The past 4 months have brought on a new hobby for me: 3d printing. It’s something you really have to witness to behold the magic of it all. Seeing an object on the screen come to life layer by layer is an experience I hope everyone gets to enjoy.
With that being said, I’ve had my troubles as well. Last christmas I was given a 3d printer from monoprice as a gift (Monoprice Architect). It’s a flashforge creator clone. And by that I mean exact duplicate since the board and several other parts say flashforge on it. Out of the box it is a fantastic printer, but after working with tons of PLA I wanted to try some other plastics out.
My only upgrade so far has consisted of parts used to go with the printer (LEDS, octoprint, etc.) and a glass bed. The glass bed is fantastic. Gives a really nice surface to it and all around looks amazing.
The problem was with the bed that came with the printer. It is a plexiglass, non-heated bed that leaves the user wanting more. My long goal was to find a new heated bed for this printer. However, that was the same idea that came to mind of every other person who got this 300$ printer last christmas.
I tried my hand at flashforge usa parts store. They were out of stock and for 3 months I had it on backorder. No go. Next up was flashforge china. I THOUGHT I had gotten the right part. It was for a flashforge creator according to the website, but they shipped me a flashforge creator pro heated bed plate. Well shucks. The creator pro board has three leveling screens instead of two. What to do…
Before I got a new bed, I needed to upgrade the 3.2A power supply that came with the printer. In no way would it sustain any sort of wattage that was needed here. Amazon to the rescue. I received the popular Meanwell 350-24 prime for 40$.
Next up was finding an aluminum plate for the printer. I’ve scoured the internet and I found on amazon they are selling magnetic build plates from a company called “Maghold.” Yes please! Here’s a video and a link to the item.
I received the plate, it looks fantastic. Really nice piece of steel. However, I ordered one that went to a 2015 creator / creator pro. APPARENTLY, the board I received from flashforge was a 2016 board. Who knew. Again, the holes were Juuuuust off. So that’s messed up. I carefully used a file and made the wholes a little wider on the board. It fits snug on the build plate now so all I need to do now is drill three holes on the build plate arm (wood) that is attached to the z-axis. I’m wanting to do that without having to remove the damn thing, because it looks like a nightmare to try and do.
Once I get that installed it’ll be a much needed upgrade and better than the OEM plate.
Next up was the fact that these printers have MK10 extruders installed. There’s been several versions of the MK bowden extruders. My coworker had a 2013 flashforge creator model with an MK7 and had problems with feeding exotic filaments into it and having it gunk up. This was apparently fixed with an MK8. Since then, various manufacturers have been changing the model due to cutting costs or fixing issues and what my printer was shipped with was an MK10 hotend. The nozzles are wider (6mm I think) and they have a thicker PTFE tube that resides inside the nozzle to go to the aluminum tube from the hotend. For most PLA usages this is fine, but I’ve seen complaints on the forums that this was a poor change due to the fact that you’re unable to heat your extruder above 240C without having problems with the filament melting too much inside and clogging, as well as the fact that you can’t run the filament faster than 65mm/s. Meaning you’re stuck with being in that range.
A relatively new market has been the all metal hot ends. These replace the PTFE tube which causes some grief as well as keep a clean, clear path for the filament to reach the nozzle, without giving any to filament creep back up the tube. A company called Micro-Swiss in Minnesota makes them. I had previously thought the printer had an MK8 so I made the purchase to buy a new aluminum tube from them. Turns out it was an MK10. Who knew. Regardless, these guys were fantastic at customer service. They allowed a return on the hotend and shipped me out a new hotend for the MK10.
Here’s the before hot end. Notice the thick PTFE tube. This can be the cause of many issues:
(mk10 on left, mk9 on right)
And this is the new hotend. It’s solid metal throughout:
All in all, parts so far have been around 200$ which.. for a 300$ printer originally isn’t too bad.
When everything arrives I’ll update with screenshots to show it’s glory. It’s been a long road, but I’ve learned much along the way and I see the light at the end of the tunnel.