[I wrote this blog entry a while ago but I'd not gotten around to finishing it.]
I'm sad to say I gave up trying to get my Sumpod 3d printer to
work reliably. Despite spending a lot of time and effort, the fact is
that the combination of problems with the extruder and the hot end
made it not worth my time to get it working. (Some of the newer Sumpod
models have improved the extruder and also allow mounting of the
extruder at the hot end eliminating another potential source of
problems - the Bowden tube - and some owners of the original Sumpod
are making progress towards reliable prints so perhaps my Sumpod
adventure is not quite over.)
Despite my frustration with the Sumpod, I was totally sold on the idea
of 3d printing so I decided to source a replacement. I looked at
several commercial machines such as the Ultimaker, Replicator, and
Sumpod Aluminium. I considered the quality of prints shown on their
web sites. (I was shocked that there were still no sample prints on
the Sumpod web site.) I also looked at lead time as I was impatient
for a replacement. I followed "featured" designs on Thingiverse,
several forums and blogs looking at the quality of prints from
different machines. I looked at the number of Thingiverse designs for
the respective printers - to get a feel for the size of their
respective communities. I watched lots of YouTube videos of both
successful and failed prints.
After my experience with the Sumpod, I decided to look for a popular
machine with a big community behind it; the community is the best
thing about the Sumpod.
While I was tempted by the fascinating-looking Rostock, I finally
began to focus on the MendelMax. The MendelMax is a derivative of the
popular RepRap Mendel that uses aluminium extrusions rather than
threaded rods. The quality (and speed) of prints looked brilliant.
There were several commercial enterprises developing the design
further and there was an active community of successful owners. There
were also several interesting blogs with MendelMax
enhancments/experiments - such as RichRap's.
I considered purchasing from Trinity Labs or LulzBots but in
the end I sourced the majority of the machine from
Creative Machines in the UK. The kit from them included almost
everything except fittings needed to attach the upper aluminium plate
of the print bed. I was very pleased with the quality of the kit. It
met my expectations except for a few unrealistic ones; I was expecting
the kit to include soldered stepper drivers, the extrusions to be
drilled and the bed to be drilled but these were simple tasks and the
description gave me no real reason to have expected this.
I think my new MendelMax is brilliant. I'll definitely write more
about what I've been doing with it in future posts.