It all started when my friend found a 3D printer on the street with lots of filament rolls. Here in Germany, people put stuff right on the street when they move to another apartment or when they don't need it. I decided to take a look:
- I made a photo and googled by image; it happened to be Anycubic M3 Mega, an old printer.
- The bed was covered with filament, I cleaned it and found that it was damaged, probably due to a lack of bed leveling, so I ordered a bad replacement, for 20 €. I leveled the bed and was able to print a mic stand, as my mic stand was broken.
- I found a new custom firmware for this printer, which had great features: 25-point manual bed leveling, auto nozzle, and bed calibration, which significantly reduced the noise and probably power consumption as well. It printed, but then the filament didn't stop leaking, so I ordered print nozzles made of hardened steel, 15 € for a pack of 8.
I leveled the bed again and... it printed great! Well, after lots of prints, I found the drawbacks:
- For sure it's slow and loud
- The construction which is advertised as "hardened Ender" sucks, especially filament sensor placement
- The quality sucks, it has issues with the extruder and the motion system; it's rough
Still, I was excited, because I was able to print lots of useful and entertaining prints. For prints without details draft quality works well and is almost 2x faster. If you struggle with the question "What to print?", there are two main categories:
- Something useful like clips, organizers, stands
- Something entertaining like anime figures, decorations
It's time to move on
This particular printer could be upgraded with Klipper, so at least you need Banana Pi and some soldering. Then it probably will be able to print 2x faster with a better quality. I don't think this printer is worth it. More than that, some research revealed that lots of YouTubers (at least) have this printer, but no one is excited about it. I guess that they all experience issues with the quality.
The next step to go further with 3D printing is to start 3D modeling myself, I have some ideas to make fastenings on my bike. I was shocked at how many models are available online for free, you can spend ages digging through these catalogs.
Current market for 3d printers
I'd like to change the printer itself and it happened that although FDM printing is old, a few things have happened recently in this market.
- It all started with Bambu Lab x1, followed by more affordable P1P and smaller, but even more affordable A1 mini. I was able to launch their slicer in Linux, but they have really weird user agreement.
- Other companies also decided to make a fast CoreXY printer, but all of them suck: Qidi Smart3, Flashforge Adventurer 5M, Creality K1. But Creality stands out as they fix the issues and finally, they came out with the full version of Klipper.
- Some companies came out with fast sling-bed printers: Neptune 4 Pro can't print the cylinder and AnkerMake M5C needs a mobile app to operate, also tinkering is minimized: all the contacts are glued.
I also learned about Voron printers and THE 100. They need some tools to build worth 170 €. And I'm not sure that I'll cope with the assembly and will finish the tuning.
Everyone is so excited about fast printing, but it comes at a cost: it's always noisy (and costly). Other than speed, some great models are still available on the market. I mean Creality Ender 3 V3 SE and Creality Ender 5 S1. I'm thinking about buying one of them, and after that maybe add Klipper with Orange Pi or something, which also allows to print using WiFi. Ender is more like evolution, rather than revolution. And it's not only about the community, lots of replacement and upgrade parts are available. It's not about the first print, it's about printing for some time, which requires some service. I'd also like to have a working printer out of the box, and then maybe gradually upgrade it. Becase printing is fun!