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My First 3D Printer – A Newbies Perspective

My name is Andy Ritchie and I am from Aberdeen City here in the North East of Scotland and I am new to 3D printing. I have been considering about getting a 3D printer for quite some time now. However, I was finding it tough to justify the amount, because of saving for a wedding and having limited space in my shed. After convincing myself I wouldn’t stop until I got one. I bit the bullet and gained my first 3D printer a couple of weeks ago, the 3D printers i will talk about is the Anycubic photon, Geeetech i3 Pro B and the Biqu magician.

I had researched and priced several options for my first 3D printer. Given the reasons stated above, I would have to get as much for my cash with the least amount of a hassle as possible. I contacted few folk who were selling printers but none of them seemed to fit the bill, price or size that I could afford.

I then came across an ad on Facebook of a second hand 3D printer for sale. So as you do, I messaged the person to see if it was still available. Unfortunately, it wasn’t, but we chatted for a bit and he gave me lots of advice. He offered me a used Anycubic Photon. After checking out lots of reviews and articles about it, I jumped in and got my first resin 3D printer.

So before I get into my journey let’s take a brief look at the 3D printers that I have so far.

My 1st Anycubic Photon 3D Printer

The Anycubic Photon is a resin 3D printer designed to excel at small-detail prints such as miniature figurines, jewellery and even dental work. I don’t really have much interest in doing dental work, so that leaves me with the figurines or the jewellery. The amount of free stl, models, obj, and designs for things is rather daunting and, just like any other, start into a new hobby. I have had to embark on a fairly steep learning curve to even understand what I am doing with it.

I was expecting to have to learn some new skills and perhaps to have a few disasters and items fit only for the bin. So far, I’m not sure if I have had more or less than I was expecting, but I know that I am enjoying the process. I also have other hobbies, so my objectives are to use my printer to produce bits and pieces that can make my other hobbies more affordable.

I’m very lucky to have a very understanding fiancée who knows that I will do my best to learn. How to become even a wee bit more knowledgeable, even if it’s only to say, “I told you so”! I have made certain promises about being able to save us money. With a lot of the wedding items and also to produce as many items as possible for my hobbies, “in-house”, and to then put the money saved into the wedding fund. It’s silly the things we promise when we want to get our own way, isn’t it, guys?

Anycubic Photon Specifications

Printing volume: 115mm *65mm *155mmRated Power: 40W​
Printing Technology: LCD-based SLA 3D PrinterLight source: UV integrated light (wavelength 405nm
Y axis resolution: 1.25umLayer resolution: 25 ~ 100um
XY DPI: 47um (2560*1440)Printing speed: 20mm/h
Printer size: 220mm*200mm*400mmPackage Weight: 6.6kg
Printing material: 405nm photosensitive resinConnectivity: USB Port

Anycubic Photon 3D Prints

Initially, when I thought about getting a 3D printer, I never thought for a second that I would start off with a resin printer like my Anycubic photon. They all seemed way out of my price range and too small for what I wanted to do. I have realised now though that many of the miniature figurines can look fantastic. If you increase the size of them to use them as display items around the flat. I already have a load of dragons on the shelves, so why not add some orcs, demons or even angels?

The quality of print from the Anycubic Photon is incredible with the details it picks up. I haven’t experimented with it a tremendous amount just yet because I stupidly put my scrapper through the FEP when I was clearing out the tray after a failed print! Now I need to wait for the new FEP to arrive.

I have found that you really need to experiment with the settings and timings to get the best effect. There’s plenty of information out there about the Anycubic photon and also joining groups on Facebook or other social media will open a wealth of knowledge which has helped me tremendously.

  • Tardis 3D Model Print

One of my favourite prints has got to be the TARDIS I was nervous about this one because it was my first attempt at a larger print. My fiance is Dr Who crazy, so I thought it would be a delightful wee gift for her, so I set the machine up and let it do its thing.

I was constantly checking that it was all going right because I had a couple misprints that hadn’t worked, so I was paranoid that this would go wrong! The end of the story is that it printed it out in fantastic detail and I was so impressed with it. That I couldn’t wait to show it to my fiance and fortunately for me, she loves it! I’m planning on making a small stand for it and put in two blue LED’s and used it as a wee night light.

  • Groot 3D Model Print

I suppose that there’s probably some law that says that everyone has to print out at least one Groot. So obviously I don’t want to be breaking any laws whilst I’m still new to the hobby! This file, like many others, has come from Thingiverse and has been downloaded a ridiculous amount of times.

I had an issue with the base of the print coming away from the build plate about halfway through the print. Therefor, I left it to finish so I could see what it came out like. I like the curved base, although the figurine won’t sit properly if placed on a shelf or other flat surface. But I’m planning on printing out a nice base for him and I will drill a hole in the base and in the bottom of Groot and use a clear rod to connect them with.

My 1ST Biqu Magician 3D Printer

I was fortunate enough to also pick up a Biqu Magician 3D printer at the same time for an undisclosed sum, it’s a good looking wee thing! It’s a small delta FDM 3D printer and can produce very good quality 3D prints. It has many excellent reviews online; I knew none of this when I got it, though! I was so excited about having the Photon. That the poor little Biqu magician was left in the corner in the shed. Until I decided that it was time that it had its turn in the limelight!

