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Building the Wilson II – Part 2: Waiting & Assembly

This is the second part of me documenting my adventures on the journey of building a 3D printer. If you missed the first one make sure to check it out: Part 1: Sourcing.

Now back to my story. The last article ended with me having ordered all my parts. This was about two months ago. Yes, two months. As I stated last time, one of the most annoying disadvantages about Aliexpress is the incredible long waiting time. Also you have no tracking as soon as the package leaves China and so you are constantly in doubt and fear about your parts not arriving.

So, what did actually arrive? Almost everything. The shaft-couplers are still missing and I ordered a new pair from a different seller a while ago that got delivered really fast – thank god. The other package had the wrong contents. Instead of 624RS ball bearings I got 625RS ones. Not a big deal for some people but for a 3D printer this makes a huge difference and I actually wouldn’t have been able to assemble it with these ones. I opened a dispute on Aliexpress with an image as proof. A few days later I got my money back without a problem. Basically I got the 625RS ball bearings for free now. From the new money I bought the 624RS bearings and this time they got delivered.

packaging material To be honest at first I didn’t realize how many packages there were going to arrive at my house. It is a lot of stuff after all. On the image you can see part of them. The pile of garbage got so big that I eventually gave up and just threw the packaging material away. Feels good to get so much (packaging) for your money though!

After everything I ordered arrived I started building. Five minutes later I realized that I forgot something. You forgot about it too, right?

I’m gonna be smart and build a custom 3D printer with less plastic! (How ironic by the way)

Do you remember when I wrote last time that I wanted to build a custom Wilson II with less plastic parts? Yeah. Less plastic means more of a different kind of material – In my case MDF (basically wood + glue + pressure). You can get that stuff from literally anywhere and it is extremely cheap. I got my sheet for 5€ and only used about 10% of it.

custom wood part The next step was to somehow get the holes into that sheet of MDF. Luckily I have a friend that has a hand-router. This made milling the wood into its correct shape a matter of minutes. If someone wants the schematic I used for the parts just leave a comment and let me know.

Finally everything was there and I could start building for real! Assembling such a big project was one of the most rewarding experiences I ever had. You get to understand those people that constantly build new 3D printers just for fun.

Once you built your first printer it won’t be long until you want to build another one

This was among the first things I heard on the #reprap IRC. I remember this a lot now because I finally understand. Back to the assembly! I started with the 3D printed parts. They all came out incredibly well by the way – big shoutout to 3D Hubs!

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Once most of what I could add to the plastic was done, I started to build the extruder. I am using the E3D v6 Lite. There is some really good documentation from the E3D guys out there on how to assemble that thing here

It was pretty straightforward to build. The only two things you need to look out for are:

  1. Be careful about the cables. Add zip ties where the guide says. This will stress relief the wires and help out prolong the life of your printer.
  2. Hot-tighten the extruder. Basically you heat it up to 245°C and then tighten the nozzle against the aluminium heat block. This will properly seal them together so that no filament can get out later. Don’t worry though, you can do that at the very last step of your assembly this does not hurry.

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Up to this point I had zero problems with the build. The documentation is great with the videos mrice provides on YouTube and although they are a little outdated sometimes you can’t seriously screw up if you follow them. I was not sure if assembling your own 3D printer with no experience at all would be possible, but with great documentation it certainly is. That is also one of the reasons I am writing this by the way :)

This was Part 2 of me building a 3D printer. Next week you will see me assembling the 3D printer frame exactly one time /s.


author RaphaelWritten by Raphael who lives in Germany and likes to code a lot. You should check out his GitHub  or write him an  Email.