One of the ongoing problems I've had with 3D printing, I mean, just about every time I use the thing, is the bed is not level. If the bed is not level, the print gets off to a crappy start and if it has a bad base, chances are, it will be an okay print.
I've downloaded different testing prints (if you're curious about this check out thingiverse.com/), I've watched countless videos, and I rarely have any luck getting a good base. It's become increasingly frustrating. Something that started out as fun, isn't.
Anyway, earlier this year I really messed up with the bed leveling and ruined the heatend. That's the piece where the filament heats up, melts, and goes through the nozzle and lays down the filament onto the bed. It was badly clogged because I had the nozzle too close to the bed and the filament backed up into the heatend and there was no unblocking it.
I ended up replacing that piece (surprisingly didn't cost much at all), but I still have the problem with the bed leveling.
I previously mentioned how slow my laptop was getting. The new laptop took very little time to set up (things I found out about newer laptops - optic drives are almost non-existent anymore, you know, CD/DVD players and my new laptop did not come with a card reader, but I found an external player that also works as a USB hub and has a slot for a card reader! yay!). I spent a week trying to get the old machine to play nice, but when I turned it on Friday, it was still ill. I did a little research and realized that the problem might be a corrupt version of Windows. And decided I'd use the download from the cloud option to start all over with a clean install of Windows 10.
And it took less than 24 hours. Here I am, typing away, this machine is running better than it has in years.
Leaving that tangent behind, I decided to keep the old laptop in the extra room and use it for working with the 3D printer. The first thing I wanted to print was fairly simple. A while back I bought some coasters. As you can see, they're made from cloth and although they claim to be "super absorbant", they also get damp on the bottom. Not something you want resting on a wood surface for any length of time.
I came up with the brilliant idea of a tray for the coaster. It's a very simple print.
I started the first print (basically a test print to see how off I was in the size I needed; in the software I use to convert these to something the printer recognizes). I did the first layer (and the first layer was very rough to the touch, not a good sign, once again, a bad job of bed leveling) and too big. I'm not great at math and I use inches whereas the print software uses metric and I screw up every time
Yesterday I spent cleaning up the old machine (getting rid of Microsoft bloatware) and installing the few programs I'll plan to run. Like Cura, the software that came with my printer (of course, this is updated, but it's the software the machine manufacturer recommends).
I resized the tray from five and a half inches to five inches, took the magnetic mat off of the printer bed, and removed the previous filament. Placed it back down and time to level. But this time, instead of using an index card, as I have for every other time I leveled the bed, I used a business card. The business card is about twice the thickness of the index card.
And my print is smooth! I am seriously stoked about this. I am looking forward to doing more work on this machine.