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penrhos

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I've been looking for a 3D printer for a while and this popped up as an Aldi "Special"

https://www.aldi.co.uk/balco-3d-printer-/p/086887240233900



It's a "Balco 3D" which seems to be a re-badged "Wanhao i3 Plus".

Reviews look OK and Aldi's RMA's are quite good so I might take the plunge.

Anyone had experience of either of these models and any pitfalls, settings or hints?
 

twistedsymphony

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I don't know anything about the Wanhao i3 but just looking at the design/specs here are my thoughts:

1. Based on the Prusa i3 design (as are 99% of of budget printers)
2. I'm not sure if the frame is good or crap, it's metal and bulky which is good because you want as rigid a frame as possible, but it's also sheet metal which can be flimsy if the bends aren't made right so... ? Looking around I see people selling these add-on braces: https://www.amazon.com/Gulfcoast-Ro...id=1542898297&sr=8-18&keywords=wanhao+i3+plus which to me says the factory frame is a bit lacking.
3. it has a heated bed which is a big plus over most bargain printers
4. LCD is touch screen which is gimmicky IMO I usually prefer buttons or a knob, also it's not angled which will make it a bit annoying to use, not a huge deal though.
5. build area and temp ranges are all what you'd expect for a Prusa i3 clone. you wont be printing any exotic material or anything too big but it could definitely print most of the stuff I've released.
6. it looks like it uses an aluminum bed with buildtack I had problems with a similar setup warping on me under heat, though with such a small bed it might not be an issue.

For the price it's a bit more expensive than some i3 clones but still quite a bit less than most "name brand" printers. However, it looks like it's pretty well built and it appears to include a warranty which means they at least think it will hold up over the warranty period.

I'm not a big fan of the i3 design, it's difficult to enclose if you want to do stuff like print (well) in ABS and they're on the small side. the frame design means that if it's mis-aligned you can end up with prints that aren't square and the Y-Axis moves the bed which means larger (heavier) prints can slow down the stepper motor and cause issues (though might not be as big a problem with such a small bed).

My current recommended printer for new comers to the hobby is the FolgerTech FT-5: https://folgertech.com/collections/...s/folger-tech-ft-5-large-scale-3d-printer-kit

the FT-5 has a nice big print volume, a glass bed, a sturdy outer frame, X and Y move the hot ends while the bed only moves up and down and because it's cube it's easy to build an enclosure if you want one. The price is very good for the amount of printer you're getting too. Though it's nearly £100 more than the Aldi printer so...
 

Frank_fjs

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Wow Aldi UK have a much better printer than Aldi Australia. They sell the Cocoon Create 3D printer here which has an incredibly small print volume and no heated bed.

@twistedsymphony

Any thoughts on the Anycubic I3 Mega?

Seems to have good features and reviews and is very well priced.
 

penrhos

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amazon uk have the "Wanhao i3" on deal of the day for £229 + delivery (free if you have prime).
 

twistedsymphony

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@twistedsymphony

Any thoughts on the Anycubic I3 Mega?

Seems to have good features and reviews and is very well priced.
It's another Prusa i3 clone... my thoughts are pretty much the same as those on the Wanhao i3.

Keep in mind that the Prusa i3 (designed by Joseph Prusa) the plans are open source and the design intent was to reduce the number of parts in order to make it as cheap as possible. It's kind of like the classic VW bug where they did things like make it rear engine to save the cost of a drive shaft and make it air cooled to save the cost of a radiator and water pump etc. the i3 design has similar "clever" design elements to reduce the complexity and thus reduce the cost. So while the complexity is low and the price point is cheap there's also nothing remarkable about these printers. But you can see why a cheap open source design is cloned by dozens of manufacturers around the world.
 

Coyo5050

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Does this mean your not a big fan of the actual Prusa i3?
 

twistedsymphony

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if we were talking about "computers" it'd be like comparing a Raspberry Pi to a modern desktop PC

Much like the i3, I can appreciate the Pi for it's low cost and compact design and there are lots of applications where it's the perfect tool, but if I'm looking to buy my "only" machine that I'll be using every day then neither the Pi nor the i3 is a suitable option IMO.

it's not a bad design, it's a cheap design and so depending on your use case it's either the perfect printer or not worth your time.
 

Frank_fjs

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The lid printed okay, one little blemish on one corner where it lifted. Also the finish on the opposing side is tarnished due to the glue stick on the print mat. Guess I can't complain for a bottom end printer.

Printing the main enclosure now, fingers crossed.

PART_1543727747118.jpg
 

twistedsymphony

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Any tips on basic Cura settings @twistedsymphony
looking at the specs there's no part cooling fan nor a heated bed so your options are limited.

If you're not already using one I would first see if there is a profile available for cura specific for your printer. Then I would play around with the temp settings.

Every filament brand is different and different colors print at different temps. For instance I have to print eSUN about 10* warmer than Hatchbox and I have to print Orange filament about 15* cooler than most colors.

you can look online for printing a "temp tower" that will help you dial it in. to reduce warping you want to print at as low a temp you can get away with. Too hot and you'll get a lot of warping and stringing and drooping. Too cool and your part will be brittle and the print lines will be uneven and blotchy.

You can also see if anyone has designed a 3D printed cooling fan bracket/duct for your printer and then print one in order to add a fan to your printer :) 3D printing your own printer enhancements is like a right of passage for 3D printer ownership. Failing that you could get a PC fan and just set it up to blow across the part while it prints.


