REVIEW Balco 3D Printer (Wanhao i3 clone) Mini Review

Discussion in 'Hobby Engineering' started by birdie, Aug 21, 2016.

  1. birdie

    birdie Member

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    I thought I'd write a quick mini review of the Balco 3D Printer from Kogan/Dick Smith. I purchased mine a week or so ago when the DSE eBay store had 20% off. I've had it for about 4-5 days now and I'm very impressed for my first 3D Printer.

    The Balco seems to have a few upgrades over the standard Wanhao i3 Duplicator which most people want to do. These include better nuts for adjusting the platform level, the belts don't rub on the extruder, the front of the controller box is angled, and the Micro SD card sits out slightly making it easy to insert and eject vs the full inserted slots that other versions have. My only complaint build quality wise is the loud fan in the controller box.

    Mods wise I've ordered a glass plate for the bed to ensure I have a 100% flat print bed along with thermal pads to mount it (rather than clips some people use which can still allow the glass to flex as the aluminium bed heats up). I'm also considering doing the Z-Brace mod just because its a nice and easy mod and it can't hurt to have more bracing.

    I'm also planning on building an enclosure to keep the cat and my 21 month old's fingers out and help maintain a stable environment. I've also got a RaspberryPi 3 along with the RPi Camera and a PSU coming so I can run AstroPrint or Octoprint for monitoring the print progress and creating time lapses of the print jobs.

    The only thing I wish the printer had was a dual extruder to do dual colour prints... Not sure if that is or will ever be a possible mod?

    [​IMG]

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  2. igoforthebest

    igoforthebest Member

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    Nice photos, its wanhao i3 v2.1 rebadged. Happy printing! :)
     
  3. Azrael

    Azrael Member

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    Yeah, definitely the 2.1 model. Looks like some useful upgrades over the 2.0 Cocoon.
     
  4. silverbullet

    silverbullet Member

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    I bet you could change out those linear bearings with Igus bushings no problem to make it a hell of a lot quieter too. I use cork gaskets under my steppers also, they are very cheap and make any printer a hell of a lot quieter.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2016
  5. yippy

    yippy Member

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  6. 7nothing

    7nothing Member

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    Less belt rubbing sounds good.

    Pretty annoyed with z-brace mod, I'm sure the elevation from the new feet resulted in a lot more vibration, improved slightly by putting foam under the z tower, yet to try something more permanent...
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2016
  7. fatman350

    fatman350 Member

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    yeah 2.1 upgrade is handy to fix those fews gripes

    I was looking at the Zed brace mod but sounds like 7nothing has some issue

    Care to explain 7nothing ?

    Oh yeah I had an issue with Z'd axis microswitch not triggering correctly even after just doing printbed levelling exercise and when a print started it was rubbing on the printbed so had to abort now I have a slight pattern rubbed into the printbed.

    Getting a new switch this week supplied by winplus support (cocooncreate / balco) but will be in sydney when it arrives.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2016
  8. 7nothing

    7nothing Member

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    First few prints after installing, I found there was actually more vibration in the z tower - not at home to get pics, but once it reached a few mm above the bed I started getting a small wavy pattern in the sides of the print. Suspecting it was allowing some movement because the feet of the z axes braces lifted the bottom of the z tower off the bench, I put a bit of foam under it, which improved but didn't completely solve.

    I don't see anyone else complaining of this issue though, so maybe I'm just special :)

    I had no trouble for the first few weeks on my cocoon, but later started to find if I levelled at room temp, the print head would be too close (either scratching or just too close to extrude) once it was at print temp, just had to use thicker paper to level it...
     
  9. spikenet

    spikenet Member

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    Just got my balco 3d yesterday and did a print yesterday. Keen to hear about mods that are worth doing on this printer. I was surprised it has the thumbwheels which is great! The Z axis seems unstable with only one bolt per side so I'm thinking something to secure that would be the most obvious thing.

    I tried to connect octoprint from my synology NAS but no luck, have never used it before so dont know if its the NAS or the printer.. no idea :)

    @birdie, have you got info on the glass and mounting method? Where have you bought it from and what size? I notice the heatbed is not completely flat on my printer.

    @silverbullet, you have info on those bearings and gaskets, would like to make it a bit quieter
     
  10. silverbullet

    silverbullet Member

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    Hey bud, just find out the stock linear bearing size then search Igus bushings on Ebay or other supplier. Some people are experimenting with printed ones and have had some success, might be worth checking that out also before spending the money on the Igus ones which can be expensive.
     
  11. birdie

    birdie Member

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    I got my glass from LearCNC on eBay, I used thermal pads stuck to the "build tak" and then I added bulldog clips either side after a print messed up and then managed to knock the glass off the bed... luckily it didn't break...
     
  12. spikenet

    spikenet Member

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    OK thanks for the tips. Couldn't see good size glass on learcnc so might see if local glass place can cut me a bit.
    Another thing I struggled with was could not get USB working with my PC, in the end I removed j14 from the control board and now it's great, works perfect and can fully control the printer. Still won't work with my synology though.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2016
  13. Xgenious

    Xgenious Member

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    just in case u missed it there are 2 bolts to hold each side of the z axis, one comes in from the inside aswell
    i missed the second one too when i first put it together

    Click to view full size!
     
  14. spikenet

    spikenet Member

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    ah! great thanks for that, I should RTFM :) cheers!

    any thoughts on what this this is capable of speed wise? I've got it set on the default profile from balco which I think is 60mm/s, can it go much faster?
     
  15. pinchies

    pinchies Member

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    Just want to NOT recommend you use IGUS bearing unless you are preloading them in a metal bearing holder. Out of the box they have a fair bit of slop and will make your prints worse not better - they need to be preloaded to reach their final tolerance. Found this out the hard way myself on my delta.

    See this video:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 20, 2017
  16. Xgenious

    Xgenious Member

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    Ive seen decent prints done @ 100mm/s with z-brace and some other mods with the right settings.
    i usally print at around 55 but i havent changed any settings in the firmware or played with settings in cura
    I also highly recommend the z brace mod, makes the whole unit much more solid
     
  17. spikenet

    spikenet Member

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    I installed z brace today and printing new fan shrowd for the contrller, will have 80mm fan so should be a lot quieter. Ordered some glass and blower fan.
    Got octopi setup with a ps eye which is incredible!


    http://cloud.tapatalk.com/s/57f1f3cc261ce/20161003_165658.jpg?
     
  18. spikenet

    spikenet Member

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    [​IMG]

    Doing my first complex print, looking great and super smooth. Have a few more mods i want to do soon.
    Edit, don't know why Tapatalk turns photos upside down.
     
  19. 7nothing

    7nothing Member

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    Damn, does look pretty good, is that PLA?

    Have just started having trouble with mine not extruding for small random sections, as of yet unable to find the case, but results in many holes in top layers, trying to print plexi holders for a lack table enclosure...
     
  20. spikenet

    spikenet Member

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    Print just completed. [​IMG]

    Yes, PLA

    I set mine to have 5 upper and lower layers, seemed to solve problems like holes.

    Just switched to s3d slicer so still getting it dialed in. Cura was working fine but like the extras in s3d for infill etc.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2016

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