While walking around the tightly packed booths of World Maker Faire last fall, I ran into the OpenCreators team and found something just quirky enough to catch my interest: a cardboard 3D printer.
SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED
The OpenCreators Mannequin comes as a mostly flat-pack kit and hails from South Korea. The X/Y gantry is a pre-built H-bot system, which drastically reduces the amount of work it takes to assemble. The rest of the parts are fairly intuitive to put together with keyed rods and only a couple of plates. OpenCreators only provides instructions in Korean, but I was still able to assemble the printer in about 3 hours (a record for a kit machine), thanks to the excellent diagrams included in the manual.
The base structure of the Mannequin is all steel and aluminum, making for a rigid machine. The outer shell, which is mostly for aesthetics and to minimize drafts, is made from cardboard. There’s even a door with a clear plastic film for a window that’s magnetically attached to the front of the machine. The cardboard skins come in multiple colors and make for a lightweight shell that helps reduce the shipping expense and most definitely the production costs of the printer. If you have access to a decently sized laser cutter you could have some fun cutting your own custom exteriors.
BUMPS IN THE ROAD
The onboard LCD is full color and diverges from the standard menus often found on most printers, but is still very easy to navigate and use. I encountered one error when the bed-leveling probe failed to retract after the measuring script completed — although I had selected English as the operating language, the alert still showed in Korean.
My test prints showed lots of problems with the Mannequin, but many of them felt like they could be adjusted in a better Cura profile or by possibly using their optional Simplify3D profile (or a custom one). Many of the issues came from too much ooze from the hot end, something that could be fixed by adjusting the retraction settings.
Some problems are harder for the user to change. The two fans attached to the hot end blow across the heat break, helping to prevent the machine from jamming, but there are no fans pointing at the print to help cool it. The extruder temperature fluctuates wildly and seems to need a PID tuning to bring it into line. The bed-leveling script stalls on the second print after a power cycle, requiring a new power cycle to continue.
A little community support could go a long way for this machine. The Mannequin’s simple build, decent print space, and fun cardboard shell make it appealing, but until some of the issues with this machine are worked out, OpenCreators will have a hard time finding a market here in the U.S.