I3 Duplicator Heater bed Replacement

Okay, I know I should have double checked everything before I even started my disassembly. But 4 hours of sleep does tend to dull the brain a bit…

I knew what I was in for since I had installed a few “basic” mods shortly after buying my Duplicator. This was a while ago though, and my printer has been down for a while. My wife wanted me to get it back up and running. Her idea was to print supplies for our local hospitals and clinics for COVID PPE.

Bed replacement Research

I watched this video. Just to get an idea of how easy it “should” have been to replace my heater bed and thermistor. It was surprising at how easy this guy made it look.

All I ordered was the heater bed itself. I didn’t need all the wiring or thermistor, that hardware was all fine. I just needed to replace the bed, due to a serious warp that does not allowed for leveling. Believe me when I say I tried… Cats can do “wonderful things” to warm aluminum when they take a 4 foot leap at it.

First steps

Anyway, I got everything apart and laid out to ensure an easy re-assembly and all looked good. I un-soldered the old bed connections and set the plate aside face down. This way I could see it and follow it to solder the connections to the new heater. (I am not an electrician. But with my technical knowledge, I didn’t think this would be outside my wheelhouse of skills.)

That’s when I got my first surprise. The connectors for the new bed were not anywhere near how the old bed was laid out.

I figured with the wiring diagram on the old board I should be able to get the newer board connected. I soldered the wires. And after a few choice words plugged things to test if the bed heated up.

Unfortunately, soon as I powered up the controller I received a bed error. (which I had to google as I had no idea what it meant except that something was really wrong) So I killed the power and unsoldered things, and tried again with the only other logical set of connections. But Nope, no luck the second time either.

At this point, I went digging for more “specs” on the new board. I figured I had to be doing something wrong. By rights all should be good at least as far as my I3 printer repair manual was telling me.

At this point, I should say that I bought the board thru Amazon. I also specifically asked the seller if this board would work with my printer type. They gave me a definite yes as long as the “size” matched it would work.

The Horrible Truth

After some deeper research, I discovered two things. One, that no this particular board would not work with my I3. It had a different “resistance” in the embedded circuit that was messing with the controller. It could be bypassed. I would have a ton of “other” mods I’d need to do first to get it to work. Two, even if I went thru and implemented all the mods needed. It still wouldn’t work properly as this particular board only heats to 80 degrees. Something I found out after reading a bit farther thru the “buyer comments” on Amazon.

I am truly not impressed with these guys, and will never buy from them again. Especially since the order took nearly 8 weeks to arrive from wherever it originated from! (probably China if I remember right on the order) I’ve only ever had one other thing from amazon take so long. That was a sound bar that was back-ordered. The seller told me about the issues upfront. They gave me the option to cancel at anytime if I got tired of waiting. I didn’t get any communication from the heater bed seller. Even after sending them a few update requests for an ETA.

Alternative Part Source

Anyway, I found a relatively “local” supplier who carries all the spare parts for my printer. As well as a few other supplies for 3D printing enthusiasts. They are called Spool3D. They are located in Calgary, Alberta here in Canada. I have used them to order filaments of differing types. They always had great service and very reasonable prices and shipping rates.

After I posted my “nasty” review on Amazon stating just how disgusted I was with the whole fiasco. I decided to pay Spool a visit on their site and see if they could help me out. I vaguely remembered they did sell actual printers and was hoping they might also have a parts catalogue as well. As luck would have it, they did. They had a full catalogue of parts for about 20 different 3D printers. Including a very exhaustive collection of I3 parts. Needless to say, I was very happy at this point.

After a long discussion with my wife. She told me just to go ahead and get what I needed to get back up and running. Then I went “shopping” 🙂

I bought a new heater bed for only slightly more than the one from Amazon. With the added bonus of being able to verify it really was for my specific printer. (the plate was an exact replica of my original one) I also bought a glass bed that was specially created for my printer. Finally, I also bought a bed levelling “kit” which will replace some of my printed mods with steel pieces instead. The kit also addresses the “fire issue” discussed here on 3D Printer Wiki

In conclusion

So, now it’s a waiting game, and my printer gets to sit disassembled for another week or so. The bright side of things is that I have the correct parts. And should be up and running within a day or so of them arriving. I am very excited and will post one more time about it once it’s assembled and printing.

Word of advice, shop locally if you can. It supports your local economy and helps out the local businesses. Not to mention you may find something closer to home that is much better quality, and substantially more reliable.