Saturday, February 22, 2014

Printrbot Simple 3D Printer

Finally got into the 3D printer game.  I've been watching this tech over the years, and couldn't decide if I'd go with a CNC router or a printer.  After seeing the hype over the printrbot simple, the decision was easy.  There are plenty of reviews on this machine all over the web (I just linked to one above), so I won't do a full review.  I will list out the positives and negatives though:

-It's cheap!
-It's well designed and innovative
-It's available in kit form (which I recommend if you really want to learn how your machine works)
-It's open source (you can legally obtain the plans and build your own from scratch if you really want)
-The operating software tool chain is all open source and works really well and is easy to use (Repitier Host is what it's called)
-It's a ton of fun to build and use! (if you're a maker, which I assume you are, otherwise why would you be reading this?) :)

(contents of the laser cut birch plywood parts from the kit.  Just like a nice RC plane kit! I can do this!)

-Finicky system, requires a lot of TLC. This really isn't too much of a negative for me as I enjoy adjusting and tinkering with machines.  If you're expecting a "set-it-and-forget-it" type appliance, this printer is not for you.
-Strong reliance on zip-ties for fastening critical parts.  Again, that's not much of a negative, as the zip ties work and keep costs low.  However, the consequence of using zip ties mean less strength and more maintenance.
-String is used in place of belts for the x/y movements.  again, it's designed that way to keep costs down, but they require more maintenance.
 -The design really needs a simple filament guide to make sure the plastic filament stock doesn't jam, which it likes to do.  Many builders make this their first mod, me being one of them.

Here's a little 60's style sofa I printed.  The quality of this print blew my mind, as it was the first actual print I made after just a little bit of calibration.  Actual size is about 55mm wide by 40mm tall.  I downloaded the STL file from PrettySmallThings Thingiverse page here.  She makes great designs!

Overall I'm super impressed with this 3d printer.  I'm having a lot of fun learning about CAD/CAM design, and I'm excited to start making my own designs.

Here's a really cool flower vase I printed last night.  It's the largest object I've made so far.  Actual size is 70mm wide by 80mm tall.