The Afinia is available fully assembled for $1599. While this is a little expensive for a printer with a 5" x 5" x 5" build area, it is easily my best printing 3D printer. The parts printed by the Adinia are as near to perfect as I have seen with a 3D printer.

My Afinia arrived about a two weeks after I ordered it. It arrived well packed, as shown below. 

The package (shown below) contains a power supply, power cord, USB cable, filament mount, filament guide, quick start guide, various tools, install disk, and a full roll of premium filament.

The only assembly required is to install the filament spool holder and guide. The provided filament holder if fine for the stock Afinia filaments, but if you want to use some of the wider spools you will need to print and install a different spool holder. The spool holder below (thingiverse 31962) works pretty good. It's supposed to have 5/16 ball bearings inserted, but works fine without them.

 

Extruder

The Afinia extruder utilizes a direct dive extruder (shown below). This is extruder is about as simple as it gets for an extruder. Instead of the hobbed drive gear on other extruders, the Afinia utilizes a small press fit pinion gear. A small plastic housing holds a small bearing that applies the pressure to the filament. The one downside to this extruder is that it does not play well with filament that is smaller or larger than 1.75mm. As a matter of fact, I had to have the included filament replaced as it was too large in places and would jam.

Many 3D printer makers have moved away from the static pinch roller to a spring loaded roller. The spring loaded pinch roller allows the filament to maintain consistent pressure as the thickness of the filament changes.

The cool end of the extruder is kept cool via a fan and heat sink. This works very well at keeping the filament cool as it enters the hot end.

You may have noticed the red fan mount (below). The original (white) mount had a broken diverter, but the included disk includes all the printed parts so you can make your own repairs. I printed a new mount to replace the one with the broken diverter.

When the diverter is flipped up as shown below, part of the air from the fan is diverted towards to extruded part. This helps when making small parts. While this system is not controlled with the software, it does work very well. It work better even than printers that use a dedicated controller controlled fans.

 

Power Supply

The Adinia is powered by a 9v 9.5A power supply. It looks much like a oversized laptop power supply. The power supply is more that adequate to get the hot end up to 270c and the bed to over 100c.

Construction and Tuning

The included disk comes with videos showing how to calibrate the printer. However my printer did not need it. It printed perfect from the start.

The Afinia's design is based on a moving platform. The bed moves on the Y and Z axis. The print head moves on the X axis. The rails are enclosed so there is no way to lubricate them without printer disassembly.

Overall the machine is very rigid and performs well. It has a small footprint and would fit well on any desk.

Bed Adhesion

I have a test print I use to test bed adhesion. It consists of several small letters. If you don't have good adhesion the print ends up as a large blob. I use the perfboard and raft for most of my prints, so that is how I did my adhesion test. The print below had a .3mm print layer but still came out better than most other printers at .2mm layer.

See the print in action here:

 

Heated Bed

The heated bed consists of .15" thick heated aluminum plate shown below. The system has no problem getting the bed to 100c.

While you can apply Kapton tape or glass to the heated bed, the Afinia utilizes a fiberglass perfboard that can be screwed or clipped to the heated bed as shown below. The perfboard is best when using a raft to support your product. The raft will sink into the holes for better holding power. The part then sticks to the raft. The key is using the correct temperature so that the part can be easily removed from the raft.

 

Bed Adhesion

I have a test print I use to test bed adhesion. It consists of several small letters. If you don't have good adhesion the print ends up as a large blob. I use the perfboard and raft for most of my prints, so that is how I did my adhesion test. The print below had a .3mm print layer but still came out better than most other printers at .2mm layer.

See the print in action here:

 

Software

Unlike the other printers I own, the Afinia is a closed system. This means it uses a proprietary interface and you must use the software (Below) provided by them. I can honestly say that this software is not as powerful as some of its counterparts, but the success of the prints created by the Afinia are a testament to how important the software is in the 3D print process.

Lets look at some of the pros and cons I have encountered using the Afinia software.

Pros

  • Software is easy to use

  • Raft system works very well

  • Support system works very well

  • Print dimensions are extremely accurate

  • Little or no calibration was required.

