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  • 3D Printing Again

    Posted on October 17th, 2017 admin No comments

    Dusted off my Kodama Trinus 3D printer, which had been sitting idle over the summer while I tried cycle touring.



    Fixing the Trinus Leveling Bed

    It sure took a while to get everything going again.  I had just got the new leveling bed last spring, but hadn't even used it.  While setting it up, trying to get it level, I found that the motion of the printer shook the adjusting screws loose, to the point where one even fell off.  Not much good, that.  A little blue LocTite fixed them, but it was a surprise that Kodama would ship such an unreliable product.   They've promised to send a replacement set at no charge.  In the meantime, I wonder if I can damp that vibration somehow.

     A leveling screw on the Trinus bed

    A leveling screw on the Trinus bed

    It also took a while for me to get the bed leveled and set for a good first layer.  Stringy, blotchy prints, missing parts.... Part of this was remembering how to use the software, Cura 15.04.6, and set it for best results.

    Bad first layer

    Bad first layer

    Fixing the Heated Bed

    After I got most of that straight, I noticed that the heated bed wasn't heating.   Eventually tracked that down to a broken wire in the cable, which I fixed.  Discussion with a Kodama support rep led to changing the routing of the cable so the coil was not horizontal (as shown in the original assembly instructions) but vertical, in hope of avoiding future issues.

    Lights, Action, LCD

    While I was at it, I added some new LED lighting on the bottom of the X arm, and tied it in with the lighting under the extruder, adding connectors for easy future removal/upgrade. This lights the print bed nicely and I wish I had done it last winter.  Previously, I had drawn 12V from the main PCB and cut it down with a 5V regulator for the lights.  I decided the printer and heated bed needed all the power they could get, and gave both sets of lights their own 5V power supply via another wall wart.  Oh, wonderful, more cords....

    I had got tired of having the leveling  bed screws knock the LCD holder off its mount on the end of the Y slider, so I cut some notches in it to mount it on the printer bed.  That way, the leveling bed screws pass right over it.  Simple and effective, both easier and faster than printing an extension or redesigning and reprinting the original LCD mount (someone already did the redesign!).

    LCD Case Mod Composite

    Are We Ready to 3D Print Yet?

    All this had taken several days.   Let's see,

    • Fix the bed leveling screws with blue LocTite
    • Level the bed and adjust the Z-axis offset
    • Repair the heated bed cable
    • Reroute the HBC
    • Relearn how to use the software
    • Adjust all the software settings (why should they change?)
    • Remount the LCD holder
    • Add new lighting, change the wiring for the lighting, add connectors and 5V power supply

    Can I print now?  Yes.  Oh, but wait, I never did properly set the printer so I could use the entire bed.  I have adjusted the Z axis but now I need to fix the X- and Y-axes.   Darn, not enough room to get in to do the Y axis.   Trinus says to remove the slide for access, but I don't want to do that, it would be remove and adjust, reinstall and check, repeat.  Ugh.  So I printed a couple of these:

    Axis adjustment nut adaptors

    Axis adjustment helpers by drofnas

    They slip over the adjustment screw and onto the tiny 5.5 mm lock nuts, to provide more leverage to loosen them.  The first set was a bit too big, but the second scaled to 95% fit quite well.   With these, I was able to adjust the two horizontal axes so the bed is properly centred.

    Now, what to print next?...

  • 3d Printers For Beginners…Or Not

    Posted on December 29th, 2016 admin No comments

    Just before Christmas, on Dec. 22, 2016, TechJoint (TJ) published a youtube video titled  "5 Amazing 3d Printers For Beginners".   It was nothing but a compendium of promo videos from Kickstarter campaigns  with no original content, review, or comment.

    Still,  I was a bit surprised by some of their choices.  Let's take a closer look.

    OLO 3D SLA Printer

    OLO campaign photo

    OLO campaign photo

    First up, OLO.  The OLO was intended to be a mini  SLA printer powered by your cell phone.  I had looked at it and decided to stay away.  The original Olo 3d Printer video and campaign have been criticized because

    1. it glosses over the fact that your phone will be tied up for hours by a print
    2. it shows alleged light-sensitive resins in clear plastic bottles, which is seen as deceptive
    3. it claims cost-equality with FDM printers, yet the resin is far more expensive than filament
    4. the fundraising goals have been seen as far too low for product development

    The printer has been panned by Maker's Muse, KickScammed, Quora,  and elsewhere (the Quora discussion in particular has considerable detail) but apparently is technically feasible and may eventually come to fruition.  But don't hold your breath -- in the KS comments section, backers have been reduced to chatting about Mexican food.

    101Hero 3D Delta Printer

    101Hero's campaigns on both Kickstarter and Indiegogo were well-fulfilled, with some 3700 backers.   The unit is simple and cheap, made of injection-molded plastic   The blue production model isn't nearly as pretty as the white prototype shown in their campaign video, but it has started shipping (I have one working on the desk beside me).

