Useful Tools

The kit of supplies you get included with your printer are sufficient enough to get going and should do you for a while (or at least until you are bored of printing random statues). The following list is a suggested set of tools that I believe will make it easier to upgrade, modify, assemble and disassemble (you’ll be doing this relatively often) and generally tinker and tweak. You don’t need to buy the most expensive brands and you might even have a few of these to hand already stashed away in the back of the shed, if so go get them, clean off the rust and douse with some WD40 (I know you haven’t used them since you put up that shelf in 2005, 6 months after you said you would).

  1. 30cm Metal Ruler
  2. Digital Callipers
  3. Allen Keys
  4. Long Nose Pliers
  5. Spanners and Sockets
  6. Flush Diagonal Cutters
  7. Feeler Gauge
  8. Compartment Storage Box
  9. De-burring Tool

A 30cm metal ruler

Do not underestimate the necessity of the trusty ruler (thou shalt not make presidential jokes). For me it simply serves just one very critical purpose, to measure things, obviously. The critical part is as follows, use it to measure the height of BOTH Z axis carriages. Before you do any bed levelling, check that both sides are exactly the same height. Check and check again. This is easier to do if the ruler is good quality and is reasonable stiff. I like to measure the height from the top of both the Z axis motors which yields consistent results. Measure this relatively frequently as it is highly likely to move once the stepper motors have been disabled (especially if you are messing around with the filament or moving the extruder).

30cm Metal Ruler

Digital Callipers

Useful but not critical unless you are going for more accurate prints. They come in very handy if you are printing the 20mm calibration cube such as this one from Thingiverse.

You can pick up a good pair of these from many different places for around £10. They are also very useful if you are designing a replacement object for something around the house etc.

Digital Vernier Calipers

Allen Keys

These are a must. Buy a good set because you are very likely to use them a lot. Specifically 1-3mm in 0.5mm increments. I prefer the hex screwdriver types (popular in the RC world apparently) but the usual L shape ones will do just fine.

Long Nose Pliers

If you have attempted to assemble your A8 yet you will have no doubt met the arch nemesis of stubby fingers. I refer to the M3 nuts that get slotted into many designated points around the entire chassis. These fiddly things gave me a lot of aggro during the build and still do when I take things apart. Use these pliers to pick up and hold the nuts in place while you bolt the two bits together. These are also useful to quickly and efficiently remove any build up of filament around the nozzle or any leakage while stationary.

Long Nose Pliers

Spanners and sockets

A set of spanners and sockets come in handy in a number of different areas on the printer. The most frequent use will be when adding or removing the nozzle. In my experience, the nozzle typically takes a 7, 7.5 or 8mm spanner depending on nozzle diameter or manufacturer. The nozzle will need a somewhat above average level of force to correctly align it with the heat break but the rest of the nuts around the printer needs not so much. Remember you are dealing with acrylic here and if you over tighten the nuts on the frame you risk cracking it.

Flush Diagonal Cutters

My favourite tool I’ve bought for the 3D printer. Although you get a pair of these in the kit they are just a standard cheap pair and well worth upgrading. They are excellent for quickly cutting filament if you need to tidy up the end and they are absolutely brilliant for removing excess filament from a print. A good priced and sharp pair of these will cleanly and easily remove brim and snip off any strands of stringing or excess oozing. They have the added benefit of being around when you need to start a tear in your Kapton tape.

Feeler Gauge

Definitely not something you have to rush out and buy but I’ve found using feeler gauges in replacement for the age old technique of using a sheet of paper to level your bed is much better in my opinion. You will be able to find a decent set online or in an automotive store for less than £10. I tend to use between 0.08 and 0.13mm when levelling the Anet bed depending on what layer height and nozzle size I’m printing at.

Compartment Storage Box

Mostly to keep things organised, you will likely end up buying many different nozzles, heat breaks, heater blocks, spare screws, nuts and bolts and all sorts of odds and sods and a compartmented box will help to keep all of these organised and easily accessible. The compartments don’t need to be very big and you will probably need one with quit a few slots depending on how organised you like to be.

Deburring Tool

I use this tool consistently to tidy up edges and holes that have either not printed perfectly or have residue left from brim or support. It doesn’t need to be expensive but the sharper the better. They tend to come with detachable heads for easy replacement but as they are meant for tidying up metal you shouldn’t need to worry about replacing it very often.

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