I would have written a blog post about it sooner, but my younger brother and I got a 3D printer that came in yesterday. This is the PrintrBot Simple Metal, which is a really nice printer for a cheaper price (about $600 for the assembled, $529 for the un-assembled). I immediately tried it out a bit, mostly moving the nozzle around, then tried for some printing. I ordered 24 feet of filament for $20 on Amazon (white), and I tried it now. After a few hours, I FINALLY got it to print a bit, but it was extremely messy and didn't come out right. I had to do a lot of calibrating around on the Z axis (up and down), and finally got the right distance above the bed. Even now, it has to "warm up", I need to start it printing, wait for the filament to actually start coming out, then quickly cancel the print, move the nozzle away, take away the filament mess that it left, and try over again. Then, when it still didn't work, I searched online and found that hairspray actually helps to make the filament stick when it first comes out. Sure enough, it did the trick. The first successful print was of a friend who had visited that day. My older brother quickly scanned him, sent me the model, about an inch big, and I printed it. It took only about half an hour! I don't have any images of the print, though. My older brother did take a timelapse, which I will upload once/if he sends it to me.
The next successful print was a fan shroud. The printer has a fan next to the extruder which dries the plastic when it is put on the print model. The shroud is something that PrintrBot left off, so that you could print it. It mostly just directs the air onto the plastic that is being laid down. I actually had problems with warping, where one corner would lift up a bit, then another. Then, it would come off the bed and get picked up by the extruder, ending in a mess which would have to be cleaned off of the extruder. However, in Cura (the 3D printing program) I found an option that prevents warping. It makes a "raft" underneath the model, in plastic, and you can easily take it off of the main model. It really helps, though it used up a bit more plastic and took about 10 minutes longer for larger prints.
Then, I decided to see how I could print a few Lego pieces. My older brother found a 3D model of a 4x2 Lego brick which he sent to me and I printed it. It had some small problems, but it actually fit onto normal Legos. Then, we printed a clone helmet. This one was very difficult, as we had to get the right size. We did three prints, the first too small, the second too big, and the last was about the right size for Lego minifigures. After cleaning it out a bit, we were able to fit it onto a Lego clone. After we added a bit of black using a permanent marker, it looked very similar to the normal Lego clone trooper helmets.
After that, I printed what I really wanted to print. The SD Card Filing Cabinet. The drawer wasn't very good, it didn't have a bottom and parts that were supposed to be filled weren't. Later, I figured out the problem and fixed it. However, an SD Card did fit into it. I then printed the rest of the filing cabinet, which took a while. It didn't have any problems, but when I tried fitting the drawer into it, it was really tight. In fact, the back part on the drawer snapped off. Right now, I am printing the cabinet, a bit smaller. I am pretty certain that the SD cards will still fit in, though.
One of the features on the Printer, is that you can put a micro SD card into it. Then, from Cura, you can tell it to print from the SD card. After that, I can just unplug the computer from the printer. If I need to stop it, I can plug the computer in again, and enter in the command to stop it.