Evolution of a Blog

This blog has evolved as I have as a maker. It starts at the beginning of my journey where I began to re-tread my tires in the useful lore of micro electronics and the open-source software that can drive them. While building solutions around micro-electronics are still an occasional topic my more recent focus has been on the 3D Printing side of making.

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Danger of Having a Nice Hammer...

...is that everything starts to look like a nail.   My hammer of choice, as you can tell from this blog, is the Arduino microprocessor integrated with various electronic sensors and relays and packaged in something 3D printed.

In this case it was a mod for my new 3D printer.  The new printer is an enclosure which makes it particularily nice for handling ABS which I have not been successful in doing with my open Prusa I3.  What this enclosure does is trap heat inside it which is what you want for ABS...just not for PLA.

Now I can take the cover off the printer, and leave the door open, when I print PLA but I wanted something a little easier than popping the cover on and off.   So enter the below configuration:

Two fans connected to a relay that will turn them on and off but also connected to an Arduino Nano for speed control.   Relay driven by the Arduino Nano, however, if the Nano is not present then the fans will run controlled by the on/off switch. DHT-11 temperature sensor also connected to the Nano.  Arduino Nano enclosed in my Projects Platform.   All of this gear wrapped into a custom designed chunk of 3D printed panel that replaces one of the side panels in my printer.  This panel features cutouts for the fans, power outlet, on/off switch, and a place where the Arduino Nano/LCD Projects Platform can be slotted.  The panel also as a little electronics bay for the relay, a power regulator  (12v to 5v), and the various connections.   You may be able to see this but there are also wire tie downs printed on the panel.

I had all the hardware assembled and had started on the software.  It would function in either a simple on/off mode but more importantly in a mode that would trigger on a certain temperature threshold being hit.   Fans would run at different speeds depending on the temperature deviation.

Somewhere in the process of putting all of this together it occurred to me that all I really needed was some positive airflow while printing PLA or while cooling ABS down for removal from the build platform.   In other words, all that was needed was this simple panel and a cheap fan:

Not nearly as much fun!   Bit it meets the requirement just fine! 

In the end I did decide that the least that I could do was to use one of the fans that I had already bought so the final cofiguration has the below insert as the cooling option:

Friday, March 27, 2015

Items For Sale from this Blog

Item Link to Article Buy
Duplicator 4S Build Platform Clips LINK
Available Configurations

Arduino Nano/LCD Projects Platform LINK
Available Configurations

RepRap Environmental Monitor
(Alarm and Kill Switch)
Prices / Terms and Conditions

Price includes shipping to destinations within the UK.  For shipping outside of the UK please contact me.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Super Cool Active Fan Mount and Duct

It has become clear that to achieve the speeds and level of detail that I desire a fan is required.  I experimented with a duct that uses the extruder fans in a reversed mode and had issues that I now feel were a result of cheap fans.  I think with better fans that duct would satisfy a lot of people requirements.

But I want to be able to do active cooling controlled for each print if desired.  I found this fan mount and duct on Thingiverse and was intrigued.   Unfortunately I was not able to get it printed before I gave up on the ducts that I mentioned above so I resorted to using Nicks Hub on 3D Hubs.  I had it in two days though it did cost me a few quid. 

Here is Nick's version mounted on my printer and the one that I was then able to print.

That duct is a work of art both in how it works and how it looks.  It even printed nicely once I had a copy of it mounted.

Vapor Bath for ABS Print

Now that I am printing ABS at pretty high resolution I wanted to try an acetone bath. 

Obviously the Marvin on the right has been in the bath.   Both Marvins were printed at 0.1mm resolution and once the acetone bath was done the layers had completely disappeared.

My batch consisted of a jam jar with a very small amount of acetone, a wire stretched across the top for a hanger, and the heated build plate of my Prusa I3 set to 80c.  Marvin was in the bath for about 10-15 minutes.

Shiny Marvin was hung with a paper clip which explains the boo-boo in key ring attachment.

There were a couple little imperfections that completely went away in the bath.  Pretty cool.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Calibrating for Dimensional Accuracy

Next phase of calibration ... making sure that parts fit!   First test was the 20mm cube.  I think it looks great on the bed.   This is an ABS print and you can see how stuck it is on the DR-4.  In fairness I have probably smushed the first layer a little more than is needed and may adjust the build platform down a smidge.   One of the nice things about FR-4 is that it seems to be forgiving on the first layer being overly tight.   Of course this leaves a ridge of plastic that is not always appropriate!