 

Cons

  • Software lacks some low level control

  • Software lacks temperature control

 

All in all the Afinia owes its success to its software.

 

Early Prints

Let's take a look at the hollow cube (Thingiverse 5011). Unlike the open source software available for other printers you can not turn off supports. So the cube print does not directly compare to the other prints. The photograph below shows the printed cube with raft and supports.

The print below has had the supports removed. 

 

Mr Jaws

Let's take the printer for a ride printing Mr Jaws (Thingiverse #14702). The print (below) came out very well. 

 

GT2 Gears

Printing GT2 gears will push your 3D printer to limits of its capabilities. The gears shown below have a pocket for a #4 nut on both sides. This way the #4 screws can securely hold the gear in place. You can even add thread-lock to the nut to add more security.

The gears are designed to attach to a NEMA 17 stepper with a 5mm shaft, as shown below. The gears engage a GT2 belt.

See the print in action here:

 

Initial Thoughts

While I have a lot of testing yet to make on the Afinia printer, my initial impressions are very positive. 

6/10/2013-Printing PLA

Printing PLA on this printer has its issues. First the raft system does not work very well when printing PLA. The problem is that it is almost impossible to remove the part from the raft. The answer to this problem is to print onto glass. When glass is heated to about 65c, PLA will stick to it very well. The problem is that the bed only heats to 50c and you have no control of the bed temp. One could experiment with placing a resister in parallel with the bed thermistor to trick the controller.

If you use PLA with this printer it is possible you may have to clear an occasional jamb. 

 

Extruder Temperature

The main area that I think needs improvement is the temperature control of the extruder. Here is the problem. The premium ABS filament that ships with the printer needs an extrusion temperature between 260c and 270c. This is the temperature that the printer sets the extruder to when set to ABS. The problem is that this is too high of a temperature for standard ABS. It will extrude but the raft and supports will be almost impossible to remove.

Until the software is updated there is a hardware answer. The following extruder cover is available. It has a switch that places a small resistor in series with the thermistor when needed. The resistor tricks the controller into thinking its at a higher temperature than it actually is. It works very well. I found that using the switch allowed me to use standard ABS. The rafts and supports worked perfect and were very easy to remove.

octive printer switch.jpg

6/20/2013-Cleaning Afinia Nozzle Jamb

If you print a lot with PLA then, it's only a matter of time before you get a filament jam. A jamb normally occurs when the PLA softens little in the cool portion of the hot-end assembly. This causes the filament to deform and block the entry into the hot-end. The can all be started by the filament jambing in the nozzle its self.

Why does this happen?

PLA (polylactic acid) is made from a renewable resource such as corn, tapioca, or sugarcane. The starches in PLA will caramelize if they get too hot, or are heated too long. Once this happens it will not extrude. In the case of the jamb shown below. The nozzle caramelized and caused things to go bad from there. This was probably due to me going back and forth from ABS to PLA.

To clear the jamb first, remove the nozzle from the hot-end using the included nozzle wrench. You will need to heat the hot end to do this.

With the fan, nozzle and filament guide removed (shown in Figure 1), heat the hot-end assembly by running the extruder through a couple of cycles. Next, using a 1/16" brass rod, insert it though the hot-end from the bottom. The nozzle end has a smaller opening than the cool end so you should be able to easily dislodge the jamb.

 Figure 1

Figure 1

Figure 2 shows how the rod is inserted in the hot-end assembly. You don't have to remove the hot-end assembly as I have done, I did it only for clarification.

 Figure 2

Figure 2

To remove the jamb from the nozzle I heated the nozzle slightly with a butane torch, you could also use a lighter. I then picked the excess material out with a dental pick. You could also use as safety pin or some other sharp object. Do Not insert anything into the nozzle tip. If you do you will deform it and ruin the nozzle. 

 Figure 3

Figure 3

Please note that the only jambs where I had to resort to the above procedures was when I was using PLA. Also note that these jambs can happen with any 3D printer while using PLA.