Reviews by pat
Spool created by Slant 3D to optimize the masterspool idea of a 2 piece reusable spool that accepts spoolless filament refills. The Slant Spool’s main change is switching from a threaded locking mechanism to a 1/4 turn mechanism and it works exactly as advertised. The mechanism change also allows both sides to be identical which simplifies printing and upkeep. The solid portion on the outside of the reel is perfect for the filament id sticker that comes with the refills. Lastly, there’s filament sized holes in the outside of the reel to hold the loose end when you’re not using the filament.
Website for 3D printing files made by members of the RepRap project. Website is clean and usable. The selection is much smaller than thingiverse which limits its usefullness.
A large repository of mostly openly licensed files for 3D printing. Instructions for printing the objects or why the objects exist can often be spotty. Be aware that this website is owned by Makerbot who is owned by Stratasys. Uploading or remixing a thing requires a Makerbot account.
I bought a spool in August since it’s $25 per KG and goes down with the volume you buy to $21 for 4 at a time. Matterhackers also has free shipping to anywhere in the US making this a good deal for PETG. The spool arrived in a vacuum sealed bag with desiccant inside. The first spool printed great with default Prusa PETG settings. Bed ahesion on a PEI printbed is very good if bed is clean. I ordered 2 more 1kg spools in September and have been having constant issues with material accumlating on the nozzle and then detaching leaving blobs and voids on parts. It’s unclear if the issue is with my printer or the material at this point. It’s unlikely I’ll be able to fully troubleshoot the problem in the near future since Matterhackers is out of stock.
Diameter measured an averaged of 1.73mm diameter taking multiple measurements with calipers on two different spools. This puts it well within the advertised spec of 1.75 ±0.07mm. No visible impurities were seen. Filament fed nicely off spool.
Prusa Generic PETG Settings 230C Extruder/85C Bed 1st layer, 240C/90C Bed after 1st layer
Matterhackers recommended print settings 230-255C Extruder/55-77C Bed
Matterhackers seems to have issues keeping their build series PETG in stock. This color has been out of stock for a couple of weeks and is estimated to be out of stock for another month.
The pricing is good when buying several at a time, product arrives in a timely manner and product quality may be good (assuming the problem is with my printer). The availibilty issues combined with questions on quality leaves me looking for another source for PETG.
Slic3r is an open source slicing program with the features you’d expect. The Prusa edition adds in some integration with Prusa printers to make program setup a bit easier.
UI is pretty and works well for common tasks. There are some menus and advanced features that are inscrutable until you go through the documentation. You have to manually keep track of which tab you are in. Parts only show up in 3D and 2D tabs until they have been sliced, then you can see more in preview and layers tabs. Settings are nicely laid out across 3 tabs at the top.
Everything works quickly and as expected.
Good piece of software made better with printer integration. Easy things are easy and hard things are possible(once you read the docs).
FreeCAD is a FOSS 3D parametric modeler that runs on Linux, Mac and Windows. This is a review of version 0.17.
Parametric modeling is the killer feature here. It allows you to link dimensions so they autoupdate when the parent changes. This is early software and it shows. Sketches mapped to faces will map themselves to a different plane when editing a feature above the sketch in the feature tree. You can also link dimensions by naming a dimension and then referencing it by name when creating another constraint: Sketch.constraints.name. This part is well thought out and easy to use. Datum features are new in this version and need work. I’ve spent several hours fighting to get the datum planes defined correctly even when doing simple things like creating a copy of the xy plane but higher on the z axis. That being said, once a part is modeled with datum planes and dimensions are controlled with named constraints, everything works well.
Sketcher is on par with commercial programs for the most part. I’ve had issues with auto constraints not always being applied which will cause issues when you try to base a feature on the sketch. The solver has issues that will lead you to overconstrain sketches if you follow its guidance. Fixes for this are already in the 0.18 branch.
Straight forward and relatively easy to use. It’s interface is similar to many other CAD programs with toolbars for commands and a feature tree for the part. The property view panel is a great addition that allows you to see all the properties of feature or sketch and edit them. The UI is confusing when multiple parts are open in seperate tabs because the feature tree keeps both parts in the same pane and doesn’t change focus when you switch tabs. This leads to many unintended edits on the part you can no longer see.
