3D printing is, of course, the most frustrating hobby in all existence. Browse through any 3D printing forum and alongside the beautiful prints you’ll come across posts that compress incandescent rage into a few choice words like “I’m throwing my ******* printer out the window”. In my case most of this rage comes down to keeping the printer properly calibrated, in particular keeping a correct height for the first layer. 90% of my failed prints fail because of some issue with the first layer, and often it is because the height is wrong. In theory you should be able to set the height correctly using the time-honoured piece of paper technique, but it always requires a little bit of dialing in for the best quality. This post describes a way of simplifying that dial in process by printing multiple test pieces in a single print with a range of starting heights. Continue reading →
After my printer almost killed me I needed to get my hands on a new hotend. RepRapPro, which made my printer kit, has unfortunately closed down so I got a new nozzle, heater block, heatsink block, heater cartridge and thermistor from emaker.io. The nozzle is the new “quickset” design, which is clamped in place rather than screwed into the heatsink block. It’s also designed for a dual nozzle setup, so rather than having one central slot for a hotend it has one on either side. This dual setup requires a different design of x-carriage, which could be easily printed if one’s printer is not melted. Since mine was VERY melted I could have gone and used someone else’s printer, but that would have required leaving the house and possibly even social interaction, so I tried to think up a way of setting it up with the parts I had. Continue reading →
After a period of relevant dormancy, Squirty has had a lot of work done recently. I have replaced most of the original plastic parts, which were starting to crack, and put in new bearings. I also designed a new x-carriage ducted fan adaptor that put better air flow on the printed part and put in aluminium pulleys to replace the badly worn plastic ones. I’d even made some progress rebuilding the case after its destruction in 2014. Little did I know the printing gods had a plan ready to knock poor Squirty back and severely terrify me into the bargain. Continue reading →
I’m much better at acquiring kit for projects than I am at building them, so I tend to have a lot of Raspberry Pis lying around. I’m very lucky to have access to a beautiful view of the New York skyline at the moment, so I thought one good use (partially inspired by the House of Cards opening sequence) would be to do a timelapse of the cityscape. Continue reading →
Once I got my printer’s z-probe and autoleveling set up I was struck with a sudden paranoia that my printer bed was saddled. The standard autoleveling in Marlin can deal with a printer bed that is not level, but it cannot fully correct for a bed that is not entirely planar*, e.g. one that is bowed or saddled. To try and set my paranoia to rest I decided to test whether my bed was truly flat. Continue reading →
Some time ago I put a borosilicate glass bed on Squirty. I really like it because PLA will stick firmly to it when it is hot, but will pop off easily once it cools down. It is also really easy to clean. The only issue I had was how to attach it to the aluminium print bed surface. I know a lot of people use binder clips, but they have the disadvantage of slightly reducing the print area and also jut out above the print surface, risking collisions with the nozzle. Up until now my approach was to use kapton tape along the sides of the bed. It wasn’t a great solution because the glass still could slide back and forth slightly relative to the aluminium bed and it also tended to peel off over time. Today it occured to me that what I needed was double sided kapton tape. Such a thing does exist, but rather than ordering it I decided to cheat by alternating stripes of kapton tape with one “sticky side up” piece of tape stuck down by two “sticky side down” pieces. This arrangement holds the glass in place really firmly and yet I think I could still remove the bed without causing any damage.
This is a really simple idea that probably should have occurred to me years ago, but I am unreasonably pleased with it!
In the last couple of posts I described how I put a z-probe onto Squirty the RepRap. Adding the z-probe meant new wires. These wires ended up jumbled all over the place and occasionally got caught on the z-axis threaded rods, causing all manner of chaos to break out. The z-probe also requires a lot of clearance, which means that the printer carriage spends more time up at the top of the build area than it used to. Once up there, it has a nasty habit of bumping into the Melzi control board. To try and tidy things up, I collected all the wiring for the z-probe and ducted fan components together and designed a new set of Melzi holding clips.
Yesterday I was fortunate enough to get access to a work-in-progress laser cutter (aka the LAZOR). I didn’t have time to do any cutting, but was able to try out the workflow by engraving a piece of box cardboard with the same svg file I used for the Cameo based name card project.
Following on from the previous post I redesigned the z-probe holder to position the microswitch closer to the nozzle. I also forked the latest version of the Marlin firmware to correct some problems I was having with the leveling behaviour. The video below shows that the autoleveling seems to be working, but I need to do some checks to understand how successfully it is correcting for any tilt in the bed. I also need to make further design changes to the z-probe itself. This post includes more details on how I designed and set up V2.