52 SERVO 10.2013
The operation of the Afinia is tied closely to its own
proprietary software. Unlike all the other printers in this
series, the Afinia cannot use third party software. While not
necessarily a problem now, software like Creator is rapidly
catching up with the foolproof printing abilities of the
The last issue with the Afinia is the print volume to
price point. The Afinia has a 5" x 5" x 5" build area, and
with its high cost yields a BCR of 15. This may turn many
potential buyers away. That said, if you are
only going to print small parts, no other
printer comes close to the Afinia’s capability
in producing small prototype parts.
The MakerGear M2 3D printer kit arrived
about half way through this series. Since
then, this has been my go-to 3D printer even
though the M2 was the most expensive
printer in this series. Priced at $1,775
assembled and $1,475 in kit form, its
generous 8" x 10" x 8" build platform yields
a BCR of 45 and 54, respectively.
The M2 (Figure 12) features a
removable heated bed. It uses a standard
8" x 10" profile, so framing glass or acrylic
can be placed on the platform support. I
have printed PLA on cool acrylic, heated
glass, and Kapton tape, and ABS on heated
Kapton at 110°C — all without issues. The
bed is easier to level than any other printer
I have used to date. The M2 is by far my
favorite printer, but I did have to tweak a
Soon after putting the printer to use, the
main extruder cooling fan burnt out. The M2
comes with two power supplies (Figure 13).
The first is a large 12V power supply that is meant to
power the heated bed. The second is a smaller 19V power
supply that is meant to power the logic, motors, fans, and
extruders. The problem with this configuration is that all the
fans and extruder use this power source. Most 12V fans will
not last long on 19V.
By changing the wiring a little on the power
connectors, I was able to share the 12V for the heated bed
with the logic and MOSFETs. I kept the motors on the 19V
supply. This worked perfect. The new fan runs cool and
the 5V logic regulators don't run as hot. The extruder
takes just a little longer to heat up, but its curve is more
predictable. Problem solved.
I also had an issue when printing PLA which would
ooze and bubble, and the prints were not very good. I
purchased one of those $20 meters with thermocouples
so I could measure the actual temperature of the hot
end. I found that the hot end was running several
degrees hotter than what was being reported.
There are a couple things that can cause this
problem: bad settings in your firmware or a thermistor
that isn't making contact with the hot end. It ended up
being the thermistor. I added a dab of heatsink
compound to the thermistor and more Kapton tape.