A month off, Day 23 & 24: First Voron prints
I've been working on this printer from what seems to be three or four months now. It certainly would have taken far, far longer outside of The Month Off, so I'm fortunate to have had the time to spend afternoons on it without working at a fever's pitch.
Much of Day 22 was taken trying to get getting homing and extruding to work on the printer. While the X axis appeared to home correctly, the Y axis was inverted. I thought I only needed to invert the axis in the firmware, but that never seemed to work. After going through everything again, and at the suggestion of Voron's documentation and the Voron Discord, I swapped both the A and B stepper connectors. As a corexy printer, you must be aware that both steppers are required to move the print head for most directions; this is why inverting the axis in the firmware never worked, the steppers themselves weren't running correctly.
With that sorted, extruding came rather easily, although it always seemed to run colder than the thermistors would suggest. I'm still trying to troubleshoot that myself.
The next day, I spent the morning doing some final configuration with the Z axis and e-steps. With that done, I didn't really have anything left to do but power on the printer and throw some gcode at it.
I decided to print a small calibration cube from a Cura plugin. Adding and configuring Cura wasn't difficult thanks to a built-in preset. After slicing, I was astonished about the time estimate, less than an hour! I was used to requiring at least that for all but the most trivial prints on my Ender 3.
To my astonishment, the printer started turning out a recognizable cube. It was several layers in when I realized that this was also the first time I've printed with a PEI sheet instead of gluestick-on-glass. The cube peeled off the bed and I stopped the printer. This wasn't more than a typical bed offset failure, though, I dialed in the bed again and printed. This time, the cube finished!
I have a problem with internalizing success. It's easy for me to trivialize it or say, "well, it's only due to the excellent documentation that this turned out". It's very, very, hard for me to take the win. Even if I can't lay it all at the foot of a kit or documentation, or generous help, I'll just depersonalize the entire thing, as if someone else did it and not me.
Why did I do this? Why did I spend so much time and effort to build a second 3D printer? Did I even want the "success" of it in the first place?
Building this was, if anything, a challenge. Yes, I wanted the printer in the end too -- it's an adorable, fast machine! Yet, I also wanted to see if I could actually make it happen. If I finally had enough knowledge and tools to do it. I began this journey with some tame mods to my Ender 3, built a CNC and Laser etcher as learning projects, a server rack as a design challenge, and finally the Voron. It feels I finally made it to the end of a very lengthy journey I set myself to two years ago.
Of course, just getting the printer to print is only the first step. After that, you can spend months tuning and refining it to get the most quality and speed out of it.
My go-to test print is the Calibration Cat. It's faster than the conventional Benchy, plus it's a cute giveaway. I didn't want to really strive for quality with the cat print, but speed. I set the printer to a much higher rate and set it to printing. While the quality of the print did suffer, the result was still recognizable and managed to complete in only 35 minutes. Even the fastest speed on the Ender 3 still required almost 50 before failure became too high. I suspect even more speed could get achieved with the Voron.
I did eventually print a Benchy, and like the cat, it was the fastest one I've ever done. In little over an hour it was finished, and wish exceptional quality...aside from some notable z-banding. It almost looks like layer-shifts, but often it's a constriction rather than a shift, affecting the entire perimeter of the part. I'm not sure what that's about yet, but it seems a common issue with new Voron 0.1 builds.
To troubleshoot this further, I printed a retro-styled rocketship on vase mode. Vase mode is a challenge for a lot of printers as it is only one layer thick, and is unforgiving to alignment or shifting issues. Surprisingly, it did finish despite the banding issue. Obviously more calibration work could be done to fix it.
I realized though, late that evening that the printer wasn't entirely assembled either. The covers were off, the cabling to the hotend wasn't secure and might introduce artifacts. The PTFE tube I had was known to be a bit tight and can introduce underextrusion issues. Until I had those done, further tuning wouldn't as effective as it could be.
I kinda want to build a Voron 2.4. There are so many nice features to the corexy motion system that it's really tempting to want to build one. While I was dubious about the PEI bedsheet at first, I'm finding I'm much more fond of it than the glass bed I was using previously. While I could get one for the Ender 3, even through the glass the bed isn't all that flat. Likewise, I could also convert the Ender to Klipper firmware, but this would take time and research.
It feels like it would be much more straightforward to build a bigger Voron instead. The only problem of course, is those are incredibly expensive to me. More than twice the Voron 0.1's to me, steep price point.