Author Topic: Cheap 3d printer review  (Read 1546 times)

Offline pgp001

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Re: Cheap 3d printer review
« Reply #15 on: January 02, 2021, 02:22:04 PM »
Hi
Thanks for that explanation, I just watched the video you mentioned and it all makes sense.

I have just been looking at the specs for a Geeetech A10, and it looks almost the same as an Ender 3, there seems to be a price and availability advantage with those as well.

Does anyone have any first hand experience or advice on the Geeetech before I decide on what to buy. I am still leaning towards the Ender 3 V2, but there might be a wait to get one at the right price.

Phil

Offline Allen Smithee

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Re: Cheap 3d printer review
« Reply #16 on: January 02, 2021, 06:54:48 PM »
Not sure about the price advantage - There's a vendor on Banggood.UK who currently offers the Ender 3Pro for around 150 with free shipping (shipped from within the UK - takes about a week). The 3Pro has the stiffer bed mountings, and it also has the magnetic building mat like my little EasyThreed - this is very good for printing materials that need bed temperatures below around 80degC, but if you want to do any of the stringer materials that need a hotter bed you'll need to swap it for the non-magnetic bed of the base model Ender 3 (costs around 15).

I've just ordered one of these Ender 3 Pros, because I've realised that one of the jobs I want 3d printing for* would need the parts chopping into far too many pieces to print on the smaller machine. Once it's here and running I guess I'll have to decide whether I should hang on to the little one as a spare or sell it on.

AS

* I do electric ducted-fan RC models, and forming intake/exhaust ducts in balsa or 1/64" ply is a pain. I've been doing sone trials and it's actually very easy to take accurate measurements and then produce lofted models in SolidWorks that I can output in STL format for printing. Even the little EasyThreed machine seems quite happy printing complex duct sections with a 0.8mm wall thickness, but only in sections that would fit into a 4" cube in each print
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Offline pgp001

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Re: Cheap 3d printer review
« Reply #17 on: January 02, 2021, 11:33:52 PM »
Hi Alan

I am still thinking I will push the boat out and get the Ender 3 V2.

There seems to be less vendors available for those though, I can get one from Technology Outlet for 239 post free but they are not available till 25th January, so they must be in a shipping container somewhere on the high seas I reckon. Bangood also sell it for a similar price, but again not available till the end of the month, so its probably on the same ship. Sellers on ebay are wanting 300 plus.

I have just been playing around with the Cura software, and it seems that I will also need a smaller 0.2mm nozzle for it to be able to do the tiny lettering on the hub rings I want to make for the Marshall Portable engine wheels. With the 0.4 nozzle selected it just ignores the lettering altogether.

I keep thinking of all sorts of things I can make with it, so it should be good fun and very useful.

Phil

Offline Jo

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Re: Cheap 3d printer review
« Reply #18 on: January 03, 2021, 08:22:19 AM »
I keep thinking of all sorts of things I can make with it, so it should be good fun and very useful.

I brought my "Cheap as Chips" printer early last year and used it to teach myself about 3D printers. After the initial flurry it hardly has been used. The current plan is it will be used to make jigs if required but it has not been required (so far).

My friend's 30 year old son, after the initial flurry of printing space monsters/dragons  ::) etc, doesn't seem to use his either.

Jo
Enjoyment is more important than achievement.

Offline Jasonb

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Re: Cheap 3d printer review
« Reply #19 on: January 03, 2021, 10:08:53 AM »
Phil, how big is the lettering on your hubs, might be possible to CNC it.

At least going down the CNC route I get plenty of use out of that. If I did have a 3D printer I think it's main use would have been the odd pattern but as I can make wood or plastic patterns on the CNC I can't see me buying a printer any time soon.

Offline Jo

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Re: Cheap 3d printer review
« Reply #20 on: January 03, 2021, 11:21:38 AM »
At least going down the CNC route I get plenty of use out of that.

CNCs are rather more expensive than a 3D printer  ::)

Jo
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Offline Vixen

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Re: Cheap 3d printer review
« Reply #21 on: January 03, 2021, 12:10:55 PM »
I keep thinking of all sorts of things I can make with it, so it should be good fun and very useful.

I brought my "Cheap as Chips" printer early last year and used it to teach myself about 3D printers. After the initial flurry it hardly has been used. The current plan is it will be used to make jigs if required but it has not been required (so far).

My friend's 30 year old son, after the initial flurry of printing space monsters/dragons  ::) etc, doesn't seem to use his either.

Jo

It was the same for me. I bought my 'Cheap as Chips' printer early last year, about the same time as Jo. I used it more or less continuously during the first months of this pandemic, to print face visor frames and other bits of PPE for our hard pressed health service (NHS) workers. Since then, the NHS supply problem had been sorted and my  'Cheap as Chips' printer is now gathering dust on the top shelf. I rarely find a use for it. If anyone wants a bargain, they can come and take it away for free. Oh! while you are here you can also take away the 3D bust of Yoda and the other things I downloaded and printed from Thingyverse

I have decided , if I ever need a high quality printed 3D object, I will go to a professional print house like Sculpteo or Shapeways. They can produce a super high quality print in a vast range of plastic materials. They also offer Laser sintered metal prints, for a much higher price.

Others, will no doubt get different milage

Stay in, stay safe

Mike
« Last Edit: January 03, 2021, 12:28:12 PM by Vixen »
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Offline Jasonb

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Re: Cheap 3d printer review
« Reply #22 on: January 03, 2021, 01:11:35 PM »
At least going down the CNC route I get plenty of use out of that.

CNCs are rather more expensive than a 3D printer  ::)

Jo

Probably cheaper than one that prints metal, my CNC produces metal parts too. Though the small 3040 CNC routers are not too pricy and would be more than capable of making patterns and the odd small non ferrous part.

Also CNCs are not expensive if you are given them :LittleDevil:

Offline Allen Smithee

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Re: Cheap 3d printer review
« Reply #23 on: January 10, 2021, 01:28:49 AM »
So, time for an update...

The machine worked well enough, and I was getting to grips with its foibles. But three days after I wrote the above the extruder nozzle started clogging. In every print the extruder would stop extruding after the first 10-15 layers. I tried different nozzle-bed clearances, different nozzle temperatures, different layer thicknesses and retraction settings but it made no difference. I would clear the nozzle by withdrawing and then hot-feeding the filament until it gave a full normal extrusion, but it just clog again. So I had a bit of an exchange with Hobbyking customer service, and they agreed to take it back for credit. I was happy to take store credit rather than a refund because I'll generally spend the ~80 with HK within a month or six.

So that machine wasn't as usable as I initially thought, but after using one I had decided I definitely wanted to have a 3d printing capability, so I looked around. The general view seemed to be that for most aeromodelling uses the Creality Ender-3 (as also mentioned by Cornixt) was the popular choice. It's bigger than the EasyThreeD one, with a  printing area of 220x220mm and up to 250mm high, it has a heated bed and is generally a more sophisticated machine. They've been around for a while and are available in a range of versions from the original to the latest "V2". The list price of the latest model is around 300, while the original model is still available in some places for as little as 130. Hobbyking offer the original model for around 140 but only from the main warehouse, which accrues up to well over 200 with shipping, and you'd undoubtedly pay VAT & duty on that at the moment. But I looked around and found one of the Banggood UK shops which was offering the updated "Ender 3-Pro" discounted to about 150 with free shipping, shipped from the UK (so no VAT paid and no duty) - a lot cheaper than the V2 without losing too much in functionality, so I bought one. It arrived in about a week. So now I'll review the Ender!

This is a much bigger, more complex and more capable machine than the EasyThreeD. and it also needs quite a lot more assembly. Assembly takes about 40 minutes, and all the required tools are in the box - a set of rather nice long-series ball-ended allen keys, a screwdriver, some spanners and a pair of side-cutters which are actually for cutting the filament rather than for assembly. Oh yes, and there's a scraper for cleaning stuck plastic off the print surface. The assembly sequence is straightforward, guided by 16 colour drawings (rather than written steps) in the instructions. The whole process is made simpler by the way that all the screws are separately bagged and labelled to make it clear which ones are used where. Th3y provide spares of some of the screws, plus a spare extruder nozzle and a spare PTFE clamp fitting for the filament bowden tube. There was one sequence error, but it's immediately obvious when you get to it and it only requires removing two screws and then replacing them again.

In the box there is a microSD card with a USB adaptor, and that contains a video of the assembly (ignore it - it has some serious errors in it), a PDF start-up and operation manual, the Cruzer slicing software* and a number of sample things you can print. As with the EasyThreeD the easiest way to use this machine is to put your print files (g-code) on the microSD card and then plug that card into the machine. But it's different in that the Ender has a control panel with a display, so you can read the card and choose which file to print. But I'm getting ahead of myself. The finished machine looks like this:



On of the features of the "pro" model is the magnetic printing mat (like the EasyThreeD one but bigger and with much firmer magnets) which is nice, but you must keep the bed temperature below 80degC when using it or the magnets are destroyed - so if you want to print ABS or Nylon you have to swap the bed for a glass one (available as an extra). Before starting you have to level the bed, which is done by setting the head to "home" and then switching the stepper motors off on the control panel. You then move the bed around the extremes and wind the levelling screws (which have very nice big wheels on the heads). Once the bed is level you introduce the filament to the feed motor - I found it initially a bit fiddley to get the fibre through to the exit hole, but you just find the knack. You then push it through until it has passed down the tube to the extruder and you're all set.

Everything is now done on the control panel. It has a single knob that you press to get a menu, rotate to move between menu items and then press again to select things like any other "jog wheel" interface. From this panel you can select things to print, start/pause/abort prints, preheat the nozzle and bed, feed/remove filament etc. You can also override the programmed settings for temperatures (in mid-print if you wish), fan speeds and a few other things. And when it's printing you get this "status" display:




On there you see various useful info like the temperatures and fan speeds, the duration so far of the current print and the approximate %age completion. So in that picture you see the job had been running for nearly 17 hours and was 62% complete - it was a big one! This is what it was printing (it's the housing for a double tool drawer that clips under the front next to the control panel):



I've printed quite a lot of things with the Ender, and it's an order of magnitude better in print quality, but then it's more than double the price. But it has impressed me so far.

AS

* I initially tried it, but quickly reverted to my preferred Prusaslicer software which gives me much better control over the machine parameters - this is a matter of personal choice
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Offline gunna

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Re: Cheap 3d printer review
« Reply #24 on: January 10, 2021, 05:23:10 AM »
I can only agree with your sentiments about the Ender 3, AS. I have had one since last February and have found it to be a wonderful machine for the price. Amongst other things, I have made a 1:25 scale model of an engine in our museum with all the parts except piping, decking, etc being printed. Even most of the visible nuts and bolts are actually printed as part of the structure they relate to.
Ian.

Offline pgp001

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Re: Cheap 3d printer review
« Reply #25 on: January 10, 2021, 12:33:08 PM »

* I initially tried it, but quickly reverted to my preferred Prusaslicer software which gives me much better control over the machine parameters - this is a matter of personal choice


Alan

Re the Prusaslicer software, is that a free download or did you have to purchase it ?

I have just pulled the trigger and ordered the Ender 3 V2, which is due for delivery around 25th Jan, so I am getting everything I need ready for then.
What filament are you using by the way ?, there seems to be a lot of choice and price ranges out there and I have no idea where to start looking really.

How much do you think that the ambient temperature will affect printing, mine will have to live outside in either the workshop which is only at around 12 to 15 C when I am in there but is regularly down to only 6 or 7 C overnight. or in the garage which is only and odd degree above outside temp most of the time. I am thinking I will need to organise some airtight storage for the reels of filament to stop them absorbing moisture.

