Okay so you know I like 3D Creation, you know I took a break to delve into the outdoors for a while, came back and got into RC Aerial fun and now I'm circling back around to my 3D again with a new 3D Printer. And the one I chose was the Geeetech Acrylic I3 Pro B. It's comes as a DIY Kit that you assemble yourself.

And I just picked it up on July 3rd 2016, which is a little over a week ago. And wouldn't you know it that right after I bought this one, about a week later they announce the release of the new modified release of the I3 Pro B for the same price seen below.

The New Geeetech Acrylic I3 Pro B
released in the USA July 2016
Okay - so I kinda lost out but actually I didn't. As I mentioned they come as a DIY Kit. Or you can get them assembled for almost double the cost. Mine came assembled - well - lets say put together with a bag of parts on the side.

The main difference between the 2015 version I have seen in the top most image and the new 2016 model seems to be along the X and Z axis carriers. Which if you have the 2015 model of any of the Pro series they sell the upgrade to the all metal carriers for a whopping $16 plus shipping for the dual nozzle and $15 plus shipping for the single nozzle upgrade kit. Nothing to cry about. And that will give me a complete spare part set if something breaks.

Back to the one at hand.

As mentioned it was assembled, and they didn't do a half bad job. There was the common issue with these units of a bent or in my case a Z axis threaded rod that was cut off center and slightly bent. Which is an easy fix but I found just too many things not done the way I would like them to be done or done improperly, so... I took the whole thing apart pretty much and put it all back together.

Things like using the proper length screws or using washers. Tinning wire lead ends and using shrink tubing to dress things up. Using Loctite on screws... Making sure things were square. Tiding up wire looms and so on.

That said, I will say as many others will attest to, the instructions and variations of the I3 make assembly that much more difficult. Even at the Geeetech site build Wiki it's incomplete and driver boards vary even for the same model.

Which for me, made the wiring the most difficult part when it came time to reassemble it. You really do have to count on other builders for a lot of info - pictures say a thousand words when putting these things together because the instructions leave out the words many times. You have to pay attention to the details of the images.

As for the Z axis threaded rod - yes Geeetech is probably going to send me a new one. But once I got close to completing my re-assembly I didn't want to wait anymore. I found a local supplier of the correct threaded rod and cut my own to length. And... they work great! No wobble.

Now here's one thing not in the instructions which I think I see a lot of people doing wrong when building these units. Including whomever put mine together originally. They don't understand how the Z axis stepper motor couplings go on properly. The one shown below is probably put on correctly. You can tell by the spacing between the stepper motor and the coupling.

Most people that have problems with worble on the Z axis should first check they installed the coupling correctly. If not, if the alignment up the Z axis isn't perfect - and it's not - you'll see a worble.

These couplings are designed to flex. Incorrectly people push try to marry the end point of the motor shaft and the end of the threaded rod in the center of the coupling. That is not the correct way they are installed and this is not in the instructions on how to properly install them. You're on your own to figure it out. Or read the next sentence or two...

The proper way to install the coupling is the motor shaft has a flat side - key way. The small hex key nut is centered on the flat of the motor spindle. The end of the motor spindle/ shaft what ever you call it, doesn't go past the first line in the coupling on the motor side.

Better explanation - You see the above coupling. You see how it looks like two wider smooth areas on either end and a bunch of cut lines in the middle? You don't want the shafts of either the motor or the threaded rod in past those cut lines. This allows the coupling to flex and give with any miss alignment between the two.

The Connections to the Driver board  and everywhere else. Check them over for tight fit. Reseat them if you have to. I found all the connections to be very temperamental. They like to come loose.

A perfect example of this is in replacing the Z threaded rods I just moved some of the wires around. Many came off or unplugged. And all of a sudden - my X and Z axis stepper motors were grinding and not moving properly. I checked connections - reseating them and all was fine.

Yet again - just moving the Y axis (hot bed) - unplugged other wires. You really have to affix the wire harness looms near the driver board so they don't get any pull on them what so ever.
- yet leave slack for movement. Triple check your wire connections to make sure they are still tight. Use Loctite on stepper gear key nuts, etc.

The MK8 Extruder I have is a single nozzle extruder. I can change this over to a dual nozzle unit as well. In taking mine apart I discovered the wrong screws had been used to attach the MK8 to the base and that the heater tube was tightened all the way up to the feed gears. That is what was holding it in place. Neither were the proper way to assemble the MK8.