FreeCAD 0.17 (Own work. License: CC-BY-SA.)
Software is usable now with quirks that come with early development software. The majority of features of a true 3D parametric modeler seem to be in the program but many need work. Assemblies are not yet implemented… The ongoing development should make this software not only usable but competitive with commercial products in a few years.
i3 mk3 kit (Own work. License: CC-BY-SA.)
Kit arrives in box with several smaller boxes inside for the sub assemblies. Everything is well organized and labeled. The kit comes with tools for assembly, 1 kg of PLA and gummy bears. Assembly of the kit took around 12 hours and can be tedious. Be prepared to spend much more time than that if you aren’t experienced with this kind of work. Assembly instructions were generally good but, use the online version so you can see comments where people had trouble or the instructions were confusing. The tuning once the printer was assembled takes patience and is a bit unsettling. It has you do a pre-programmed print and adjust the z axis down while printing to calibrate extruder to print bed relation.
The belt tightening on the x axis is bad. Pull as hard as you can or you’ll find the belt is too loose even with the tension adjust and have to take the back off the x carriage again. Be careful, the tension adjustment will crack the mount with no notice! Also, high belt numbers mean loose belt, low numbers mean tight belt so if you’re above 280 go back and tighten your belts.
Assembled i3 mk3 (Own work. License: CC-BY-SA.)
I use Slic3r Prusa edition to create gcode for the machine. The integration is very well done with the defaults for the printer being loaded in automatically. Default settings have been turning out quality prints. PrintRun(pronterface) had no issue connecting to the machine and running prints.
Printing parts in pla on the default 0.2mm fast profile with 20% to 80% infill. First layer is consistently good without a brim or raft. Some features have had small issues on the first layer where there’s sharp corners or tight radii, but they rarely cause issues with the overall print. Prints pop off the PEI sheet easily and if you have trouble the entire sheet can be removed and bent.
The first spool of prints went well with default 0.2mm fast profile and 20 to 50% infill. Consistently good first layer without adjusting live z from PLA setting. Bed adhesion is good if bed is clean, dust or oil from your finger will mess up the first layer. Print will pop off with a bend of the sheet when cold. Stringing is there but easily pulled off. The next 2 spools have not printed well, but I narrowed that down to bad material.
Material since then has been printing fairly well assuming live z is set well and nozzle is clean.
The printed printer parts, software and firmware are all getting continuous updates from Prusa Research. This made me confident the machine will be well supported throughout its useful life. After a few months of ownership, it’s clear that the updates can often be beta quality with new features being disabled in the next up date, then reenabled a few updates later.
The filament sensor has been OK. It came disabled by default which was suprising and caused me to lose a print. It worked fine to autoload filament the few times I used it. Currently, it isn’t being recoginized by firmware. The crash detect feature has been a dissapointment as well. I have never had it recover from a crash without a layer shift of at least 0.6mm. Power panic has been tested once and failed to recover from a ~3 second power loss when the power strip was accidentally switched off. PINDA probe came with temperature compensation switched off. This means mesh bed leveling will not be correct if PINDA is hot(typically 35 C or higher). Go to Settings>Temp Cal to turn on. Then run temp calibration to set the temp compensation. You may want to manually set it using manual temp calibration since the automatic calibration isn’t very good.
Long Term Update
After a couple months with the printer, issues are starting to come up.
The steel sheet will develop bubbles underneath the PEI from prints. The bubbles have been deemed normal by Prusa Research and tend to come and go. They will not go away if you print the same part in the same spot meaning you can’t print the same parts without moving them around the bed. PEI is likely to get damaged over time if printing PETG. A well adhered print ripped off a piece of PEI after 3ish months.
Bed is now up to .25mm out of level with no mechanical adjustment available.
Power supply died after approximately 3 months with approximately 1 month inside enclosure. This was indicated by the input fuse blowing loudly.
