My first steps using the E3D Nano - Gadget Victims

Hot

Post Top Ad

Gearbest 11.11 Crazy Sale:Win $11111 promotion

My first steps using the E3D Nano


This could as well be titled "My first steps in 3D printing" even though the long month waiting for my printer to arrive gave me time to document, watch, learn and prepare for The Day.










Exactly one month ago, I saw this Flash Sale from Gearbest for a 3D printer at 90€/99$.

I normally don't byte on these special deals but I had just checked a few models earlier -in case I would try it one day- and the price was below anything I'd seen for a 3D printer!

Now, the E3D Nano (ET-4000) is still presented as being on "Flash Sale", but at 135€/150$, it's just the standard price seen everywhere.

If you paid that price, don't have regrets, it was once sold with the Polaroid logo at over 300$!



Unpacking

It's actually smaller and lighter than a bread maker! 



The printer kit comes with everything to get you started in minutes.


Package List:
1 * 3D Printer
1 * PLA Filament (250g)
1 * Filament Spool Holder
1 * Scraper
1 * Screw Driver
1 * TF Card (1G)
1 * Card Reader
1 * USB Cable
1 * Power Adapter
1 * User Manual

I'm glad the PLA roll included is white, not orange like the printer.

Because of the un-heated print bed, it is normally not possible to use ABS filament as it wouldn't stick to the base. I've got some from a 3D pen that I probably used twice and I'll try to find a way to use them, probably with a large brim, higher temp and very thin layers? If I succeed, I'll post an update.

The screwdriver is useful to lift and detach the magnetic print bed at the end of a print job but mostly to adjust the print bed if needed. Mine was obviously fine and I had to warping issue at all.

The provided MicroSD card is notorious among owners to arrive with a mix of corrupted files.
My files were quite okay with the exception of a couple of PDF file I could not open.
Anyways, Easythreed has them all on their web site: http://www.easythreed.com/en/h-col-1158.html

The EasyThreed Nano/ET-4000 product parameters are printed on the box and will be helpful whenever you need to define your printer in a 3rd party slicer software:

Type: FDM (aka FFF)
Input Voltage: AC110-240V, 50/60Hz
Output Voltage: DC12v, 5A
Power: 60W
Extruder (Nozzle) Diameter: 0.4mm
Number of Extruder: 1 pc
Filament: PLA ONLY, 1.75MM
Heated Bed: No
Printing Size: 90 x 90 x 110
Printing Accuracy: 0.1-0.2mm
Printing Speed: 10-40mm/s
Layer Thickness: 0.05-0.3mm
Slicing Software: NANO
Temperature of Extruder: 180℃-230℃
Leveling: Simplified Manual Leveling
Connectivity: USB, MicroSD card slot
Support File Format: STL, OBJ, G-Code
Item Size: 18.8 * 18.8 * 19.8cm/ 7.4 * 7.4 * 7.8in
Item Weight: 1kg/ 2.2lb.

My first project:

I decided to start gently, with a simple 15mm cube, just to test the printer and check that it restitue the intended dimensions.

Designing the object:

For designing the 3D object, many tools are available for free.
If you are on Windows 10, Microsoft 3D Builder is very user-friendly.



BlockSCAD3D, and OpenSCAD are great ways to learn both coding and 3D creation.



The project will be saved an .stl file to prepare the "slicing"

If you're no into designing you own stuff, thousands of ready-made objects are available for free and ready to slice:
https://www.thingiverse.com
https://www.tinkercad.com

Slicing:

A slicing software is necessary to convert the .stl or .obj file into a script that tells the printer how to make each layer, or slice.
In addition to the initial design, this will define the density of the inside structure, the supports needed to keep overhanging part from collapsing during printing, the precision of the rendering, the optimal travel of the print head, etc

The provided microSD card includes Cura 15.04.3 and E3D Nano software.

E3D Nano is by far the easiest way to start.

It's built around an old cura engine, but offers more beginners-friendly interface that will make your first steps quasi-foolproof.





The "one-key" presets will define the trade between quality and print speed.

A lesson learned early: as for many things, patience is gold in 3D printing.
It is often preferable to opt for at least the standard preset or create your custom settings.
To that end, the files basic.xml and slice.xml in C:\Program Files (x86)\E3D NANO\Configure are worth checking as they contain the exact parameters for each presets. They could help creating your own alternative between "Standard" and "Optimize", and also may help creating your own custom printer in Ultimaker Cura.

Using Standard quality, E3D Nano tells me to expect 27 minutes and 82cm of PLA to complete!

Save SD Card will, most of the time create the .gcode file on your removable storage. If not Save Data will prompt you for the exact path.

The printing phase.

I LOVE THE SMELL OF MELTED PLASTIC IN THE MORNING!


The first thing to do is to feed the E3D Nano. Once powered, the Feed/Retract switch at the back of the printer must be set to...guess what...Feed, then push gently the filament until you meet a resistance, then wait for the printer to warm up.
Once done, you'll the button blinks slower, and you can help gently the filament for another centimeter, it will then be trapped in the mechanism and a bit of melted PLA will shortly appear at the nozzle.


Once the SD Card containing the .gcode file is inserted, it's time to press the print button.

Although it's in theory possible to print from an old version of Cura directly to the printer using the serial driver provided,  the offline method is far simpler and safer.
This also allows to relocate the printer in a ventilated place so you don't have to breath the melted PLA.

27 minutes and 82 cm of PLA later, the small virtual cube became a solid 3D object and kept the expected dimensions. That's a good start!

















First Impressions

So far I like everything about this E3D Nano. It's the perfect printer for beginner.
Okay, it may not have the precision of a professional printer, but it's a very satisfying way to start in 3D printing nevertheless!
It's small size is both a great thing and a limitation, but I knew that (probably the name?), and  printing some bigger objects is possible if you re-design them with interlocking parts.

...that's what I did with my second print job.

One step further...

I found a nice Google Home Mini Slim Wall Mount (by Pawpawpaw85) on Thingiverse.com.

This object is too big for the Nano print bed so I had to split the model and create a Dovetail joint.
A very good exercise to get familiar with the Subtract and Combine actions in Microsoft 3D Builder.


Each part could then be printed individually and the whole job took roughly 2 x 1h20m to complete.
I would love to say they snapped in together just fine, but the parts required a bit of trimming to fit.
I retrieved an old nail polisher kit which did the job just as fine as a Dremell kit.






Below is an accelerated video of another print process for a Google Home Mini Stand (by Ojeu, Thingiverse again). There's always something else to print!





Conclusion

If you've got an itch for 3D printing but need to find out if it's just a phase without wasting money, the E3D Nano (aka Mini or ET-4000) is a great way to start! 
Keep an eye on the price! If it ever drops again close to 100$, jump on it!
It is worth 130€/150$, but then, just take your time to compare the competition and see what's best for you. 
As an example, if you are convinced that you'll do more than occasional 3D printing, want to dedicate a permanent space for it, and feel ready to do some simple DYI assembly, the Creality 3D Ender-3 is a well-known reference and great value at 161.82€/189.99$!  
I left some other good choices for higher budgets below.

3 comments:

  1. Thank you for your comment. <I was wondering, can we use the nano printer to make another bigger printer. I mean use the components from this printer and build it bigger.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That wouldn't be worth the hassle. Only the print head would be reusable, and for the current price above 150$, you'd better go for a larger printer like the Creality Ender-3.

      Delete
  2. Ok, thank you for your answer.

    ReplyDelete

Post Top Ad