I recently saved up enough to get a tool I have wanted in the shop since I got my job at the DamLab Makerspace. I was able to get my own 3D printer and after fixing printers that get near constant use from students, I went into selecting a 3D printer with reliability and longevity as my number one priority. I also wanted an open-source design so I could receive the benefits of the community and make use of the knowledge I have gained from repairing 3D printer in the makerspace.
In the end the two top contenders were the Creality Ender 3 and the Prusa Research i3 MKS+. The Ender 3 is well respected by the community as being a perfect entry level printer with its opportunity to upgrade and affordable price. The Prusa i3 is one of the top names for a quality engineered product and has been given glowing review for its ease-of-use and excellent printing results for relatively little effort.
Although everyone has their own situation and needs, I decided that the Prusa i3 was the better choice and this was large in part to the accompanying software, PrusaSlicer. Which I found to be a joy to use and produced great results in an easy-to-understand UI. Previous version of Cura I have used in the past have inspired a similar feeling, but I noticed I was able to do analysis on the sliced result much fast thank to the layout of PrusaSlicer.
With the printer arrived and the kit put together (which was a lot of fun, 10/10 would recommend the kit over other options) I needed to stress test this printer. Looking around Thingiverse I found this incredible Ray Gun model from the Call of Duty Series that I figured my little brother would love to have for his upcoming birthday. So, I printed it out all in one go with few breaks for the printer and I only had one failed print! It was a bed adhesion problem so my fault but still it did not print. Check out his project here: https://www.theraygunproject.com/craft. It looks like since me finding his Ray Gun he also has a model for the DG-2. Very cool, I will have to add it to the to-do list.
Here’s the Ray Gun in action!
I wanted another stress test to see how much I could simultaneously print with difficult shapes. A circle would be a good choice since a 3D printer, which operates in a cartesian coordinate system must put in more effort to create any rounded or circular object. I found a nice-looking Falcon 9 with a payload faring on Thingiverse that fit the bill and went for it all at once. Look at that full bed! This one took a few attempts and required a lot of speed adjustments and ensuring good bed adhesion all around. This led to my only gripe (which I am sure I could fix if it bothered me enough) is that the bed heating does not seem to get the model to stick on its own when using Prusa’s recommended settings. I need to use a glue stick to get proper adhesion.
By the end I got this nice n’ massive Falcon 9 model.
Anyhow thanks for reading, I hope this leads to more mechanical aspects to future projects and some nice custom electronics enclosures.
Article last edited: August 2021