Hi all, i've been in the 3D printing swing for more or less about three weeks. As a tinkerer and a modder, my sole requirements for whatever printer i bought was that it had to be open frame, open source, and affordable. My original selection, the Ender 3, was out of stock on the website and, anywhere i could find it, it was marked up to nearly $300. So in my searches i decided to look only for printers with the same, or similar, build volume. What i landed on was a Longer3d LK4 Pro. I ordered four different colors of Overture filament from amazon, Gray (this is actually amazonbasics, but i hear it's basically Overture), Black, Transparent Green, and Red. I installed Cura, Meshmixer, Fusion360, Slic3r, MatterControl, and anything else i could find to help. I already had experience making video game models with Blender and Unity, so i had a head start on Use-case and scenario
It wasn't much, but it was mine. I couldn't wait to start printing.
My first 3d Print using Longer's sample filament. I ran out right before the chimney, but it came out wonderfully.
Over the short time i've been printing i've taught myself a lot about using Meshmixer, Cura, And Fusion360, though, for most aesthetic models, i use Blender as the starting point. I have experience with it, so it's easier for me to build a draft there, then smooth over the details with Fusion 360.
After benchy, the printer more or less gave up. Nothing i do would stick to the bed. I'd leveled, double and triple checked offsets, everything i could think of, and nothing would work. This is why i wanted open source.
I tore apart the firmware, Both marlin, and the screen firmware, and rebuilt them. went through every file and setting, everything i could and read the code. i made sure i knew how it worked. then i rewrote it using Marlin 1.1.9 as a base.
Custom boot animation for my printer was a must. Yes i know, the devil is bad, but cats are the devil and you snuggle them so there's the point.
After eliminating the possibility of a software issue i focused on the hardware. The first thing i realized was that the glass bed included with the printer could have been a physical representation of a sine wave. Not only was it not flat, it was both concave and convex on both sides. The steppers, particularly the Y-Stepper, was LOUD. and i don't mean eh you can hear it squeak, i mean Rock Crusher in the kitchen loud. Above all, the original parts cooling system was inadequate, particularly the duct, which more directed air onto the nozzle than the filament it was laying. That was the first thing i changed.
Video of the new fan duct, that uses the original fans. Duct was found on thingiverse and originally designed for a U30, not designed by me. You can also hear that Y-Stepper. Oh, the humanity.
To solve the stepper on limited funds at that particular moment, I swapped the E-Stepper and the Y-stepper. Since the E-stepper will never have a reason to move at the speeds of a Y-Stepper, it seemed logical to swap the two. While only a temporary solution, it's working for now until i can replace it.
To solve the bed issue, I went back to my wishlist for the ender i wanted in the first place.
Creality to the rescue with their PEI flex steel build plate designed for the ender 3.
After all that, I have a Longer LK4 pro with custom firmware, 0.3mm nozzle, a creality bed, and soon, on the way, a Bondtech BMG Extruder, E3D V6 Hot End.
Cost for this failure of a printer: 239
Upgrade cost so far: $239
Time invested: 121 hours of recorded print time, And the rest in Repair, Revamp, or Reprogramming.
As an added bonus, I also have a long history in metal fabrication. i've ordered two meters of 2040 Aluminum extrusion. I'm going to see how tall i can make a $200 printer. My goal is to size this printer large enough to fit entire DO3D Leg Pieces onto one build plate. A little time in Meshmixer and a few well-placed custom supports will allow me to print shin and thigh guards all together.
As it stands, My printer is working, and working better than it did out of the box. Prints are sticking, steppers are quiet (can't say that about the system fan), and i'm able to print.
Heroes of the Storm Diablo, found on thingiverse. featuring Billy Mitchell's famous "Rickey's Hot Sauce".
Small supportless bust of Deadpool. Printed in one shot with the stock nozzle. Turned out quite well, and this is the model that made me decide to install a smaller nozzle.
Buddha Fett. Namaste, or imma kill you. Haven't decided which. Found on thingiverse and printed after the repairs.
A deathclaw skull i managed to print before going through all of the trouble making the printer worthwhile. You can see the layer lines and delam all across the model. Surprisingly, however, the printer did this in one piece and it's articulated.
My current project. Pyramid Head from Silent Hill. A wonderful model, again, found on thingiverse. I scaled this dude up 132.41%. printed before new build plate. Sliced to be printed in 6 pieces.
A piece of Pyramid Head that i started before the repairs. You can again, see the layer lines, delamination, shifting, all kinds of things. Most was caused by the slip in the Y axis, while other issues were caused by the firmware. This is the exact point i was fed up. After fighting and fighting to get anything to adhere to the stock build plate, i managed to get this one to stick, but the printer Longer3d released as a working product, wouldn't even keep time. i actually cancelled this print.
And the after repair reprint. This skirt came out great. I printed this at .16 layer height and Exclusive slicing tolerance. Compared to the first one, the creases are much deeper and you can make out the outline of PH's legs.
His sword. 235cm tall after all said and done. His left hand and the sword were in one stl, so i split them and manipulated Cura's "fuzzy skin" effect to kind of bring out the rust and whatnot on his sword. After sanding, it looks awesome. This was the flagship print after reworking the firmwares.
Here's the progress thus far. Still has his right hand cargo to print. but he's looking amazing, even before paint.
And a nice little glamour shot to add. :)
I guess the best takeaway from my experience so far is that if you want an out-of-the-box ready printer that will actually work until you can upgrade parts, don't buy what i did. If you're a tinkerer, like me, and you like manipulating firmwares and hardware modification, then it's perfect. Just expect to be generally pissed at the machine until you've actually put some of your time into it. I'm more proud of this machine than i sould be but i suppose it's because i wrote it's code. It's always far more satisfying to make something broken work, than it is to replace it with another.
So there you have it. My entry. :) I hope i did this right. 😅