Trials & Tribulations of 3D Printing

This article/post comes from a fellow sim builder called Ian Crumbley. He is new to the world of 3D printing and like many people that follow this website, probably went out specifically to buy a 3d Printer to be able to print my parts.

3d Printing Mess on the Ender 3, Print detached
Ender 3 Spaghetti

As time passes, you forget how difficult learning new methods can be. This was also the premise about this website; "if someone had just said, do it like this....then tens or hundreds of hours could be saved."

When Ian sent this, it reminded me exactly how difficult 3d printing can be. I thought I would share his story in the hope that if anyone else is having issues, this might help.

Ian offers some words of advice before getting started:

"Be meticulous and do research beyond the instructions provided. Initial assembly, initial enhancements, bed levelling and different printing materials and their properties should all be researched to help aid in understanding and getting a great head start."

3d Printing Bell 212 cyclic grip
Once the printer is dialled in, the results can be amazing. Here is the Ender 3 printing my Bell212 cyclic grip

Here is Ian full story:

I ordered an Ender 3 v2 from Amazon on Dec 6 - arrived Dec 9 and paid $289. It's currently available for $250. I was too busy to set up the device until a week later, but I eventually put it together, while closely following and scrutinising the provided instructions.

Using the provided instructions proved to be my first mistake which I found difficult at times to understand and follow. There are some great videos that do a much better job of explaining the importance of getting the parts precisely aligned up. Consequently, I had a slight wobble in the bed and this proved impossible getting the bed to level.

My first print was the same day as the setup of the device. I made several attempts to print, all of which failed! The main issue being, the PLA filament would not stick to the bed (at this point I have no idea that I’m using ABS). I spent hours tinkering with temperatures and level but never got anything beyond a very thin round base.

My next mistake came when I got sidetracked after starting a print. All finally seemed to be going well and for the first 10 minutes, I watched it print successfully. I left the machine alone and when I came back the printer, I found a PLA mess (at this point, I still haven’t realized that there are different filament types and I have ABS not PLA). This time the printer nozzle had completely junked up under the silicon shield that surrounds the exit nozzle. This resulted in having to take things apart to get it all cleaned up. It was at this point, I decided that I need to go back to 3d printing school.

Enter YouTube, I watched several videos and decided that in addition to taking the printer apart and making multiple adjustments I also should purchase a bed leveller and upgrade kit, along with an aluminium extruder, bed springs, etc... ($75 total) here is the list:

The one I ordered came with extra parts I didn't need b/c the Ender 3 v2 has a 5 pin spot on the mainboard and you can flash the firmware directly from the micro SD

I think this was a good move. I set up the laptop next to the printer and fixed my original build while at the same time attaching the upgraded parts. This was going very well until I got to the last step. Update the firmware. This is where things got frustrating, after flashing the firmware with the file:

Ender3 V2 -V4.2.7-32bit Marlin-2.0.1-V1.3.1-BLTouch-TMC2225 (29 Aug 2020)

None of the axes moved and I didn't immediately associate it with the firmware update because I had made so many other modifications. I spent 12 hours troubleshooting swapping axis wires, checking voltage but could find nothing wrong so I eventually figured that I should disconnect the BL touch and re-flash to the original firmware. After this step, still nothing (This is when I sent a note to Karl). It was now well past midnight and I figured I'd get a fresh start after work the next day.

The next day, I came across another video that pointed me to different firmware and immediately after flashing with Smith 3D it worked!!! and by it works I only mean that it moves. I ran the bed leveller program and started a print, but it was too high. The z-axis was adjusted, only for it then to put a massive scratch into the nice textured bed of the ender.

A few days have passed and finally a successful print. Printed the 20mm cube and all sides are within 0.04mm tolerance and the sides look good. The final two hurdles that I needed to figure out was that not all PLA is created equal (probably obvious to anyone else but I had no idea) My first prints were actually with ABS and not PLA and now I know that it’s the toughest to work with so my first prints may have been different and I may not have needed the bed leveller if I had realized this. My final thing to understand that I need to use the slicer program to match the print settings with the materials and other settings that triggered the bed levelling.

Here is a list of the YouTube Videos that were very helpful.

Unboxing / initial assembly:

Things you should know about ABS:

Installing the BL touch:

A massive thank you to Ian for this info.

Kind Regards to all,

Helen & Karl