I’ve finally hit the jackpot, and been acknowledged as a potential useful person to send “junk” to by Creality – the 3D printer company. I’m not sure what I did to deserve this honour, but what an honour it is. The box is spinnable as well as openable with a suitably sharp tool. And if you open it with complete disregard to the packaging instructions, some stuff will fall out.
This includes a small spool of PLA, a plastic bag with tools, an SD card, a plastic A4 sheet for calibrating the nozzle height and a power cable. I’ll show these in more detail later.
I began by carefully unpacking the printer – which is fully enclosed and contains lots of cable ties and sweety shaped foam packing.
But first, the outer bag sensuously drops over the printers shoulders, like a nighty to reveal skin tight cellophane wrapping clinging onto the delicate see through screens and cover.
This feel like a surprising well-designed printer – the SD card is positioned vertically which means I can’t tell if it’s upside down. The touch screen display is in the portraiture referencing hundreds of years of art history.
As I browse the manual it takes me a moment to realise a handful of pages are repeated, having been translated into such popular languages as French, and Italian.
I take a quick peek at the rear of the printer to find something very important – which is the Power Supply Units input voltage setting. I’m based in #cough #cough so that was set to 240v.
If you want to use your printer the same day you receive it, you’ll need to follow my lead and start cutting the cable ties and remove the travel packaging. Afterwards I fit the complimentary spool of pillow chocolates onto the inbuilt cup holder, and finally reveal the wonderful sweet-shaped foam packaging followed by some of the items that fell out the box earlier. There a side snips, an acupuncture needle for when 3D printing becomes too stressful, an SD card and USB card reader, a spare nozzle, and a bag of travel toiletries. This one is metal grease – good for 1950s quiffs and this… well you know what this is.
I now feed the PLA filament into the printer through a tiny weeny hole, which contains a filament sensor and out the other end through a flexible PTFE hose. I cut a chamfer onto the end and push this into the extruder head. This method of printing where the extruder is so close to the nozzle generally provides more advantages to printing than disadvantages. To check I did this correctly I give the enclosure a sniff. #Sniff, Ahh new.
The printer starts up with a nice automatic homing cycle and promptly loads the filament – it’ll probably not do this again the second time around.
I load the SD card which automatically navigates to the File Selection screen, but before I start printing, I have a little wonder over to bar Print Mode and the Print Settings club. There I see the openings acts, additional case fans, internal lighting, and the headliner – pause if the door opens while printing.
Before you start printing it’s a good idea to perform the auto levelling – which is more of an assisted manual levelling marketed as something greater and better than it actually is. The bed, which is of a welcomed solid construction may make needing to do this regularly, unnecessary. But only time will tell.
The heat bed moves upwards in a slow fashion building anticipation… a movement so lacklustre, you could listen to the entire Blue Danube Waltz before it got to the top… I mean you’d be quicker waiting for a London bus to turn up, on a Sunday. But finally, the blue plastic sheet gets to cameo. I use this to set the distance between the nozzle tip and print bed, across the five zones. The sheet is large enough to avoid getting my fingers squashed. And once I’m done, I can finally print a stock project off the SD card and tested the responsiveness of the door pause interlock.
I’m printing a flexible dinosaur – just your standard theropod which is being printed using a raft between the model and the print bed. These SD card ready prints are carefully set to print perfectly so while they show you what’s possible with your new 3D printer, they may not reflect stock print settings, which may take many months or years to final setup correctly.
It’s took a while – well over 10 seconds which is generally the allocated stopping safety limit on machine tools. The head became stationary at mid print but if this could be faster, a z hop and extruder retraction written into the pause macro, and possibly moving the top to the rear of the machine – this would be a pretty good feature. That said it’s a feature I’ve not seen on even the expensive ultimakers, which this printer looks like a cross between and a microwave.
The model comes off fairly easily from the print bed, which lacks the spring steel stiffness of the type you find on the Prusa’s. It felt like I could almost fold and dent this material, but I resisted the urge. I peeled away the raft from the model to be left with an empty feeling that all the effort I spend preoccupying my time, is actually an attempt to further push people away and isolate myself…
But this video is far from over because we haven’t look at the print settings. When it comes to print settings I tried installing the Creality software which is a hacked version of Cura – and that works fine but I really prefer using the prusa slicer, so I mocked up a profile by copying and pasting and testing and editing settings from the former software. As well as hassling my contact at Creality who sent me some strange modified profile from another printers. All that might not translate very well to video, and I’m feeling pressured to meet an arbitrary deadline to release this video while the unlucky people commute home from a job they hate. So I will include screen shots and the profile-files on my website, which you can meander to and bemuse yourselves with, in your own time. And those will be linked too in the description underneath.