I got into 3d printing in the school where I worked at, we needed a 3D printer for robotics class/workshop and after a little bit we got a 3D printer, as I did not really know anything about 3D printing at the time, I was way over my head. The printer we decided to go with was Leapfrog Creatr Dual, as it had a big print volume and dual print head. My experience with 3D printing at the time was only theoretical based on youtube videos.
My first problems started with getting the print to stick to the glass build plate. Tried painters tape, kapton tape, some special thermal paper. As it was trial and error for me at the time and I ended up using ABS mixed with acetone slurry, that worked great. Other problems were that the printer was so loud, that you did not want to be in the same room during the print, all the fans on the printer screamed, the motors wined and so on. The extruder system was bad, as the hob gear and idler bearing were in a specific place, and getting the filament to the nozzle was difficult; there was no way to manually feed the filament. Also the nozzles were covered by the frame, so there was no clear way to see the nozzles, and if the first layer was successful or not. If you happened to have a jam or the filament did not feed to the correct place, you had to take the entire carriage apart and that was quite the task.. Also because it was dual nozzle direct drive, it had a massive stepper on the carriage which made the head wobble a lot and it usually reflected on the prints. Overall it was more hassle getting the bed level, making sure that the print stuck to the bed etc. As we were mostly using the printer to print out students’ robotic project parts and some other small stuff around the workshop. I had the idea of what I wanted to print, but most of them never got done because the printer jammed a lot and the prints did not stick etc. I slowly started upgrading to a printer for the better. I printed a new extruder system with spring tensioned idler bearing, so I could manually feed the filament to the nozzle. Later I changed the extruder system and hotend’s altogether. I went with an E3D V6 hotend and bowden setup for the extruder, so I got the heavy steppers off the carriage, that alone improved the print quality and speeds that I could print at. At this point the printer was quite the workhorse, it still had problems with bed level and other stuff.
As I was moving on and away from the school, there wasn’t anyone to take the printer over, so it was left collecting dust mostly, so on my last day, I asked if I could take the printer. And as there was no one who was willing to work with the printer, then I took it home, as I already designed and built a 3D printer from scratch so I had some experience with 3D printers now. As i had 2 printers, I didn’t really need another printer per say, but both my delta and custom built printer had a bowden setup, i wanted to have a direct drive extruder for flexible filaments and I needed an excuse to try 32 bit Duet wifi controller board, my previous build had and Rambo board, but I wanted to try it out.
First thing was to completely disassemble it. So I took the printer completely apart and assessed what to keep and what to redesign. The size of the printer was quite big, but the printing volume was 230 mm x 270 mm x 200 mm. I saw that there was a more potensial print area to be gained without making the printer larger. Second task was to draw up all the parts in CAD that I was going to keep to get some base constraints to design around. I kept The main profiles of the printer and almost all of the Z axis and print bed assembly with few modifications to get most out of the printer. I redesigned the XY axis completely and as I had done coreXY kinematics for the last printer I decided that is the way to go on this printer as well. And with that I gained a significant print area. The new Printing volume is 275 mm x 385mm x 220 mm