I can print you one of those…
On the 28th July 2017, shortly after moving to Worcester with my girlfriend (say hello, Lucy), I ordered the Prusa i3 MK2S 3D printer.
I’d been thinking about getting a 3D printer for a couple of months, and shortly before the move – after realising that my desire to learn woodworking would have to be put on hold due to lack of suitable space within which to do it – I decided that I was going to save up for one over the next six months… So when I received the letter telling me I had paid around £700 too much tax the previous year, I knew exactly what I was going to spend the rebate on.
Much to my shock, despite an advertised lead time of 7 weeks, by the Thursday of the following week it had been delivered, and a full 24 hours later, I had assembled it… mostly.
For some context, the printer comes in two form: pre-assembled for £900, or as a kit for you to assemble yourself for £630. I had always intended on going for the pre-assembled option, but after spending some time on /r/3dprinting, I felt more confident about my ability to assemble the kit without anything exploding. This didn’t last long.
In fact, I’d go so far as to say that assembling the printer was one of the most nerve-wracking thing I’ve ever done.
After about 8 hours assembling on the Thursday I took a break for the rest of the day. That night I was unable to sleep – worried that I’d just spent a lot of money on something which I was totally unqualified to assemble. The following morning I continued the build, getting to the end of the instructions, but realising that something was clearly wrong as none of the probes lined up correctly, so invited my old boss, Andrew Porter (who owns two 3D printers, one of which being the i3) to come and help me complete the build.
He arrived at 9am on the Saturday, and after a few hours tightening this and readjusting that he started the first print, a whistle design that shipped with the printer:
This was shortly followed by a couple of keychains I’d designed using Tinkercad:
And then the first:
…of many benchys (a print designed to benchmark printers and filaments, and helps diagnose problems):
The first functional print was a new spool holder (with the very concept of the printer being able to fabricate its own replacement parts blowing Cos’ mind), followed by a cable holder and a caddy for the Raspberry Pi running Octoprint (software which lets me control the printer and issue jobs to it remotely).
I do have plans for some more general purpose functional prints such as a charging dock for Lucy’s phone, and a paper towel dispenser, both of which I can download from Thingiverse, as well as a caddy for the remote control on my air conditioning unit, which I’ll attempt to design myself using Tinkercad.
I also have some plans for ways in which it can help with some electronics projects that I have lined up, including what I hope will be a very cool project which uses lithophanes:
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my fair share of failed prints, and still need to do some further calibration as one of the axis seems to be around a millimetre off (which seems to make all the difference), but even with the anxiety of the build (and continued anxiety over the fact this is no way a consumer grade machine, and will probably require continued tinkering) I’m really glad I have it, and can’t wait to see what fun things it can help me make.