Archive | April, 2019

Printrbot Jr Heated bed upgrade

12 Mar13

Printrbot Jr Heated bed upgrade

I was so happy when my Printrbot Jr heated bed kit arrived, but it works far from optimal. I didn't expect to be able to print any bigger with this upgrade, only to enable ABS printing and maybe sticking the first layer down a little easier. Instead, I actually got less space to print on despite the huge 6x6 heated bed PCB.

The problem is where the heated bed is positioned. Here's a video highlighting the problems with this $65 kit.

It's not set to be centred on the 6x6, but rather towards the far Y-edge of the platform. The result of these misplaced holes is that I'm actually loosing 1,5 centimetres print area along the Y-axis since the print head may hit the bolts holding the PCB heater.

Another couple things that make me suspect the kit have been made in a hurry, is the metric machine screws that should hold the PCB in place. These are too short to reach through both the PCB and the plywood. The instructions are also unclear about the need for an extra PSU. It says that you should not use the "laptop power supply" that came with the printer. Mine didn't come with a "laptop" PSU but rather a huge 300W ATX supply. I assume this is good enough to drive both the printer and the bed.


I also bought a nicely cut 6x6 sheet of Kapton tape. I love the quality of it (feels thick and solid) but I can't get over the fact that you can buy a 100 feet roll of 6" kapton on Ebay for less than the price of a single sheet from Printrbot. Given that you have to manually cut off those nicely rounded corners to make the sheet fit between the bolts that hold the PCB, it's even less of a value. If there was holes cut for these, I could see the value but I think I'll just pick up some 6" kapton and place it next to the 20" kapton I use for the Ultimaker.

The above probably makes you think that I'm not too happy with my purchase, but that's not the case. For it's price, the Printrbot is a really good kit and I dig hacking my printer to make it better. The fan-holder I added helps immensely on the quality of PLA prints. My next upgrades will be some belt tighteners and a better suited industrial PSU that I can fit beneath the printer.

I really feel that all the Printrbot's I've seen have some unpolished edges that could be smoothed quickly. If Printrbot / Brook want's to stay in the 3DP business for a long time, he should look to companies like Ultimaker, RepRap Pro and Makergear. They don't churn out lots of new products, but rather listen to the customers about what must be fixed for the existing kits to be really good. Printrbot is on the right track by adding necessities like fan holders, belt tighteners and this HBP kit.

I think it is now time to polish the three kits (LC, Jr & Plus) to perfection. There's no better advertising then happy customers that has a printer that "just works".




3D Printer meetup #3

09 Mar13

3D Printer meetup #3

Last weekend, I organized the third 3DP meetup in Oslo together with @kefir from Quite a good turnout of people and 14 different printers there. My two favorites were the Adapto printer that is using pretty much only parts that are avilable in normal hardware stores. How's that for RepRap? The other favorite were the two Rostock printers being built by two AHO-students. Very cool to see these in "real-life" and I could even help a tiny bit so that was fun as well.

The next meetup should be some time in May and I'm REALLY looking forward to see Johan's DuoHex machine! It has one of the smartest RepRap designs I've ever seen, using Hexagonal rods to drive a dual extruder design. Below is a short video showing the different machines at the event and here's some nice pictures that Kjetil took.


Using Printrbot Jr with Kisslicer

06 Dec12

Using Printrbot Jr with Kisslicer

While my Printrbot Jr keeps impressing, the software side is a little less overwhelming. I use Kisslicer with my Ultimaker and setting it up for the Printrbot was quite easy. Kisslicer is a very good slicer that thinks differently than many of the other alternatives such as Skeinforge and Slic3r. I tend to toggle between mutiple slicers, but lately I've more or less settled on Kisslicer. It simply makes better toolpaths and it's easier to work with. It's also easy to set up for use with multiple 3D printers and it's a free download that isn't crippled in any way. Paying the $42 gives you a few "Pro" features, but most user won't need this. I basically just bought a license because I wanted to support the future development.