    101 Hero printing a benchy

    101 Hero printing a Benchy

    The early round of deliveries suffered from failed stepper motors and missing parts; the company is focused on shipping and has been ignoring customer complaints (perhaps not the best of strategies) until shipping is completed.  Lack of communication from the creator is also a constant complaint.  The official Facebook group is static and unhelpful, but there is an active unofficial FB group for users.

    Angus at Maker's Muse backed the 101Hero but has not yet received it at the time I write this.  I'd have thought that the company would take care to get a unit to an influential backer.   Since I backed mine late through Indiegogo yet was among the first to receive one, I suspect that they are pushing retail sales to generate cashflow -- not fair to backers, but not uncommon.

    Kodama Trinus All-Metal 3D Cartesian Printer/Laser Engraver

     Trinus set their standard as being a solid, all-metal, streamlined industrial design.  Their polished campaign video was humorous and catchy, attracting over 3,000 backers and $1.6 million.  The unit was well reviewed and backed by Maker's Muse, which apparently attracted backers.   The bare-bones printer was $299 with add-ons (heated bed, laser engraver, enclosure, LCD screen, filament pack) driving the price as high as $900 USD with shipping.

    Like many KS campaigns, development was behind schedule, and shipping fell several months late.  However, the company has started shipping with units to reach most backers in early 2017. Users and potential users have both an official forum and an active official FB group.

    Kodama Trinus prototype

    Kodama Trinus prototype



    A MiniToy campaign shot

    Minitoy's approach was, like 101Hero, push-button simplicity.  However, the Minitoy is specifically aimed at children and schools, and stresses safety (in that it prints only PLA).   The video seems to focus on toy production.   Early criticisms cited

    • lack of a locking door,
    • lack of ventilation,
    • problems with filament loading
    • lack of USB connection

    The company has promised to find a solution to the door issue, but object that a lock would significantly increase costs.  They're considering sensors that would halt the print and retract the head if the door is opened during a print.

    The product has had the usual holdups but may ship to their 600-odd backers in early 2017. Comments on the KS site are of the "Please show some videos of real prints?" and "When are you going to ship?" variety. Their FB group, like that of the 101Hero, has little of value to users, and presently has few user/backer comments.

    iBox Nano

    As for the iBox Nano, apparently it quietly disappeared.


    It seems odd that TJ should recommend for beginners at least three printers that have significant issues.  OLO and iBox seem to be non-starters.   Minitoy is working through their issues and plans to ship in 2017.   101Hero has yet to address their lack of customer service, but has begun shipping (mostly) working printers.   The most expensive of the lot, the Kodama Trinus,  is shipping now, with most users due to receive their units in early 2017.

    Further Reading

  • Waiting for a Trinus 3D Printer

    Posted on November 20th, 2016 admin 1 comment

    Over the past year, I've had fun backing some Kickstarter projects.   So far, I don't think I've backed any duds.  Two games, For the Birds and Wombat Rescue, eventually came, though months after their forecast shipping dates.

    babd42993f7f43aada53e06ef5804672_croppedThis seems to be common with successful KS campaigns.   In the technology area, the creators are  technicians or engineers whose focus is on designing and prototyping a successful gizmo.  Once their campaign is funded, they come up against new challenges in terms of suppliers, production, warehousing, and shipping--things they're not trained, prepared, or equipped to handle.  Finding yourself with several thousand more orders than you expected is a pleasant surprise, but it's still something that has to be faced and coped with.

    The Trinus 3D printer, the first I backed (the others are the M3D Pro and the 101Hero), was originally expected to ship in August, 2016.  Only three months later, in October, they started shipping.   A three month delay is not too bad.  Apparently, Canadian orders are due to leave the warehouse in China around now, and arrive in Canada in two or three weeks.  I might conceivably get the printer by Christmas.

    Ho, ho, ho.

  • Kickstarter: Trinus 3D Printer

    Posted on November 19th, 2016 admin 1 comment

    I was a fairly early backer of the Trinus 3D Printer on Kickstarter.  The project was wildly oversubscribed by 3147 backers and raised $1.6 million.  While this does not quite match the enthusiastic support for the M3D Micro back in 2014, where close to 12, 000 backers put up $3.4 million, it's still a solid response to what looks like a solid product.

    Trinus 3D Printer

    Trinus 3D Printer

    My son and I had jointly owned a Cupcake, an early (2005?) consumer printer kit made from laser-cut plywood. It worked, sort of, but was always a bit finicky and problematic.  It cost about $800 USD at time.  I think assembling it was more fun than using it.

    The Trinus, at $349 USD in its base form, is all-metal, with a straightforward industrial-style design.   Where the Cupcake had a zillion little bits to assemble, the Trinus comes in 11 pieces, four of which are identical single-axis slides (compare this to the 101Hero, a delta printer which comes with three identical injection-moulded pylons). The version I backed has a heated bed, an enclosure for printing ABS, a laser engraver head, and some filament.  My deluxe package cost $629 USD including shipping and handling.

    That's a lot more printer (and laser engraver) for a  lot less money and assembly than the old Cupcake.

    How times change.

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