchase (or make your own) a carriage for moving the extruder and a mount for the drive belt. Drive belt I recommend GT2.
The carriage printed by the printer from the previous picture after it has been assembled. The part already has LM8UU bearings for guides and belt mount (top)
Calibration and adjustment
So, we completed the assembly process (as I said, it took me 150 hours) - the frame was assembled, the machine was installed. Now another important step is the calibration of this very machine and extruder. Here, too, there are small subtleties.
Setting up the machine
I recommend calibrating the machine with an electronic caliper. Do not be stingy with its purchase - you will save a lot of time and nerves in the process.
The screenshot below shows the correct constants for the Marlin firmware, which must be selected in order to set the correct number of steps per unit of measure. We calculate the coefficient, multiply it, substitute it into the firmware, and then upload it to the board.
Marlin 9 firmware constants0202
For high-quality calibration, I recommend relying on larger numbers in measurements - take not 1-1. 5 cm, but about 10. So the error will be more noticeable, and it will become easier to correct it.
Calibrating the extruder
When the frame is assembled, the machine is calibrated, we start setting up the extruder. Here, too, everything is not so simple. The main task of this operation is to correctly adjust the supply of plastic.
If underfeeding, the printed test item will have noticeable gaps, like test die 1. Conversely, the result will look bloated if plastic is overfed (dice 2)
Getting Started Printing
It remains for us to run some CAD or download ready-made .stl, which describe the structure of the printed material. Next, this structure needs to be converted into a set of commands understandable to our printer. For this I use the Slicer program. It also needs to be set up correctly - specify the temperature, the size of the extruder nozzle. After that, the data can be sent to the printer.
As a raw material for printing, I recommend starting with regular ABS plastic - it is quite strong, products made from it are durable, and it does not require high temperatures to work with. For comfortable printing with ABS plastic, the table must be heated to a temperature of 110-130 ° C, and the extruder nozzle - within 230-260 ° C.
Some important details. Before printing, calibrate the machine along the Z axis. The extruder nozzle should be about half a millimeter from the table and ride along it without distortion. For this calibration, a regular sheet of A4 paper inserted between the nozzle and the surface of the heated table is best suited. If the sheet can be moved with little effort, the calibration is correct.
Another thing to keep in mind is the surface treatment of the heated table. Usually, before printing, the surface of the table is covered with something that hot plastic sticks to well. For ABS plastic, this can be, for example, Kapton tape. The disadvantage of adhesive tape is the need to re-glue it after several printing cycles. In addition, you will have to literally tear off the adhering part from it. All this, believe me, takes a lot of time. Therefore, if it is possible to avoid this fuss, it is better to avoid it.
An alternative option that I use instead of scotch tape is to apply several layers of ordinary light beer, followed by heating the table to 80-100 ° C until the surface is completely dry and re-applying 7-12 layers. It is necessary to apply the liquid with a cloth moistened with a drink. Among the advantages of this solution: ABS plastic separates from the table on its own when it cools down to about 50 ° C and is removed without effort, the table does not have to be peeled off, and one bottle of beer will last you for several months (if you use the drink only for technical purposes :)).
After we have collected and configured everything, we can start printing. If you have an LCD screen, then the file can be transferred for printing using a regular SD card.
The first results may have bumps and other artifacts - do not worry, this is a normal process of "grinding" the printer elements, which will end after a few print cycles.
Tips to make life easier (and sometimes save money)
In addition to the small recommendations given in the text above, in this section I will also give a short list of tips that will greatly simplify the operation of a 3D printer and the life of its owner.
- Do not experiment with nozzles. If you plan to immediately print from materials that require high temperatures, then it is better to immediately take the MK10 extruder. On MK8, you can "hang" special nozzles that support high-temperature conditions. But such modifications often cause difficulties and require special experience. It is better to avoid this fuss on the shore by simply installing the right extruder for you.
- Add starter relay for heated table. Improving the power supply system for this important printing part with a starter relay will help solve the known problem of RAMP 1.4 - overheating of the transistors that control the power of the table, which can lead to failure of the board. I made this upgrade after having to throw away a few RAMPS 1.4s.
- Select the correct media diameter for printing. I recommend using 1.75mm plastic for MK8 and MK10. If we take plastic, for example, 3 mm, then the extruder simply does not have enough strength to push it at an acceptable speed - everything will be printed much longer, and the quality will drop. ABS plastic is ideal for MK8, MK10 will be able to produce products from polycarbonate.
- Use only new and precise X and Y guides. Print quality will be affected. It is difficult to count on good quality with bent or deformed guides along the axes.
- Take care of cooling. In the course of my experiments with various extruders, the MK10 showed the best results - it prints quite accurately and quickly. The MK10 can also print plastics that require a higher print temperature than ABS, such as polycarbonate. Although it is not as prone to overheating as its younger brother MK8, I still recommend taking care of its cooling by adding a cooler to your design. It must be permanently enabled, this option can be configured in Slicer. You can also add coolers to keep the stepper motors at an acceptable temperature, however, make sure that their air flows do not fall on the printed part, as this can lead to its deformation due to too rapid cooling.
- Consider heat retention. Yes, on the one hand, we are struggling with overheating of the elements. On the other hand, a uniform temperature around the printer will contribute to high-quality printing (the plastic will be more pliable). To achieve a uniform temperature, you can put our printer, for example, in a cardboard box. The main thing is to connect and configure the coolers before that, as described above.
- Consider insulating your desk. Heated table heats up to high temperatures. And if part of this heat leaves properly, heating the printed part, then the second part (from below) just goes down. To concentrate the heat from the table onto the part, you can perform an operation to insulate it. To do this, I simply attach a cork mouse pad to its bottom using stationery clips.
I am sure that during the assembly process you will encounter a number of difficulties specific to your project. Neither this text nor even the most detailed guides will insure against this.
As I wrote in the introductory part, the above does not claim the status of a detailed assembly manual. It is almost impossible to describe all the stages and their subtleties within the framework of one such text. First of all, this is an overview material that will help you prepare for the assembly process (both mentally and financially), understand whether you personally need to bother with self-assembly - or give up on everything and buy a ready-made solution.
For me, assembling printers has become an exciting hobby that helps me solve some issues in home and work affairs, take my mind off programming and do something interesting with my own hands. For my children - entertainment and the opportunity to get unusual and unique toys.