Ultimaker first (few) print notes

There is a fairly steep learning curve on 3D printing. I spent the first day or two in a fog where I just pushed buttons and didn’t really know what was going to happen but that’s what hacking is all about, right?

Since I would have found this helpful, I’ll just give some tips that I’ve learned so far. Keep in mind that these are tips from a guy who’s been printing for just 24 hours.

  1. The Ultimaker build instructions end abruptly. I had a finished machine but nobody said, now print this and post your results to the forum so we can help you. But that’s a good idea. Also, I later found this page which is just what I was looking for after I finished assembly: http://wiki.ultimaker.com/Calibrate
  2. The blue tape and the build platform. When I got to the step where I was supposed to cover my lovely perspex platform in blue masking tape I shuddered. Why? Oh why? There are a couple of reasons. One is that perspex isn’t very grippy so it’s not good for your first print layer. The second is if something is really screwed up, you can just pull the tape up and put down a new layer. I’ve grown to like my lovely blue tape.
  3. What temperature do I use? How do I print? What is slicing? Do I need a support structure? Keep reading articles and take your time. The answers are out there and often it involves experimentation so just go for it.
  4. Are my belts tight enough? Probably not. Grab a paperclip or two: https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups=#!topic/ultimaker/L5oH548RO8I Otherwise people suggest printing things to help with belt tension but you haven’t got that far yet, have you?!
  5. How tight should I tighten the thumb screw on the extruder? I made mine pretty tight. People recommend “just tight enough” but I’m finding that position hard to find. Since I’m getting better at printing every minute I’m probably going to be confident enough to print the http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:26094

Just think, in no time, you’ll have sloppy prints just like me:


First Ultimaker 3D Print

I spent the last couple of months building an Ultimaker 3D printer. Ok, I didn’t actually spend three months building it but it took me three months.  The build process was daunting because I wasn’t sure what I was building. If you draw up some plans for a bunk bed and then proceed to build it then you kind of know what’s happening at every step. When you get a big kit and are following directions you aren’t always sure why you are doing something.

2013-01-20 21.53.01 2013-01-20 21.53.36 2013-01-20 22.31.30 2013-01-20 22.32.33 2013-01-20 22.33.59 2013-01-21 00.05.08


As you can see my bed levelling went a bit wonky. Those are supposed to be squares. The y-axis was working well but the x-axis wasn’t and seemed to cause movement in the y-axis instead. After untangling my wires because I thought I had crosstalk I realised that I hadn’t properly tightened the pulleys on the actual stepper motors. A twist of the screwdriver and things became much better.

I find this all rather exciting and daunting at the same time. I’ve been stuck in the land of digital for so long that worrying about crosstalk, friction and belt tensions is slightly bewildering. I’d recommend it to any developer!