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CR-10 new toy... 3D printer.

PostPosted: Sun Aug 27, 2017 1:35 am
by Andrew Davie
I've just bought myself a 3D printer - A "Creality CR-10". Honestly, I don't plan to use it as a toy - I have a robotics project in mind. I want to work on an INMOOV robot..

Up until now I've been using the 3D printer from work - personal use is allowed provided it doesn't interfere with work printing. However, printing a robot like the above would take months of printing, so yeah, didn't happen. But now I've bitten the bullet and put in an order for a CR-10 printer from Gearbest. This company doesn't exactly have the best reputation for reliability, but I found an excellent coupon/price and so I'm taking the risk. Total price AUS$540 after currency conversion taken into account.

The CR-10 is a filament (FDM) printer, with excellent reviews all around. When looking for a new printer for work, I settled on this one basically as a stop-gap between our old and cranky Flashforge Dreamer (which cost AUS$1400) and our next (as yet unknown) machine. I picked it up for AU$625 which at the time seemed like a bargain. Anyway, I've been doing a lot of printing at work recently, and I'm itching to make that robot. And so I purchased a second machine - one for me. At a better price, by almost $100, so I'm happy with that.

One nice thing about this printer is its popularity. There are two facebook user groups - with about 20,000 members total. That's a huge knowledge base to draw on. The general consensus is that the print quality is amazing. So, fingers crossed that Gearbest doesn't stuff me around. There are lots of horror stories from unsatisfied customers. I'll post updates here as things go along. I guess I'll have to start a "INMOOV robot construction diary" :)

Setup Walkthrough for CR-10 3D Printer

PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:39 pm
by Andrew Davie
Here is a walkthrough of the assembly and setup of a CR-10. I thought I'd document this to help others who might not know exactly how to do the setup...

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The pictures above show the initial opening of the box, and what you get. There are also a few packets of tools and spare parts that I haven't shown.

The #1 top priority in this assembly, so we'll do that first, is to make sure the power supply is switched to the correct voltage for your country...

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The side of the control box has the above warning label (in Engrish), and in the hole is a little switch for 220V or 110V. You absolutely must choose the correct setting before switching on the printer. If you don't, it will likely die a horrible death. So, slide the switch to the appropriate voltage for your location. For where I live, Oz, we have 240V power but the 220V position is the correct one to choose. For those in the USA, it's almost certainly going to be the 110V position. It's your responsibility to find out what voltage you need, so don't trust anybody (including me). Find out, make sure, set the switch to the appropriate position.

One of the other critical first steps is to make sure that the Z-axis coupler is in good shape...

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It should look nice and even - some have undergone abuse during delivery and those slots have bent out of shape - so make sure this piece is looking good. There are a couple of grub screws which may or may not be loose. These should be tightened (firm, not overkill) and that long screw rod should not be able to rotate without the coupler also rotating. The CR-10 includes every tool that is needed to modify/assemble - they've done a great job there. So you should find the correct size allen key for the grub screws.

The unit is mostly assembled already - in the form of two 'frames', which need to be screwed together. The screw holes are in the bottom of the horizontal frame (the X-Y axis), and the vertical frame needs to be placed upright on the horizontal frame and 4 screws inserted from below...

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I found it convenient to drag the whole thing to the side of the desk and screw from below. Once that's done, we should really install the 'T' frame braces, as shown in the next pictures...

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Don't panic with this next picture where you see lots of wires - I did this out of order, but you should just go ahead and connect the T-frame brace now and we'll get to the wiring later.

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The frame braces have these very cool "hammer" nuts, so you just rotate these so they fit inside the 'trench' of the frame, and as you tighten with an allen key, the nuts automatically rotate and grip the frame. Sure beats trying to slide the nut in from the side.

Now is a good time to go over the whole frame and make sure there are no loose screws anywhere. Everything should be firm, not too tight...

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Now it's time to start wiring stuff up. The "control box" is fairly 'clean' in that there are only a couple of plugs we need to insert. They have a different number of pins, so it should be pretty obvious which one goes where. Be SURE to locate the bump and put it in the correct orientation with regard to what you're plugging into. One of mine seemed slightly damaged, but that was just cosmetic, so let's keep going...

