Upgrades for your new i3 based 3D Printer

This guide was created to share upgrades for the Tevo Tarantula, but many parts are interchangeable between other i3 based designs like the Anet A8, Anet A6, Greetech i3, JGAURORA, and many others.   For those ordering a new printer, I created a post quickly going over the options.  Once you order, this is the post for you. Building a Tevo Tarantula is just the start of the fun. It’s a solid printer out of the box, but there are a number of weaknesses that can be overcome with either printing, or buying additional parts. I view the upgrades in several categories, and some upgrades span categories. The categories I used: Key Upgrades, Safety, Structure, Ease of Use, Aesthetics, Calibration. These are also the order I recommend printing, with a few outliers. When I setup my new printer, the first thing I did, was print a calibration cube. This gives me a baseline to start from. After I am “done”, I plan on printing another one. So, after I purchased my printer, there were several pieces I ordered with it, including the safety items listed below and anything ordered from China.

Key 3D Printer Upgrades for your new printer:

These are those upgrades I highly recommend.  Some for safety, some for better quality prints. 

Safety:

  • Plug and 5 amp Fuse Switch (Amazon | AliExpress): The power supply kind of sucks. You power it on by plugging it in, and power it off by unplugging it. This allows you to turn it on, and off, plus puts a fuse inline.  If you want a much more robust switch (and willing to pay for it) this is a great alternative.  ( Amazon )
  • Power Supply Cover with Switch (Thingiverse): You just have to love a power supply with live connections. This covers those and allows you to install the power switch above.
  • Check out my post on converting server power supplies for 3D printers.  I link a few videos and a couple of pages about converting server power supplies to provide power for your 3D Printer.  These are generally superior to the bundled power supply and are very inexpensive on the secondary market.
  • Various power connectors :  Ring and Ferrule are recommended a lot.  I used both.  Here is a good video on safely using them: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjSGCSwNuAg
  • Heat Shrink Tubing (Amazon): You need some heat shrink tubing if you solder wires together.  Out of the box, you don’t have to do any soldering, but many upgrades (like making it modular and using power connectors) requires soldering. 

Structure:

Ease of Use:

  • Glass: Glass is suggested because it remains flat while the bed may flex and distort with heat. I bought a cheap Wal-Mart frame and used the glass out of it. It is smaller than my large bed, but I have not printed anything larger, either. I have read that you can go to a glass cutter and get 3mm-4mm glass for a few dollars, that is cut to the bed size.  I now have custom cut glass from a hardware store.  Ignore my old advice of getting a frame.  It was cheaper to get two custom cut pieces of glass instead of a frame.  For a lot more, you can get Gorilla Glass cut and shipped for your bed size: http://maker.glass 
  • Cheap Ball Bearings (Amazon | AliExpress): These were used to build The Ultimate Spool Holder (TUSH). This was the first upgrade I printed.
  • Optical Endstop (AmazonAliExpress): This purchase is to build a filament out alarm, to alert you when you run out of filament. Here is the video I first learned about it from: Optical Endstop. So, that video is no longer there.  I hope it comes back.  If it doesn’t, here is the optical sensor holder on Thingiverse with information on hooking it up to Octoprint.  
  • Small JST connectors (Amazon | AliExpress): There are various parts that need connected. The layer fan comes to mind. I cut the end off of it, and replaced it with this JST connector on both ends.
  • Future upgrade – XT-30 and XT-60 connectors (Amazon: XT-30 / XT-60 |AliExpress: XT-30 / XT-60): I plan to use these with this Power distribution Bar to help with my cable management and make it easier to work on. 
  • Future Upgrade – Automatic Bed Leveling (AmazonAliExpress Link): I picked up this inexpensive inductive sensor to try it out. I have many other upgrades to accomplish before I move on to automatic leveling. 

Calibration:

  • Calibration Cube (Thingiverse): This was the first print I made. It gives me a baseline on my printer.
  • Temperature Tower: I have created a post about calibration prints, including the cube above. I print these with my filament to find out the best temperature for the spool.  

Aesthetics:

  • LED Strip Light (Amazon ): These make great ways to light your printer. From installing them inside an enclosure, to installing them right on your layer cooler (the author of the fang cooler above talks about installing 3 led lights on it), these are an inexpensive way to light your printer.
  • The IKEA Lack Table (IKEA): At $7.99 each, these tables are used extensively and the 3D Printer world.  You can find modifications for making the legs longer, as well as turning it into a full enclosure.  

 

Go back to the 3D Printing Beginner’s Guide.