December 30, 2016

HobbyKing 3D-printers, Mini fabrikator and Malyan M150

No posts since october? Well, life has been busy and I haven't done any RC building what so ever. Except for a few FPV flights and drives at the office there hasn't been much to write about.

I have however purchased my first 3D-printer. And my second 3D-printer as well.

My first one was the Mini Fabrikator from HobbyKing, a branded version of the Tinyboy v1. This is a small desktop printer that comes at a very modest price. It might in fact be one of the cheapest printers that are ready to print out of the box. Because that's how it comes, ready to print. It print fairly well but has a few issues. The most problematic one is the absence of reliable bed leveling. The construction allows for adjustment of the print bed, but it is not permanent. When removing a print from the bed it will lose the previously adjusted position.

Other drawbacks are things like the lack of heated bed, the very small build volume and lack of spool holder and SD-card print capability. But those are merely features and should come as no surprise. In addition to this there is a spare part issue, I'll get back to that.

My second printer is a Malyan M150. It is a near clone of the Wanhao Duplicator i3 which in turn is a build variation of the very popular Prusa i3. I got this mainly because the build volume of the Tinyboy was limiting some of the things I was making. The printer is very cheap and also comes almost completely assembled in contrast to many other cheap DIY i3 variants from China which all comes in pieces. I won't go into details on the printer, there are many detailed reviews out there already. I'm personally satisfied with the printer except for the aluminium print bed (instead of glass) and that it is quite noisy.

I would however NOT recommend anyone to purchase a printer from HobbyKing unless they know what they're doing. This is because of the lack of spare parts at HobbyKing. And this a serious issue unless you can source spare parts on your own or can consider the printer as trash when it breaks down.

I had issues with the rods guiding the print bed initially. They are not perfectly straight and the bed movement is depending on the rod being "correctly" oriented and the lubrication just right. I have tried things like lubricating more or less and twisting the rods to avoid the bed from getting stuck and the timing belt skipping. If it skips the print will break. When this started happening I check the HobbyKing website and they carry spare parts. But they are on back order, so I ordered spare parts right away. That was 3 months ago, they are still on backorder. Even worse, the Tinyboy uses 4mm belts (instead of the more common 6mm) and I cannot find 4mm parts online.

The Malyan M150 also has an issue. The SD card slot broke after about 2 weeks and won't lock down the SD card anymore. It is simply broken. I have an open issue with HobbyKing about this but they argue that I have to send the printer back for refund. I won't do that of course. Instead it would be better if they carried spare parts for their printers and then I could replace only the main board and everyone would be happy.

But they don't. And as long as they don't I cannot recommend anyone to purchase their printers at HobbyKing. There are so many other vendors, locally and online, that has great service and spare parts available for their products. Unless you are comfortable with this issue, pay the extra dollars for a more serious vendor.

Update: My package with parts for the Mini fabrikator has been sent and they have started carrying spare parts for the M150. Way to go HobbyKing!