I bought a 3D printer! Well, I bought a 3D printer kit. Specifically, the Printrbot Jr kit from Printrbot. It’s a great printer for anybody who wants to learn more about 3D printing, and is sold as both an assembled unit, and as a kit. The kit is less expensive than the assembled printer, but requires quite a bit of assembly and testing before it’s working perfectly.
After ordering the kit from their website, I gathered the tools and parts I thought I’d need when it arrived. I ended out using wire snips, an Exact-o knife, several different sized screwdrivers, scissors, wire ties, about 3 feet of wire loom, blue painters tape, a soldering iron, some solder, and a toothbrush.
Upon opening the box, I noticed all of the laser-cut wooden parts were in the same bag, and all of the screws, nuts, and other components were bundled separately. In addition, 1 lb. of natural PLA filament was included. I also ordered the fan-mount upgrade, which doesn’t include a fan. I went to Sarasota Electronics and bought a small 40mm fan and a mini-Molex connector, which needed to be soldered on before it could be connected to the board.
Definitely put aside some time when you put this printer. It took me about 10 hours of constant assembly to put it together, but I work pretty slow. I took my time with the wood joints, and very carefully shaved down all of the laser-cut parts as I removed them from their perforated boards. It’s very important to assemble the bottom of the unit correctly, as any wobbling can cause MAJOR headaches later in the assembly process. Work slow, you’ll thank yourself later.
After the X/Y/Z motors were attached and wired up, I wanted to test for functionality before sealing the Printrboard up in the base of the unit. I plugged it into my computer, and verified that the X/Y/Z/Extruder motors were all working.
At this point in the build process, I went through and tightened everything up. It’s not a bad idea to just check the base again to make sure it’s level, as that is a very important factor later on.
After checking all the motors, I sealed everything up, and put wire loom over all of the exposed wiring (there’s a lot of that). I was really excited about my first print, so I decided to make the Weighted Companion Cube designed by [carrythewhat?] replications. For a first print, I was thrilled with how it came out.
After about an hour and a half, it was finished. I printed it at .4mm layer height, with 40% infill. I’m still playing around with these two numbers, as they have a huge impact on the speed, quality, and durability of the parts being made.
I was thrilled to have my 3D printed object! In the two weeks that passed after I got this printer up and running, I experimented almost non-stop with different print settings, software packages, slicers, and all sorts of other variables. The more time you spend working with a printer, the better the prints come out. The calibration process is a long and tedious one, and a lot of care is required when making small objects, and making anything with an overhang.
Overall, I couldn’t be happier with this printer. It’s a great entry-level printer for 3D printing enthusiasts, and there’s plenty of support available online if you encounter problems while building or printing with it. If you like to build things, and are interested in getting started in 3D printing, the Printrbot Jr. kit is a solid choice. Just be patient while building it, and expect to spend a few days tinkering before you start to get consistent prints.