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Modding a QIDI Tech 1 3D printer
Not relating to any printers at DoES, but thought I'd jot down some notes in case anyone else gets a QIDI Tech 1 printer and wants to upgrade it without spending a few weeks googling for information.
Considering it's price point (under £600), the printer is a bargain. It's a dual extruder so you can do two-colour prints or or use dissolvable supports, and it's construction is solid and reliable. Prints are generally very good, but tuning settings can be more cumbersome compared to more expensive printers.
After a while you might want to print more exotic filaments or take print quality to the next level. The three upgrades listed below aren't cheap, but they'll enable you to print in a huge rang of materials in very high quality with much less hassle. You'll be looking at a total cost, including the printer, of about £1,000 after doing all three upgrades.
Upgrade 1: Flexion Dual HT Extruders
- Print with much softer materials, including Shore 60A (ultra flexible) and NinjaFlex
- Print at hotter temperatures, up to 290°C, useful for more exotic filaments and nylons
- Fully-guided filament path practically eradicates extruder, hotend and nozzle blockages
- Industry standard nozzle type allows greater choice of nozzles (0.2mm up to 0.6mm included)
For me the biggest benefit by far was fewer blockages = fewer failed prints. The common V12 extruders bundled with printer have annoying "design features" - there's a gap between the extruder outlet and the aluminium input to the hotend, and also a snagging point where the PTFE tube starts inside the hotend, and these cause loads of blockages that can be very tiresome to resolve (often requiring entire extruder to be disassembled). The Flexion fully-guided filament path pretty much eradicates blockage issues. I know I'm sounding a bit like an advert, but it really is much, much better than the V12s.
Upgrade 2: MagHold Build Plate
The print surface bundled with the printer is OK, but it's only designed for common filaments and it degrades pretty quickly - especially once you start using glues or have to chisel stuck prints off of it.
Note: At time of writing, Build-Tak are creating a competing product called Build-Tak Flexplate System (not to be confused with the Build-Tak Flexplate, see below).
Not only does the magnetic surface make it easier to get your printed object out of the printer, it allows you to switch between different print surfaces:
- MaddGrip - the default print surface bundled with MagHold, works well for common filaments
- Build-Tak FlexPlate - more advanced surface for wider range of filaments
- Tempered Blue Steel Spring Plate - useful if you want customised print surface (see next upgrade)
Those surfaces are also flexible - so instead of having to chisel your printed thing off the print surface, you just remove the whole lot from the printer and then bend the surface to pop off the printed thing. So much easier, and greatly extends the lifespan of the print surface.
Upgrade 3: Borosilicate print surface
Widely regarded as the best print surface by experienced users, these glass plates (which you can get from multiple vendors - just make sure to get right size) offer the following advantages:
- Very smooth surface on bottom layer of the print
- Very good adhesion for most filaments (can optionally use glue or hairspray to assist)
- Printed things usually just pop off the glass as they (or the glass) cool
- Lasts a very long time due to much less wear and tear
Note: The borosilicate will take a little longer to heat up (depending on its thickness) than other print surfaces.
Assuming you've done Upgrade 2, attach the borosilicate to a metal spring plate (using with 468MP adhesive) so you can easily remove it from the printer.
Upgrade 4: Finishing Tools
Although not technically an upgrade to the printer, having some touch-up tools helps smooth over any last glitches in your prints. There's two that I know of:
- Modifi3D - 4 heated attachments
- Retouch3D - only just released so not tested; more expensive but has temperature control + 6 heated attachments
In either case, having these tools will make it easier to recover glitched prints.
Other tools I've found useful are: