Taking a course on 3D printing and seeing what they are capable of motivated me to get one of my own. As I tend to do with any new hobby, I jumped in with both feet!
I ordered a Rostock Max V2 kit from MatterHackers around the end of September, and the box showed up the following week.
After a quick walk through the instruction manual’s parts list, I confirmed I had everything I needed, and it was time to get started.
The first step was to get the hot end prepped, since the RTV silicon needed time to cure. Shown are a couple hefty resistors to provide the heat, the hot end body and tip, and a thermister to detect the temperature, since we don’t want it getting too hot.
While that cured, it was time to prepare the power supply. A regular 400 watt PC power supply was included in the kit.
A little bit of wire cutting, crimping, and tying later, and it was ready.
The next step was to get the base of the printer body put together. Since all the body pieces in the kit are laser cut, they come covered in what’s basically masking tape, to keep laser cutting crud from damaging the finish. That all has to be peeled off.
With the tape peeled off, I attached the vertical supports and the power supply.
Next, I prepared the stepper motors which would drive the belts that will control the arm heights.
With the belt sprockets firmly attached to the motors, I attached the motors to their body mounts.
Those slid into their grooves in the printer body base without a problem.
Now we’re ready to put the top on the base. A bit more tape peeling and a couple screws to hold it down, and my printer started to look like something!
The next step is to prep the hot bed, which took a bit of soldering but was otherwise not a big deal. At the suggestion of a coworker who owns the same kit, I used 14ga wire instead of the provided 18ga, since those wires got hot for him at the smaller size.
The wires ran down through the hole in the middle of the top of the body, and a second plate sits between the hot bed and the body, to prevent heat damage. A couple screws and it attached securely.
Next I ran wires through the three aluminum towers. Those wires would eventually power the hot end, extruder, and end stop sensors. The towers then slid into the three slots on the body.
Next I was ready to put the top together, which meant more tape peeling.
Once that was together, I installed the end stop sensors. These keep the arms from smashing through the top of the printer. Handy!
This assembly slid down onto the top of the towers without much trouble.
Next I routed and tied some of the wiring, and hooked up the end stop sensors.
Next came assembling the arm guides, or “cheapskates”, which attach to belts and are driven up and down the towers by the stepper motors in the base.
The extruder is next, which uses the same kind of stepper motor from before. The mechanism that attaches to it keeps a tight grip on printing filament so it can be pushed down the bowden tube to the hot end without slipping.
Once that was assembled, it gets its own mounting bracket.
Next, that gets attached to the underside of the top of the printer.
Now we’re ready to return to the hot end, which needs a little bit of kapton tape to keep the thermister and resistors from coming loose. A couple wire crimps get the resistors ready to hook into the loom.
Here it is, wired in, with more tape to keep anything from coming loose. Getting the tiny thermister wires to firmly attach to the much larger wires in the loom was a challenge, but fortunately I didn’t break them.
A sleeve covered the wires, and the bowden tube was run from the extruder down to the hot end.
Next I assembled the print arms, which attach the hot end to the cheapskates.
Here they are installed. The white pieces swivel on both the arm and the cheapskate pin, and the black clip keeps them from slipping off.
It looks like a printer!
Next I got the filament spool holder mount put together. More tape.
Once assembled, that fit into a couple slots and screwed down to the top of the printer.
Next, I assembled the top plate. More tape!
Here it is installed. Plastic thumb screws hold it down.
Next I assembled the front LCD panel, which provides the user interface to the printer and displays the current status.
Once assembled, that piece then got a plastic cover.
The “brains” of the printer is a Rambo board, which needs its own mounting bracket and a fan held on by wire ties to keep it cool.
Finally done with the tape!
Next I got the wires ready to attach to the board. Luckily, I had them labeled. Sort of.
A bit of wiring gymnastics later, I got everything hooked up.
The board then slides snugly into the base of the printer. Very snugly.
A power switch goes in the top of the base, concluding the wiring.
Time for power! Hold your breath!
Success! No firmware yet, so it’s just a blank screen.
I loaded the firmware through USB from my PC, ran a PID autotune on the hot end, and the printer was ready to calibrate.
First print! It’s certainly fun to watch.
The results came out pretty well, though it was a little melty. What I didn’t realize at the time is that I was printing with PLA, even though my printer settings were for ABS, which is hotter. I probably should’ve paid closer attention to which spool I grabbed.
The printer needs a fan for the hot end to keep the filament from melting too early and getting jammed. For the model I bought, they have you print your own shroud for that fan. Here, running too hot for PLA became more of an issue. I was getting jammed up repeatedly, which immediately ends the print.
Once I finally got one to come out decently, I encountered another problem. The shroud was too small! The fan that was provided did not fit into the shroud at all, and I ended up breaking it when I tried to force it.
Curious, I printed a calibration square, which should come out to 40mm on each side. Not great.
I went to the SeeMeCNC forums and asked about my issue, and it turned out that one of my settings, the diagonal arm length, was for a newer version of the arms. I set the arm length to the suggested value, and tried again. Closer, but still off by too much.
Rather than fussing about why the newly prescribed arm lengths didn’t work out either, I plotted the arm lengths I had tried along with their results, and came up with a new value on my own.
At that same time, I figured out I was using the wrong filament, so I swapped to ABS and gave it another try.
Success! Now that my prints were the right size, I could print a layer fan shroud that would fit.
Once wired up, I was in business. The printer has been a huge success, and a lot of fun. Toys, vases, dice, keychains, and 3D models all come out great.