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2015
Information

This Roadtest has been done on an "Engineering Release" version of the product so there may be differences to the released product

 

Fan issue

CEL told me that the strange fan issue from the last post was a known issue with these engineering release printers and was caused by a MOSFET failing due to high voltages when the fan is turned off.

 

New Bed

CEL also sent me a new bed with a different texture. Installing a new bed was very straight forward, simply unclip the old one and slot the new one it. The bed heater is separate from the bed so you don't need to do any rewiring etc.

 

The old bed is on the right of the picture, the new one to the left, you can just tell that it's smoother in texture.

Beds.jpg

Only a simple alcohol wipe was needed to prepare the bed.

 

Latest AutoMaker Software

Whilst I was chatting to CEL on Twitter they also commented that there was an updated version of AutoMaker I could take a look at.

 

  • Cura is now the default slicer - you can change between Cura and Slic3r on a system-wide basis or per-profile
  • The GUI has had the first of a series of major changes, paving the way for more functions and easier use
  • Calibration has had a major update and now includes XY calibration
  • Language preference can be chosen in the preferences screen (press the cog at the top-right). It takes effect the next time you run AutoMaker.
  • All of the profiles and macros have been updated for improved results.
  • Improvements in homing, levelling

 

It's still a release candidate so there are some issue but CEL thought it might be better for screenshots than the previous release. I tried out the calibration, there are easy to follow step by step instructions and my nozzle alignment produce a very high quality print.

Calibration.png CalibrationResults.jpg

Automaker now has some nice tool tips on the buttons and hints when your filament spool is not correctly loaded etc. It makes it easier to understand what's going on. There's also nice big buttons to turn the ambient light off so I can get better photos although I still need a bit of practice at that

The new bed and software made printing a lot simpler and my latest print, a phone stand has printed very well with no curling or warping. To form the pivot the printer has to bridge between the two sides effectively printing in thin air. It did that very well, much better than it had done on the double helix in my last print session. There was a tiny bit of clean up to do on the pivot so that it clipped together and swivelled properly but otherwise an excellent result first time.

Printer to be returned

It was the intention of CEL and Element14 for us to RoadTest the production printers so this particular printer will be boxed up and sent back to be fixed and refurbished. This means there will be a pause in this series of blog posts but there should be even better results when it returns.

Information

This Roadtest has been done on an "Engineering Release" version of the product so there may be differences to the released product

 

After my success printing a sheep I thought I'd have a go at something else. Later in January I'll be meeting with the Alumni Association of the Student Television of Imperial College (or PSTOIC for short) and every year we have a mini award ceremony. For this reason I thought I'd make a medal for the winner based on an old version of the TV Station logo.

 

Rendering.png

I used OpenSCAD to build the model as that gave me an opportunity to try out the software in advance of printing some gears. OpenSCAD was straight forward to use with the exception of the text which was not supported in the version I used although there does seem to be some work in progress with regards getting that to work natively. I downloaded a simple Text to DXF tool (designed for engravers) and imported my two words into OpenSCAD that way to produce the results above.

PSTOIC_Medal_Print.jpg PrintedMedal.jpg

Again I gave the bed a quick polish with some kitchen roll before running and had good adhesion to the bed. The print went well but there were a few holes in the top surface at the top, I'm not sure if this is an issue with the slicing software or with the printer but it would appear that it did not really put a top on the letters either so something is not quite right with the print, however I might be able to fix this with a bit of post processing in the form of primer paint.

 

Following this print I had another case where the printer refused to recognise that the element was fed into the head despite the fact I could actually get it to extrude by manually opening the valve and advancing the filament. My work around is to heat the head up and then eject the filament followed by heating the head again before re-loading as dougw had suggest I try.

 

Another strange issue was that at one point AutoMaker suddenly told me that there were no printers attached, I removed and replugged the USB connection and it correctly re-recognised the printer.

 

My next challenge print was the double helix, this is a seemingly impossible print to do without support structures. However the strange thing is that it the cross pieces do print, I can see that carefully taylored GCode would make them print better though such as making the first crossing down pass all the way across the supports rather than trying to reverse immediately it got to the other side, perhaps that's something the software could pick up on?

DoubleHelix.png DoubleHelix.jpgDoubleHelixCleanedUp.jpg

My printer made it upto 3.5 rungs before it became unstuck from the bed, cleaned up it does not look too bad, perhaps I'll just tell people it's Flea DNA hence why it's smaller.

