Building my little Simple - 2014 in review

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So in 2014 my distraction de jour turned to 3D printing. Printers were over $1000, however, after building up my own CNC machine, the only real difference between a CNC & printer is an extruder instead of a spindle. A basic extruder and hotend was still going to cost over $100 plus delivery. So I started thinking, how hard could it be to build one?

Over the winter of 2013/2014 I started building my own extruder. 

I think I was making slow progress - they look simple enough, but there is some decent engineering in those things to keep the filament flowing smoothly. 

Late spring 2014, I started noticing 3D printer kits dropping below $400. After some research, the choice narrowed to the Printrbot Simple and the QU_BD OneUp (which was attempting to break the $200 barrier).

The Printrbot was out of the gate sooner and worked out a number of manufacturing/shipping logistics. It was getting decent reviews as well. And so in May 2014, I ordered a Printrbot Simple makers kit from Adafruit.

Much to my chagrin, Printrbot soon after announced a major upgrade to the Makers kit. It is still $350 from Printrbot ($399 from Adafruit) but comes with belt drive (not string), all 4 steppers are large (not a small Y stepper) and a metal probe for leveling the Z-axis against the table (much like the way the pcg-gcode autolevels the mill for isolation milling). Oh well. Ce la vie.

The printer arrived and a few days later (about 6 hours of assembly), I had my first print.

Now, the order of objects to print for a married man is well understood:

    1. First off are a few calibration prints to work the bugs out.
    2. Next is something to appease the wife and prove this isn't just a toy.
    3. Third is parts to make the printer better.
    4. Finally you start looking around the house for problems you never knew you had to solve.
    5. As a bonus, if you're lucky - you may even get hired to print something for someone else.

Since then, I have upgraded my printer:

    1. added active cooling to the extruder (prevents jamming)
      1. Extruder Cooling Fan on Thingiverse
    2. belt drive on the X-axis - slight increase in size to just over 100mm
      1. X-Axis GT2 Belt and Extension on Thingiverse
    3. belt drive on the Y-axis - no dimension increase, just more stable
      1. Timing Belt GT2 for Y-axis on Thingiverse
    4. enlarged the Y-axis with a no sag upgrade (over 200mm now possible)
      1. 300mm Y-axis No Sag on Thingiverse (My rods only allowed for just over 200)
    5. Printed strong X-axis / bed holder to enlargethe X-axis to over 200mm
      1. X Axis upgrade on Thingiverse

I am now printing fairly large and complex things with my little Simple - including a 6 speed transmission (PLUS reverse!).

If Flickr allows it - here is my brag book.

And no show is complete without a blooper reel.

Let's see what distracts me in 2015!!!

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