So again it has been a little while since I have done an update on the status of this project so here it goes.
WARNING: I nor Apature Research Labs, are in any way responsible for any damage you may cause to yourself, your house, your 3d printer (insert flavor here), what ever this tutorial or review is working on, or your neighbors cat for that matter. You the reader agree that by following these tutorials, or reviews. You may not hold in any way I nor Apature Research Labs, Responsible for any Damages.
After building the frame and getting the hotend wired up along with everything else, I got a little ahead of myself and decided to do a test print. The printer was way un-calibrated and when told to print a 10x10mm square it wanted to print a straight line. With a little tweeking of the stepper motor steps per mm I got it to print a pretty good 10x10mm cube. With slic3r un-configured this resulted in only ten layers needing to be printed but the adhesion of the layers was great.
Although a bit off on the y axis I did a little bit more with the steps per mm (by the way they need to be equal x=80 y=80 if you put x=80 and y=82 you will be off on the y axis. unless for some reason you need to compensate for it being off some other way.)
Another test print of the nickle test, and it turned out almost perfect.
Again slic3r still had not been configured.
I did do a print after configuring Scli3r and got pretty good result before everything turned for the worse. I had to print a new small extruder gear as the one I had was not big enough and kept slipping, and I printed a slimline harringbone gear set (took like 15 tries).
::Warping and the woes of layer de-lamination::
After trying to print a few other object and noticing that they were not coming out the same quality or even close to the printed parts I had ordered from Northshir on eBay. I proceeded to follow the setup wizard in Slic3r using Repetier host. The process is pretty straight forward, you tell it the diameter of your hot end nozzle, along with what type of material you are using PLA/ABS and it will suggest temperatures for your hot end and heated build platform, along with asking you what the diameter of your filament is. Mine was red ABS 3mm +- .02mm.
There are plenty of other options in Slic3r as well in four main tabs, you will soon become familiar with them as you will need to configure each tab appropriately to your printers setup to get the best prints. I wont go into a lot of detail here allot of it is self explanatory and each option has good tip popups.
Here comes the fun part. After configuring Slic3r, I started to notice the prints didn’t want to stick to the Kapton tape I had on my build platform. ABS sticks to kapton tape around 100-110c and the hot end is around 200-215 (that’s what mine melts good at) so there should be good adhesion to the heated bed. But instead I was greeted with prints like this.
Figuring I didn’t have the heated bed hot enough I cranked it up to around 120c and tried another print. Still got the warping pretty bad. Then I noticed something when the hot end would lay down a layer on top of the last layer printed the residual heat from the last few layers was still to hot and thus causing uneven cooling of the previous layers witch resulted in the warping.
Fixing the warp, I tried to lower the temp of the hot end down to 200. Then tried to print another test object. Something went wrong with the printer, It decided it needed to have a mental breakdown. This is what it printed me.
I got a little irritated at the new found mental status of the printer and decided it would be best to let it sit for a while. After conversing with my friend Northshir for a while we had come to the conclusion that it was a y axis issue. Well this issue needed to be fixed.
While running around my local good will I just so happened to find some white wire wrap (Lucky day!) and a big spool of 2 paired single core wire (More happy day!). I proceeded to check out and ran home to start the re-wiring process witch took roughly the hole afternoon. Before the re-wire I had to fashion my own cables for the steppers and everything else, such that there were to many failure points in the wiring to be reliable. With the new wiring there are only 2 failure points per electrical connection, much better than 3-5.
I had bought some crimp connectors from radio shack the other day as well. I needed to redo the hot end connections (solder alone will not work) after wiring everything up and redoing the hot end this is what the printer looks like now.
This proved to be a vary valuable decision as the printer started to work as it should again.
This section I find to be quite the pain. This is not a definitive guide on how to calibrate your printer, this is just a quick and dirty run through of what I did to calibrate mine. A little word of advice, make sure the printer is on a completely flat surface. I had moved my printer from ware I had built it to a level platform and noticed it had a pretty substantial teeter to it. That needed to be fixed right away.