The instructions don't go into it but it was listed on the forums that a wrong size screw had been mistakenly instructed to be used - it's corrected in the Wiki build. So an easy fix.

However what is not touched base on is the fact you should have a jam nut on the heater/nozzle tube right at the base plate. Which mine didn't come with - again an easy fix after going out and buying one. You can see the jam nut in the below photo in between the heater and base plate.

A jam nut can be seen between the aluminum base plate
and the heater on the tube.
And there should be a space between the tube and the feeder gears. How big of a space, I don't know for sure. But I did find a picture that shows a space. I'm awaiting to hear back from Bruce Wang over at Geeetech Tech support on the correct gap between feed gear and heater tube.

You can clearly see both the jam nut on the tube and the small space between
the feeder gears and tube on the inside of the MK8 extruder.

Another example of the gap present and possibly too much gap between the heater tube and filament feed gear

All said and done and now completely rebuilt - mine works like a dream. At least through all the tests and the dry run I put her through. I'm thrilled at finally owning a 3D printer. I went the extra mile and polished and waxed all the rods and threads, oiled her up with a high grade dry oil. And it's soooo quiet now. I mean I can hardly hear it run. When I put a dust cover, temperature control box over it, which I hope to be soon, you won't hear it running at all. It's that quiet now.

So now that its done and operational - tomorrow I attempt my first print. And it will be a calibration cube or something in the calibration list of things to print. Nothing major.

I still have a lot to learn. And I only have one roll of PLA filament that came with it. And it's purple - not my color of choice but - it'll serve as good practice roll.

I'm so unfamiliar with the software it uses. The firmware... how to upgrade the firmware. Calibration in itself is it's slight learning curve.

And then there's the 3D creation/design software to choose to create what I want to print. I've only used 3D software's that were more for fun than engineering. I can't use any heavy weight 3D apps as I don't currently have the computer power to run them. Or I'd be in 3DS Max or Cinema 4D or any of the many others I love to play with rather than typing out this post I can tell you that!

It's funny how it can all come full circle with our likes and hobbies though. One leads to another, which leads to yet another which leads back to your starting point in the learning process. It can all tie in together into one really cool package. And you get to learn something new along the way.

And now - I don't have to wish they made certain parts. I can just make 'em up in a 3D app - export them and print them out. That's so freakin' cool!

And yeah I know 3D printers have been around for a while - but - I haven't owned one till now.
So it's new to me... I'm excited about seeing what it can do or more aptly what I can do with it!

Till next time
Keep creating.
Keep rendering
Keep thinking outside the box

- chase -

As I mentioned above I'd be attempting a first print the next day with the I3. Today being the next day I thought it was only fair to fill you in on the outcome as well as show you a picture of my actual printer now that it's completed.

Geeetech i3 Pro B (2015 edition) build completed 07/2016
by the author

It took me a bit but I managed to fix another couple issues that needed addressing. But after that...
Tah Dah! My first print.

Top - First 3D print under way.
Bottom - The completed print - tested for fit.

What is it? It's a Indicator Cap for a female XT-60 connecting plug used on Lipo Batteries. Commonly used in the RC Hobby. And a couple of my batteries have those plugs.

It's also small and boxy so I thought it was good first print. Plus I it was pretty much the only small 3D model I had an STL file for at hand.

Even from this little print I learned a thing or two. Like - when putting in the filament it's best to extrude more than I did before hitting print. And a quick solution to get the print to stick to the bed worked. Namely using blue tape. And a 0.5 mm gap between the nozzle and bed too much. At least the way it's configured currently.

Aside from the obvious user errors - I think it turned out okay. It's on the money dimensionally. So I say Bravo! The first print is now under my belt.

And some good news came when I shot a pic of it printing to whom I purchased it from. They found a part to the extruder that was missing. Namely the brass with blue plastic insert Push Thru Nut shown earlier in this post.

So a double whammy of good news.
Now I can relax about the printer and hopefully just enjoy watching it print out some things and smile that it's doing so successfully.

One thing that surprised me was how quick it printed out the part - even if it is a small part. It only took around 5 minutes and bam I had the part.

Which reminds me - I also learned I need to let them cool before removing them from the bed!

That's all for now... I hope you enjoyed this post.

'til next time...

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