Anyway.   The important thing about the 20mm cube is whether it has been printed as a 20mm cude.   Measuring this one shows 19.90 and 19.96 with a height of 9.94.   I think that I am pretty happy with those dimensions.

On to the thin wall test.   First pass not looking so hot as I think that a .4mm thin wall test should measure at 0.4mm!

Tried "outline/perimiter shell" setting of one (in Simplify 3D) and things got worse!

I have paused on this task for a while.   My printer is producing output that is dimensionally stable to itself and I am happy with that for now.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

More on Print Bonding - Use of FR-4

I have printed a lot of PLA onto glass with my Prusa I3 but for some reason I could not get good adhesion with the new printer.  In fairness I never tried hair spray which I had success with previously but I was out.   The reason that I was out was that I had used some ABS goop when I ran out and it worked fine.   Had been using it ever since.  No bonding problems what so ever on the Prusa I3.

Alas, not the case now.   I have some hair spray on order and will try it when it gets here for both PLA and ABS.   In the meantime I decided to experiment with a new material for my build platform.  I had read good things about FR-4 and so decided to buy some from eBay.  FR-4 is one of the materials used for circuit boards and is a very stiff, very rigid, fiberglass composite.    The one that I bought did not have copper on it though I understand that some people print on the copper side as well?

The sheet that I bought was 1.6mm thick and 8"x6" which is just about a perfect width for the Duplicator 4S though a little long.   Enter the Dremel.   This stuff is not easy to cut.   The first tool that I used just about burnt up.  I did get it cut using a little circular saw but not as nicely as I would have liked.  But it fits.  I made some little clips to fasten my glass build plate and had to modify them a little given that the FR-4 is thinner.

What you see in the pictures to the right is the FR-4 on the build platform with the platform being held by version one of my clips printed on my Prusa I3.   Version 2 of the clips, or the insert anyway, are what is being printed on the platform now.

The first couple prints that I did were right onto the Fr-4.   After the first couple I cleaned it with acetone and then added a little ABS goop.   It seemed to help with the bonding so that is my process now.

I also printed a little spatula as the last thing that I want to do is use a metal knife and scratch the FR-4.

Once things were dialed in it was pretty much like printing on glass.  Except that it is harder to see white PLA on yellowish FR-4!   A minor issue.  I will say, however, that what I had read about it being a good platform for bonding is true.   Here is a short video that illustrates both the bonding, and the release once the platform has cooled.

I love the way stuff sticks to the point of madness but when the FR-4 has cooled it just about slides off.

I have read that some folks have had FR-4 lose adhesion over time.  Obviously I will have to wait and see.     I find it hard to believe that a little steel wool, some very fine emery paper, and then some ABS goop will not remedy any stickage issues.

I will update as needed.  I also have to try ABS but as that is what most people have used with FR-4 I suspect it will be fine.


Printed some ABS and as expected it worked well.  If possible even better than the PLA!  I let the build plate completely cool and the part I printed, which had been firmly attached, was completely loose when I came back to it.

An interesting observation when printing ABS right after PLA.   The build platform seems to be higher?  As in the ABS is more smushed onto it?   Could it be that the higher heat has the FR4, and maybe even the build plate under it, to expand that much?   It makes sense that it would but I was not expecting as much of a variation.


I can not imagine printing on anything else at this point.  

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Wireless Connection to 3D Printer

I can now send files to be printed on my new 3D Printer wirelessly!   All that was needed was a Toshiba Flash Air SD Card, some instructions on setup, and a pointer to those instructions from MadMike on the RepRap Forum.

This is really the Cats Meow.   Setup requires that you be comfortable with modifying hidden files using a Unix friendly text editor but was pretty straight forward.   The technique should work on any printer that prints from an SD Card.

Ironically I had the Flash Air card as I was being cheap and did not want to fork out for an Eye-Fi card after an old one died.  I did not like the Flash Air card as a photo device and broke down and got the Eye-Fi card instead.   I am glad to now have a use for the Flash Air card.

Friday, March 13, 2015

To Fan the Nozzle or Not

I have printed mostly in PLA and a fan is pretty much mandatory.  I had thought that fans can be a problem with ABS but have been proven wrong by the results that I have seen both with and without a fan.  Below is a picture from the last post showing the difference between having a fan and not having a fan (left two Marvins).  These are prints in ABS.