After fixing the teeter (rocking one corner to the opposite) next came the distance from the heated bed on all four corners and the middle. I’ve been told that doing this on a cold heated bed will render your measurements pretty much useless as the heated bed will flex when heated up. So I heated the bed to around 100c (Warning this will burn you be cautious I take no responsibility for your actions.) and measured the hot end at origin (home) to the heated bed. I have found that one paper width is just about right but the hot end needs to snag the paper while you drag it under the hot end. Even at one paper width I still needed to drop the hot end down a little and this is done with the z axis end stop. Again another pain.
be careful not to drop the z axis end stop to much as you may crack your glass, and or really hurt your heated bed. I do this by moving the end stop just a touch down and hitting the home button in Repetier host and watch as it goes down. Its going to hit the heated bed if you have a spring loaded bed you will be fine. The hot end will kiss the bed and come up a little then go back down to rest at home position This is the height that your printer will print from (hopefully)on the first layer(slic3r usualy does .35mm for the first layer). This process can take a while, but you need to be patient and do this for all four corners and the middle. It also helps to have a digital caliper, you can measure the distance between the bottom of the z axis motor mount and the z axis x ends (smooth rod) and get it pretty good on each side. Doing this after you have calibrated all four corners may through your calibration off a little but you should be level now.
After you have calibrated your printer its time to load and print a test cube. I print 2-4 10x10mm cubes at a time just to make sure there is some repeatable quality prints. Use your digital caliper, or any other measuring tool you may be comfortable with and make sure all sides are equal If not make sure you know what side came from what axis on the printer so you can adjust steps mm/s and other options in Scli3r accordingly.
You will allso need to make sure that your extruder is extruding at the proper rate you can do this by using Prontrface. Heat up your hot end, put some tape as a marker about 30 mm above the extruder and measure its distance. After the hot end is heated hit the extrude button, measure the distance from the tape to the top of the extruder (ware the filament enters the extruder) and make sure its at or just at 5 mm. You can do this a few times to get a overall average. I don’t remember the equation to figure this out although I remember it being vary simple, In Repetier host in the tab printer, there is an option called EEPROM… click on that and it will load all of the important details about your printer. Scroll down to the bottom and find E Steps Per MM (this is from memory) it will probably be set default at 375 if you have not changed it before you uploaded your firmware. I started mine at 700 and pretty much nailed it. Change this number small increments at a time until you get almost exactly 5mm extruded (pulled in). click on the OK button to save, you can even reset the controller if you are unsure if the changes have taken effect.
Not a whole lot new here, pretty much what I have done for upgrade is I’ve added a spool holder with 608zz bearings and a filament guide for the extruder along with a 120mm fan strapped to the back of the printer with printed fan arms. I’ve added the aluminum z axis couplings as well as the aluminium pulleys. Make sure your belts are tight but not to tight.
I also did away with the Kapton tape as it was a pain to apply and ABS juice is so much easier to use. (Caution Acetone is very flammable corrosive, and can damage your eyes. When using Acetone it is best to do so with gloves and eye protection.) ABS juice is just a few parts Acetone with some ABS clippings or failed prints added in, when it turns into a milky color (insert color here) then you can take a paper towel and put a thin coat on your glass the acetone evaporates almost instantly and laves a thing layer of ABS. I usually do 2 applications just to get a good bottom layer.
When you get your printer printing good do yourself a favor print out some spare parts. Things will break, I’ve had a few things ware out or break pretty quick. Thank god Northshir is an awesome person and has sent me a few spare parts that have failed. I printed some new gears, new bearing washers, and extruder tensioners (these break allot, print quite a few of them).
I also found out that ambient room temperature has a lot to do with how well your printer prints (warping and de-lamination of layers). I’ve gathered materials and drew up some crude plans to build an enclosure to keep the ambient temp inside nice and warm.
I updated the plans to include the back panel and the top panel. The top panel hinges up as well for easy access to the rest of the printer.
It’s a complete enclosure the front end will be able to be opened as well as the top, the spool of filament will be outside the case as to keep it cool so the hobbed bolt does not eat the filament before it gets to the melting point. I will also light the inside with ccfl bulbs I have laying around.
::Until Next Time::
I’m sure I’ve missed a few things and will either update this post or post a new one with updates. Thanks for stopping by, if any of my post were helpful or informative please don’t be afraid to share, comment, or like. And don’t forget to check out our eBay store, Link at the top of the page.