3D printing. First experience? Almost…

Over twenty years ago I had my first experience with CNC and g-code. I wrote a program for a steel company to merge simple 2D g-code files, used to control plasma cutters, to optimize usage of steel plate with minimum waste. I have watched for the last few years as 3D printing finally became available to the masses. When the prices hit my target price range, I started researching in earnest for my new printer. I finally decided to get a TwoUp from the MicroCenter by my office when I discovered their prices were as good as on Amazon.  So, I happily picked up my heavy yet surprisingly small cardboard box of parts and headed home for an afternoon of assembly and 3D printing.

My afternoon and 3D printing!

After I arrived home, and to my wife’s obligatory protests, I cleared the dining room table and opened the kit. My first surprise was that all the parts are laser cut wood with a melamine coating; during all my research, either I just didn’t realize, or it never occurred to anyone that I was reading to mention, this little factoid. Also, I never read instructions, I can typically take apart and put anything electrical back together. Heck, I can build IKEA just by looking at the stack of parts and finding the right tool. This box of parts had me stumped. I navigated to the Q3D website, checked the bill of materials (not bad, it was only missing one M3-16 screw), and read through the assembly instructions.  I then completed the extruder assembly and the X-Gantry, and took a break for dinner.  So much for my afternoon of assembly and 3D printing.

My evening and 3D printing.

After dinner I started where I left off and tried to connect the extruder assembly to the X-Gantry.  This was when I got my second surprise; the assembly instructions show a white melamine coating on both sides of all the wooden parts and sometimes show the parts right side up and sometimes upside down.  I realize the orientation choice was intended to simplify assembly, and the coating was probably changed to save them money, but it is confusing as it is possible to insert the right tabs in the right slots on the wrong side of a part and still put things together, albeit left-handed and (in one case) upside down. When I noticed that the extruder assembly only seemed to connect to the X-Gantry pointing up instead of down I reassembled it and continued. I then proceeded to build the base of the printer, and then reassemble it to get the mount point for the lead screw on the correct end. Just a helpful hint; if your parts have the melamine on only one side, the melamine should always be on the outer surface of the printer assembly, even when it is on the underside and not visible during normal use.

My Bedtime and 3D printing?

I completed the assembly after about 5 hours (including a dinner break with my wife).  The printer looks good sitting on the back corner of my desk behind my computer monitor. After installing the Repetier-Host software, I tried to home the extruder.  I adjusted the y-index, no problem.  Then I tried to adjust the x-index and the head went zip, 50mm to the right, and would not return.  I investigated and realized my problem, during assembly I did not have any super glue, so had used gorilla glue instead. Even with a couple of hours to cure, the gorilla glue was unable to keep the wooden extruder assembly connected to the rubber timing belt on the X-Gantry.

Time for bed….

One thought on “3D printing. First experience? Almost…”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *