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My new Micro3D Printer

Tom Simon

Moderator
Many months ago, I supported a Kickstarter for an affordable 3D printer called Micro3D. I already own a CNC milling machine but had never used a 3D printer before. The ~$300 price tag made getting one a simple choice. But I took on the risks of supporting a kickstarter - there is no guarantee you will receive the item. I reasoned that this would be a good machine to learn on before I spend big bucks on a larger more expensive machine. By the way it is tiny - really. But has a pretty big print area - roughly 5 by 5 to give you some perspective.



The creators had an idea and had to build a company to deliver thousands (yes!) of printers sold in what was then the largest 3D printer Kickstarter ever. It used novel new technology to reduce the rigidity requirements and complexity of the drive hardware. The jury is still out on long term reliability.

I received my printer on Friday, and after a few learning curve issues on my side I am now happily printing away. I have downloaded a number of things from Thingiverse, including an external filament spool holder. So far I am pretty happy with it. Of course it was supposed to be here in February, but this is par for the course with Kickstarter projects.

I'll post more on this as I use it more and learn the ins and outs.
 

Tom Simon

Moderator
Just a progress note. The printer works pretty well once you use PLA. I knew nothing about so-called 3D printer inks. But the printer came with a roll of HIPS. This stands for high impact polystyrene. This particular one is an ABS blend. However it did not work well. Once I switched to PLA it worked great.

The first thing I did was download some stl files from www.thingiverse.com. They have a seemingly infinite number of pre-designed things you can download and print for free. I printed a filament holder that goes on the side of my printer.

Since then I have been sinking all kinds of time into learning how to create 3D models. I have started using Sketchup. It has a steep learning curve, but is very powerful.

View attachment 14386

Since then I have learned about rafts and supports and calibration. I will comment more on these topics soon.
 

Tom Simon

Moderator
Some follow up on my experiences. When the Micro3D printer first arrived I had good experiences making prints. But over the Summer as the temps rose, I started to see issues with the print quality, until it would finally stop printing mid-print. After some digging and help from Micro3D support, it became clear that the printer had a problem with over heating in the 'cold end' of the extruder where there is a gear that moved the filament. Heat from the tip would move up the tube and the filament would get too hot for the gear to grip it.

I designed a fix for this and posted it on Thingiverse.

In frustration I bought another, more expensive, printer - FlashForge Creator Pro. it ran about $1200, a lot more than the Micro3D, but also a seriously better printer. It is based on the open source Replicator design. First off it is much faster, and this turns out to be a big benefit. It also can print objects that have a much better finish quality, and it has a larger print area. I did have to learn the software flow for using it. The Micro3D has it's own easy-to-use app, but, the added flexibility I found in the 3'rd party slicer/CAM software is really useful for optimizing support material and rafts, etc.

I now only use the FlashForge. The Micro3D was good learning tool, but my suggestion is to spend more and get a real solid printer if you want to tinker in this space. Of course you can spend thousands on a printer, but once you get over $1,000 I think there are a lot of good offerings. I'd highly recommend the FlashForge. I bought it on Amazon and sometimes they have special where you can get it for even less than I paid.

For the software I am using Simplify3D, also highly recommended.

Of course as someone pointed out, a 3D printer is not an appliance, it's a hobby.
 
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