Here's the current Kisslicer settings I'm using with my brand new Printrbot Jr. It's not possible to save settings for simple distribution, but by just typing in the values here, you'll get a good starting point. The settings work perfectly for prints, but I think I'll need to up the E-vaule from the current 569 to a little more as too little plastic is used.



Printrbot Jr - built by Jr!

05 Dec12

Printrbot Jr - built by Jr!

My son loves hacking and I've thought about getting a second 3D printer. I figured, this could be a fun activity for the two of us. The idea is to have this one in the office, while my Ultimaker stays at home. I've followed all the Kickstarters that involve 3D printers and thus far, only one has really delivered - the Printrbot. The kit I decided to get was the Printrbot Jr.

The PrintrBot Jr is the cheapest kit out there and I was really curious to see what kind of printer you could get for just $399. They also sell it Pre-Built for $449, but we wanted to put it together ourself. The instructions and videos supplied are reasonably good, but at many places you just had to guess and see if things were right. There were also some screws missing, but I found replacements. The stupid thing was that the supplied screws were mostly american sizes so it's hard to find the correct replacement screws unless you're in the US. I got it to work and I'm happy with that, but I wish they had counted correctly in the first place. Also missing is all the tools required, so make sure you have the following:

  • Umbraco's (2mm and 4mm)
  • A little wood-glue
  • Blue painters tape for the bed
  • Unless they update the kit, you'll also need the seven 1/8" 40mm bolts (that were missing in my kit). I used 3mm as replacements, but it's not ideal.
  • There is also no filament in the package, so order a Rainbow pack from Faberdashery or something to get you started.

To get the most out of your printer, you should also get:

  • 40mm fan (you'll find this in any decent computer store)
  • Micro SD card. A small one (2-4Gb) will do

What I missed the most was good pictures of how the extruder fits onto the rest of the assembly, so I took some pictures that I have posted on my Flickr account of how this is supposed to look. Here's how you mount the hot-end and here's how the motor assembly should be. Assembly speed wasn't amazing (compared to the Ultimaker), but hey - my son did almost 70% of it himself and he's only 11! Not shabby at all. And with a little better instructions, I'm sure he could have done it all himself.

We're still to get a print out of it, as the software side is a bit rough. We got everything working with Printrun/Pronterface but we didn't get anything sliced to print. That's the part where companies like BfB and Makerbot has a big advantage. They have a complete end to end solution, whereas the Open Source printers also use an Open Source toolchain. I'll post images of the first prints when we have time to set up Slicer. If you're setting up a Printrbot Jr, be sure to check out the rest of the pictures of Flickr so you can see how to mount the extruder to the printer.

Update: Now printing!

After following the official Getting Started Guide, we're now getting decent prints! I just tried printing this Thing and it highlighted another thing that is missing with this printer - a proper PLA cooling fan. It'll be incredibly hard to get anything good looking without it, so I guess that's where I'll start…



3D Printer weekend

04 Dec12

3D Printer weekend

Last weekend I organized the second meetup for 3D printer enthusiasts in Norway. I host these meetups together with Kjetil that runs and we're trying to make it a place where both entusiasts can meet and curious can come and ask questions. As the first time, the event was hosted at my local hackerspace (and daily office) called Bitraf.

Bitraf is the biggest hackerspace in Oslo (in terms of area) and it consists of a big room for hackerspace activities, a sofa & film area with projector, a workshop with soldering, cnc and 3dp equipment. The perfect place to host tech meetups!

Kjetil with his new MakerGear M2 - smiling all weekend!

Kjetil with his new MakerGear M2 - smiling all weekend!

The first meetup saw more than 35 attendees in one evening and it got quite hectic. This time around, we wanted people to have more time to hang out so we set it up as a combined meetup- and build-event. Throughout both events we've had Ultimakers, Makerbots, Makergear, BfB and several Reprap Mendel, Prusa & Huxleys on display. If you have a printer, feel free to come along for either help or showcase!