Printrbot Jr

After much research and deliberation I took the plunge and got a 3d printer. For those of you who wouldn’t be familiar with 3d printing, think of it like your desktop printer… Only in 3 dimensions. It uses a heated nozzle to put layers of plastic on top of each other to make a 3D shape.

Everyone has been in this situation, you want to have a shot of tequila but every dish in the house is dirty.

A genuine problem, now with a easy solution… Just 3D print a new one.

For me I think a 3D printer is a very powerful thing. As a designer I think that for iterative design to be realised you need the tools to do so. For me, the ability to draw a design in CAD, print it out in 3D and then look and feel and test it. This lets me see any potential issues and then quickly update the design to improve upon a previous version!

There’s another ecological side to it too, being able to print small parts that tend to break on household devices allows you to use devices that you might otherwise throw out for longer!

It also creates a decentralised manufacturing system whereby goods are generated at source with no transport costs. This point only really holds true if you are sourcing your plastic at source also (such as the filabot project that can take in plastics from things like milk containers).

Anyway, I would be quite passionate about this idea as you can see gentle reader. Plus I thought I would learn a lot by building one. But which one you may ask? This article on engadget was very helpful:

When I ordered the Printrbot Jr, there was a slight hiccup in ordering to Ireland but Brook and David over at Printrbot were very friendly and helpful and it is now on its way! Will write up my build when it comes in… Cant wait!!!

Update 22/02/2013


Its here! Just arrived, can’t wait to put it together. (Work might take umbrage to me physically running from the building in the middle of the day). Going to make its assembly part of the deconstruction event. The plan is to assemble as the project goes on and then use it to print an enclosure for whatever we create!

Update 28/02/2013 - 09/03/2013

Decided to start putting it together during the deconstruction event. The box opening was very exciting! The kit is very well put packaged up and the online instructions (found here: it looks to be very easy to put together!.

2013-03-09 17.54.44 (Medium)

Unboxing… Look at all those pieces!!!The assembly went smoothly. I got as far as the frame build but I stopped building it to focus on the decon event itself. I finally got back to it on 08/03.

I won’t go into the details of the build, the instruction guide has everything you need to build it. My general view on the kit is that it is very solid, compact and has come clever features to allow the vast majority to be made from a laser cutter!

Going to calibrate the software and start printing as soon as I can. Will update with pics of the prints as they come out.

Update 10/03/2013

The Printrbot is awesome, so I got the following software (all open source of course!) to get started:

  • Serial firmware for the PC (You only really need these as a pointer to existing serials)

  • Pronterface (This allows you to manually move the steppers to calibrate the machine and end stops)

  • Slic3r (This is really cool, turns .stl files (drawings from CAD) into gcode (instructions for the printer)

This guide from Printrbot HQ was very helpful:

I got about half way through it before the power supply started giving me issues, it would pulse on the led on the brick part of the device and the printer would turn off (or at least disconnect from the computer). I read up on the power supply and apparently it does give issues…

On this I did see a lot of people get annoyed with the part not working and being unreliable. For me, the kit is VERY good value, so heading onto ebay will get me a replacement very easily! Being in Ireland, the cost of delivery, plus duty and tax would make getting a replacement off printrbot inconvenient. Finally the guys over in printrbot were very helpful in getting me the kit in the first place!

Once the new supply is in I’ll post an update with the first prints… Can’t wait!