Beginning My Adventures in 3D Printing

I bought my husband a 3D Printer last year for Christmas, fulfilling what I considered to be the proper blend of past hinting, fun, and I-want-but-won’t-buy-for-myself gift. I took a similar attitude when selecting the type of printer, settling on a DaVinci Mini model, which seemed to be a good blend of high Amazon reviews, low cost, and high quality of prints.

After unveiling for Christmas we had a good excuse not to immediately set it up: the box was large and full of many small parts, the printer required assembly and setup, and we were at a family gathering with dozens around, whcih is never an ideal place to work on anything that requires detail and attention.

Following, I set out to get the device functional. I dutifully unboxed everything, read the passably English setup guide in full, and got the device ready for use.

My First Roadblock: Crappy Proprietary Software

The biggest hiccup, and one that derailed me for several months, was the software itself. This brand of printers works on proprietary software with DRM, which they also use for their filament spools. Basically, you can’t use third party software or cheaper spools of filament to print with solely because they didn’t allow it, not because it was technically not possible. While a few people have demonstrated that they can in fact print with whatever software and filament they want, I have not yet found a good tutorial (or a tutorial of any sort), let alone the code used or what modifications to make to the brain of the device beyond the fact that you need to physically bridge some pins to flash new firmware.

So I download the software after signing up for an account at the printer company. It was a bit of a headache to signup, but I chalked it up to my ad blocker, which causes me problems on more sites than I find reasonable. After installing the software, I was prompted to register it before use. This required a completely separate signup than the one that I used to download it, while still connected to the same company. The form on this site had Javascript issues and never worked properly, so I was never able to complete registration.

Fast forward a few months when I’ve moved offices, found a shelf for the printer, and remembered that I wanted to get it working. I was able to re-download the software (after resetting my account information), and register the software and printer (again, after another reset and multiple redirects back to the English version of the site).

The software is not great, the wifi instructions are outdated and don’t seem to work, and the preferences and settings pages are all either blank, not useful, or not documented well. Still, I was able to get it working, download a few models, and begin my printventure.

My First Print

My first attempt at a print did not exactly go well. I opted for one of their more popular test models, a series of three figures printed side by side. After a layer of filament went down the printer started on the second layer, but accidentally dragged the previous layers along with it. I quickly powered it off to avoid wasting more filament, and figured out how to reset it to begin attempt two.

My first attempt at a 3D print

Print Attempt Two

I next attempted an even simpler, smaller model for a test print. This would be a hollow, square pyramid, with a solid base. After layer one was complete the model didn’t move, which was promising. I realized after starting that by making the base solid I was using up more filament than needed for a test. I also saw the edges start to curl upward, which I hoped would sort itself out. Turned out it didn’t, so another failure.

My second attempt at a 3D print

Print Three: Success!

After the second failure I went looking for more info and found a suggestion that if the room is cooler than 25℃ (77℉ for folks like me), that you should apply a coat of glue stick to the base to help it stay put. The room is probably 76℉, so of course that degree would be just enough. I coated the base in glue stick and turned off the overhead fan, just in case.

This time I chose a similar pyramid, but with a hollow base. After a few layers went on I knew that it’d work, so just to wait a boring 15 minutes until it was complete.

My third attempt at a 3D print

Near the end at the top of the pyramid the machine started singing a different sci-fi song (seriously, the clip below doesn’t have audio that represents the ‘Blade Runner’ reality that I was briefly living in). It seemed like it was in just as much a rush to be done as I was, and the top of the pyramid is a bit choppier than the rest of the model.

Final Print of the Day

Finally, I wanted to do something fun.. I opted to get a model of my husband’s favorite starter Pokémon, Squirtle, since this is ostensibly a gift for him. I chose a lower quality print setting to save time and filament. I didn’t consider that I’d have to help the machine along in processing this file to account for the many areas where it would be printing into open space, especially the face.

The results were… something. I now have a low-resolution model of a wireframe Squirtle who has s͔̘̰̟t̘̱̰͔̳̖a̫͖̻̜ͅr̠͖e̫̞̱̺͔ͅd̫̤̫͇ ̞̫̰͚ͅịn̲̮̪̣̹̻to̳̮ ̥̯t̻̜͔̼̭̞̥hͅe ͈̟̠̱͚a̖b͙͕ys͈s͕͖.

Honestly I think it’s funny and will probably keep it around as a reminder.

Also, good to know that my site can render Zalgo text on the frontend, even if it can’t on the backend.

s͒͆̇̂̀̎tͮ̽a͂̋r͊ê̓̌͊d ͭi̊̊ͯ̄͐ͬn͊̇̿t̅ͣ̇͗̍ͫ̄o̾ ͊ͯ̔t̎̒̔̎ͯͧhͭͯ͐̆͗̋̅e ̉ͣ̀ͥ̚a͆̒b͒ͬ͒͐y̾͐̑̊̓̿ͣs̎ͦ̿̃̈́s̒̋̑͌

stared into the abyss

s͟t̶a͘r͟e̴d͟ in͞t̵o̕ tḩe ͞a͡b̷y͝s̛s̢
s̸͉̮̭̥̒̍ͩͩͅt̅ͪͣ̔ͣ͏̮͓̳̯͖̩ã̘̩̩͍̗͔ŕͪ̏ͦ͂̚e̖͚̻̬̩̯ͩ̾d̵͈̰͉̹̰̏ͅ ͣ͐͐̄̐͐̇i̶̬͍̥̜͔͚ͦ̚n̞͍̱̯͈͇̻ͥ̄t̖̊̔ͯ́̔͛̿oͤ̿ ̜̰͍̤̻̫̂ͬ͌̓ͩ͜t̖̝̰͔̱ͤͦ̊ͧ͡h̲̘͖͈̾̇ͤe̝̰̼ͦ͟ ̷̫̘͙͆ͤͥa͇̒͗̑̉̆ͯ̍b̴y̥̗̰͍͚ͯͪ̏̍ŝ̴̫͌̄ͭͦ̏s̗̼̺̪͠
Squirtle on my desk

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