Getting the Fabrikator Mini II to fabricate

I recently bought a “Turnigy Fabrikator Mini II” 3D-printer from HobbyKing. Together with two reels of filament, some extra parts and shipping it was only 200EUR and I’ve wanted to try 3D-printing for a long time.

The printer arrived 4 days later and, while unboxing it, I noticed there were some loose parts dangling around in the electronics compartment down below.

Some shaking and rattling later, I discovered these were one of the four fixations for the Z-axis which had come loose during transport. I grabbed a screwdriver and stripped the printer down until I got the remaining parts out from where they were stuck and was able to re-attach them to the Z-axis sled.

The printer came with a small amount of test filament and a SD card containing a large test object as well as an old version of RepetierHost. I replaced the RepetierHost with a recent version from the website.

After installing the software and getting a much smaller test object from Thingiverse I tried my first print. Sadly the loose Z-axis fixation was not the only fault with the printer. The part attaching the print head fixation to the Z-axis threaded rod was also broken somehow. There were three nuts nuts on the threaded rod. Two riding on the tread and one being much too large for the rod.

After some research, I figured out that the two nuts riding on the thread belong into the plastic part which then has to be sealed by the larger nut. The important part when putting these back in there (and gluing the fixation nut into the plastic part) was that there is a small clearance between the two threaded nuts which has to be adjusted so that the plastic part sits absolute tight on the threaded rod and is not able to wiggle up and down.

After fixing the Z-axis there was only one thing left to tend to: when printing objects that were placed in the middle of the heat bed by the slicing software, they turned out to be slightly offset from the center. This happens because the 0x0 position of the X and Y axis is slightly beside the print bed.

After some research I figured out that there is a G-Code command which resets the head position in the firmware without moving the head’s position. The following G-Code works for me, if I put it into the “start code” field of the printer settings dialog in RepetierHost:

G28           ; home X, Y and Z axis
G1 Z5 F5000   ; lift the print-head 5mm
G92 X-3 Y102  ; offset the head position by 3mm and 2mm

Please note that the Y-axis in the Fabrikator is inverted and has it’s ‘100 position’ at the homing switch, instead of the 0.

Final thoughts

The printer is sold as ‘ready to go’, but my experience (and the experience of others which I was able to find on the internet) shows that is not always the case. HobbyKing seems to handle returns well (I didn’t try that) either by refunding some money, or by offering to take it back (I don’t know about shipping cost in that case), or by replacing broken parts.

I’m a complete newbie to 3D printing, but after some test jobs I’d say the printer is worth the money: it has a sturdy frame; it is small (that is a pro in regards of desk space, but a con when you want to print something large); and the printed objects turn out quite nice even if you have no experience with 3D printers at all.

So, if you always wanted to try 3D printing without spending much money, and if you are prepared to do some fixing should your Fabrikator arrive in the same state as mine, I’d say go for it.