Importing a budget 3D printer – South African perspective

Importing a TEVO Tarantula 3D printer to South Africa
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3D Printing

The price was right, the reviews were favourable, the supplier was trustworthy, the order was placed. I bought a TEVO Tarantula 3D printer from China.

Introduction

After the disappointment with a previous 3D printer, I still could not withstand the urge to embark on a new journey of being able to make my own 3D prints.

At the time of writing, 3D printers in South Africa were hellishly expensive. I also struggled to get the impression from the online sources that aftercare or help was a strong point.

Background

3D printing is the action, or process, of making a physical object from a three-dimensional digital model. It is typically done by laying down many thin layers of material in succession.

Since back in 1983, reportedly when the first functional 3D printer was made, 3D printing has branched into many directions. A well developed, and increasingly popular branch is home 3D printing, mainly based on open-source architecture.

Ordering and delivery

Some things might be worth buying from a Chinese supplier — it is just a matter of value for money. This was an entry-level TEVO Tarantula open-source 3D printer DIY kit ordered from BangGood.

Update: The TEVO Tarantula is now completely discontinued after being replaced with the TEVO Tarantula Prusa I3.

At the time, the TEVO Tarantula was considered to be a budget printer (< U$300) with favourable reviews and a large online community. The printer parts needed to be assembled, but the box it came in was still quite large. My concerns at the time were packaging care, import duties, speed of delivery and reaching the destination.

Tevo Tarantula delivery box
The postage and packaging that the TEVO Tarantula came in.

The package did come, and relatively fast too — 1 month to be exact. At the time of purchase, BangGood charged an extra U$13 and send it via airmail (I didn’t know). I also insured the package for a couple of dollars more. At collection, there were an extra couple of ZAR100 import duties charged by the South African Post Office.

Tevo Tarantula delivery South Africa
My reply to BangGood.

Packaging and assembling

Although the outside box had a couple of lumps and bumps, the contents were packaged with more than enough protection. This was apparently a great feature of TEVO 3D printers. On arrival, no parts were damaged, or even out of place.

Tevo Tarantula unboxing
TEVO was dedicated to packaging their 3D printers well.
TEVO Tarantula parts
The TEVO Tarantula parts were all marked well.

Albeit not simple, assembling the TEVO Tarantula was manageable. It did take me significantly longer, but a dedicated, keen person can probably do it between two periods of their daily rest requirements. All the tools required were included. The boxed instructions were in English, but were bad.

TEVO Tarantula box instructions
Assembling the TEVO Tarantula 3D printer could have been better with proper instructions.

Even looking from a person that has no running knowledge of 3D printers, or assembling them, there were a lot of missing steps. Reviews did warn that this 3D printer is not the easiest to build. The process went faster when I discovered much better instructions on YouTube.

Problems

From my perspective, being a budget printer from China, problems were bound to creep in. Two problems worth mentioning was that the mainboard did not function properly and one part had to be replaced due to (even in hindsight) improper instructions.

The printer mainboard

The very first problem I encountered was that one of the stepper motors was dead.

BangGood asked me to upload a video of what I am experiencing, and it was concluded that the printer board needed to be replaced. After refunding me the value of the board, a new (later version) was ordered from eBay. Being an open-source printer, there were a couple of replacement board options available and the board arrived in good condition — another two months down the line.

The internet was resourceful when it came to choosing and flushing the required firmware. The cost of ordering and delivery was very similar to the refunded amount.

Tevo Tarantula main board
The TEVO Tarantula main board. They are easily replaceable.

Filament feeder tube

After the first couple of test prints, the filament started to get clogged inside the extractor. At the time of realizing what the actual problem was (it wasn’t pressed in deep enough and after each unclogging process I had to cut some tube off), the tube was so short it didn’t extend the distance it was supposed to anymore.

TEVO PTFE Filament Feeder Tube
TEVO PTFE Filament Feeder Tube
For 1.75mm filament, 10m long, white
TEVO 10m long 1.75mm filament PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene) tube for 3D Printers. 2mm inner and 4mm outer diameter. White colour. Perfect for TEVO Tarantula.
Available from BangGood

Even though one might think that these tubes can be replaced with a similar-looking tube (and believe me, I tried), it turned out that only an ‘original’ PTFE part was going to do the trick. The tube (and an extra one) was re-ordered from BangGood with free delivery and yet, another two months waiting period.

Conclusion

I’m still tweaking here and there, but I managed to get the TEVO Tarantula printing decent parts. Looking at the investment made, the overall experience has been good and educational.

Being open-source using commonly available parts (from China), and with its informative community, I’m confident that I will be able to keep the printer maintained and running.

The main downfall is obviously the time it will take to keep the printer in good nick. Ordering and importing a TEVO Tarantula 3D printer is definitely a good option, especially for newbies and/or those with a tight budget.

In order to give back to the community, I will be writing more related posts in the future, so keep an eye out. Also, share your 3D printer or TEVO Tarantula ordering experience by using the comment section below.

3D printer and printing accessories

To get started with 3D printing, you might need some of the following accessories.

As mentioned previously, the TEVO Tarantula and its successor has been discontinued, but here is what I believe is the next, budget 3D printer from BangGood.

Please support us by using these links - they come at no additional cost to you, but we get a little commission each time they are used. These and others are available from Amazon.com and BangGood.

We have tested most of these products ourselves. Other selection criteria include affordability, quality, availability and average user rating and popularity by other buyers.

Links will open in a new window.
(Dead or old links can be reported in the comments section below.)

Featured product

Creality 3D Ender-3 3D Printer
Creality 3D Ender-3 3D Printer

The first version of the Creality 3D Ender-3 3D Printer Kit. 220x220x250mm printing size. Power resume function. 1.75mm 0.4mm nozzle. Assembly required.
Available from BangGood

Related products

Today (update)

Looking back, since its release, the TEVO Tarantula has gathered quite a following. It has become the topic of many 3D printer discussions and were found by some a the ultimate ‘fixer-upper’.

I’m still using my TEVO Tarantula. After a lot of learning and tweaking the printer, I’m very happy with the overall quality of 3D prints I’m getting.

I haven’t written nearly as many articles about the TEVO Tarantula and 3D printing as I would have liked, but I’m still committed to adding more to the website.

About the author
Renier busies himself with improving his English writing, creative web design and his websites, photoshopping, micro-electronics, multiple genres of music, superhero movies and badass series.
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