Submitted by: Marsh Wildman
I’ve been looking at 3D printers for quite some time and never bought one because I never had a need. As I’ve been doing more commission jobs with Arduino controllers lately, I’ve wanted to provide custom enclosures for these projects. All I have to do is model the enclosure in CAD (I use Fusion 360), and the printer should spit out the completed part.
Given all the different styles of printers, there’s a lot to think about when making a purchase. When 3D printing started, one of the big “features” was that a 3D printer can make it’s own replacement parts. One might ask, why do I need replacement parts? Here’s why. 3D printed parts are plastic and while technically they should be about as strong as a LegoⓇ (I’ve never even seen a broken LegoⓇ), they aren’t and they break. So you want to look at the materials used in the printer you choose. This printer featured aluminum extrusion tubes and injection molded parts and I saw those as very desirable features.
Also is the style of printer. There are lots of styles like the RepRap (probably the first), the Prusa and the Kossel. The RepRap and Prusa have something in common. All three axes have a completely different drive train. They may use the same motors, but everything else is different. More unique parts. Also with both of those, once it’s built, you are stuck with all of its parameters…especially print size.
Enter the Kossel. The Kossel is what they call a Delta style 3D printer. Delta printers have a couple of really great things going for them. First is that the way it works employs three identical drive trains. Fewer unique parts. Next is that you can build it as 250mm max height, and if you want to make it bigger, just install longer upright tubes and it’s bigger. Of course you’ll also have to lengthen wires and install longer drive belts, but that’s not a big effort in the grand scheme of things.
eBay is a great source for things from China and the first place I go. There are several sellers offering the FL Sun Kossel 3D printer. Prices range from $239 to $299. I paid $235 for mine by making an offer on eBay and wouldn’t you know it, after making the purchase I get bombarded with offers for the same unit for $199 with free shipping from these guys…. https://www.3dprintersonlinestore.com/flsun-3d-kossel-delta-diy-kit I got free shipping too, and it was SUPER FAST! I ordered it on a Thursday and it arrived ten days later. From China, that is VERY FAST.
Make no mistake…this is a kit! At least 250 parts and it’s on you to assemble it. If you are not good with putting complicated things together, this is NOT the unit for you. I’m not sure I’d even call it a kit. It’s a box of parts.
On the bright side, the manual has very few words, but tons of photos. 121 pages of them and they do a very good job of conveying the assembly process. A thing or two would be better placed in a different order, but it’s not so bad. Like I said, if you’re not really good with putting complicated mechanical things together, you should pick a different unit.
I am really good at putting complicated things together and even I had a few issues. Onto the next bright point of this deal. Their tech support. I sent them a message at 1:00am on a Wednesday, and within 15 minutes they responded by giving me the Skype name of one of their engineers. Ten minutes after that, I was in communication with him and he was solving my problems!
I finally got the unit up and running after about five hours of assembly. Of course I recorded it for my YouTube channel and that probably doubled the amount of time I spent on it. Changing camera angles and adjusting lighting adds in quite a bit of extra time. Here’s the video…
There were some issues with the operation of the unit once it was up and running, but with the speedy help of their tech support, they were ironed out quickly and now all I need to do is figure out how set up a great design…which is a completely separate issue.
If you’re in the market for a great 3D printer at a great price ANNNND you’re good at putting together a mechanical puzzle with nothing but photos for instructions, then this might be the unit for you. If you need something you can just unpack and plug in, this ain’t it.