Ever since 3D printing became a thing I have wanted to do it. When consumer models were thousands of dollars I was resigned to never having one, after all there are always more important things to buy. When they got to under a grand I really started to slather, now things were getting close to reachable for the average Joe Shmo (me), and I started to look at youtube videos of printing and following along with other articles.

This month I was finally in a position to actually buy a 3D printer! At $349 the Maker Select 3D is not just within reach it’s practically an impulse buy! So I impulse bought it.

This article is the first of many, I hope, about my journey through 3D printing. In these articles I will take you through the setup of the printer, the first few prints and mistakes I make as well as the different software you will need and can use.




Setting up the Machine:

The setup was surprisingly easy. The actual printer came in a single, well packaged box while the 1kg roll of filament I purchased came in a separate one. At first I assumed the printer kit came in three separate pieces but be careful, all the parts are connected and getting it out of the packaging on my own was extremely convoluted.

Putting the pieces together is very simple. Four screws into the base and frame hold it all together and another two to connect the filament spool and thats it! After you remove all the security tapes and connect the three connectors you are good to go. The whole setup took me no more than 45 minutes from getting the boxes to being ready for my first print. The Maker Select comes with an aluminium print plate so you’ll want to cover it. Helpfully the kit comes with 2 square sticky sheets to cover the plate.

I chose to go for a printer kit as opposed to the encased style. Either can be good for first timers although encased ones do offer a simpler experience, basically just plug and play, they do have a downside. Encased units tend to have a smaller build plate to actually do the printing. The da Vinci Jr 1.0 is an encased unit and only $339 at Amazon but its build plate is a mere 5.9 inches square and the filament is specialized making it more expensive over time. The Maker Select however is $349 on amazon with an 8 inch square base allowing for larger pieces to be printed. The Maker Select also lets you use both PLA and ABS filament which gives you far more choice when it comes to materials.

 

My First Print:

Before getting into the 2 pieces of software you need to design and print your own models, most printers come with an SD card with a few GCode files on. Gcode is the file extension specifically for printing 3d models while STL is the file extension most models are made in.

The advantage to this is as soon as the printer is warmed up and ready I was able to print a test piece. Interestingly the Maker Select came with a test model already on the plate, a little black butterfly, and it’s also the first thing I printed but in gold!

The first image shows how important it is to keep your build plate level. My machine had shifted during transit so the Z axis was out of alignment. This meant that one side of my plate was as low as it could be while the other side was at full height. I had to manually adjust this to fix the issue though it is never recommended to fiddle with your axis!

As you can see my first print turned out pretty well though the left edge did lift slightly in printing causing that wing to be slightly thinner than the other. There are ways to fix this which I will talk about in another article including using rafts, brims and supports.

The stuff that makes the stuff:

filament

Filament. The material that all our creations are made of. So far I know very little about this stuff so I am going to learn more as we go through. I do know that Maker Select uses PLA and ABS filaments and that they create a different finish. Filament also comes in different thicknesses and while I still don’t if its better to have 1.75 mm or 3.o mm I do know that the Maker Select takes the 1.75 mm. You can find an enormous range of filaments in various weights and colours, from bland old white to awesome glow in the dark blue, at Amazon here

Right after my first print I got real ambitious, making a larger model with a sliding top. In the next article I will let you know how that goes! If you guys have any questions about 3D printing in general or about the Maker Select specifically let me know in the comments and I will try to answer them.