Doorstop No More!!

The raw model of the Conestoga, a Union wooden gunboat from the Civil War. Needs some sandpaper, some primer and some paint.

Last summer, after Casey’s death, I persuaded Lorri to let me buy a resin 3D printer. I was going to hold off until fall, but Amazon ran their big online sale in July and because I could save a hundred bucks on a package, I persuaded my wife and myself that the time to buy was that minute. So I did, and got an Elegoo Saturn S and a Mercury cleaning and curing station.

Where to locate it was always a problem in my head. I thought about putting it in the garage, but because it’s cold there, I knew that wouldn’t work. But if I just made some minor modifications in my den, taking the sliding doors off the closet, I thought I could have some success and frankly the space has worked fine.

It arrived within a week of my order. I set it up and did the test print, which looked okay but not perfect. I bought some of David Manley’s STL’s of ACW ships from Wargame Vault and had at it. That began a string of failed prints and no successes. It was frustrating and deflating. I had conversations with a number of folks who were 3D printers at Enfilade and though they enjoyed making stuff, their printers were often down with one problem or another. I feared the effort it would take to run, clean and fine tune the machine would be a time suck, distracting me from painting-which is the central part of miniature gaming I love. I was concerned 3D printing was really a different hobby, beyond my ability to master or even learn, and, to be truthful, I still feel that way to some degree.

I think I made my last failed print in November. Bad Build No. 6. And then I let it sit, thinking I would have to invest some time online to get it figured out. It was a six hundred dollar paper weight. A door stop. A testament to my ignorance. Some things you just can’t overcome. I was a 3D printing loser.

Fortunately, Bruce Harborne is one of our Saturday Night Zoom meeting attendees. Bruce asked about my printing exploits and I would explain what was happening. Early on, he suggested we have our own Zoom call and he could walk me through the process. We began with sending my printer settings to him and he created the model I wanted to build without difficulty. It didn’t get farther than that. However, a couple of weeks ago we scheduled that Zoom meeting and he helped me properly level my build plate. The next day I printed David Manley’s file of the Conestoga, a Civil War wooden gunboat.

Success. It looked great. But embarrassingly it was really stuck to the build plate. After a couple hours of intermittent prying and cursing and failed experiments from youtube videos it was free. It needs some sanding, but not bad for a first effort.

I have a couple of more things to do to prepare for my next build, including successfully leveling my build plate again. I know I discombobulated the settings in trying to pry the Conestoga loose.

I posted my results on FaceBook, and I’ve had lots of suggestions. I know what next steps I want to take and we’ll see what happens some time in the coming week.


2 comments on “Doorstop No More!!

  1. Printing problems are so demoralizing. I’ve had a few myself and I sorta abandon the printer for weeks/months at a time. Glad to hear you may have beat the problem!

  2. Keith says:

    This is my concern too, other than the initial cost, which I don’t think I could convince my wife was a reasonable use of resources! The idea of 3D printing is very attractive but the reality seems like it may be a bit too hard to achieve….glad you have managed to produce something useable though!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s