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All of the wires have little tags on them, which makes it pretty easy to plug things into the correct place. However, if you're confused - the Z is the vertical axis, X is left to right as you face the front of the machine, and Y is forward and back. Just follow the pictures and you'll be OK. There have been reports of incorrect labels/tags (swapped), but that's extremely unlikely to happen to you. Just be aware of that, though. The connectors have two little raised "lines" on them. These go towards the gap in the part you plug in. Don't force them - they should go in easily one way, not the other.

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Even though there are several wires tagged "X" and "Y", etc., there is really only one place for each wire to go (for each axis), so follow these pictures and bob's your uncle...

Start with "E" for "extruder". This is the stepper motor that pushes the filament through to the nozzle. It has the yellow "cap" on it. Plug the connector marked "E" into it.

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The connectors marked "Y" go to the stepper motor at the back of the machine, in the middle of the XY frame. They are different sizes, so you shouldn't have too much trouble getting those sorted.

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There's are two connectors for the "Z" axis (the vertical movement); one to the stepper motor driving the vertical screw axis guide and the other to the end-stop switch. Simple as...

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Now we sort out the final "X" axis - two to plug in. We've already connected the "E" on this group. One of the "X" plugs is a bit hard to get to, so you may need to hold with long-nose pliers to help you out...

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Well that's about it - hopefully no unconnected wires!

The filament holder screws in to the top-back of the control unit. There are small thumb-screws; three supplied, only two needed. Don't forget to use the small spring-washers - these will prevent the holder from vibrating loose. They include spares so don't be too concerned if you end up with a small handful of "extras". Install the diagonal frame, and then the "toilet roll" type holder into that, by unscrewing one of the end-screws from the roller, inserting the roller through the frame hole, and then rescrewing on the endscrew.

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That white tube that's hanging off the wiring - that's a low-friction tube through which the filament is guided to the hot-end print head. We need to attach the end of the tube to the extruder (that's the stepper motor with the yellow "lid"). In this picture it's blue, but that's just an after-market addition I've installed (more about those later). For now we are just interested in getting that tube connected. There's an odd little connector on the side of the stepper motor, and we need to push the tube into this. But first, that connector has a peculiar mechanism where you have to push that rim down and then while it is pushed down, push in the tube as far as it goes. A couple of millimetres at least. That push-down rim is a kind of locking mechanism, so make sure you disengage it properly when inserting the tube. When you let go, the tube should be fairly firmly held in the connector.

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Now it's time to insert the filament! To do this, though, we have to have the print head hot enough to melt the filament, and we also need to have the head lifted off the print bed, so that the filament can flow through. So it's time to turn on the control box. A final warning, though - have you followed the instructions and set the correct 220V/110V selection? If you turn it on and you got it wrong, bad things will happen.

Right, so switch on. We'll see a menu and then a status screen showing all sorts of stuff...

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If your machine anything is like mine then the control box fan is noisy. VERY noisy. You get used to it, I guess, but that's on my list of future replacements - a quiet fan. Anyway, back to the user interface - there is only one knob, and it is also a button - push it in to click. So to get to the menu, let's do that - give it a push. We should get to a menu which provides a variety of options. We want to do two things - "preheat for PLA" - or similar wording to that effect. Once we do that, the hot end will start heating up. The main UI screen will show this at the top with a representation of a nozzle and the current temperature underneath and the target temperature above. This printer works in degrees celsius, so sorry imperial units people but welcome to the future ;)

We can leave it heating up, and next we want to get the whole print head to lift up in the air so we can check that filament is getting through OK. In the menus (press the knob again) there's a sub-menu called "prepare" so click on that, and in that menu there's something like "move axis" and select that, and then we are given a range of speeds. The Z axis does not move in 10mm steps so we should select the 1mm option, and then we can rotate the knob to set Z to something like 10cm. Do that, and the whole assembly should move up. Just move it high enough to get good clearance.

Once that's done, go back to the main UI screen (it's the top menu option on each page, gets you back to the previous page), and we should wait for the hot end to reach the target temperature (185C). When it's hot enough, then we can feed in the filament. First, of course, put the filament over the "toilet roll" holder. There's some debate as to which way around you should go - just like toilet paper - but in this case I think it's fairly clear that your filament should go "over the top" - because it provides better clearance at the point where the filament enters the feeder. Some are going to argue this point - so yeah, do it whatever way you want.

