I Won! I Now Have Two 3D Printers!

A while back I posted that I had entered a contest at 3DAGOGO and won a Makerbot Digitizer, a 3D optical scanner. I was thrilled and I gave the machine several test runs. I was not overly happy with the resultant scans. I sold the scanner. I may get one later when the tech becomes something more reliable and accurate.

But that didn’t stop me from entering another contest. “What Would You Print?”

The idea was to submit useful, practical designs (by sending a printable file) and a panel would judge the winners based on practicality, usefulness and ease to print.

I submitted two designs that I came up with quite some time ago:

1) Grocery bag handles. One of the things I wanted to print with my printer even before I got one was a grocery bag holder that would help me carry more plastic grocery bags (and can handle cloth bags too) so my hands (which hurt when I carry too much weight with so little surface area) wouldn’t hurt when I carried groceries in from the car.


A simple design. Bag handles go into the slot, and you hold the handle. I find I can carry plenty of weight, but what the scrunched-up plastic handles do to my fingers makes the carrying much harder. This way there is no stress on my individual fingers, and I can carry double the weight in groceries per hand. The space is wide enough to accommodate cloth bag handles too.

2) A switch protector plate for the garbage disposal on our sink. The switch is under a cabinet and is hard to see unless you lean down. There are two switches on a common plate and I can’t count the number of times I turned on the disposal when I intended to turn on the light. So this plate now sits over the disposal switch and makes it impossible to turn on the disposal by accident. You have to slide your finger in between the two guard rails to use it.


You simply remove the two screws, place this plate directly over the switch you want to protect, and screw the screws directly back in place. No expertise needed. And now to use the switch you have to be very deliberate. You simply cannot accidentally turn on the disposal.

Apparently both of my entries were in contention for a prize. This video announced the entries.

Then I got an e-mail congratulating me on winning second prize – a RioTBoard, which is a circuit project board that allows you to make any number of electronic projects. I was reasonably excited. I began to look forward to trying out some projects.

Not long after that I got an e-mail apologizing. They claimed they got the e-mails mixed up. Apparently I had not won second prize, I had won First Prize!

I had actually won Grand Prize which was an Afinia H480 printer!

The Afinia H480 is the next model up from my own Afinia H479 printer which I have had for a year and a half and have loved since I got it.

The Afinia H480 is essentially the same printer with some extra features including a print bed with springs to hold down a print plate, and an auto-calibration system.

With the Afinia H479 you calibrate the board by rotating three set screws holding the plate in place. You use the Mainenance Panel in the software to raise the print bed up to meet the nozzle and leave .2mm of room between the nozzle and the plate in all four corners and the center. When you can slip a standard file note card under the nozzle cleanly (not too tight, but you can feel the drag on the nozzle) you have calibrated the bed.

I find calibration stays set for quite some time. A knock or an accidental print incident that moves the bed could pull it out of calibration, but it’s not something you have to do daily, or even weekly, usually.

But if you want to ensure a good calibration, the H480 allows you to attach a calibration switch to the print head and use the software to level the bed and detect nozzle height. Note that this appears to be a software leveler. It does not level the bed, it just detects the tilt of the bed and prints to that angle, I believe.

Watch this video from 1:30 onward to see how the calibration and nozzle height detection works.

But I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to find I had won another Afinia printer. I sometimes do projects that require a lot of printing and being able to have two running at once will really cut down my print times on larger print runs.

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