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splitbrain.org - electronic brain surgery since 2001

My 3D Printer sucks

People sometimes ask me about the state of my 3D printer. It's complicated. I love having one. I love when I have the final thing in my hands. But I really hate getting there.

3D printing is hard.

First of all you need to design your piece. I usually end up using TinkerCad or OpenSCAD for that. But getting something right the first time is rare. Usually you design something, then print it, then make adjustments, then print again, make some more adjustments and maybe finally do the final, correct print. You can easily spend a whole day on a simple, small piece.

Before you can actually print something you need to create a G-Code file containing the actual print instructions. There are a million things to tune. And each filament is different. So changing filaments means retuning. You also often want different setting for different pieces. Retuning again.

Then there's the printing it self. My 3D printer was cheap. I assembled it myself. The firmware on it is ancient. My heated bed is broken. I never found a really good cover for the bed to make objects stick (for some reason Berlin hardware stores do not have blue tape). All this makes it hard to print something from the beginning.

print in progress, failed stuff in front So I often have problems with warping. Things not sticking to the bed. The printer aborting a print due to unknown reasons. And the quality isn't that great either.

Finally there's the speed. 3D printing is slow. Even small things takes at least an hour to finish. With all the aborts and retries it eats a lot of time.

Overall the experience isn't great. Which means I rarely use my printer. Not using (and maintaining) the printer of course makes it harder to use it when I do. A negative feedback loop.

So sometimes I think about buying a new printer. A better one. A more expensive one. But then I think I'm not using my current one often enough. Or would I use it more if it worked better? Would finding out be worth spending a 1000 bucks? OTOH my current one still kinda works. *sigh*

From time to time I dream about a Formlabs printer which uses a completely different technology. In my mind it should be easier to use one of those. But that might be wrong. Also spending 2400€ for their smallest model would be insane.

So here I am. Waiting for my printer to finish that piece I need. Hoping the print will succeed despite one end having lost contact with the bed already…

Tags:
3dprinter, rant
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Posted on Monday, November the 21st 2016 (13 months ago).

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