First Successful 3D Print! and My Challenges and Frustrations

Today, my 3D Printer (which we named Magritte after the painter) printed its first successful 3D Print! Yay! Here’s a video of that:

You might say: “Wow the process you went through to get to this point looks really quick and easy! Cool!” Sadly, no. Not including the issue of unfolding the printer, there were several things that stopped me from being able to print. First, the thing wouldn’t print at all because the bed was not calibrated. This was easy to fix, once I figured out that I had to fix it. So at this point I thought that the printer would print. I was severely mistaken.

Whenever we started a print, it would go for a couple of minutes and then just freeze. This would happen over and over again. We changed software settings, temperature, and all sorts of stuff, but it wouldn’t complete a print. Finally, after hours and hours of prowling the Printrbot forums, and many experimental prints, we figured out that you couldn’t print from a Mac. Dang. So we hooked up the only non-Mac computer that we could continue to use reliably–an ancient Toshiba laptop.

After downloading the correct software, we discovered that the newest version of one of the pieces of software didn’t work and we had to use a different one. Then, we couldn’t connect to the printer at all. It turned out that we needed to install a special USB Serial driver. That required like finding the way through a maze of files and settings of a operating system that no one in the family was familiar with.

And, even now that we’re printing, there is still a continuing challenge that I face: Keeping myself from punching a hole in that old dinosaur of a laptop. It is super slow and only has a track-point style mouse control that malfunctions every few minutes by sending the cursor flying in one direction or another.

This whole process was really frustrating for me. I spent quite a long time doing research on the printer, waiting for it to come, etc., and then once it was here, I had to wait days until I could even have a semi-working machine. I think this has taught me some more patience.

But here we are, with a growing pile of successful prints, and an even bigger pile of failed ones and scrap plastic. Time to buy more spools of filament!

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