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3D Printing & Printers: Hardware & Software

I saw 3D Printing & Printers under Scratch Building but could not find an actual thread for said topic, so I created this thread, hopefully in the correct place.

Following with interest myself as I too will be making a decision within next four weeks. I don't mind spending a bit more to get a better printer and associated upgrades from suggestions and recommendations here and elsewhere.
Put it simply, if you had $2000 budget what would you suggest/recommend include any upgrades such as bed and nozzle. I would like to print replacement parts for cars and figures etc as well more so than chassis, all in 1/32, but will give that a go as well eventually so specific consumable would be great also please.
The budget set should include software if need be however I am open to a small increase in budget. I would also be looking into a 3D scanner and its associated hardware and software.
Fine printing detail I believe is .02 or something similar, please correct me on this, learning lots about everything currently including the human body and health and surgeries, jargon etc, etc, so my brain is beyond fried.
Thanks in advance for suggestions, recommendations and direction.


Some questions:
How large of a print area do you want (and please don't say "as big as I can get for the budget" ;-). This will be more about the things you expect to print. Figures and chassis can fit on pretty much any printer, but buildings? Non-slot car things of any kind?

What kind of post-printing work are you expecting/willing to do? Do you want to just take it off the printer and put it into use? Do you expect to have to sand and/or paint it? Will the layer lines bother you, or is the 5 foot rule something you live by?

As a slot car racer, I must assume that you enjoy a bit of tinkering, and there's no such thing as a "hit print and go" consumer (or commercial) 3D printer, so you WILL be tinkering with the printer, both to set it up and to keep it going, and repairing it when it fails for some reason. Here's a copy of my "tips for those interested in 3D printing" to kind of start you off. This is based on FDM/FFF (e.g. the "hot glue gun" type of 3D printing, but some probably applies to other types, such as SLA (vat of liquid resin) type. I hope this is informative. To head off the inevitable question, I have two Prusa brand i3 Mk3 printers, as well as a Multi-Material Upgrade v2 on one of them. You can find out about these printers and accessories at I do not have any other printers.

Greg's "Learn from my fail" for 3D printing...

- Build it yourself. Unless your 3D printing budget includes paid support/maintenance, you WILL be having to fix it. Building it yourself means you're already familiar with it. For the actual building, take your time and follow any provided guide TO THE LETTER. It does not matter how much or how little you pay, or how complete the kit is. Whether you buy a complete kit like I did, or build it with off the shelf parts and a bill of materials (BOM) for making your own printer, just BUILD IT YOURSELF! That said, there is still an element of "you get what you pay for" and often times the really cheap kits are more trouble than they are worth. However, spending more will not necessarily net you a perfectly reliable printer from the start. Buy the best kit you can find within your budget. Buying a kit versus an assembled printer often means you can get more printer for your money as well.

- Keep all filament in a ziplock bag with the silica gel, or an air tight container with dessicant... even PLA, from DAY ONE! If it's not printing, store it properly in a dry bag/box. Most filament will come with a packet of silica gel for a reason, but many don't come in a resealable bag/container. One gallon Ziplock bags are big enough for most 1kg filament reels. As soon as you open a new spool, get a bag and put the silica gel packet in there in order to store that reel when you're done with it. Some people even go so far as to set up a "dry box" container with the filament spooling out the side of it. Although it seems like plastic, it's not that simple, and keeping it perfectly dry is a must.  You might think your house is dry, but this stuff can be sensitive, especially cheaper filament (and we all love saving money!).

- Your first layer, and the adhesion to the build plate is EVERYTHING. I mean it. Seriously. If you don't have a good tune of the first layer, then you don't have a good foundation. There can be problems if the first layer (e.g. how close the nozzle is to the build plate for the very first layer) is too high, or if it's too low. Those problems often translate into bigger problems as the print progresses. Finding the "sweet spot" can be a challenge, and some printers make that process easier or harder. What kind of surface your build plate has (glass, PEI, whatever) also makes a big difference in how well things will stick, but if the first layer isn't going down right, chances are you'll have a failed print soon. After you get the printer assembled and calibrated, you'll want to spend some time trying to find the sweet spot for the first layer. Since every printer has its own way of setting that, you'll need to refer to the support/community for your printer for help with that.

- When something goes wrong, look for help before trying to solve a problem or fix a failure on your own. Just because you built it, doesn't mean you know the BEST ways to fix it. There are usually guides that will save you more headaches. You could cause more problems if you fix something the way you think it should be fixed without knowing for sure. I could have avoided some of my major down times if I had reviewed the published resolution to my issue prior to "fixing" it. Crazy, right?

- Keep the extruder clean. Cheap filament (especially when it hasn't been properly stored) is often the cause of MANY printing problems. As soon as you even have a HINT of problems, make sure you clean it well. This doesn't always mean jamming something up in there or cranking up the heat. If there's residue from bad/old filament up in there, it won't always work itself clear. I've found that an "atomic pull" at 90 degrees with cleaner filament is working SUPER well for me and my printer, and I do this whenever I expect to leave the printer unused for any amount of time, or right before I use it if it has been unused, and/or when I'm changing to a different color and/or brand/type of filament. Since every printer is a little different, be sure to look up the tried and true maintenance methods for the one you build. 