The bed leveling/ first layer issues I had were partially created due to faulty PINDA probe(outside of its lack of temperature compensation). After replacing the probe with a BLTOUCH, its clear the probe was defective and part the issues I was having.
Z Axis Sync
After getting my printer working again with the BLTOUCH, the Z axis is losing sync. I tracked the issue to a failed lead screw nut.
Decent machine that can produce good prints until the hardware breaks down. This printer packs a lot of features in for the price but the company is not doing a good job of integrating new features and the hardware is unlikely to last. It’s clear Prusa Research relies heavily on feedback from the community to test products so you should avoid buying new models until community has had time to point out flaws and the company has time to reintegrate those changes.
Printrun is print control software that allows printer control from a connected computer. I’m reviewing based on my experience on linux.
The instructions were mediocre and somewhat misleading for Debian stable and Debian Testing. For Debian stable I had to install python3-dev and had to upgrade the wheel package using pip in addition to following the provided instructions. Debian testing instruction were good once I figured out the that proper instruction for testing were 2 sections below the standard installation section.
The UI shows you everything need but is ugly and a bit awkward to use. The underlying software seems to be solid though as it imported gcode from prusa slic3r that repetier was misinterpreting.
There is the option to setup macros that are mapped to custom buttons along with the ability to work with the console which should give many options for automating tasks.
pronsole(CLI for printrun)
printcore(library for controlling all printrun actions using python)
Solid software that needs a lot of polishing in the GUI and installation. If you want a pretty GUI there are better options. This will likely become my go to program since it has powerful scripting capability.
Fast browser that uses built-in android web kit.
- No tracking
- built-in ad blocker is OK at best
- no support for addons
OsmAnd is a free and open source(FOSS) maps and navigation app. It uses OpenStreetMap(OSM) for map data, several different routing engines are available ranging from fully offline to partially online and maps can use local data(offline) or online tiles. It’s best feature is that it can be used fully offline once map data has been downloaded.
The built in routing engine that works offline can be very slow depending on length of your route and your phones cpu. When used with older phones, it can take several minutes to calculate a 10-20 mile route. It is the default routing engine when you install the app.
Online routing engines were removed in one of the 3.x releases.
The OSRM routing engine works very fast, taking ~15 seconds to calculate a 10-20 mile route, but requires a data connection. It has to be enabled in the settings menu to work. This engine doesn’t seem to support announcing street names or avoiding tolls, use the default routing engine for the best experience.
Search is not as good as commercial competitors. One drawback is that OSM’s data is missing many businesses and addresses compared to commercial competitors. The other is that the search function often requires exact substing matches to find things and is compounded by the fact OSM is crowdsourced data so there can be inconsistencies in tagging.
Map updates come monthly by default and include any updates that have been made to the OSM data.
OsmAnd live is a feature that allows downloads of new map data every hour if you want. This feature comes free with the F Droid version. This feature is great for OSM contributors. OsmAnd Live updates approx. every 15 minutes so you can make changes on OSM, wait 15 minutes and download your changes so you can immediately use your changes and know what’s already been mapped.
Since the app is FOSS, the app updates and map updates can be free if you download from F Droid . You can also get a free version from the Play store that comes with limits on the amount of offline maps you can download, but you can purchase an expanded version that takes aways those limits.
Battery and Data Usage
App uses very little data when using local data, even with online route calculation enabled. Map downloads are large, I highly recommend downloading over wifi only.
Battery usage seems to be much lower than commercial competitors, but a direct comparison has not been done.
Map rendering will be slightly slower than commercial ones if using local map data. If you want the fastest experience, enable online map tiles in the configure map section.
##Long Term Update
Search is a pain and doesn’t become less frustrating over time. Rendering can be odd sometimes, showing the backgound as water instead of land at certain zoom levels. Routing is almost always good.
The app is usable for day to day navigation, but will take some getting used to if coming from always online apps. The amount of options the app gives you is impressive. At any time, you can choose to go offline only to save data or online for a faster experience or something in between. OsmAnd Live is highly recommended if you are an OSM contributor.
If you want a free navigation app that doesn’t track you, this is a great choice.