Getting a FDM Printer - but what else do I need

richard_t

Member
Location
nr Spalding
Hi

So eventually after prevaricating long enough, I'm going to order an FDM printer this week. As I said exhaustively it's going to be a Qidi X-Plus, mainly because it's enclosed, and the house I live in isn't ... but also to some extent it's plug and print, and at this point in my life, I'd rather avoid the hobby within the hobby within the hobby. Eventually I plan to fit Raspberry Pi/Octoprint to the machine, but I can live without that to start with, and again to start with, it will sit on my desk in the study ... eventually it will go into an unused bedroom. The printer comes with two extruders, a "normal" one and a "hot" one for ABS, Carbon Fiber Filled Nylon.

As this is my first 3D printer of any sort - and I'd based all my previous research on getting a resin printer (which I am in April 2022 ... assuming the boat makes it), I don't have a clue about which filament to get, and what else I might need to order at the time. Hopefully this is where you lot come in...

So what do I want to use it for?

First off are jobs around the house: I have a number of extendable curtain rods where the plastic bit between the 2 rods has broken or otherwise gone missing, making pulling the curtains a pain. I'd like to make new "plastic bits" for those; I have a roman blind where the clips have broken (I have one left to make a 3D model from), so I'd like to make some of those (although I suspect the resin printer might be a better bet); I've some IKEA dinning room chairs where the screw that holds the legs to the frame goes through a plastic half moon "thing" to spread the load - well, you've guessed it, some of those have broke, so I'd like to print some of those as well. Some inserts in a curtain rod holder - where the rod holder is designed for inch diameter rod, but the rod I have is half inch... stuff like that.

For the garden, I'd like to make a graduated dibber (one in imperial, and one in metric); a sweet pea seed pusher (although this would be for next year); and a miniature "runner bean ring" to hold sticks to support some miniature sweet peas that are a gift for Christmas.

I'd also like to make some storage inserts for some rather flexible rulers so they can sit in a IKEA or Really Useful box, without fear of bending the rules, and so I don't have to keep taking it apart; and some general storage inserts for track, roller, back-2-back gauges and the like.

And of course model railway stuff, so the crossing vee jigs, and switch jigs ... probably also sleeper spacing jigs, and the like.

So what kind of filament should I get? Do I care about a brand? PLA, PLA+, PETG, ABS? I'd like to try ABS and Carbon Fiber Nylon, but only really because I can I suppose, not sure if any of the above needs it.

And anything else I should get at the time? A filament dryer? something for getting the prints off the bed (or would just a paint scrapper from Wilko do?). Something to stick the prints to the bed (3DLAC)... The list seems endless!

Anything else to help a newbie out would be greatly appreciated.

Richard.
 
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Martin Wynne

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So what kind of filament should I get? Do I care about a brand? PLA, PLA+, PETG, ABS? I'd like to try ABS and Carbon Fiber Nylon, but only really because I can I suppose, not sure if any of the above needs it.

And anything else I should get at the time? A filament dryer? something for getting the prints off the bed (or would just a paint scrapper from Wilko do?). Something to stick the prints to the bed (3DLAC)... The list seems endless!
@richard_t

Hi Richard,

Looking at the specs for the Qidi, I think it will be you telling us. :)

For filament, I suggest using toughened PLA-PLUS for the household items, rail filing jigs, etc. The eSUN brand seems well regarded, this is the one I use:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07FQ75QG2

It is noticeably tougher than ordinary PLA, such as the stuff which will likely be supplied with the printer. In fact the filament which came with my printer is very poor quality.

But PLA is not weatherproof, so for your garden projects you will likely need something else, such as ABS.

Also there is no convenient solvent for PLA, whereas ABS can be glued using model solvents such as butanone. So for modelling projects you might prefer ABS.

For working parts of machinery -- gears, cams, sliders, etc., the usual choice is Nylon.

All the polymers tend to absorb moisture from the atmosphere, which degrades print quality. They come sealed in shrink-wrap with silica gel, but once opened need to be kept in a warm dry place between use. Whether you need an actual dryer is debateable.

It's very likely that some tools such as scrapers, etc., will be supplied with the printer. The best type of scraper is a window scraper from the pound shop. Basically a Stanley-type knife blade in a flat holder.

For sticking to the bed I use an ordinary cheapo glu-stick:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B000SHPWMQ

It will last forever -- just a couple of dabs, and then smear it out to a thin film over the bed using a damp sponge.

The glass bed on my machine is removable from the machine, so to extract the finished part from it I simply put it in a bowl of cold water for a few minutes while it is still hot. The combination of water dissolving the glue, and differential thermal contraction between the part and the glass soon frees it, assisted if necessary by some gentle prising at a corner with the scraper. Then a quick blast with a hair-dryer to dry off the finished part.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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richard_t

Member
Location
nr Spalding
Hi Martin

Thank you so much for your reply, and all the info - it really is appreciated.

Given the amount of condensation I have to vacuum off the windows each morning now the weather has changed, I do wonder if a drying chamber might be a good idea. I notice the filaments and all that are currently on offer...

Again, many thanks, and I'll report progress back here.

Richard.
 
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