The fan that I am used for these prints was downloaded from Thingiverse and is actually a duct that re-routes the extruder cooling fin fans to serve dual purposes.   It works pretty well as you can see.  Here is a picture of it mounted on my extruders. 


As much as I like this duct it seems to not like the fans on my printer!   Sucking hot air past the fans has killed them.  Other people report long use of this duct so I wonder if it is something about my printer or the fact that I ran a lot of ABS with these ducts in place?   I would recommend that you use carefully, and not for extended periods of time, if you are printing at ABS temperatures!


The fans have to be reversed for this duct to work.   There are comments on Thingiverse that expressed concerns that reversing the air flow could harm the extruders.  Counter comments explained that the airflow through the cooling fins is the same be it pushed or pulled.  That makes sense to me but I wanted to test it just to be sure.  I quickly adapted some hardware that I already had to wire up a temperature sensor that I inserted into the cooling fins of the left extruder.  I then did a print with the fan normally mounted with no duct and a print with the fan reversed and the duct mounted.  Here is a graph of the results.

Unfortunately the starting temperatures of my two test cases differed which is not what I had planned (though I obviously did not control for it either).  I don't, however, think that it matters given what happens in the tail end of the test case.  Namely that once the temperatures equalized they tracked each other.  Both fans having the same impact.  But I decided to run the test again.

And I still have not gotten two the two test cases to start at the same temperature though this time the differences are inverted.   Once again, however, the temperatures behind the heat sink stabilize.  The second test took a little longer as the starting point was a cooler printer than the first test.

Note that the print only ran for three or four minutes.  The other eight or nine minutes were warming up and cooling down.  The start of measurements was when the build platform reached 100c.  The end target was the extruder reaching 100c.  The print started at +4 minutes and +5 minutes, respectively, on the two tests.

Here are pictures of my data collection kit for the above tests.   The 3D printed case houses an Arduino Nano mounted with an LCD/TFT display, and an SD card reader, on a custom PCB that I designed as a experiments platform.

As you can see there is a header exposed that allows for different stuff to be attached to the platform, in this case a thermistor.   Inside the case are two headers that allow access to all Arduino Nano pins.  In this case there is also a little breadboard in there that has another resistor to create a voltage divider allowing me to measure the resistance of the thermistor.

BTW, the kit that I used will be on eBay in the coming weeks but if you are reading this and interested in an advance copy drop me a note.

The second picture shows the location of the thermistor.  Yes, I know, this is not exactly the top of the extruder but it is close enough as it is in the active cooling area of the fan.

The fan that I am working towards can also be downloaded from Thingiverse and is much more sophisticated.   The reason that it requires working towards is due to the challenge that it will be to print.   It requires a fan to print it.  Hence the above fan!

As I sat watching a print being made it occurred to me that I might have been worried about the wrong part of the extruder.  What if is the fan that is at risk?   In the reversed configuration it is getting hot air as input rather than cold air.  I wonder what it's temperature operating range is?  I guess I could measure this......or not!


All of the above is based on the flawed logic that inverting the fan might harm the extruder.  In practice it seems to have killed the fan!  I enjoyed the process so am leaving it in the blog...BUT...shortly after I finished this testing the fan on the ABS extruder started to make strange noises and now will not start.   The fan on the PLA side is also running loud now.  I have to conclude that heat being sucked into the fan is the culprit.   Since I know that I need a fan I am going to order one printed for me from a 3D Hub location and do this the right way.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Calibrate, Calibrate, Calibrate...and then Calibrate!

Is There Such a Thing as an "Out of the Box Printer"?

I am assuming that when you buy a 3D printer that advertises an out of the box experience that you don't need to calibrate said printer?  I wonder.   I know of someone who got a demo high end printer, one of the resin based units capable of super high precision, and they never got it to work.  If a printer in the 10-20K pounds can not work then I would be interested to know if paying a couple thousand quid really does get you a true out of the box experience with all the details and bridging and dimensional accuracy working at one?

Expect some Calibration to be Needed

In any case, I did not expect this with the Wanhao and so have not been surprised to be spending quite a bit of time perfecting its output.  I am also looking for a pretty high standard and have some challenging requirements that entail a lot of bridges.  Bridges being what really challenges a printer like either of mine.

