3D printing impressions

I participated to building and tuning a 3D printer last week. It was one of those extruder printers meant for printing with PLA and ABS filaments. By what I have experienced, it's hard to imagine this would have any chance to end up into average homes any time soon.

Extrusive printing is a manufacturing method that requires some knowledge from the operator as there are lot of things to keep eye on and that are challenging to measure for control. You may run plastic in wrong temperature, or try to print a shape that has not enough surface area to stand on the platter when you print more. Your platter may be unlever or not hot enough for things to attach. Filament may be wrong thickness. You may miss out supports and end up with the sludge filling up your print-head.

The printer we got didn't print properly at first. It should have produced well-fused PLA plastic parts. We got a wrong kind of print-head, and that print-head required far much more force to run than what our extruder could feed to it. After a fix it worked out and produced the kind of quality we saw from the vendor. Though it seem to require more heat than anticipated. The printer probably doesn't get correct heat readings.

It is nice that our vendor is locationed on the other side of the same town I live in. One 15-min car trip with the printer and they provided a new print-head and new thermistor in case the one attached on is malfunctioning. The vendor would have done it, but it'd have taken a whole day and I wanted the thing back to tinkering with this soon as possible.

The printer's from prenta. It's got 250mm printing area to every direction, though it's got no offset so printing clips got to reserve few millimeters from the base. The build-set comes with some-non-fabrificated and non-critical parts you can model and print yourself to start off. Overall I enjoy how everything's a standard component and the remaining ones can be printed out with the printer.

I haven't got anything to show yet, but waiting for an opportunity to do so. Printing a part takes several hours every time. With some clever design you can reduce the time, but essentially it takes some time. I'll let the novelty and printer backlog shorten a bit before I put in my stuff.

Even if it takes hours to print stuff, it's weird to see the part grow on the platter. I haven't gotten used to things that create value when I'm not watching them.