Updated: October 5th, 2017
I have a 3D printer, a Monoprice Maker Select v2.1. I have had this thing for a few months now and feel like I have gotten a pretty good hang of it. I can get some pretty nice looking prints out of this thing. So here are my rambling thoughts on 3D printers so far:
Get something entry level your first time around. Don’t go spending thousands of dollars on it, you won’t know what you are doing. You wont know the basics. I nabbed a Monoprice (Wanhao/Cocoon Create clone) Maker Select v2.1. It’s a great entry level printer and for a great price. Once you’ve got it all setup and tweaked it will produce great prints. But it did print pretty decent right out of the box. If I had to choose again I would have gotten the Creality CR-10, but purely for its build size. I have found that I would very much like to produce larger objects. Bigger than the build plate of the Maker Select can handle. The MS is 8″ x 8″ x 7″. The CR-10 is 12″ x 12″ x 15″!! But I have no regrets on getting the Maker Select.
Being that it is an entry level printer and a cheap one from China, it needs some help in the safety “I won’t burn your house down” department. Remember those stupid “hover” boards and the fires? Yeah. So buy a $10 MOSFET to offload the heatbed amperage from the printer board to the more powerful MOSFET. The traces on the printer board cannot handle the amps the bed requires and will eventually burn out. Some people have tried just swapping the plugs for a higher rated plug but thats just bypassing the issue, not fixing it. Don’t do the XT plug mod, it won’t solve the problem.
- Wire up the and install the MOSFET immediately, there are tons of tutorials and YouTube videos for it, its pretty simple. Order the MOSFET and printer at the same time.
- Level that bed, then level that bed. Then level the bed. Then level the bed. Seriously. This is THE most important step out of everything minus the MOSFET. If you are not level you WILL have issues of some kind.
Level the bed again! This WILL be the hardest thing you have to do. There are many methods to do this, find one that works for you. For me I use a single piece of paper. With a cold bed and a cold nozzle I will slide the paper between the nozzle and bed and loosen the bed screws until its a snug fit but still moves. Then when I heat up and print (I use a 0.2mm first layer) everything is rockin.
- Make sure you’ve squared your printer. It did NOT come that way. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XaroNfMVE4M
- Make sure all the scews are tight
- Print some Z-axis levelers, and make sure they are level to the bed.
- I would order at least (2) 5150 radial fans to replace the 40mm stock fans. They suck and are loud, prone to failure. Or upgrade to noctua ($$) fans as people suggest.
- A lot of people replace the electronics box fan with a 120mm for air flow and noise.
- Print some Z braces. AzzA’s Z-brace is pretty nice, thats what I went with. But now there are rear Z-brace kits. I’d rock one of those if I had to do it again. Check out “Z-brace yourself” on Thingiverse.
- Get a glass bed. This is next on my list of upgrades as well as… I want those glass smooth first layer surfaces.
- Ditch the thumbwheels on the build plate and print some new ones, use M3 nylon nuts. The stock ones vibrate lose over time and don’t hold.
- Print a razor blade part scraper (and this), the default putty knife can damage the buildtak surface.
- Print the cable chain relocation bracket and cable shroud for the extruder head.
- Upgrade and install the MicroSwiss all metal hotend. No more PTFE tubes and I hear it prints so much better. This is next on my list of things to-do.
- Get a few rolls of filament in different colors. Stock up. Its nice to have that perfect color needed for something whenever it pops up. Or when you feel like a certain color. Its nice. I use Inland and Hatchbox.
- Get some good superglue for glueing prints together. I use Gorilla Glue Super Glue 10 second bond. Good stuff.
- Get a Raspberry Pi 3 and run OctoPrint (OctoPi) on it for ease of use. No fucking with an SD card, and you get to monitor and control the printer from a browser or cellphone/tablet (TouchUI).
- Get a camera for the RPi to take timelapses or see progress. I use a raspberry pi camera and this mount.
- Use an app. I use Printoid (for Android) to monitor and control the printer from my phone and tablet. It is much better and way more responsive than using the TouchUI.
- Have a ton of things lined up that you want to print, and they better not be fucking fidget spinners! You are gonna have the urge to keep that machine printing 24/7.
- Build an enclosure for it. It prints so much better when enclosed. No air drafts from doors or vents to fudge up your print. Having it enclosed also greatly reduces the amount of dust that will build up on the printer.
- Have some shit on hand for maintenance. Oil and lubes, heh. Got to lube them rods! I use oil on the rods and lithium grease on the screw rods (z axis).
- Print belt tensioners. Ditch the springs and tension the belts. They are probably too loose already, think guitar string. Some people just use zip ties like stock, I like the tensioners.
- Lower your jerk and acceleration settings, as well as your speed. Jerk and acceleration settings you can play with. Most people seem to cut them in half of the default. Setting accel to 800 and jerk to 8 or lower. Speed, I did drop to 40mm/s. I print slow. I find anything over 50mm/s causes visible problems in your prints. My first layer speed I always run 8-15mm/s. Depending on how intricate the design is. This speed gets me screw hole circles perfectly. Over 15mm/s and the filament doesn’t stick for small circles and such, maybe better luck with glass?
- Print a bed cable relief.
- Print some brackets to hold the printer in one spot.
- Print a filament runout sensor.
- I print PLA with a heated bed. Nozzle at 200-215C and the bed at 60-70C. I print directly on the Buildtak (black mat surface) and have zero adhesion issues (most of the time). I don’t use glue or hairspray or anything of the sort. Too fucking messy, and I find it unneeded. YMMV. But I do have issues here and there with edges curling on large prints.
- Get some lighting for your printer. You are going to want some LED lights in your enclosure, or at least on the printer pointing at your print. Because I guarantee you are going to sit there and watch it print. Plus you need the light for the camera (either just to watch or for time lapses).
- Print test cubes and heat temperature towers for every new roll of filament that you get. Every roll is different. I guess you should also measure the filament with some calipers to make sure its 1.75mm (adjust in your slicer if not).
- Get yourself some good fucking calipers!! You WILL need these. To check measurements on test cubes and such to make sure your printer is calibrated correctly. And to help you out when designing and making your own prints (the fun stuff!!).
- Hot glue doesn’t stick well to printed parts, it does and doesn’t.
I’m sure there is more but thats what I have noticed so far.