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3D printing for dummies

3D printing for dummies

A really long time ago I bought an old model 3d printer for cheap to get into 3d printing without costing an arm and a leg. I bought an Inno3D m1 printer. This printer is made by the same manufacturer that creates videocards an other stuff. I printed a test piece and then didn’t do anything with it. I however got solar panels for my house recently and there were some cables that needed to be hidden from view. I figured that’s a good reason to start printing stuff. In this post I’ll share some of the lessons learned and the results of my printing.

The 3d printer

I bought an Inno3D M1 printer. And for those who wonder, it is actually the same company who make graphic cards and other pc hardware.

When this printer was first released it cost 1200 euro so it wasn’t really cheap back then, let’s just say mine was waaaaay cheaper. It however found that if you buy a kind of ‘exotic’ 3d printer a problem is that not a lot of people have one of those. When you run into trouble there aren’t many google pages that can help you figure out what is wrong. One thing that does help is that most 3d printers have the same kind of problems and if you know how to solve it for one 3d printer it usually works the same for another model.

First calibration print

To make sure everything is work as expected all 3d printers come with a simple test print. This is usally preloaded on the memory card. Just to make sure everything was working as expected I did a test print and it came out perfectly.

A first print

My first custom design I printed came from Thingiverse. Just a quick tip, everything you download from that site is available in an *.stl file. However most printers only support gcode. For this reason you have to convert your file using ‘slicing’ software. All 3d printers come with such a set of software but most use Cura this is made by Ultimaker but has support for other printers. Mine wasn’t supported and I couldn’t get it configured in Cura so I used the program which came with my printer.

Designing your own 3d prints

In most cases printing stuff from Thingiverse is just fine however in some cases you want to make a custom design. The software I used for that is Fusion 360 made by Autodesk. It looks a bit similair to Sketchup but it is a tool with a lot of custom functionality. It is also free for home use. Below is a screenshot of the design a made.

A simple first design

This design is very simple but a good way to get your head around using the software. It can be quite complex but there are a lot of YouTube tutorials that can help.

Printing my custom design

After slicing the design I loaded it into the printer and letting it run.

When my print was done I did a test fit. As you can see it fits, however it could look better.

I wasn’t that happy with it so i just created square at the same size as the outside dimensions and glued that to it. Then it was done!

Lessons learned

1. 3D printing is usually shown as hit a button and then walk away
This was not the case for me, I got a jammed hot end a couple of times and had some problems with the filament throughput into the printer. At some point the rollers couldn’t pull the ABS from the spool anymore. By unwinding it manually it worked fine. Maybe I need to make a better support for the filament

2. Old filament
PLA filament is sensitive to moisture. Because I don’t print a lot i left the filament in the printer. This caused a couple of jams in the printer. If the filament breaks when bending it is probably too old. Just cut of some of it and try again.

3. Jammed extruder

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