3D printers – the journey begins

My latest toy is a 3D printer.  Basically it prints 3D objects using plastic extruded through a hot nozzle.  They’ve been around for years, but have cost tens of thousands of dollars.  In recent years, however, a variant has emerged that is orders of magnitude cheaper, making it affordable by mere mortals.  Very much like the early days of desktop computers!

So anyways, after doing a lot of reading and even more lusting-after, I finally bought one!  It’s made by a local company called Eckertech (http://www. eckertech.com).  Although tempted to buy the kit version and save some money, good sense triumphed and I bought the assembled version.  It really is a well put-together unit, and came with a figurine printed as a final test, 1-lb of plastic filament, and a few other useful bits and pieces.  Here’s what the Eckerbot looked like out of the box :

Eckerbot as-received
Eckerbot taken out of the shipping box. It’s well packed!

After carefully unpacking :

Eckerbot unpacked
Unpacked and ready to go.

I installed the required software (Repetier) and … and … nothing worked.  ACK!  ACK!  Long story short, it didn’t work under Linux (my o/s of choice) but worked fine under Windows XP (my secondary o/s).  Ok, so with the printer talking to the software I printed a simply test object (a cube) and got :

first attempt at printing
first attempt at printing


Not too impressive, is it?  In fact, it is crap.  The printer came with no instructions of any sort , so I glared at it, read some more stuff on the Internet and realized that the extruder head was too high off the bed.  Well, that didn’t make any sense.  After a couple days of emails with the manufacturer, we determined that the home-switch for the Z-axis (vertical up/down) was too high.  It probably got bumped while I was unwrapping everything.  Pretty obvious after the fact, but tough to diagnose for someone unfamiliar with such things.  So then I had to move the switch … which was set too low, and the head drove itself off the shaft.  ACK!  Long story short, I have become pretty good and re-aligning everything!  And have managed to get some stuff printed off :

Early printing attempts.
Early printing attempts.

AAs you can see, some attempts were more successful than others!  But each failure is a step along the path of learning.

The journey begins.




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