In fairness to the printer most of the time that I have spent frustrated has been with Simplify 3D which continues to battle me for supremacy.   Once I got the software talking to the hardware I was able to make some pretty much right out of the box prints that were of pretty darn good quality.  In fact I have a little test print that I have been doing that came out of the box looking about as good as the one from my Prusa I3 and was printed in almost half the time.

Calibration for General Quality and Bridging

At the moment I think that the printer is pretty well calibrated for general quality (as opposed to dimensional accuracy which is next).    The major changes that I made to the defaults given by Simplify 3D were:
  1. Set ABS to 210C and PLA to 185C as the lowest temperatures where filament would still be extruded reliably (I can probably go a little lower on my both temperatures but I am concerned that Sailfish undershoots so badly on downward changes....and....I have been having trouble getting Simplify 3D to handle multiple changes).   If I were able to go lower the need for the fan is postponed.
  2. Adjusted bridge parameters to 
    1. Extrude less plastic (50%) 
    2. Move much more slowly (10%) than default.
    3. Increased perimeters rather than gap fill for thin walls (better bridges on those thin walls).
  3. Increased the minimum time on a layer to 20 seconds.
  4. Added a fan highly directed at the print area (more on this in a later post).
I am pretty happy with my output quality.   Particularily with the ABS side.   This is somewhat ironic as on my Prusa I3 the reverse was true though a lot of that had to do with the Prusa I3 being an open printer and just not (IMHO) setup for ABS temperatures.

My next calibration challenge will tackle dimensional accuracy.   The printer currently fails even the easiest dimensional accuracy test so some work lies ahead.

Images of Selected Calibration Prints

This was printed right after I unpacked the printer.   The only adjustments that were needed were some slightly lowered print temperatures given this is PLA and the temps suggested by Simplify 3D seemed way to high.

Bridge testing.   The two on the left are while calibration was in process and the one on the right is where things have been left for the moment.

This is a bridging torture test and from the top and side it looks ok but is still a bit of a stringy mess from below.   I am thinking my next generation fan may help here.   More about fans in a later post.

This is a post calibration version of my test print.   I tossed the first one that I did for some reason.  I am pretty happy with the quality though the tiny little droop on the bridge is really not needed and the top of the circle cutout is also a little messy.   Again, fan improvements are calling out.

These prints illustrate the difference that a fan can make as well as the difference between 0.2 and 0.1 layer heights.   Marvin on the left is 0.2 layer height without a fan.  His neighbor in the center is the same layer height and has the fan running.  Marvin on the left is 0.1 layer height and also had the fan running.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Print Bonding - The Build Platform and the First Layer

Getting prints to bond to the build platform, to not pop off under way, and to not curl and warp can be a challenge.

Glass as a Build Platform

One of the reasons that I bought the Wanhao was for the glass build platform.  Glass presents it's own problems, which I will discuss, but has a crucial advantage of letting you print objects with a perfectly clean face (like the front of an LCD Case).   I am not sure how you would get that with tape and the borders you must have.  I also don't like the idea of taping and re-taping.   I would rather just clean and wipe.

I feel that the only real downside of glass, once you get adhesion right, is that you do lose a little print area due to clips.   I have read that some people use thermal bonding stuff to basically glue the glass to the metal platform but I was not going to go that route.   What I did was craft a little clip that minimizes the loss of platform, and is easy to move from the X to the Y side depending if you absolutely need to max out one side or the other.   The clip,  shown below, takes about 10mm out of the build platform (5mm on each side).

Here are some photos of the parts including the original clip before it met my Dremel.   The original clip is an 8-12mm wiring retainer clip.  The printed piece serves two purposes.  First as a spacer to keep a consistent overlap onto the platform (consistent as in smallest).  The second being that it makes it easier to grab the clip.

My clips are not as tight as a binder clip but I have not found that to be an issue.

Search for "Newlec Edge Beam Clip. For 8mm - 12mm Grip, 10mm - 11mm diameter"

That First Layer

The Wanhao D4S is more sensitive to that first layer than my old printer but only in the sense that I am printing by default at a much higher resolution than I would on my old printer.  New default is .2 and my old default was .3 and sometimes as high as .36.   The old printer was less fussy because it could afford to be!    To print at any resolution you need a good first layer but to print at .1 you need a great first layer.

Platform Leveling

The first part of the answer is to be really finicky about platform leveling.  There is a happy medium between squashing the filament on to the bed to the point where you have a little ridge around the edges to where you don't squash it down and the print pops off the platform!  The ideal case is that you get really good at judging clearance using the piece of paper technique.

