3D printer: from assembly to the first successful print

After a first article in 2013 on 3D printers , I (finally) took the plunge and acquired a Creality Ender3 v2, an entry-level model (less than 300 euros). So now is the time to move from theory to practice, to make the right choices, to see what difficulties you may encounter on first impressions, and how to overcome them to make successful 3D prints. This article is the first in a series on 3D printing.

Successful 3D printingThis article is part of the beginner’s guide to 3D printing

Choose your 3D printer

The first step is to choose your 3D printer. For this point, it will be a matter of budget at first (because the price range is rather wide), and to follow the tests on various specialized sites to see what it is all about. I for example consulted this article on all3dp with comparative tests. So my choice ended up being the Creality Ender 3v2. This choice was made because of its price, and the excellent tests I have seen on it. To begin with, it seemed like a good choice to get your hands dirty.

Before 3D printing, assembly

Once the printer is delivered, begins the first step, namely the assembly (if the printer is in kit form).

3D printer assembly

It may seem complicated at first, but in the end it is quite simple and quick. You just have to be careful on several points:

  • 3D printing, you realize once you have made your first impressions, is a matter of precision and finesse. It is therefore necessary to check that everything is well assembled, that the uprights are at 90 with the support, that the X axis (horizontal axis supporting the carriage with the extruder) is straight
  • be sure to tighten the belts. There are two, one for the board (which moves back and forth) and one for the carriage with the extruder (which moves left and right)

For the rest, I invite you to consult on the one hand the instructions provided, and on the other hand to watch some assembly videos if you have the slightest doubt. For my part, I consulted this video for the assembly of my Creality Ender 3v2 .

I also initially had a bit of play on the board (it wasn’t completely stable). I found on this forum , it was necessary to adjust the eccentrics under the plate to tighten a little more.

3D printer bed settings

Once the assembly is complete, you are now eager to launch the first impression and see the magic happen. But before that, it will be necessary to go through the adjustment of the plate.

Nothing very complicated, but on the other hand it is a very important point to guarantee good printing results. The principle is quite simple. I’ll point you to the one for the Creality Ender 3v2, but it’s valid, a few menu items ready.

For the adjustment, you will need a standard sheet of paper. You have to turn on the printer, go to the “ Prepare ” menu and launch the “ Auto-home ”.
Auto-home brings the extruder nozzle within print distance to the lower right corner. You have to slide the sheet of paper under the nozzle and adjust the plate so that the nozzle slightly scrapes the sheet. The adjustment is to be repeated in the four corners. But before, it will always be necessary in the “ Prepare ” menu to launch the command “ Disable steppers ” to release the motors from the axes.

Be careful not to create too great an imbalance between the different corners to avoid twisting the board. It is better to raise the corners gradually. Once the four corners have been adjusted, repeat the same manipulation one last time.

Filament for 3D printing: choice and implementation

Now that your 3D printer is assembled and configured to the small onions, you are missing an essential element to be able to get started, it is of course the filament which will come to feed the nozzle. You have several choices of possible materials, also depending on the 3D printer you have.

I will not give you all the details of the different types, with the advantages and disadvantages of each, I will rather give you some links where all this is very well explained. For example, you can go to this buying guide which explains the differences in detail, or to this link .
To start, in general it is the PLA which is chosen. It adheres well, and it also has the advantage of being made of biomaterial, which among other things avoids plastic fumes and odors. On the other hand, it is poorly resistant to humidity and heat, which means that it will not be the right material for mechanical parts, for example.

Placement of PLA filament 3D printerOnce you have your spool, all that remains is to install it on your printer. You put the spool on the support at the top which will allow your spool to spin and release the filament.

You then insert the filament into the drive motor, so that it exits through the pneumatic fitting. To be able to insert it, you open the clamp to spread the two drive wheels apart. You then just have to push the filament along the pipe to reach the end of the nozzle via the extruder. If you got there, good news, you’re ready to go!

Launch your first 3D print

Now that everything is ready, you can start the first 3D print. With the Creality Ender 3v2, there is a mini SD card containing a dog to be printed, expected duration 2 hours. Ideal for practicing, and having a tangible result without it taking too long.

If you wish, you can start preheating before printing. On the Ender3 v2 it will be via the “ Prepare ” menu then “ Preheat PLA ”. Otherwise you can start printing directly (“ Print ” menu then choosing the element to be printed). In any case, it will preheat beforehand and will only start when the nozzle is at the temperature set for printing (generally around 200°C for PLA) and the plate is also at temperature (in the case of a heating plate).

And the magic finally works! You can see fine lines of filament depositing and taking shape before your eyes.

Now that you can launch your first prints, you will encounter a number of printing problems. You can find solutions to your 3D printing worries on the second article of the series on this blog . You will no doubt have to modify a certain number of parameters in your slicing tool at this time .

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