My 3D Printing Journey

 At the beginning of October, I decided it was time to dive head first into the world of 3D printing, and after several nights of researching I ordered an Ender 3 Neo.  I chose this model because the original Ender 3 consistently shows up in lists of best beginner 3d printers and best printers under $200, even a fair number of "under $300" lists, and the Neo model included some of the most commonly recommended upgrades.

The company is based in Shenzhen, but has a warehouse in the US so it only took a few days to get it. 

Pretty well packed and everything looks intact.

Some assembly required, but it comes with all the needed tools.

Fully assembled, now the real work begins.

I have to say, the assembly instructions were pretty good overall, with only one or two vague points, however getting from that point to the first print was another story.  There's an official video that showed some of what you need to do, but unfortunately did not explain the vital step of setting the Z-offset (basically how close the nozzle is to the print surface), which resulted in some ugly scratches on the build plate and an undue amount of frustration.

Finally got it going!

Printing a little spooky ghost

 First 3d printed 3d printer upgrade part. It's a guide for the filament to help it feed more smoothly.  Used an old skate bearing and just slides right onto the existing bracket.

A slingshot launched glider that flies way better than I expected

Trying to design some giveaway logo coins, but having some consistency issues


As simple as it is, this was my "ah ha" moment.  Just the fact that I can design and print a part to solve a problem feels like a new super power.  The controller for a machine at work would just dangle and drag on the ground, so I measured the handle and figured out how to design the part I wanted using  Then I printed a small test part, decided I wanted to change the mounting direction and redesigned it.  Printed the final part and it was a perfect fit.

I've printed a number of other objects too. A couple fidget objects, and calibration cats, a case for a Pwnagotchi, and an articulated, print-in-place, octopus.  The different colors are all from the same spool of rainbow gradient filament, because I couldn't decide on one color when I ordered. 

It is definitely a fiddly and sometimes frustrating hobby, but it's also an amazing technology with incredible potential that will only get better as it evolves.