Fixing a 3D Printer

About: I am a 13 year old DIY hobbyist. I mainly focus on electronics, but I dabble in other ares as well.

Hello again. If you own a DIY 3D printer, you know how hard it is to get it working. Well, I recently purchased an Anet A6 DIY 3D printer (best deal ever, btw) and it has some bugs. This Instructable is all about fixing and troubleshooting Do-It-Yourself 3D printers. Please do not expect this to by a step-by-step instruction book. This Instructable covers a lot of ground, so you are going to have to do some homework. Also, please take the time to vote for me in the Fix It contest if you enjoy this Instructable.


Step 1: Something Broke.....

So, something isn't working on your printer. How do we figure out what we need to fix or replace? The answer: isolate the problem. Just like any other scientists, we need to perform experiments. Before we begin, please take the time to familiarize yourself with the basics of 3D Printers. Let's begin. First, try using the auto- home function (if your printer has one) to move the axes around. If everything is good on that end, preheat the nozzle and bed (the temperature depends on what filament use use). Once the printer reaches its desired temperature, try to manually extrude some filament. If the filament doesn't come out, you know what the problem is. (Warning: If the nozzle starts smoking, unplug the printer immediately. If this happens, there is an issue with the thermistor).You need a new hotend to melt the filament. After letting the nozzle cooldown, replace the hotend with a fresh one.

Step 2: Getting Your Money Back

After you fixed all the problems, you realize that you're out a few bucks. So what do you do? Contact the company! It is easier than it seems. There are two roads you can take now. You may either get in touch with the manufacturer or the seller (e.g. Anet vs. Gearbest). EMailing the manufacturer was a dead end for me- they just sent me to the seller. So I contacted Gearbest, via online ticket, and they were very helpful and gave me a full refund for my broken part (in this case it was the extruder), even though I had to do a little investigation. Worst case scenario: You return the entire printer to the seller and get a full refund, making all of your work in vain. But let's not think about that possibility. Moving on.

PS: Please don't make fun of my Windows 7 (:

Step 3: Fix It

After you get your money back, you realize something: Money won't 3D print. What I mean is that it takes more than money to get your printer to work. You need a little ingenuity, too. The first step is pretty obvious: buy a new part. In most cases, the issue is with the extruder. But as I previously wrote, there are so many things that can go wrong. So after we figure out the problem and get our money back, we need install the faulty part. There are many great YouTube videos on the subject, but I prefer the old-fashioned way: Reverse Engineering. Now I don't mean taking apart the entire printer, just the broken piece. I'd rather figure it out on my own instead of someone walking me through it step-by-step, mainly because I actually get hands-on experience. And that is what this Instructable, and the entire Instructables platform, is designed to do. Figure out how everything works. Fix that printer, and get some practical experience in the process.

Step 4: What to Take Away

This is what I hoped you learned from this Instructable:

  1. The Basics of 3D Printers
  2. How to get your money back
  3. Learning how to fix things, the right way

And as always, I hope you can apply this knowledge to not only 3D printers, but to every broken machine you come in contact with. Happy Making!



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