Over the past few years 3D printing has fascinated me, and I have thought it would be fun, but looking at the cost of entry into the hobby, I watched from afar. It seemed like something that was not approachable, and something that I would not be able to feasibly afford or actually do.
Recently however, following maker sites like Adam Savage’s Tested, and others on YouTube, I started looking things up and realized that it was at a price where it may be something I could afford at this point. That being said, I did not want to jump in too deep on something I knew nothing about, and could potentially drop do to any sort of reason, so I set a max budget on the entry, 300$ and began saving. While I was saving I started researching entry level machines and what the pros and cons of each would be, and finally came down to two different machines, the FlashForge Finder, and the Creality Ender 3. One was right at the top of the budget, the FlashForge, and the other was well under, the Creality.
There were pros and cons to each machine, and for me, I liked the immediate ready to roll ability of the FlashForge, but I liked the modularity, size, and flexibility of the Creality. Going into the purchase I was heavily leaning towards pulling the trigger on the Finder, It was in my cart – one click from submitting the order – but with the larger build surface, the hands on build, and a gut feeling, I went with the Creality Ender 3.
Two days later the box arrived, and I sat down at a table, and an hour later, it was built.
Then the hard part started.
The day I ordered the printer my friend came buy and gave me some PLA I could use to get started when the printer arrived, and I put a glorious purple reel on the machine and began a print. It was a miserable failure. But It was ok with that as I have never done this before. The closest to 3D printing I have ever been was briefly holding a print a former coworker had made and brought in to work.
I took a step back. Went up for the night and watched some YouTube videos to gain any insight from people more familiar. I re-leveled the bed, checked my settings, and began a less complex print. On this one I added a raft to the code to assist in bed adhesion, and tried again. This time, not a complete success, but to me, it was a success. I printed a fan shroud for the PCB housing per suggestions I had seen across many forums. There were definite issues in the print, and the raft did not come apart very easily, but I was happy. I was making progress.
After that print, I tried another one. This time it was another Pokémon figure, but I didnt add supports. It failed. I remade the code, added supports, and in my mind, it was not terrible. I am not satisfied, but it was a step in the right direction.
At this point, I am still trying to figure out what the deal is with the supports. They are very heavy and did not easily come off. I used the checkbox in Cura, but it did not provide any configuration on the thickness, etc. If anyone has input, let me know.
Since the initial prints described above I have added a glass bed to the equation and again, re-leveled everything in an effort to improve leveling and bed adhesion. It has definitely helped.
I have printed a few other items and began testing Nozzle temperatures as can be seen in the picture below, and trying to dial settings in on a new role of PLA. I tested the temperatures on the Pikachu figures in the image. One was too high of a temperature, and the clumpy one was too low it looks like.
In an effort to try and be able to better monitor what is happening with the prints and understand what is happening, someone on the Creality Official Facebook group recommended Octoprint on a Raspberry Pi, and that was a project I started last night.
I am definitely looking forward to continuing to experiment and continuing to learn.
Please let me know if you have any experience, wisdom, or suggestions as I am brand new to this and welcome any constructive feedback!