(My name is Matt S., and I’m a practicing 3D printing addict)
My adventures with the MakerFarm I3 has taught me quite a lot, but it’s very much of a learning tool and I’ve ended up spending as much time upgrading/tweaking/breaking as printing with it. The rest of the family hasn’t ended up with nearly as much printing time as they would like so I went looking for a solid kit that would be much closer to user-friendly. I’ll get into more of the specifics around the decision in another post, but I found that in the reprap world the Mendel90 is arguably the most solid of the bunch. I also managed to get Jake interested in 3D printing so we decided to each order a kit and do a mini group build.
Ordering was a breeze, a few emails back and forth with Chris’ SO got us the cost and shipping details sorted. The kits shipped the day after we PayPal’d over the funds and the kits showed up a few days later. Amazingly enough it took less time for UPS to ship the kits from the UK than it does for average ground from the West Coast. Unfortunately that also meant the kits were going to be sitting in my living room taunting me for a little over a week before we started the build…
The kits themselves were an impressive bit of work. They include everything but a few tools and the power supply (tho UK kits include the PS) and are extremely well thought out. The personalized cover letter in each was a nice touch, as was the micro SD card (with USB adapter) that had all the firmware, Chris’ customized version of Skeinforge, and an already sliced android test print. There was also a sample of some green PLA from faberdashery to use once the build was complete. Really quite top-notch.
The build took us roughly 20 or so hours to complete. The PDF manual was an absolute joy to follow, extremely detailed and generally easy to follow. The only real issues were once we got to wiring the power supply, but those were mostly due to my own inexperience and paranoia rather than the instructions. We ended up using the 12v and ground wires from the ATX and CPU connectors for power which gave a nice solid 12v input, and simply wiring the PSON/sense to ground rather than using the resistor.
Initial calibration was a challenge for me, not so much due to difficulty level but because it was very different from what I was used to. The printer uses positive/negative values for X/Y instead of 0-$MAX like the other printers I’ve used. The biggest difference was in calibrating the Z axis since it homes to MAX (printer top) so calibration requires measuring and updating firmware to get a proper 0 position. Once done tho it very rarely should need to be tweaked if the printer is stationary and so far it’s proved to be very accurate.
In the two weeks since the build was done, we’ve been getting extremely impressive prints. It took less than a week to get it dialed in and the prints have been extremely consistent. The printer is significantly louder than our I3 (moving along Z is the worst offender) but not overwhelmingly so. The noise is mostly due to the design and use of a metal panel frame rather than the wood used in the I3.
I would absolutely recommend this kit for anyone looking to do a build. The instructions and kit were great and the support from Chris, Mary, and the community have been excellent.