- Don't put (heavy) things high on your printer frame. This will depend a lot on the type of printer you have, of course, but for Prusa and its clones, where there is a rigid frame that the print head moves up and down on with a sliding heated build plate, you don't want heavy things up high. This is because the motion of the print head and bed moving quickly will cause the weight up high to move and depending on the pattern of motion it can start to resonate. Sometimes nothing is wrong with the print, but sometimes you get printing fails due to knocks or layer shift. In extreme cases, whatever is up there could come crashing down. Setting your filament spool up there is super convenient, but supporting the spool elsewhere is better. Similarly, don't hang tools and other things up there. It's nice when everything is compact and portable, which is why I did it at first, but inevitably, you want reliable printing more than you need a convenient location for things.

- Make sure your table is sturdy. If the table is not perfectly level, that's probably not a big deal, but you DO want it to be perfectly flat so that your printer doesn't tweak just by resting on it, and you want it to be sturdy so that the table can help absorb the motion and not resonate or wobble as a result. Some people use small tables and make them sturdy with a concrete paver of some kind. Weight will reduce motion, so a combination of weight and sturdiness is a good thing. The very affordable IKEA "Lack" table is quite popular. My current table was cobbled together with scrap and hardware, but the table top is a HEAVY chunk of something that's been sitting in the garage forever. I don't even remember what it ever was. Now it's a printer table. 

- Don't change too many things at once. Preferably, only change ONE thing at a time. This applies to settings for printing, as well as changes to the printer, or filament, or whatever. If you change too many things, you won't know which change caused the desired result or the undesired fail. Sticking with PLA until you're comfortable is a good idea. Play with other filament types after the initial learning curve is well and truly over. I would almost say wait for a big fail or three, but if you're lucky enough to have problem free printing, you might as well jump into the tough stuff. Sooner or later, you'll be learning new things about your printer.
[+] 7 members Like MrFlippant's post

Hello Greg,

Huge thanks for your efforts on and for sharing your Scalextric border inserts. I hae long been annoyed with the red and white hump-back inserts and have attacked many of them with a Stanley knife to shave/scrape them flat. That works and doesn't take too long but it does create quite a mess of plastic shavings which are difficult to dispose of due to the electrostatic charge on them - also not good for the environment. Have printed 4 of your R2 Outer Border Inserts and will probably do some more. They fit perfectly and I glued them in Bostik as the Hornby borders will not take Cyano/Super Glue. Am printing them black because that is what PLA I have but tempted to find beige to blend in better.

Many thanks, Leo

Linky to Thingiverse


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Excellent! I'm glad they are serving you well.
Unless you're in a hurry, hold off on printing more for a bit. I'm getting close to uploading a new set of inserts WITH CLIPS so that you don't need glue of any kind.
[+] 1 member Likes MrFlippant's post

Cheers Greg,
I had noticed the comment about the "tabs" at the old place but appreciated your comment about the thin-ness of the tabs. Yes I'm interested in the new version so will hold off until then.  The Thingiverse notification doesn't work for me so would appreciate a nudge via this thread...

Again, thank you for your contributions to the hobby. (Slot-Cars and 3D Printing!)


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[+] 1 member Likes Scuderia_Turini's post

I've updated my thing you linked to include the tabs needed so that glue is not necessary. Pay close attention to my description on the best way to install them.
[+] 1 member Likes MrFlippant's post

Hello Greg,
Have got the files, thank you very much. Will do a print run tomorrow (26-Dec).
The "Images" folder has files all of type STL so I had to rename them to JPG. They include unrelated images for stuff (eg Name Tag).

I print onto blue masking tape so already got the textured finish Wrench (had not realised why).

Huge thanks, Leo

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(26th-Dec-19, 12:12 AM)Scuderia_Turini Wrote:  The "Images" folder has files all of type STL so I had to rename them to JPG. They include unrelated images for stuff (eg Name Tag).

I'm not sure what that is in reference to, but I look forward to your results with the border inserts. :)

Hello Greg,
I am very impressed ! Thank you for this contribution to the Scalextric Community.
Have printed two R2 Outer inserts. Perhaps predictably, despite your note, I broke one of the tabs (centre lower) on the first one but was successful second time. I think easing out the slot a bit before fitting helps.
The inserts fit really well. In fact it feels like your inserts will actually be a better fit and stay in place more than the red and white standard "sausage kerbs" Yes  
I guess that I was fortunate enough that I broke a centre tab so not having it is not a problem and that insert is still well retained by the other 5 tabs. Of course I could have still used glue if I had broken more tabs.

As I was fiddling with fitting the first one I was beginning to wonder if gluing in the tab-less inserts was a better arrangement but as is usual, the first attempt was a learning experience and now I am a confident insert inserter!

I am not a Scalextric Sport fan but my interest in these deepened when I recently discovered that Scalextric/Hornby have now made the "Scalextric Start" curve sections to the same dimensions so these borders will fit that.

Many thanks, Leo


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[+] 1 member Likes Scuderia_Turini's post

Hi Guys, sorry if this is not the right place, but I felt it better to add to this than start a new thread !
I have seen that you now can get Prusa i3 kit replicas for £115.
This started me wondering ... but that may be as far as it goes  Bigsmile

Would these be any good or is the low cost indicative of a poor quality product ?
How long does it take to print a chassis with such a machine ?

I am unsure if I could get my head around the 3D cad side off things, I used to do some basic 3D cad work for wood working CNC machines many many moons ago, but I feel I have forgotten most of it and may struggle to relearn it let alone with different software !

How much would suitable CAD software be ?

I am still thinking I am better off paying others to do things for me, but sometimes you just want something that is not worth anyone else's time or effort !

Realistically, how steep is the learning curve for someone who would basically be learning from scratch ?

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