Friday, May 31, 2013

Build Log #28 - 3DPrintMi released, future development

It's done! After 6 months of development, I have released my reprap machine out to the wild and wish to see it elsewhere around the world! The assembly guide is still in the works but I have all the pictures arranged in an orderly fashion, just need to write in the instructions for clarity and that's about it.

For the past 6 months, I couldn't figure out a good name for my reprap and I probably have 3 pages of words, names and acronyms. Every name I came up with was either taken or just lame. With the help of my girlfriend, I finally settled down in calling my reprap, 3DPrintMi. Pronounced as "3D Print Me", the acronym stands for "Print. Make. Innovate." I think this name captures the spirit I displayed when I was designing, improving and building my reprap printer and how addicting it can be to print another set. Actually, I'm printing another one right now haha. 

Printing another 3DPrintMi

I have a few things that I want to work on. I'm thinking of experimenting with Bowden extruder setup again since the last time I tried it on my Printrbot+, I wasn't that impressed with how it performed. I'll give it another go.

Another thing I want to explore is to see if I can turn my reprap frame into a modular one so that it can reconfigure itself to something like the Printrbot Jr./Simple and the new Bukito printer. The Y gantry would remain the same and all I need to do is just move X gantry around. The only concern I have is if the threaded rods can handle the dynamic load of the moving X Carriage. Only one way to find out.

A major accomplishment today and more problems to fix tommorow!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Build Log #27 - Nearing the end of my journey

So it's been quite while since I last updated my build log. Finally finished my BOM and spent about 2 weeks getting the assembly guide together. I received a digital camera for my bday and I've been using it heavily ever since I opened it. I've taken at least 300 photos and they all came out great with incredible details. I had a tripod setup to take all the photos but towards the end of the assembly build, the mount broke so I had to draw and print a replacement. Just when I was printing, the hotbed connector burnt out again. I have to replace that connector again and hoping it won't burn down my condo the next time it happens.

By the end of the this month, I plan to release all the files and plans, hoping that someone will pick it up and build one themselves.

Fully built my 3rd printer printed from my 2nd.

Broken tripod mount

Starting the print

Halfway through the print. Can see the breakable support structures

Completed Tripod Replacement

Comparison between the original and 3d printed version

Installing the new tripod mount

Full assembled tripod mount

Another shot at the tripod mount

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Build Log #26 - Some updates, BOM sneak peak

My only success with blue PLA. How sad.
After many hours battling with the QU-BD's MBE extruder, I decided to call it quits in trying to get the Blue PLA to work. The heat creep is the main culprit which is causing all the jams and I'm sure of it. The jam happens right at the top of heat break on the ss filament barrel (top as in near the anodized aluminum heat sink). The heat break failed to stop the heat from spreading and the heat sink isn't pulling heat away fast enough to stop the PLA from swelling. To test this, I had a fan duct blowing air directly at the heat break and the PLA extrudes without any jams. Thought about mounting a heat sink right at the heat break but the filament barrel is just too damn short to be workable. Until I can figure out a way to draw the extra heat from the filament barrel, the blue PLA will unfortunately be shelved until further notice.

Heat Cartridge
I've taken the extruder apart so many times, I lost count and busted my heat cartridge at the same time. The wires snapped off and out of all places, right at the base. Couldn't solder it back together since the solder wouldn't stay on the wires so I resorted in using fire cement. It looks horrible. RIP.

Drill rods
The drill rods finally came and after running a few LM8UU bearings through them, they perform just as well as chrome plated linear rods. Saved $30 and can get some extra length out of it.

Cutting the drill rods
Cut them in half to make things simple. I could even expand the print area if I wanted to.

wrong head
Purchased the wrong M3 x 25mm bolts for the Y Carriage. Instead of a button head style, I got the flat head  version by accident. Oh well, time to make another order.

My next bot coming together. I'm going to gut the first bot's electronics for the second build. Planning on putting together an assembly guide so it's a good time to take a lot of pics during the build process.

