A Newbie in the 3D Printing World

GeekMom Science Technology
Creality CR-10 Mini \ Image: Dakster Sullivan
Creality CR-10 Mini \ Image: Dakster Sullivan

3D printing was something I picked up because I needed a project to distract me from my anxiety disorder. I saw all these videos of assembly to print in 30 minutes. Pictures of perfect prints and amazing results. The videos never showed failed prints or printers going bad, yet my first few months, that is all I experienced. Let me take you on a quick journey to what it’s really like to start out in this hobby.

The Printer Has Landed

When my Creality CR-10 mini showed up I was overjoyed with glee and in panic mode because I didn’t want to screw it up. I was assured that I would be okay because I watched the videos so I dived in and gave it a shot.

My first attempt at plugging everything in I plugged in my x and z-axis backward, my bed wouldn’t level, and my nozzle kept hitting the glass.

I screamed for help.

My friend Todd came over and with his experience was able to help me figure out where I had gone wrong.

Warped What? Faulty Z-Huh?

Turns out I had a warped bed glass and a faulty z-stop.

The first step was to fix the z-stop issue so I could print a more reliable one. Todd pulled a small stick from the yard and wrapped it in such a way that it forced my printer to push the z-stop trigger when it should. Macgyver would be proud.

The second thing we did was put aluminum foil under the middle of the glass to help with the warping. One small piece at a time and we finally got the bed level.

My first print was the famous “benchy.” The benchy tests things like bridging and supports as well as your regular print settings.

Calibration Prints \ Image: Dakster Sullivan
Calibration Prints \ Image: Dakster Sullivan

It took 30 minutes to print and once it was done it showed a few areas needing improvement on my printer. The texture of the benchy was similar to paper and it wasn’t solid at all. I was ecstatic though because it printed.

My first print! Yay!!

Next was fixing the printing issues. I switched from Cura to Slic3r for my slicer (the program that preps a file for printing) and looked at the printer’s manual for the correct bed size, nozzle size, and adjusted the rest of the settings as needed, filament size and nozzle size being the two most important.

Finally, I was able to print the new z-stop from Thingiverse and swap it out to replace my stick. It wasn’t a perfect print but it was solid and the holes only needed a little bit of filing to fit the screws.

My first mod was done and a success. YAY!!

Now I could start printing and printing successfully right? Wrong.

Four Months Later…

Most Successful Print \ Image: Dakster Sullivan
Most Successful Print \ Image: Dakster Sullivan

Fast forward four months and my most successful print has been a gyroscopic snowflake ornament that I made 300% the original size, which made it about the size of an average adult’s hand.

My second most successful print has been the new knobs for leveling my bed. A highly recommended and basic mod.

What Have I Learned?

What I’ve learned through over the past four months is this…patience is a virtue that I don’t necessarily have a lot of. When your calibration prints take 30+ minutes and only after it’s done will you know if your settings need tweaking (one setting and one step up/down at a time) it can get old and frustrating really quick. I’ve learned to take a breath, walk away, and do some cleaning or read a book away from the printer so it can do its thing.

Another lesson I’ve learned is that Google is my best friend next to the Creality 3D Printers Facebook group. There are so many videos about everything from leveling your bed to why your prints are failing. I’ve saved a few of my favorite guides and refer to them often.

My favorite guide so far has been Simplify3D Printing Quality Troubleshooting Guide. They have it laid out in such a way it’s easy to find what you are having trouble with and steps to solve the issue.

The Future

My journey into this world is far from over, despite the issues and the hard times. I’m looking forward to the day I can print something once and it look amazing. I look forward to turning the printer on and knowing that it will work and if it doesn’t, that I have the experience to fix it.

I think I’m a ways away from that point, but the hope is there.

Stay tuned to GeekMom for more about 3D printing from a newbie’s point of view.

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