Friday, November 3, 2017

Final Thoughts on the Creality CR-10

Last post I showed some prints by the Creality CR-10 printer provided to my for review by Gearbest.

Some Final Thoughts

As I mentioned at the beginning, I'm pretty happy with the CR-10.  I've been using it as my primary printer for a little while now (admittedly my other printer is being a little inconsistent.)  I was wary of it at first, but after gaining a little familiarity with it I'm happy to throw different projects at it.

  • Inexpensive at around $380 on sale for everything you need to start printing.
  • Nice sized reasonably large print area.
  • Simplify 3D has a profile for it! (Though I'd speed up the default print speed).
  • Heated build plate.
  • Simple straightforward construction should help maintainability.
  • Includes all the tools you need to print right away!
  • Even includes spare screws and nozzle, cool!
  • Print quality is comparable to other FDM printers.  Of course that's going to depend on the filaments, print settings, etc.
  • Display has tons of information and is pretty simple to navigate and use.
  • Popular also means that a community is there to help.
  • Community modifications to the stock printer are available if desired - some printable mods are even included on the SD card!
  • Compatible with a wide range of filaments.
  • The lack of an enclosure will restrict large ABS prints.  I can probably build something, but the open frame makes that seem trickier.
  • The heated bed is great, but the large size takes longer to heat than beds on other printers.
  • Default print speed seems about half of what most users print with, not sure why.
  • Bowden extruder restrict the use of some materials, like flexible filament.
  • I haven't figured out a great place for the spring clips that hold the glass to the bed.  If I space them evenly, they get in the way of the extruder wipe at the beginning of the print.
  • Paper instructions didn't make assembly clear to me, but I found videos on the web and better documentation on the included micro-sd card.
  • Expect to tighten "everything" after receiving the printer.  Things seem to get loose during shipping.  Some folks have reported damaged parts though mine was fine.
  • Available only from Chinese distributers like Gearbest.

For a typical sale price of $380, the CR-10 is hard to beat.  The CR-10 would make a great first printer for those trying to decide if they want to get into 3D Printing.  Or a second printer for someone like me that wants another printer.  Depending on your needs, it could also be a good primary printer.  I have several friends that depend on the CR-10 to print parts for some rather involved projects, putting hundreds of hours on their machines.

Like any current 3D printer, things are going to happen.  Though none have happened to me yet, eventually your nozzle's going to jam, a screw's going to loosen, or a part might break.  The CR-10 has common parts fairly readily exposed for easy servicing when those things happen.  There's also a huge user community, which means someone else knows how to fix whatever just happened to your machine.  There are also plenty of mods available.

If you need great heat control, then this printer may not be great as-is.  People printing large ABS or other heat-challenged parts will probably want to enclose their machine.  Others may want to add a part cooling fan to their extruder nozzle.  Fortunately most of the desired mods have already been done by someone in the community.

As I mentioned, Gearbest provided this review machine, obviously hoping that my words will convince some of you to buy their stuff!  If you should decide to get a CR-10, please consider clicking my link so they'll let me review more stuff :)

Hope this helped someone,

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Printing with the Creality CR-10

In the previous post I talked a little about assembling the Creality CR-10 3D Printer.  Now that it's built I want to print something!


I typically use Simplify 3D to print with.  Simplify 3D seems to do a pretty good job of ensuring decent prints.

Since the box had some filament, I thought I'd try that first.  The Q&A section says it's not included, but I'm not the only one that received filament, so maybe that's a change?

The "CCTREE FILAMENT" is a white PLA that I know pretty much nothing about. It's not a very big roll, but you'll probably want other colors anyway.  White is a decent choice to ship with a printer though, it can be used for many things.

There's a test maneki-neko "lucky cat" figure included on the SD card, but I've heard that some vendors had corrupt files and others a huge version.  Not being sure how much filament that test would take, I decided to use something different.

Previously, I'd printed a Baby Groot from Thingiverse so I'm familiar with the model - and I wanted another.  That this seemed like a reasonable test case for the CR-10 since I was a bit familiar with the model already.  I wanted a smaller "keychain" version though, so I edited it down some and printed a couple sizes. (Available on Thingiverse).

I had to adjust the bed height a little to get the brim to print, but when that was done I was pretty pleased with how well the print turned out.  The white PLA turns out to be pretty shiny and very difficult to photograph well, but the details turned out pretty well.

For my intended use as a keychain, my choice of models has pretty fragile arms though, so I thought maybe a standing version would be more appropriate.  I forgot how hard the tiny fingers would be to get out of the supports on the lower hand!  (Also on Thingiverse)

In this model you can see quite a few strings, my default extruder temperature seemed to be a little too high.

The PLA figures stuck to the tape a little too much and I tore it getting some of the first bits off.  Perhaps if I'd let it cool a little longer.

After playing with the PLA for a while, I decided to try some ABS.  A full size spool still fits on the included holder.  Having an independent filament holder is a bit interesting as you want it to feed smoothly to the extruder.

I've printed enough ABS for L3-G0 and other models to be a bit wary of the printer.  It has a nice big bed and a good heater, but the lack of an enclosure is disconcerting.  I was afraid that it might start warping, even at these small sizes.  I've restricted my ABS prints to fairly small items so far, and I haven't had any warps.  The large bed does take a bit to warm up though, and I would expect larger items would warp.

I also realized that the prints seemed really slow.  After checking the owner's groups and stuff, I realized it's set to half of the speed my other printer runs at.  Most users seem to run it at twice the default speed, so I set it to that and am still happy with the quality.

The brown filament makes it a lot easier to see the details on the little Groots.  I like the appearance of the brown ABS, especially for Groot.  I printed at .2mm layer height, which is my go-to resolution.  Layers are visible, particularly on the arms, but the CR-10 did a pretty decent job here.

And here's the Baby Groot on my keychain. Unfortunately the arms stick way out without support and the neck isn't very thick, so I broke it pretty quickly - but it looked cool while it lasted!

Another print of a servo mount for a robotics sensor.  This is a fairly simple shape and turned out about as you'd expect.  (Printed flat side down)

The prints I've done so far have been pretty good.  At least as good as other more expensive printers that I've used.  As with any FDM printer, there can be some irregularities.  It seems to me that it might drip a little more filament between moves than other printers, but over all it's comparable to the other printers I have experience with.  It can print clean layers with good detail.  It may "ring" less in corners than other printers, but I haven't tested that very well.

Out of the box my prints were appropriately sized and not skewed, so I'm pleased with that.

It will be interesting to see if it continues to do well after a few hundred hours of breaking in.

Next: Final Thoughts

Click onward to my summary of my review of the Creality CR-10 3D printer.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Assembly Tips for the Creality CR-10

In the previous post I introduced the Creality CR-10 3D Printer and what's in the box.  Here we'll talk about assembling it.  I was skeptical when Gearbest offered me the printer to review, but I've come to like it.


The CR-10 is pretty easy to put together, took less than an hour to stick everything together, and that's with me taking photos of everything!

The included instructions are pretty sparse.  There's more documentation on the micro SD card, so don't forget to check that out - I didn't figure that out until after it was put together.  A few photos showed where stuff goes, and most of the bits are pretty obvious, but I ended up looking at someone's YouTube video.

One thing that bugged me is the power supply.  It's a 220V/110V selectable power supply.  Nice that it runs on either voltage, but many modern switching supplies were designed to accept both ranges without requiring a switch, so that's disappointing.  I guess if you're selling a $380 printer you have to save a few bucks where you can.

Even more disconcerting to me is that the switch was selected to 220V, even though they knew this unit was shipping with a US plug to the US.  It's not hard to switch to 110V, and that's probably way safer than selecting 110 for a 220 country, at least this way it probably just won't run instead of blowing out.

