1 Year in 3D Printing review and lessons learned

Posted on Thursday, January 10, 2019



 



First and foremost I want to say it has been a lot of fun 3D printing and learning 3D printing this first year.  It has been totally worth it.   I have had a lot of fun making and designing 3D printed objects, and I highly recommend it as a fun hobby and as an essential tool for home-schoolers.  But with that let me get started with my year in review!













My limited view


To warn the reader I first want to say I have a limited view, in part due to finance and in part due to choice.   I only have a single 3D printer, a Prusa I3 MK3, and I only use the PrusaControl software for my slicer (To prepare 3D images for printing)

Even though I have this limited view I think it’s a good one.  Josef Prusa seems to be doing the most good at this price level for the consumer.  I see that he is one of the voices leading the charge to make 3D printing cheaper, simpler, and more reliable. 




My Current Rig(s)


Rig

Pic
Purchased
Cost
Prusa I3 MK3
9/2017
$798.55

Cost!


How much have I spent in this first year?   Well of course there is the 3D Printer, a Prusa I3 MK3, which I bought for $798.55 shipped in September of 2017.  It was recommended by Make magazine.  Then there are all the extra bits and bobs and don’t forget filament!

At the end of 2018  I had 18 empty filament rolls and another 18 rolls on my shelf.  Some on the shelf are full, some half full some nearly empty.  At $20 a roll that’s $360 used up completely and another $360 on the shelf.  I have also ordered some repair parts from Prusa that comes to about $260 (When I ordered I often bought 2 or 3 backups just in case so I have a supply of repair parts).   Also I should probably put in another $100.00 for misc items So putting that all together…

Item
Cost
Prusa I3 MK3
$798.55
18 Consumed Filament Rolls
$360.00
Repair Parts
$260.00
Misc
$100.00


Total
$1518.55


Filament on shelf
$360.00


Final Total
$1878.55
 
So nearly $2000.00 spent this first year!  Wow seems like a lot.  But keep in mind I am printing on average 16-20 hours nearly every day and giving lots of stuff away to promote 3D printing.  In fact 80% or more of what I print is printed to be given away.

It looks like I am averaging 2 maybe 3 rolls a month.  So I have a $40-$60 monthly habit ;).    Cheaper than other vices I suppose J



Breakage!


3D printers are becoming more reliable and easier to use every year.  The easier 3D printing becomes the barriers to entry start to fade away and more people jump in and take a chance. 

I often tell people, “The 3D printer needs to head towards the goal of being a microwave oven; easy to use, maintenance free, reliable, and lasting for decades”.   … We are not there yet.

Here are the lists of breaks I have had this year


Break / Issue
Date
Days since last Break
Description
Broke Thermistor
2/2018
40
I Snapped the thermistor when trying to do a repair
https://youtu.be/Rbz65XfKYKE
Repaired thermistor
Also fixed gear alignment
3/2018
30
I Snapped the thermistor when trying to change out the nozzle
https://youtu.be/oazXDt8PXH0
A 3D printed part in the Prusa Broke
4/2018
30
Make sure to print out backup parts if you only have a single 3D Printer
https://youtu.be/likc3eJ9gQM
Bed thermistor breakage due to cyclic stress
10/2018 -11/10/18
240
The wire to the bed thermistor (temperature gauge) broke due to cyclic stress it took a couple of tries to fix it
https://youtu.be/uxRTTAPaKyM
https://youtu.be/7wsl8rTYumI


Your 3D printer is going to break, be ready to become a repairman J .
I hope every year they get more and more robust.






Tools I have learned!


Tools for creation


·         Fusion 360
·         TinkerCad
·         Openscad

I feel I have become proficient with Fusion360.   I am OK with Tinkercad and as far as openscad goes… I have a lot to learn still.

Slicers


·         PrusaControl

Pretty simple, I am just using the PrusaControl program for slicing with no special settings at all.  I am trying to keep it simple as I believe as tech moves on the slicers will become more intelligent and do more of the work for us and require less and less tweaking on more difficult prints.   Also it forces me to create simple prints that have a higher likelihood of success J

Stats

   Things posted


I currently have 11 designs (one posted this year so I guess only 10 designs posted in 2018

Description

Img
Link
Stackable Number tiles
Prusa i3 MK3 Vibration Dampener

Prusa i3 MK3 LCD cover

Tetrahedron (3 sided Pyramid)

Science Gift Box with Lid

ipad mini stand

Grand Tetons Topograhical Map

Iqless Ethernet Clip

Choke Tester (Consumer Product Safety Commision)

Weeping Angel
       




   Videos made


64 Videos made and posted on YouTube in 2018.  That’s pretty exciting and has been a lot of fun making them J

   Subscribers gained


At the beginning of the year I had 13 subscribers to the iQless channel.  At the end of the year we were up to 554.  That is quite an exciting jump J  Thanks for all who subscribed to the channel I hope to keep making content that is fun and educational J



What I have picked up along the way


I don’t feel I am a master of 3D printing yet, but maybe I have made it up to beginner expert after a good solid year J   Here are a few of the things I have picked up this year.


Glue sticks are my new friend!  A little swipe of a glue stick on the heat bed and that first layer is coming out just fine almost every time. And it’s real easy to clean off with a paper towel and some Windex.

Print out back up parts!  If you only have one 3D printer and you happen to break a 3D printed part of your printer, you are in for some down time… Since you now need to order the part from the manufacturer.   Be sure to 3D print out backup parts… or even better get a backup 3D printer.


Be overgenerous!   Give, give, give away your 3D prints boisterously.   After all you can always 3D print a new one.   I was at a home school conference in 2018 where I was promoting 3D printing… I was a little stingy with some of the stuff I had 3D printed… Looking back I wish I had been freerer with handing things out.   After all what you don’t give away starts to pile up in your house J

Keep it simple! I have been trying to create designs that I know will print well without any special settings.  Some folks out there are creating “Challenge” prints to push the limits of your printer, your slicer tweaks, and you mind.  There is a place for that and I think its all well and good.  But there is a huge need for well simple reliable designs that are easy to print with little to no fuss.




Purchase I hope to make this year


1    1. A second Prusa printer!  With it I can increase output, allow me to do some additional experiments and maybe help me teach some classes to local kids.



Drying filaments in the oven just is not cutting it.  It’s too hot (low temp of 170) and smelly.  I recently watched a video from the 3D printing nerd https://youtu.be/1ZRAVdqy990 and this seemed like a good idea at roughly $160  





3. 
Maybe a MMU kit from Prusa, in order to do multi colored prints



3









References

[1]        Magic Mill 8 Tray Food Dehydrator
                Accessed 1/2019

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