Thanks
Phil

Offline Allen Smithee

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Re: Cheap 3d printer review
« Reply #26 on: January 10, 2021, 04:36:44 PM »
Re the Prusaslicer software, is that a free download or did you have to purchase it ?

It's a free download. I also found (somewhere) a Prusa profile for the Ender 3 family of printers which saved me some setting-up effort - if you get one ping me an email address and I'll send it to you. I've tweaked that profile by setting it to heat the bed and the extruder nozzle concurrently at the start of the print. The standard  settings heat the bed and then the extruder which takes much longer. I felt that the PSU must be rated to do both at once, and it hasn't complained.

For completeness - other than Cruzer and PrusaSlicer other slicer programs you might also like include Meshmixer and Netfabb (both either free or with free versions). I like PrusaSlicer because it has a very logical layout to the various settings for the chosen printer, the current print and the chosen filament, but I know other people who find Cruser easier to use. Each to their own!

Quote
What filament are you using by the way ?, there seems to be a lot of choice and price ranges out there and I have no idea where to start looking really.

I've used PLA filament from Hobbyking - it's "Matt Silver Premium" rather than the "X3" range, and I have used orange PLA+ from 3d Printz Ltd (in Telford). Both print nicely, and the PLA+ is significantly stronger. I've ordered a reel of black PLA from 3d Printz which should arrive on monday because I want to make some add-on parts for the machine and they'd be much nicer in black. There are lots of filament suppliers and I've barely scratched the surface, so I'd suggest just going by the reviews and try them. PLA and PLA+ are very easy (unfussy) to print with, but when I have more confidence with the machine I intend to try the more demanding materials (ABS, Nylon etc) and also the printable elastomers (TPU etc). In fact I van even think of uses for printable PVA when I get a round tuit.

Note that filament should arrive vacuum packed with a sachet of silica gel to keep it dry between manufacture and use.

Quote
How much do you think that the ambient temperature will affect printing, mine will have to live outside in either the workshop which is only at around 12 to 15 C when I am in there but is regularly down to only 6 or 7 C overnight. or in the garage which is only and odd degree above outside temp most of the time. I am thinking I will need to organise some airtight storage for the reels of filament to stop them absorbing moisture.

As you say, the main thing about filament is too keep it cool, dry and free from UV light, so if you're storing it outside you might get one of those plastic boxes with a clip on lid and some re-bakable desiccator packs (we had some from when we had a caravan) and store filament in there. In other words the damp might be more of an issue than the cold. I keep mine in just such a box even though it's indoors. If it's possible you might perhaps try to store your filament somewhere indoors, but I doubt it's a major issue provided you can keep it dry. I don't think there should be any problem about printing outdoors in the cold - the print bed is heated, and the filament gets heated through the extruder, and most of the issues people discuss are how to ensure the freshly-extruded layer cools quickly enough to prevent distortion or warping. Indeed the part-cooling fan in the print head is there solely to do this. The only problem I can think of might be condensation on the plate before the start of the print - especially on the V2's glass bed which heats more slowly. But you could mitigate this by using the "pre-heat bed" option on the control panel, or perhaps add a standard bit of g-code that heats the bed for (say) 3 minutes before each print.

One thing that might be an issue - it's generally a good idea to keep an eye on the print in-progress. Certainly watch it for the first layer or so to make sure it has stuck to the bed, and then maybe check on it every hour to make sure the filament hasn't clogged or (as happened to me once) the part hasn't unstuck from the bed and moved out of the way so that the extruder is just squirting spaghetti into space!

But I'll try to keep this thread updated with how I'm getting on with mine - perhaps you could do the same with yours when you get it so we can "share best practice" and "capture lessons learned " as all the best management consultants say...

 :LittleDevil:

AS
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Offline pgp001

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Re: Cheap 3d printer review
« Reply #27 on: January 10, 2021, 05:36:11 PM »
Alan

Thanks for the very comprehensive reply, I can't wait for mine to arrive now  :ThumbsUp:

Phil