The lid printed okay, one little blemish on one corner where it lifted. Also the finish on the opposing side is tarnished due to the glue stick on the print mat.
Yup. To get the nice finish that my parts have, I print on high-temp glass with no brim and no adhesive because as you discovered, it ruins the finish... it's really finicky printing like this but is the only way to get the finish I get on the parts I make.

sharp corners will lift more easily than rounded corners so I design most of my parts with nice rounded corners, it looks nice and helps it print better too. The top of the CPS2 enclosure can withstand a little bit of warping and still work, it's the button holes that will give you grief if it warps too much. The bottom will need to be nice and flat though in order for it to slide into place.

The bottom looks like it printed nicely though :)
 

Frank_fjs

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Yeah for the most part it printed really well. I might see if I can polish out the glue stains.

Printing the top now, this is doing great thus far with no lifting. My only gripe is the glue tainted finish.

I've loaded the settings into Cura as per manufacturer recommendations.

I'll keep practising, so many variables with 3D printing. Maybe with the brim it will print without glue.
 

Frank_fjs

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Not too shabby for a first attempt.

Button holes turned out great.

LCD fits in nicely.

Few imperfections which I can hopefully resolve once I learn more about 3D printing.

PART_1543741823144.jpg
PART_1543741850638.jpg
PART_1543741837981.jpg
 

penrhos

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I ended up buying the Aldi one as the Amazon seller didn't answer a couple of simple questions on RMA's and Aldi simply refund you no questions asked.

Printed the smiley face from the sdcard that came with it and that came out ok.

The version of cura it came with was 3.4, latest is 3.6 so I installed that on my pc and just need to create a profile for it then the first print is going to be the F3 LCD case & mount.

Anyone know if I can simply use the wanaho i3 or prusa i3 profiles or should I take the default and just set bed & nozzle sizes?

Bought 1Kg of black PLA to go with it (it comes with 100m of white)
 

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Can you not export the cura profiles from the supplied version and import into the updated one? I have an Ender 3 printer and found quite a lot of custom profiles just from the guys on youtube the reviewed it and they work better than the one that came supplied, I ended up getting a glass bed for my printer and i found the prints dont stick to it as good as the wonky metal bed. but I am still a noob with 3d printing
 

Frank_fjs

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I just manually copied the pre-configured profile from the included 3.4 Cura software and entered them into 3.6.
 

twistedsymphony

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Few imperfections which I can hopefully resolve once I learn more about 3D printing.
some advice here...
there should be a setting to not travel across print surface. In cura I think it's called combing and you want to set it to "no skin".

honestly don't know why every slicer isn't setup like this from default, it basically means that it's not going to route the print head across an already printed surface on a outer "skin"layer, and it should prevent those travel lines you see across the face of the part.


you'll want to also pick up a debur tool like this: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07BQNMGSJ/ref=sspa_dk_hqp_detail_aax_0?psc=1

this will help you cut off the brim and it does a way cleaner job than trying to use a xacto or razor blade.


it's also good good for softening sharp edges like prints with "elephant foot" (this is when the first layer sticks out slightly past the rest of the layers.


looking at your picture you could probably go a hair closer to the bed. or maybe your bed isn't completely level. if you notice the print lines near the buttons you can see gaps between them, on the first layer these should really be squished together into a single uniform surface seeing the lines separated like that is indicative of either temp on the first layer too low or not being close enough to the bed (or both)

I think your printer comes with a leveling program so maybe run though that and then see if there are settings in cura to adjust the Z-offset and first layer print temp. those might help with your bed adhesion as well.
 

Frank_fjs

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Thanks man!

I'm just using default Cura settings at the moment so definitely room for tweaking and improvement. I've been given some settings that apparantly work well, by others with the same printer, so will see how that goes.

The levelling program just shifts the nozzle to each corner and asks you to put a piece of paper beteeen it and the mat. There's 4 wheels you turn in each corner to raise / lower the bed, then you're supposed to adjust so that the paper has slight resistance between the nozzle and bed. Definitely room for me to dial this in more.

Guess it's just trial and error. I'll keep experimenting until I achieve the results I'm after.
 

twistedsymphony

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The levelling program just shifts the nozzle to each corner and asks you to put a piece of paper beteeen it and the mat. There's 4 wheels you turn in each corner to raise / lower the bed, then you're supposed to adjust so that the paper has slight resistance between the nozzle and bed. Definitely room for me to dial this in more.
that's basically the process for manually leveling the bed except normally you'd just manually move the nozzle to each corner.

I typically do that to get it close and then I usually lower it (or rather, raise the bed up) about 1/4 turn more and then I'll print just a single layer of a large print with a huge brim, and look to see how thick it is in each corner and adjust accordingly. if the single layer ends up with holes or breaks apart on the layer lines then you're not low enough and if it prints so thin it's more like a fragile film then you're too low.
 

penrhos

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Been having some setup issues, The Balco 3D comes with 100M of white PLA, I printed a couple of the demo items on the SDcard that came with it and a back panel for the LCD case and they were OK. So I switched to the large drum of Black PLA I bought with the printer as I wanted to print the LCD cases for F3/CPS2 and tried printing the front of the case and it failed miserably after about 5%.

So I went back to the demo models on the SDcard and one of those failed as well - did a bit of research and it seems like I need to have the bed & extrusion head hotter for black PLA compared with white.

White was happy to print at Bed=60, head=200 but to prevent warping and stringing I have to print Black at Bed=70, head=210 - no other changes had to be made.

Is this normal - both rolls of PLA are from the same manufacturer, I also have a roll of Grey & red on order, I assume I'll have to try default & custom temps for those too.
 
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