The other thing that can help is to download one of the print leveling tools on Thingiverse.  The ones that I mean are the little squares (four corners and middle).  If you print one layer of these squares you can easily see how level your platform is.   I find that you can also watch the print in progress and make some tiny adjustments on the fly.

Clean the Platform, and then, Clean it Again

Before you print anything, including the leveling squares mentioned above, you need a clean build platform.  Obviously if you are using tape then you need, at some point, fresh tape!   I am using glass so will talk about that surface.   I clean mine occaisionally with fine steel wool.   First with acetone and glass cleaner.   Then steel wool again.  Then glass cleaner again.  At this point it is pretty clean!

Goop the Platform

Once the platform is clean it needs a surface preparation that leaves a thin film on the glass for first layer bonding.  I use two treatments with ABS Goop for ABS and Hairspray for PLA.

There are a lot of recipes for ABS Goop out there but I just take a half bottle of acetone and toss in some ABS filament.  A fair amount but 'def not the 1/3 that I have read some people as using.  I then apply to a luke-warm bed using a paper towel and a couple of circular motions. I try to avoid going over the same area more than twice as it should not need it and you don't want either to wipe off what was already put down, or put too much down.   It should look like there is a little haze on the glass.   Here is a photo of a glass plate that has been treated and then used for some prints.

You might note from the overlap that multiple prints, from multiple sessions, have been done from the same cleaning and gooping.  I just arrange where the subsequent prints will go to keep them from overlapping on top of an area that has been de-gooped from a previous print.

On the hairspray side it has to be noted that not all hair spray is created equal.   I have found that "L'Oreal Elnett Hairspray So Sleek Extra Strength" works great while "
" did not work at all.   Not sure why and have not looked at the ingredients to understand.  The downside of hairspray is that it can be messy.   I have tried to limit this by creating the below applicator.   To be honest I have not used this as of the writing as I am out of hair spray!

As you can probably tell it is part of a cardboard box that snuggly fits the Wanhao build platform with a 3D printed part to help guide the hairspray into the box.   I will update this post next week when I have more hair spray.

Finally, I am having trouble getting PLA to adhere on the new printers glass plate.  I have only tried ABS Goop since I am out of hair spray but it has not worked as well as it does on my Prusa I3.

Clean the Other Extruder!

If you have two extruders, and they don't have the fancy lifter thingy, then you need to make sure there is no plastic left hanging on the unused extruder.   It will grab the print being laid down by the other extruder and pull it off the bed!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Struggles with Simplify 3D

I bought a copy of Simplify 3D to drive my new printer and have spent a fair amount of time in hand to hand combat getting it to work.   I think that I like the software, and I can certainly see it's potential, but it seems to have a lot of areas for reconsideration (e.g. bugs).

When you first start the software you select your printer from a list.  My printer was there so I selected it.  Now a bit of a caveat, I had initially played with the software trying to get it to drive my Prusa I3.   Not sure if this is relevant or not...but...things did not seem right from the outset.   I started with the built-in profile that uses the right extruder which I had loaded with PLA.   It worked but for some reason it was not reporting the temperature of the build platform.   DId not seem right but I perservered and was able to do some prints.  Pretty much out of the box the printer and software delivered better quality (on gross details) and speed than my Prusa I3.   There was still a lot of tuning to do on fine details and on bridging.

Time to try some ABS.   I loaded up the left extruder, selected the profile for the left extruder, set it up for ABS and tried to print.   No go.   It just would not print on the left extruder.   So I open a topic on the Simplify 3D Support Forum and get some advice from a JoeJ.   The advice was to select "Reset All Settings" from the Help Menu.  Seems like the equivalent of "Ctrl-Alt-Del"...and just like a reboot...it worked.   Reselected my printer on startup, selected the profile for the left extruder, and not only did it work but the temperatures were now reporting accurately.

So what corrupted things?  Acts like a bug, looks like a bug, probably a bug?  Or just personality?

BTW, since I first wrote the above it has happened again.  Out of the blue the printer started to do a tool change on one of the temperature changes.  Did the magic reset, reloaded my profile and it still did not work.   Created a whole new profile, and it worked.   A while later  reloaded the orginal profile.....and it worked?!?!?

Next post will cover some aspects of calibration.

Friday, March 6, 2015

First Impressions of the Wanhao Duplicator 4S

There are already good unboxing videos and walk throughs, such as this one, so I am going to be fairly brief.

