Welcome to Part 2 of the blog-post series with the never ending name of Lets build an Ultimaker 2+ Extended clone 🙂
This Part 2 is going to be about how to use Aliexpress, and what to keep an eye on.
- Ammendment – Ultimaker 2 assembly manua
- Lets get down to it – Picking suppliers
- Known good suppliers
- Common telltale to keep away
First a bit of an ammendment
I forgot to talk about the existing Ultimaker 2 Assembly manual, which is located on the official Github repository.
You might, rightly so, wonder why on earth I’m creating this blog-post series when a manual allready exists?
Well, that is a good question, and the reason why I havn’t got around to writing sooner. Not because of the question, but because of the existence of this manual, but the thing is: Just because you get an assembly manual, doesn’t mean all the small things are taken into account, nor, and especially, are there any things related to how to actually obtain the various parts.
This is the true heart of what I’m trying to do here: Descriping how and what parts you need to get, and what prices you can expect, along with advice on how to do this, or more particularily, what to avoid when shopping on Aliexpress along with some tricks on purchacing bundles.
Lets get down to it – Picking suppliers
I’m almost exclusively buying parts on Aliexpress.com – if you are new to it, you need to create an account and associate a credit card or paypal account. I’ve never had any issues regarding money been withdrawn when I hadn’t bought something. I’ve also always get my money refunded when relevant.
So, why make a section on picking suppliers, when it’s so easy?
Not all suppliers are created equal, and nor are their products.
When searching for items, you can sort by price, then do spend some time looking at the various items. You can also put a tick in free shipping, but that is not always favorable, so experiment some on this.
Don’t just pick the first the best
Do not just pick the first cheapest item that shows up in your search and buy it without doing a bit of investigation into the reseller.
Lets go through what to look for, using the seller from which I bought the frame and many of the parts as an example:
Sold by and Visit Store
After a while you’ll get to recognize several resellers name listed under Sold by (Number 1), which is good, but untill then, you should use the Visit Store (Number 2) and browse through it.
If they sell all kinds of (junk) non 3D and CNC parts like fishing equipment, parts for various craft hobbies etc, you most likely don’t want to buy your stuff from that one – why? Because they likely just got a big batch of the items you look at, at a very low price, and just pass them on without any Quality Control. You might get lucky of course, and I’ve bought some minor items from such.
Product Name and Description
Product name and Decription (Number 3 and 4) are extremely important here. Yea sure! you might say, of course the name and description are important, but it is much more than as such. A good deal of suppliers use stock photos, so while it might show 2 pieces of something the name might say 1, or even worse, the name actually does say 2 pieces while the description states that you are only going to recieve 1 item.
This means you always must go through name and description for such discrepancies and take proper care. If in any way in doubt you should either pick a new store or Contact Seller (Number 5) and ask to make sure.
Also the seller might have special discounts listed in the Description. Our example seller here gives you discount if you add the item to a Wish list and add the shop to your Favorite Shop.
Note: in order to take advantage of rebates, you still need to add to basket, then click Buy (do not use one-click buying option), but choose a different payment method from normal, but not another card. This way the order is going to be placed, but awaiting payment. The seller can now go in and modify the price before you pay.
Simple, ehh? Not really, but it does work.
Shipping and Shipping price
Pay attention to the Shipping price and method (Number 6). This seller has free shipping using DHL on the frame, which is worth a lot. Also means it might just pay off to pick several other items from this shop, as you are guaranteed to get the items quickly, instead of waiting a month, and without most of the potential problems that might occur with missing packages slow toll/vat and such.
The Total Price (Number 7) is the price of the item + shipping. It’s rather obvious, but I’m mentioning this, as the shipping price might be rather significant on smaller items, so stacking on a large free shipping items often pays off.
Feedback is everything on Aliexpress and the sellers are going very far to get a positive rating. It means you should contact them if you have any problems with the product, which often leads to some sort of partial refund.
After recieving your product you firstly need to confirm you have recieved it. You should give feedback, as it also rates the other way. The sellers are rating you as well, so keep that in mind! If you have problems, contact the seller and if you can’t find a solution you can Open a Dispute and 3rd party from Aliexpress judges the case.
Be resonable: you can’t get full refund for a functioning but slightly damaged product, like scratches etc.
Known good suppliers
As mentioned earlier, you are going to learn to recognize certain resellers. Don’t be afraid to shop from many different sellers, but I’ll put up a short list of shops I dare recommend. Also for more expensive parts.
Listed in no particular order
- SANJIUPrinter 3D Research Center
- Blurolls Store
- JennyPrinter 3D Research Center
- Shenzhen 365BuY Co., Ltd
- BIG TREE TECH CO.,LTD Store
- RobotDigg Equip Makers store // RobotDigg webshop
- MakerBase Technology Co., Ltd
Common telltales to keep away
When searcing for a product you know is manufactured by a certain manufacturer, like the MKS-Makerbase controllers I’ve written about on instructables, you really should never buy such things from 3rd party stores. It does require you keep your eyes open, as multiple shops, also some of the Known good suppliers above, are selling copies of these things, but they can never give the same service and it’s often bad quality or a completely diffferent product alltogether.
Why have them on the Known good suppliers if they act like this? There are bad, and there are bad. Allways keep your eyes open 🙂
Another thing you really must keep your eyes on, is when you are looking for the Ultimaker 2 frame. It should be created from Dibond plates (sandwich of aluminium on either side and hard plastic as core) and acrylic plates for the sides, but you are going to see a lot of wooden and even all acrylic frames. Don’t go there! Some are assembled, meaning screws and nuts are included, while others are not, so take that into consideration.
Some shops include parts, you might see as 100% part of the object, but which is viewed as an extra by the resellers. Like the piece of Dibond for the Ultimaker 2 bed, hiding the bearings and lead screw nut. These things are worth money, and looks matters as well.