Cut off the end of the filament so it's a nice sharp point - a diagonal cut about 45 degrees is fine. This just helps it feed through. What we're going to do is engage the release mechanism on the feeder (that's the motor with the yellow "cap" and the spring), and manually push the filament through until it's extruding from the nozzle. First we need to push it all the way through that white tube. So, hold down the yellow "button" and push the filament through the hole. You should be able to easily push it all the way along the tube, and then it will meet some resistance. Keep pushing - it will resist but move slowly if all's going right. Soon you should see your filament coming out from the nozzle in an "oozy" slightly molten way. If that's happening, then you've done everything right, and your filament is now loaded and ready for printing.

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You might like to turn off the control box for now.

The next step is levelling the bed. Your printing surface should be on the aluminium bed... in this case I'm using the original glass, as I've had good luck with that. However, many have not had any luck at all - the glass can be slightly warped and make for a near-impossible surface to print on. Check the Facebook group(s) for advice on levelling and on print surfaces. You may find that you need to provide a surface to print on (such as tape, or glue, or both, or PEI... the variations are endless). For me, I was able to print very successfully on the plain glass. I won't cover levelling here, as it's a black art.

Here are some items that you can add to your printer - I consider these "essentials" which make things better/easier...

1. Wheels for levelling -
2. Fan duct improvement -
3. Filament feeder -
4. Strain relief -
5. Y-axis belt tensioner -

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They include large adjustment wheels for bed levelling, a replacement air guide for better filament cooling/printing, a strain relief for the heater wiring on the print bed, and a guide for the filament to help it stay clear of the Z-screw. Of those, the "strain relief" is absolutely critical to prevent your heater bed wiring from failing, which it is bound to do at some stage due to the stress placed on those wires by the movement of the print-bed.

But all of those aftermarket additions are well documented elsewhere on the Facebook groups, and if you've got this far you have a functional printer that just needs to be "fine tuned" to allow you to actually print stuff. It's lots of fun, often frustrating, but in the end very rewarding if you stick with it.

Here are a few pictures from the installations of the extras onto my machine.

The filament guide...

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The problematic wiring on the heat bed, and the strain relief to reinforce it...

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I super-glued that little cap on, and the shifter (=shifting spanner = adjustable wrench) was a perfect way to hold it perfectly flat, in place, while the glue set.

The gorgeous levelling screws... I'm pretty sure I have this one upside down - so keep that in mind.

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The improved fan/air cooling guide...

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and finally the Y-axis belt tensioner that I printed and installed just today. Very clever design!

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Well, after all of that, I tried a print. After levelling the bed with the paper-under-the-head method, I then eyeball that first layer. Where the filament is not sticking to the bed, we want the head closer. I lower the head (unscrew the wheels) on the side(s) closest to the bit being printed. Where the filament is scraping/very flat then I raise the head (screw IN the appropriate wheels just a 1/4 or 1/8 turn). I let the whole first layer go along, even if it looks horrible. After the layer is down, my adjustments should have corrected the bad bits, and I stop the print and scrape off the material. And then I start the print for real. In the case of this printer, the very first print I did is shown below...

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That went so well, I moved this printer straight into "production" and here's the second print in progress...

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So, that's it - a complete unpacking/assembly/commissioning. Good luck with yours, and I hope this guide has helped. I'll be happy to answer questions and help anyone who's having problems :)

Re: CR-10 new toy... 3D printer.

PostPosted: Thu Sep 14, 2017 2:11 pm
by Harry Dalek
Looks like you could make any thing with this one watching with interest...

Re: CR-10 new toy... 3D printer.

PostPosted: Tue Oct 03, 2017 9:11 pm
by Andrew Davie
In my spare time, I'm printing a stegosaurus. A big one... about 1.2m high, possibly about 2m long. Not sure yet, but it's big! I've done all of the leg bones - 48 hours of printing so far. I expect the rest will take me a solid week or two...


Re: CR-10 new toy... 3D printer.

PostPosted: Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:23 pm
by Harry Dalek
This is an exciting toy ...very very impressed .
I like dinosaurs too :wink: