I have always liked to know how things work and have always liked to build things. As a kid, I would often disassemble things and put them back together. USUALLY successfully.
In high school, I became interested in drafting and design, and always had an interest in building things, thanks to my family history of carpentry, auto mechanics, handyman and general tinkering skills. Thanks to the best teacher that I ever had, Mr. Harry Borsato, who taught me drafting in high school, I decided to continue this path into Niagara College, where I eventually graduated from the 3 year Mechanical Engineering Technology program in 1984.
Throughout my working career, I have expanded this mechanical design interest using CAD software, and doing some 3D animation, using Lightwave 3D and Rhino 3D.
Over the years, I had been watching the 3D printing world evolve and, in particular, I had been watching a local company, Eckertech
, as they created a DIY kit that would let me build a machine to do 3D printing in my home.
I visited Niagara ComicCon in June 2015 primarily to see the latest offering from Eckertech and their full body 3D scanning system. I asked some questions, and watched how everything worked … And I decided to buy a Ecksbot DIY Kit and start building things.
Building the printer was an enjoyable, but sometimes frustrating experience. The parts were all well made, and some of the design and engineering that went into their design was impressive. The only down side to the build was the instructions, which were a bit sparse at times. Thanks to the guys at Eckertech, I was able to get it working and started seeing my designs come to life.
I was using 3mm ABS filament, which emits an unpleasant odour while printing and after a while, I started having problems with frequent jamming. I was starting to realize that this was a bit more of a hobbyist machine than I was ready for at the time.
Later, I would find out that the design that the Ecksbot was based on was a Prusa i2 RepRap style printer.
I started doing research on reasons why it was jamming, and possible solutions. I was looking into trying different filament materials, when I came upon an ad for a successfully funded Kickstarter project that was shipping production units of a smaller, simpler, plug and play printer.
I did more research, and watched many YouTube videos, including some by Jordan Keyes
, and other actual users of the Micro 3D (M3D) printer
In the fall of 2015, I decided to buy a M3D printer, and use PLA filament, which is corn based plastic, with virtually no odour when printing.
Using the M3D for a few months taught me more about how the technology works, and how to tweak the settings in the software to reduce the jamming and failed prints.
In February/March of 2016, I decided to work on getting my Ecksbot running again so that I could print larger objects than I could print in the smaller M3D printer. I had some success, but, was wondering about doing some mods to the Ecksbot to try to solve my jamming issues. I decided to order some parts online to help with the mods.
Around that time, there were a few 3D printers starting to show up for sale on Kijiji and at local flea markets.
Sunhokey Prusa i3
While trying to find parts to upgrade the Ecksbot, more research led me to find some cheap 3D printer kits available online, built and shipped from China.
Late one night, I decided to order a Prusa i3 designed printer, which is a newer variation on the same REPRAP type technology that was the original basis for the Ecksbot. The Sunhokey 2015 model Prusa i3
arrived a lot quicker than I expected, so, it sat in my shop for a few weeks while I worked on a couple of big web site projects. Taunting me.
Eventually, I got it built, and, after printing and modifying a few upgrade pieces, it has become my main “goto” printer.
Tevo Black Widow
Eventually, I wanted to print larger items. So, in November 2016 I ordered a Tevo Black Widow kit which features a build volume almost twice the size of my Sunhokey or Ecksbot printers. My plan was to build it over the Christmas holidays. Unfortunately, the quality control of the electronic part of the Black Widow was not the best, so, I had to buy some beefier parts and planned to get it running.
After the frustration of the Black Widow, (that still isn’t working), I started to hear about a new large volume printer called the CR-10. It was sold as a “kit” but it is really almost ready to go out of the box. A few bolts, plug in the wires and get printing.
This was an amazing printer for the price. It became my new main “goto” printer.
Original Prusa MK2
Again, with the disappointment of the Black Widow, I was still looking for a direct drive printer, but unsure what to buy. I wanted an Original Prusa i3 MK2 but the current price is more than I wanted to spend, and wait times are measured in months for a unit to ship from the factory in the Czech Republic. I stumbled onto an online ad for 2 used ones. In the end, I bought one, with the MK2S upgrade kit and some spare parts included. The plan was to install a smaller diameter nozzle and use this printer to do some smaller, finer detail prints.
Original Prusa MK3
When the MK3 was announced, I ordered one the first day. The flex plate was a big selling point for me.
Monoprice Select Mini
One day, while browsing the Kijiji buy and sell ads, I stumbled upon a good deal on a Monoprice Select Mini. As it turns out, a kid had it (likely a gift) and it had a broken SD card port, and some missing accessories. I took it home, connected it to an OctoPi that I had, and it was printing fine within an hour.
By this time, I was doing some side projects and needed more print volume. Again, I found this one in Kijiji. I met the seller, who seems to buy a lot of printers, and tests them then sells them off at a discount.
A guy contacted me to do some printing for him. He said that he had his own printer, but couldn’t get it to work. He said that he would give me his broken printer in exchange for printing a set of models for him. The models that he wanted printed were basically unprintable. I did a lot of work to get them to print at all. Eventually I got them printed for him in ABS (he was going to vapour smooth them) and he didn’t want to give me the printer. After a lot of “reminding” him, he finally left it in my driveway one night during a rain storm. It didn’t get too wet as I was home and heard the car. It is still awaiting some of my time to try to fix it. The wiring has been hacked into a mess.
Another Kijiji purchase. This one came from a small manufacturing shop where they were trying to use it to prototype parts. While trying to repair it, they shorted something. It remains in my “needs repair” pile.
Monoprice maker Select
A friend got interested in 3D printing, (thanks to me) and he bought this printer. At the time, I told him that if he ever decided to quit printing, that I would buy it from him. So I did. I just haven’t had time to do anything with it yet.
Creality CR-10 S4
I was working on another project that needed a larger print volume, so, I went to a new semi-local store and bought this printer.
While waiting for my MMU2 and Pallete 2 Pro to arrive, I bought this printer to start learning about multi-colour printing. Unfortunately, I just haven’t had time to use it yet.
Wanhao Duplicator 6
I was looking for another printer with an enclosure to try printing various materials for another side project. Another Kijiji deal, but, this one WORKS!
Original Prusa MK3
Hooked on the Prusa MK3, I stumbled upon a local guy who was importing the kits and offering them for sale as a kit, or assembled for the same price. So, I let him build it for me. It has temporarily replaced my first MK3 (which is in pieces, awaiting the MMU2S upgrade kit).
The adventures continue …