The first time I switched on the Biqu magician it didn’t end well, the way it was acting was as if it had a blocked nozzle and it was too high. So I re-levelled it and tried again but still the nozzle seemed to be blocked. So I switched it off and went back to play with the Anycubic Photon!

It was the following day when I went out to the shed and I changed the nozzle; I hadn’t switched the machine on and the nozzle was not coming off, ever. I tried everything I could think of to get it off, but none of it worked. To end that story by saying that at the time of going to press these reviewers poor little Biqu magician is waiting for a new heating element!!

Biqu Magician Specifications

Technology: FDMPrinter size: 220 x 250 x 420mm
Print area: Φ100 x 150mmFeatures: Auto bed-leveling, Titan extruder
Nozzle size: 0.4mmZ-axis accuracy: 0.1mm
Printable materials: PLAX/Y-axis accuracy: 0.01mm
3rd party material compatibility: YesConnectivity: SD card, USB
Interface: 2.8 inch TFT touchscreenPrinter weight: 4kg

Biqu Magician 3D Prints

As of yet, i haven’t been able to print anything out on this cute wee delta 3D printer but I’m looking forward to seeing what this wee thing can do!

My 1St Geeetech I3 PRO B 3D Printer

They offered me one of these kits for a ridiculous price, so I had to have it! The box was still sealed; they had opened it to check that everything was there and then sealed up with thinner tape.

The box had only been opened and then nothing ever done with it. So I bagged myself a bargain that day! I still have to find the time to put the geeetech i3 pro b together so I don’t think it’s happening anytime soon. It will get done and I will update this part when I get it put together and working right!!

Geeetech I3 Pro B Specifications

Print technology: FDMPositioning Precision: 0.1-0.3mm
Build volume: 200 x200x180mmFilament diameter: 1.75mm, 3mm
Layer resolution: 0.1-0.3mmNozzle diameter: 0.3mm, 0.35mm, 0.4 mm, 0.5mm
Filament type: ABS/ PLA/Flexible PLA/ Wood /NylonFile format:. STL. G-code
Body: Acrylic plate of 8 mm thicknessConnectivity: USB, SD card (support off-line printing)
Build Platform: Borosilicate glass + MK2A heat bedXYZ Rods: Wear-resistant, stainless steel

Geeetech I3PRO B 3D Prints

I am keen to get this kit built up quickly because I know what sort of stuff I want to be printed with this printer. Because it’s got a bigger print capacity than the other two printers. I will print off some radio controlled aeroplanes which have become popular over the last couple of years. It was actually this that first made me think about getting a 3D printer!

Also, with me getting married next year and we want a very particular type of table decoration and so I will print those out. The glorious part about this is that I will save around £25 on each one printed. There are 6 of them to do so that means that the printer will have paid for itself without ever doing anything else!

What’s Next In My Journey

I have already been looking towards being able to print out as many of the components. As I will need to build a laser cutter which will cut through foam. This will carry over into my Cosplaying and RC aircraft hobbies, which then means that I can look into not only saving money but also making some cash. By selling to other hobbyists, then that extra cash can go into the wedding fund; see how my brain works for justification?!

So far, I have felt frustrated, excited, giddy, happy and sad all in equal measures. Every time I go out to my shed, I’m guaranteed that I will feel at least one of these emotions. They are more on the positive end of the emotional spectrum now than they were a week ago. But I still find things going wrong for absolutely no discernible reason, other than that the printer has been a bit of a pain!

I now have a Sunlu S8 and Tevo Tarantula Pro 3D Printer that i will potentially write about.

Failed

I still remember the absolute thrill I got when I realised that I had printed off a small sanding stick successfully. This then turned to disbelief when, on the very next print, the same thing failed miserably. Even though nothing had changed – nothing, nada, less than zero.

I still do not understand why that was, but after experimenting with it some more, I printed off a Groot bust. This came out of nowhere near perfect, but I was happy with it. The next successful 3D print, however, was my best to date; it was a Dr Who TARDIS for my fiancée, who is Dr Who crazy. This was to keep her, at present, grateful for the man shed and the hours I have spent tinkering in there.

In the beginning, I did not understand what I would do with a 3D printer, but I now have a lengthy list of projects.. After some research, I now have plans to produce two small production runs for my drones. People are often offering to print off various spares for drones, planes and helicopters. In the past, paid to get parts printed for my models. This is not the cheapest of things to have done, so I hope that if I keep my head down and continue to learn and progress, then I should be able to offset some of these costs.

Conclusion

So, there we have it; I was pleasantly surprised at what I have discovered. While it has initially been a lot harder than I expected it would be, I have way more ideas for this technology than I started off with. I’m considerably more excited than I was, even just a week ago, about this new hobby, which is snowballing out of control daily.

I’m looking forward to sharing with you my 3D printing experiences; the good, the bad and the ugly. As you join me on my journey, and hopefully, be in the position of being able to help other newcomers to the hobby as my knowledge grows!

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