Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Another rodent accident - Cetus 3D printer this time

Ooops - again:

Working away from home and workshop doesn't seem to play well with me - the resulting cabin fever seems to make me accident-prone and - in particular - susceptible to rodent-related outrages.

Lat time I had a serious accident with a mouse it resulted in 3 tonnes of Japanese cast iron turning up at the house, which the Domestic Manager wasn't entirely happy about. I think (hope) I've lived that one down now and TBH, the machine itself (The Shiz) has been a revelation. It's just a shame that it resides 200 miles away when I am at work during the week.

When I lived in Canada (2010-2014) I was Engineering Director at Delta-Q and bought an Ultimaker2 through / for work. We found it to be a really handy piece of kit. Having said that, it seemed to require endless buggerage to get it to work and keep it working, so at best you might just about describe it as "prosumer", rather than professional. Luckily we had an "intern" to keep it running. It also cost something like £4-5k by the time it had been shipped across from the Netherlands.

I've been keeping an eye on the budget end of the 3D printer market over the last couple of years. The price has come down and the performance up to the point where there are some almost decent choices available now. Products such as the Monoprice come to mind and occasionally there are similar offerings from the likes of Lidl and Aldi. 

Anyway, on Wednesday evening last week I was online, looking at the Cetus3D MkII which appears to be a pretty decent machine. Before I knew it, I'd suffered one of those finger spasms and I found I'd ordered one. In one night, all was lost!




Anyway, I've had the thing up and running now and here's what I think about it now. I'll look at the machine and its first output later....

Good:

  • The price is pretty good. The cost was £347 delivered. A Prusa i3 Mk3 fully assembled is £900 plus delivery (with a 1 month leadtime currently) and an Ultimaker 2 is about £2150 delivered - that's over 6 times the price and the reviews are pretty convincing....
  • Delivery was quick (and free). I ordered it on Wednesday evening and it arrived at work on Friday by 10am via Parcelfarce 24h service. 
  • Came with a bonus pack of 2 x 500g blue PLA filament.
  • Came with every possible fastener and tool required (apart from crosspoint screwdriver) and some filament samples. And a paint scraper. And a pair of wire cutters.
  • Came with 6 nozzles (2 each of 0.2mm, 0.4mm and 0.6mm) - 3 were part of the bonus pack.
  • Very nicely made - "minimalist but functional".
  • Uses genuine Hiwin ball sides.
  • Requires only screwing together 3 subassemblies and mating 3 electrical connectors.
  • The UP iPhone app is excellent and comes with a large library of sample models. You can load and slice models, set all the controls from your phone, start the job and follow progress.
  • The proprietary UP Studio PC app appears to support g-code now although I have not investigated this yet. Sounds as if this would potentially allow output from Fusion360 etc rather than .STL output, although I'm not sure about suitable post processors etc. You can also use slicers such as Cura.
  • Has wifi, so no need to bugger about with SD cards, USB cables etc, although there is USB too if preferred.

Not so good:

  • The build plate had some scratches and marks but nothing serious enough to be bothered about. But it has an interesting (heavily anodised?) surface finish that doesn't seem to require Kapton film, Pritt Stick etc - it remains to be seen how effective this is.
  • No instructions given for wifi setup. Took a while to figure it out.
  • No instructions for assembly of the parts for the (separate) spoolholder frame, or pictures on the website. Luckily somebody had posted about that on the forum.
  • The filament guide tube didn't fit into the hot end housing without some fettling. The 3D printed housing quality was very rough, which is ironic really.
  • The PC app doesn't seem to include the rather excellent sample models that come with the iOS app unless I missed something. The settings GUI is a bit unconventional and some of the screens were tricky to find. Otherwise not actually bad.
  • The Cetus user forum is spectacularly useless. It's difficult to imagine how such an outcome is possible. The search function barely works and the displayed font is so light, small and spidery it's almost invisible, just to add to the annoyance. I had to go back out to Google to search for relevant content within the forum. The sister forum for the UP printers looks a lot better but there is no Cetus content there.
  • Cable routing is a bit tricky to get right and there was only one cable tie to hold the cables in position. Also there is no strain relief on the signals connectors, so eventually we can expect wires to fatigue and fail there.
  • There is no integrated spoolholder which is a pity. Instead, you stand the supplied frame alongside the printer, once you've figured out how to assemble and use it. You could perhaps mount it onto a simple baseplate, along with the printer itself, if it becomes sufficiently annoying. 

Other:

  • Typically noisy stepper drives. Could replace with a silent (3rd party) drive board if bothered eg Azteeg X3  Some guy on Youtube did his own board but doesn't seem to have any plans to share it.
  • No enclosure (helpful for ABS).
  • Heated build plate is an optional extra at $40 (it's required for ABS) - but currently not in stock. Also sounds rather basic / crap.

There.

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