When 3D Printing can go wrong
Staff Writer By: M.D. McCallum (WarLord720)
Being a 3D character modeler, I have always been fascinated by the thought of having my creations in physical form. Combine it being done at home and you have the perfect storm of visualizing your creativity. Think it, create it, touch it, feel it. Now that IS enticing.
So I bit and got just what I bargained for. The perfect storm.
Off to the interweb I went in search of knowledge... something I'm always short of when you consider the amount time I spend looking for such. I did as many of us would do. I Googled, I YouTubed and kept an eye out for any scrap of 3D printing info that might help me define what type of printer I needed.
I started off with the basics:
• Printing platform size (large as practical).
• Partially if not fully assembled. No pure DIY routes.
• Material types and costs.
• Good quality print.
• Around $500 to $600 US.
It didn't take long before one printer or a private label variation of that name kept popping up. The Creality CR-10 which morphed into the CR-10S, an upgraded version, by the time I decided to go with one. This is an open frame printer that requires some assembly but most of the printer is pre-assembled. Lots of positive info about it, good print quality among them, with a few negative reviews thrown in the mix. Just enough negative reviews from seemingly experienced sources to cast doubt.
The problem became apparent... this printer fits the bill without the cost getting out of hand. It was in the nether world of good or bad. I had two options to get my hands on one. GearBest or Amazon. GearBest had the best price by over $100 but it exists in that nether world "between good and bad" depending on what review you are reading. I decided to go the Amazon route since it was fulfilled by them as well. Very glad I did.
The box arrived very timely and looked to be well taped and packed. The foam inserts fit parts almost like a glove in some places. I removed part of the printer and dug further into the box retrieving the control unit. A simple black box with a sloping face that had a very pronounced rattle as soon as I picked it up. I gingerly turned it over and discovered there were two distinct, loose items rattling around inside.
I removed the bottom of the box and fished out two different screws. Great but I'm not giving up so easily. I'll deal with those later. I replaced the bottom of the control box and removed the remaining frame to find loose screws and some type of custom pieces embedded into the foam packing at different angles. The more I looked... the more errant items I found. I hadn't even opened the parts box that shipped with the printer!
Had it just involved loose external parts... maybe so. Had it not had screws bouncing around inside the control box... maybe so. But finding so many items that I had no idea where they went put a halt to everything. No use in wasting time assembling something with so many evident flaws. Most likely it wouldn't work and I'd have no idea why. Was it their fault or something I put together wrong from parts found jammed into the lining? Better to return the item and move on.
Two screws loose in control box and some of the parts found embedded into the packing.
Dealing with the seller was a different experience too. While they answered promptly and politely their main concern seemed to be that I keep the printer and repair it. They would send replacement parts even though we hadn't discussed what parts could be missing yet. It seems this was not an isolated incident to have such an answer already in their support protocol. I initiated the return process via Amazon.
The more I write this piece the more it becomes apparent that I was an idiot for ordering this printer. Lesson learned. Bad reviews and that netherworld of "between good and bad" exists for a reason. Hopefully next time I'll pull my head out and grab a breath of fresh air to clear the mind.
M.D. McCallum, aka WarLord is an international award-winning commercial graphics artist, 3D animator, published author, project director and webmaster with a freelance career that spans over 20 years. M.D. is currently working on VR projects and characters. You can learn more about MD at his website.