Getting Started with the Printrbot Simple
I recently got a 3D printer and boy are my arms tired!
A bit tongue-in-cheek, but yes 3D printers can be a pain to set up. While I love the concept of 3D printing, the industry is currently in the pre-Model-T phase. There are hundreds of models, mostly incompatible, and they require a lot of futzing and tweaking to get them working properly.
The good news is that 3D printers are getting better very quickly. In the two years I've followed the technology prices have dropped in half and quality has doubled. Exciting stuff, but until a month ago I hadn't actually jumped into the 3D printing market myself. That all changed when I saw the Printrbot Simple.
Printrbot Simple, $300 kit
The Simple is a $300from Printrbot. While most of their printers now come pre-assembled, the Simple is still available as a kit, and for an amazing price. I knew going in that it would likely have limitations, but I can honestly say it was more than worth the price. The prints aren't perfect, but they are pretty good. It's been a great introduction to 3D printing and I expect to make lots of things over the coming months.
Calibration object at 3mm, gray PLA, Printrbot Simple
The Simple is cheap through clever engineering and the fact that you have to assemble it yourself. For an extra $100 they will pre-assemble and calibrate it for you, but if you are serious about 3D printing I think you should build it yourself. It was an amazing learning exercise and gave me a crash course in mechanical engineering.
All that said, I ran into some hiccups during the initial assembly and calibration. I only got decent prints after a few days of futzing. I expect lots of people will be opening Printrbot Simple kits Christmas morning, so I thought I'd spare those happy new Simple owners (perhaps you are one of them) my headaches by writing a new getting started guide. Behold!
This guide started out as my notes while building the kit, but after photos and forum feedback turned into an epic four thousand word epic tutorial. Did I mention it was epic? I didn't plan to write that much; it just kept going. And you, gentle reader, are the benefactor.
I've tried to not just cover initial setup, but also teach basic 3D printing terminology. When you start getting into 3D printing as a hobby you will immediately come up against terms like E value, PLA, and hot end. Needless to say these can be confusing to the new enthusiast. I've also included a trouble shooting section to cover the most likely print failures you will face. With pictures. Lots and lots of pictures. Oh, and the source for the whole thing is on github.
Dubai and Dubluck