Finally finished the BOM. I feel like an excel pro after tweaking it so many times. Here's a sneak peak of what it looks like.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Build Log #25 - PLA woes and waiting for materials

         Been experimenting with PLA for a while and I'm starting to hate this stuff. To be specific, it really sucks for the QU-BD's MBE extruder. It will extrude normally but only within one hour of operational use. After that, it just clogs whenever it wants and it has already ruined two print sessions. I have never experience this problem with ABS and starting to think it's pointless to get PLA to work with this guy.
          I'm suspecting it's a time dependent issue and it might be the heat creeping up the barrel again, even having the fan at full blast and thermal paste applied. Another theory is that my modified raptor gear may be cutting into the filament too aggressively, creating tiny bits of PLA to form, traveling down the filament barrel where it eventually creates a blockade. I'm reluctant to take this thing apart again and ready to switch back to ABS. Maybe I should purchase that new E3D extruder and pair it with the direct drive system.
          Still working on the BOM and it's almost done. I've been adding features to make it user friendly and easy on the eyes.  Looking at a BOM with both metric and english units can be quite frustrating and I won't have none of that. However, I do give the user the option to choose alternative materials if need be Every material will have a source link to trusted online vendors, usually geared for 3d printing or respected supply store (VXB, McMaster-Carr, etc).

          Once the BOM is done, I will start making the assembly guide. Thinking of using again since it's easy to use and creates a Table of Contents for you. I have all the vitamins except for the 8mm drill rods. I've been waiting for McMaster-Carr to ship them but they were back-ordered for 2 weeks. I finally emailed them about the drill rods and they shipped the next day *shrug*. Won't be purchasing the electronics but instead burrowing from my first mutant printer just so I can make the guide.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Build Log #24 - More like a rant

No pictures for this log this time and instead, would rather document my experience switching from ABS to PLA 1.75mm filament. I literally spent 4 days trying to get this Blue 1.75mm PLA from Justpla off amazon to work with the QU-BD's MBE Extruder. Didn't want to forget what I did since I'm always working on the fly instead of documenting at the same time. Just going to list in chronological order.

Note 1
Swapped ABS to PLA and setup slic3r for PLA filament. Attempted to print 15mm x 15mm hollow cube for extrusion calibration, failed. Little to no extrusion @ 210 C. Pulled out filament to inspect, slightly mushroomed/blunt at the end? Cut off end of filament and installed fresh PLA, extrudes normally by hand but will eventually stop extruding after a few seconds sitting in the hot-end. Repeated process ranging from 180C to 240C, can't extrude without getting clogged.

Review 1
- QU-BD 608 lever mod with modded Raptor gear seems to be working fine, grips the filament without a problem. Only grinds when the PLA clogs the barrel.
- Heat creeping up the ss (stainless steel) filament barrel?
- ABS residue from previous operation blocking the ss filament barrel?

Note 2 - ABS residue may be blocking the filament path causing it to clog.
Partially dissembled the heater block, soaked nozzle in acetone and cleared any debris. Mostly at the junction between the nozzle and ss barrel. Used M6 x 1.0 tap to remove debris from the threads inside the heater block. Re-assembled and tightened both ends to ensure plastic will not leak inside the heater block. Insert fresh PLA, extrudes fine when pushed by hand or extruding at a constant rate. Again, clogs when it sits in the hot-end. Tried changing the temperature ranging from 180C to 240C to no avail, still clogs. Switched to ABS 1.75 filament to see what would happen. Works like a charm. While removing the extruder off the printer, one of the thermistor wires broke off. FML.

Review 2
- ABS blocking the barrel isn't the problem
- Next, will look into the possibility of heat creep.
- Note to self, be careful not to bend the thermistor wires, too fragile.

Note 3 - Heat creep
Performed a full rebuild on the hot-end, applying fresh thermal paste and new insulation. Drilled a small hole into the heater block to house the new thermistor instead of taping it on the surface, hoping to get better reads on the temperature.  Re-bored the ss barrel with a 3/32 drill bit (2.38mm), allowing more freedom for the PLA to swell inside as suggested from the QU-BD forums. Assembled and started out @ 190C up, still clogged and going up to 220C without any success. Decided to swap the extruder fan input voltage from 5v to 12v, fan is now loud as a tornado. Insert PLA starting @ 185C and it still clogs when sitting for a few seconds. Bumped it up to all the way up to 195C, still clogs. Bumped it up to 200C, oh hey it's not clogging. Set the temperature to 205C, it's finally extruding!

Review 3
- Can't tell if re-boring the filament barrel, bumping up the fan speed or a combination of both fixed the problem. Whatever the case, these are probably the two solutions to look into when dealing with PLA clogs.
- Compared to the Ubis Hot-end I have on my Printrbot+, I can see why the MBE extruder is a pain in the ass to use.