I would say that I was impressed with the quality of the packaging when my printer arrived.  It was a nice, well thought, out little cube.  Not a light one when you consider the weight of the printer with its metal frame, all the accoutrement's, and two reels of filament!   Assembly proceeded pretty much as shown in the unboxing videos.   My only comment here was that I either missed something in the documentation, was not given all the documentation available, or the documentation really just sucks when it comes to assembly!   Not a big deal as things pretty much slot together but it would have been nice to have a parts inventory to know what bolts were to go where.  Again, not a big deal as the fit became obvious.

Once the printer was assembled I went to level the bed and discovered my first problem.   Only two of the four adjustment points had butterfly bolts on them!   I called Technology Outlet and they were surprised as they had not encountered that issue before.   They dispatched the missing parts immediately.   This was not fast enough for me though.   I quickly printed off some substitutes on my Prusa I3 and we were in business.   Bed leveling, btw, was another area where the reality of the documentation in the box did not match the firmware.  At this point the impressive looking manual that came with the printer went in the bin.   Maybe there is one online that was more complete and up to date.  If so then there should have been a big note somewhere that I missed.

At this point I loaded up some filament and was pleased at how well the autoloader worked.  MUCH nicer than my old printer.   So what to do.   With no further ado I printed the sample from the SD card that came with the printer.   Big old butterfly.   Printed great.  I really would have liked some smaller prints to choose from though.  

Now to first impressions of the software that comes with the printer.    One look and I was glad that I had bought a copy of Simplify 3D.   I don't think that I would use ReplicatorG even if I had not recently invested in Simplify 3D.   Powerful it looks to be but also really confusing.   Being familiar with Slic3r as a slicer and Printrun as the streamer I would probably have kept that as a basic workflow and added what I would have needed to get stuff into the binary language of Sailfish.

Next post will talk about my trials and tribulations doing my first prints with Simplify 3D.

Monday, March 2, 2015

What 3D Printer do we Need?

The first thing that I did was look for 3D printer reviews on the web.  There are a fair number of reviews out there but not that many from what I would consider a "reputable" source (that you did not have to pay for) and that were recent.   Looking at the first items returned on a search you get titles like:
  • Best 3D Printer 2015 - Top-Rated 3D Printers - Tom's Guide 
  • Best 3D Printers Review 2015 | Best Afforadable 3D Printers
I am not sure who "Tom" is but at least he can spell.   Neither filled me with confidence!

The guide that I found and liked was the one from 3D Hubs.  The guide is based on user feedback from the 3D Hubs community and since these are people that actively use their printers, and since at least three reviews are required for a listing, I feel good about the believing what I would read there.

I had already read a lot about Ultimaker and really liked their new printer but absolutely did not want to spend more than 1,000 pounds (a lot more, and before even buying the second extruder option)!  So ruling that out I started to focus on the Flashforge Creator Pro.  This is one of a whole crew of Chinese clones of the Makerbot Replicator.  Not surprising given that the Makerbot Replicator is a successful printer based on the open-source model.  Since the Makerbot models are all over my price point, and the clones are getting good reviews, the Flashforge looked good.  The review on 3D Hubs was pretty compelling as well.

Note that a lot of printers fell by the wayside when applying some of my requirements:
  • Heated bed (needed to print ABS), 
  • Enclosed (quiet and helps with printing ABS), 
  • Dual extruders, and
  • Build platform large enough to print any of my cases.
Having decided on the Flashforge Creator Pro it was time to look for sellers.   They are available on eBay and through Amazon but there is a reseller in the UK (midlands area) that sells the Flashforge so I took a closer look at them (Technology Outlet).

One of my questions was whether they had a glass plate that fit the Flashforge that could be included in the order.  I contacted them and asked that question.   We chatted a bit and I got the recommendation that I might want to look at the Wanhao Duplicator 4S as it comes with a glass plate, is pretty much the same as the Flashforge (e.g. it is yet another Makerbot clone), and was a little less expensive.   So, with the Wanhao putting me firmly closer to 500 pounds than to 1000 pounds I decided that I would go for it and buy it from the Technology Outlet.

Which is exactly what I did a couple of days later once I had escaped from the hospital.  See, being in the hospital may have been what tipped my wife towards the idea that we really needed a new printer.  I am not below exploiting sympathy!

Next post the unboxing and initial impressions.