 

My final bit of strange behaviour was that the PSU / extractor fan stayed on for all of this print, I thought this was something to do with the thin thickness but it stayed on afterward so there might be a problem there? I'll let it cool down and see it the problem re-occurs next time I use the printer.

Information

This Roadtest has been done on an "Engineering Release" version of the product so there may be differences to the released product

 

At the end of my last post on test prints the printer was out of commission with the bowden tube and extruder parting company. CEL responded promptly to my support issue and despite the New Year managed to get me a new tube very rapidly.

 

Bowden Tube Change

 

Old tube on the left, new tube with metal ferrule on the right.

Old.jpgNew.jpg

The Bowden tube upgrade instructions are straight forward and have an overview and photos. They refer to a couple of other sets of instructions such as removing the head, replacing the belts and removing the side panels. One of my biggest issues was finding a 2mm hex key which was needed to remove the old fitting, luckily I had one with my lathe tools. The head removal instructions could do with clearer reference to unscrewing the finger wheel at the back of the head, you could potentially do some damage if you don't undo that first. Otherwise I did not have any issues with the instructions.

 

I ran a manual purge before continuing, as was not sure if my 0.8mm nozzle was the cause of the problem, it purged quite easily so perhaps not. I managed to burn finger doing this so won't be doing it again unless absolutely necessary. The manual purge instructions mention to modify the "B" settings but don't specifically mention setting them back. I made a note of the values and set them back to the original values following the purge.

 

It took several attempts to put the head back on and get it recognised by software, it is a bit fiddly to get the correct alignment so that the pins make connection before you screw the head back in place.

 

Challenge Models

 

As mentioned in my plan of action I'd got some "challenging" models from Richard Gain who's been working with 3D printers for some time now.

 

Richard's first mode the Lightbulb model seemed to get stuck on 70%, "Slicing skirt". So I abandoned that but will try to give it another go at some point.

 

The second model the temple did not cause any problems slicing and auto generated some "support structures" for the peaks above the windows.

Temple.png

 

The temple model correctly reported that it was too tall for the chamber so I scaled that to 95% and continued. With the default settings this did not stick so I swapped for some custom settings I'd been playing with. That worked better with some filament sticking but it still messed up at the back corner. As an experiment I move the model over to one side to see if it would work better there, that did not help either. I tried the fine and normal default settings and that did not help either.

 

So I thought I'd try cleaning the bed and bit more thoroughly. I took a tiny amount of "swarfega power" this contains cornmeal and citrus oil so is great at degreasing things but is still gentle. I followed this with the usual alcohol wipe. I tried the default settings with again no luck so moved back to my custom settings. If anything, things seemed worse. I followed this with a quick "cook", 5 minutes with the bed heater at 99°C. Once it was cool again I felt the edge of the bed and it felt quite greasy so I gave it a good scrubbing with some kitchen roll. I followed this with a default "fine" print and stickage was much better but not perfect so I stopped and repeated with the kitchen roll.

 

Success!

2015-01-01 23.45.27.jpg

I posted a few pictures of work in progress on Twitter. It was at this point that CEL told me I'd got an old heated bed and they were going to send me a new one. So it looks like I'm going to be testing out another set of instructions.

 

I left the print running for some time and just as I was about to leave to go to bed one of the support structures fell over so I decided to abandon things at this point. Once I'd cracked off the support structures the main print was very good with just a tiny amount of warping in one corner.

2015-01-02 00.27.29.jpg

I ran it again using the "normal" setting (with no support structures) and it progressed quite well but whilst printing the roof one of the nozzles snagged on the structure and it was pulled off the platform which is a shame as it was printing quite well until that point.

Snagged.jpg.

With the help of my daughter we picked a less challenging item to print and despite a rather major failure of the support structures, it actually printed ok. I'll make a note of that for future prints and see if I can adjust the support structure settings.

2015-01-02 12.21.33.jpgSheep.jpg

Fan test

 

Fellow road test thundersqueak mentioned that she'd had some problems with the fan. I did not think this applied to my printer but even so I decided to try out the G Code direct entry and ran the following commands in turn to see if the head fan was working correctly. These run the fan at max speed down to a lower speed. Note that you can't run these whilst the head is hot as the printer won't let you go below 50% in that circumstance. The G code syntax does support loops and variables but I've not done that for all long time so don't remember the syntax.

 

M106 S255

M106 S200

M106 S160

M106 S60

M106 S10

M107

 

My fan was fine with all of these speeds so I can confirm that there's nothing wrong there.

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