The 3d Printing Adventure Begins

Fresh out of the box

I had a holiday planned for August that, due to circumstance, I am now unable to indulge in. So I took some of the money I'd intended to spend on that, and spent it instead on my very first 3d printer, a Creality Ender 3.

It's an FDM printer, and if it can be got running smoothly, the quality of prints possible from it are quite remarkable — almost as good as output from an SLA resin printer. Not quite, but almost. There are inherent limitations to FDM printing, but for the price (about two hundred bucks for the printer, plus the cost of filament to squirt through it) it's a good place to start I think.

That's a big "if" though, since I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing. First step — okay, second step, after unboxing the thing — is to watch a whole lot of "how to build your Ender 3 printer" videos on YouTube.

A few hours later....

Well, I've got it assembled, I think. I suspect that if one had built one of these things before, it wouldn't take much more than half an hour to get it together. I took quite a bit longer, a couple of hours at least.

The build quality is very good. Everything seems to be solid and square, and everything seems to me, from my position of blissful ignorance, to run freely.

The instruction sheet provided requires very close inspection as you go along; there are no text instructions (though, considering some of the translations I've seen from China, perhaps that's a mercy) and the illustrations, though decent enough, are not entirely without ambiguity in places. In most places, really.

The next step will be to give it some electricity and be ready to cut the power on the instant if anything goes bang or smokes excessively. The plugs are all labelled, and to be completely truthful there is a plugging diagram included, but it's one of the more opaque of the assembly drawings.

There is a very small roll of PLA filament included, but I shouldn't think it would be enough to do much more than prime the extruder and maybe print some tramming figures. I'll have to get some more immediately; if I had thought ahead, I should have ordered some at the same time as I ordered the printer. Stupid me.

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