In particular, I didn't realize that the bottom frame is drilled for the vertical support.  Additionally, some people have reported that the colored covers may need adjusted or trimmed to make room for the screws.  I didn't need to do that for mine.

After the bottom screws are in, then the side plates can be attached.  Since we're looking at it, I may as well mention that this printer only has one z-axis servo.  Some people have added a second, but so far I haven't seen the need.

Another key thing is to tighten everything.  I'm not the only one that has noticed that things seem to jiggle loose during shipping from China.  Fortunately they give you the tools.  Here I'm snugging down a loose screw on the extruder stepper.  You don't really want a bolt to fall out while printing and jam things.

In particular the sliders for the rails need snugged up.  When you turn them with a wrench the wheel gets closer or further from the rail.  Snug them up, but not so tight that the rail can't slide.  I was a bit worried about getting them even and "right", but just tightening them a bit until they felt good seems to have worked fine.

Additionally, the belts should probably have their tension adjusted (I don't have a photo of that here).  You don't want them to slip or bind.

There are also some zip ties use during shipping to keep some parts secure that need cut.  It tickled me to use the provided snips.

Additional zip ties are included to tidy up the cable runs.

One thing I don't have a photo of is leveling the bed.  Disable the motors and then pretty straightforward adjustment of screws.  I had to try a print and readjust when it didn't stick.  One of the few things that bugged me about the printer is that when properly adjusted the adjustment screws still seemed "loose" to me.

Those are pretty much my assembly tips & notes.  Like I said, check out the SD card files or just look up a more detailed assembly video on YouTube.

Next Up: Printing

Next we print a few things with the $380 Creality CR-10 3D Printer that Gearbest gave me to review.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Creality CR-10 Printer

I was given a Creality CR-10 3D printer by Gearbest to review and otherwise show off.  Spoiler alert: I like it.  It's an open-frame Boyden like this:

We've been busy with other things, so I haven't printed as much as I'd like yet, but so far I'm fairly impressed.  I've thought most FDM printers are similar, and I've been fairly happy with my original printer, so I hadn't intended to get another brand.  I like my other printer and it's enclosed print bed, and I've been wary of Bowden tube style printers because of the play in the tube, so I was a bit skeptical of the CR-10 before it arrived.

I picked the CR-10 because of it's popularity, the reasonably large print area, heated bed and reasonably low cost (even though gearbest provided my review unit.)  I also like that Simplify 3D has a profile for it.  Now, after playing with it a bit, I've decided to let go of my other spare, so I guess it has won me over.

  • Aluminum frame 
  • 300mm x 300mm x 400mm z-height 
  • Heated borosilicate glass build plate
  • Bowden extruder with Mk8 hot end
  • Prebuilt with a little bit of assembly required
  • Separate controller with LCD display, accepts USB from computer or Micro SD
  • Tape for the bed is included, both large sheets and an additional roll
  • Includes useful tools and spare parts
  • Small roll of white PLA
  • Micro SD and USB cable are included for your preferred print method
  • List is around $500 USD, but usually available closer to $380.
Sometimes the listings change, so you may want to check the specs when purchasing.  Some people have complained about the Chinese distributers, including Gearbest, however that seems to be before I started purchasing from them.  I have yet to have problems ordering from Gearbest.

What's in the Box?

As one would expect, it comes in a box!  It actually came fairly quickly for what I'm used to from China.  Fairly well packed with the build plate on top.  Note that it's a glass bed and they included pieces of huge yellow painter-type tape for printing.

Under the build plate is a box with parts in it.

Box is cat-tested (it's a cat, what do you expect?)  Cat not included.

Here's an obligatory picture with all the parts out of the box.

And this is one of the things that really impressed me:  Tools!  This printer came with everything you need to print.  Snips for clipping the filament (also works on the packing zip-ties).  Spare tape for the print bed.  Little drill to clean the nozzle, flat blade to remove your prints, and even a USB cable.  I was really impressed.

That goes for  these too: Spare parts!  Screws in case one gets lost, spare Boyden fitting, and best yet, an extra print nozzle.  My other printer has been really annoying with the clogged nozzle.  Sometimes it takes a bit to clean, but all you want to do is keep printing.  With a spare you can swap it out and clean the jammed one later.

My review kit had a small roll of filament.  It isn't clear to me if it's normally included or not, several people mentioned it in the reviews, but in their Q&A they say it's not included.  The included white PLA is a pretty small roll, but you'll probably want other colors anyway.

Next: Assembly

In the next post I talk about assembling the Creality CR-10 3D Printer that Gearbest gave me to review.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Converting LDD to standard 3D model files

I've wanted to make Lego Digital Designer files into 3D models or 3D printable models. It's not too terribly hard.

  1. From Lego Digital Designer, export the model as an LDraw file: File->Export Model, pick Ldraw-Files (*.ldr) 
  2. Open that ldr file in LeoCAD
  3. Export to Wavefront OBJ file.
  4. Import into Microsoft 3D Builder, select mm for import units.
  5. Repair
  6. Resize (Select size, make sure it's locked, change mm to % and pick 40%)
  7. Save as STL.

Note that scales in OBJ files vary, and LeoCAD apparently decided to use the LDraw Units instead of anything like mm or inches when exporting. So after importing, a "stud" is 20 mm instead of 8mm. That's why we have to resize them and scale the model to 40% in step 6.

Also note that the LeoCAD export uses the "nominal" sizes, so the model won't have any of the reductions in size that a real Lego brick does to allow for fit.  

In other words, a LeoCAD 1x2 brick would be 8mm x 16mm.  But a "real" Lego brick has .1mm removed from each side to allow for clearance.  So a real Lego 1x2 would be 7.8mm x 15.8 mm.

If you intend to 3D print your model and have it interface with "normal" Lego, you'll have to do something about those clearances as the model will be slightly too large in all dimensions.

If all you want is a "normal" brick, several programs generate Lego bricks for printing, such as my own Fancy Bricks OpenScad program on Thingiverse -

Saturday, September 23, 2017

3D Printing

From some of the posts here and on L3-G0's blog and YouTube, you can tell that I've been doing some stuff with 3D Printers.  Especially for the droids I "need" funny angled bricks and the like that reinforce the Lego models.  They can be built from pure Lego, but once you start bouncing them down a rough sidewalk, they fall to pieces, and the hinges get confused and stuff - so most of the droids have printed bricks.

(printed bricks seen @ 21 seconds in the video)

I've been exposed to some of the 3D printers available at a "maker garage" and have friends that have built various models, but I pretty much thought of all FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) printers using filament as being about the same. They all have things to move the head &/or platform and an extruder to squeeze out a long string of hot plastic to build up the models in layers.

To that effect, I'd bought a Flashforge Creator (the wood one) as my first printer, and I've been pretty happy with it. The other various printers at work sometimes seem a little cleaner in some cases, or worse in other cases. They all have issues with the extruder getting clogged occasionally, and they all need a little bit of hands on maintenance.

I pretty much expected to keep using the Flashforge (indeed, I bought another used one and fixed it up), however I've been lured into trying a Creality CR-10 and have been pretty pleased so far.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Mini Lego Disney Wonder Instructions

People ask if we have instructions/plans/whatever for the big builds, but we don't :(  Sometimes they even get really mad that I don't have time to spend 3 full-time weeks making plans for them instead of working on fixing my roof or the next project or whatever.

But we do have plans for the Mini Lego Disney Wonder!

Two notes: the second page is an alternate hull in black because black is easier to find than the Dark Earth Blue brick that is a better match to the real ship.  So start on page one or page two, not both :)

And the last page is stickers for the rear details for the blue hull.  Some need printed on clear sticker paper, some can be printed on white sticker paper.

And please support the large Lego Disney Wonder on Lego Ideas!

Here's the link for the plans:!AkcvBm2eyNfPytovCpqr6xK_ow-dqg

And don't forget to support the big Lego Wonder on Lego Ideas!