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Basic Electronics » My new 3D Printer

June 13, 2014
by Rick_S
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In an off forum conversation with Ralph, I had talked to him about his 3D printer because I was planning on getting one. Well the long and short of it turned into this. I purchased a Printrbot Simple Metal in kit form. (It was a combined birthday/fathers day gift from my family with a little money of mine thrown in :D. I haven't printed much with it but after a couple calibration tweaks, it seems to do pretty good.

Here's what it looks like:

Simple Metal Solid

Simple Metal Solid

Simple Metal Solid

I hope to get more time to play with it this summer, but other than assembling it and a few small prints (Note the fan duct on the front by the extruder)from models downloaded from the internet, I haven't had much more time to play. I need to get a free modeling package and learn it. I'm looking into DesignSpark Mechanical It looks to have potential.

Anyway, just thought I'd share :D

Rick

June 13, 2014
by JKITSON
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Nice I keep dreaming of playing with one. Have to many expensive projects at this time to start another. Keep us informed.

Jim

June 15, 2014
by mongo
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I could get into a lot of trouble with one of these... What's the print media? From the pics, it looks like a plastic feed from a coil off to the side.

June 15, 2014
by Rick_S
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Yep, this one uses PLA plastic, the coil off to the side is the 'sample' they ship with the printer. I have a couple of spools more for when that runs out. I still have a lot to learn to get the "art" of printing down, right now, I have issues with the prints curling a bit on the corners. It effects some parts more than others. I'm really impressed with the accuracy of it though.

June 16, 2014
by mongo
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I work with extruded polyethylene at the moment. (for the last 4 years). Mostly in thick plastic sheeting though. Been looking at other ways of using it but that stuff takes a while to cool. (24 hours or so, with a full pallet). As it cools, it has a tendency to warp if the sheet is not completely flat.

But on to the printing... Does this little gadget lay down rows, or does it do it in dots?

June 17, 2014
by Rick_S
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Yep, it lays down layer on layer printing lines and circles to create a surface. My current printer settings print about .1mm thick per layer but it will go a bit thinner if calibrated perfectly. I still have some hardware and software tweaking to do to get it to that stage. For faster prints, you can set it to print thicker (.2mm or .3mm thick) layers. For what I've messed with it, it has been fun, I just haven't had the time I'd like to play. I'm looking forward to getting it set to where it will lay down a nice base with minimal curling/warping. Buying a kit vs. pre-built though leaves all the calibration in my hands so I have a lot of reading and learning to do. I wanted to do that though in case I wanted to branch off and build a whole new machine of my own with a larger print envelope. I figure what I learn hear should mostly transfer to another printer when the time comes.

July 24, 2014
by JKITSON
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Rick

How is the printer coming along?

Jim

July 25, 2014
by Rick_S
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It took a while to get calibrated and running well, but once I did get it dialed in, it was printing like a dream.

Then I had the unexpected happen, a bearing in my Z axis rods seized causing the printer head to push into the bed while it was moving. Put a deep scratch in the bed, spring the Z axis motor coupler, and damaged the print nozzle.

I will say this for Printrbot support, I was just a couple days out of my warranty when this happened, and they completely took care of me. Not only did they send me a new bearing block (That they sell on their site for $59), they sent me a replacement nozzle, motor coupling, and bed. I have nothing but positive words to say about their support.

So, a couple of weeks ago, I put it all back together and began re-calibrating everything trying to get back to that sweet spot I had before the failure when I ran into another issue... One caused by my not reading instructions properly... My new nozzle plugged up tighter than a drum. I removed it and under magnification I can see a tiny piece of bronze in the .4mm hole. Well If I had read the instructions for nozzle replacement on the web site, it says to thoroughly clean the nozzle prior to installation... My guess this tiny fragment was left behind from the machining process. Needless to say, the printer has sat idle since because I haven't had time to mess with it (It's been a busy couple of weeks). Hopefully I'll be able to get it back up and running soon.

I did print this variation of neat Gear Bearing and after working it a little, it spins like a top now. It's amazing how accurate these printers can be.

July 25, 2014
by JKITSON
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Rick

That Gear Bearing is fantastic...

Some day maby I can get one of those printers...

Jim

July 25, 2014
by BobaMosfet
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Rick,

Any kind of ventilation (fumes) required? Quite impressed by the gear-- did you have to sand it or clean up much roughness (you said you worked it a little)?

BM

July 25, 2014
by Rick_S
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No sanding, just grasped it tightly, to break it free, connected a drill to it's center and spun it with the drill while spraying windex in it to clean it out of small debris. After a bit of that it spins like a top.

July 26, 2014
by jayparks
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All I can say is: That is SO cool. I want one. Only need the time.

July 26, 2014
by Rick_S
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Also to answer your question about fumes, no, there is no ventilation required for PLA. It gives off a somewhat sweet smell, but from what I've read it is harmless.

The software on the printrboard (The controller in printrbots) supports and LCD Display, so that has been one of my projects as of late. Designing a lower priced replacement for the $65 display they sell. I just got my boards in yesterday from the fab house so I've been playing around with building it this morning. So far I've spent around $40 for my 10 boards and rotary encoders, the LCD and other odds & ends I had in my inventory of parts I've built up over the years. Hopefully I didn't make any errors in the board design ;)

And Jay, yes it is pretty cool. I've wanted one for quite some time and just now got to the place I felt good about getting it. Much better to get this for my Birthday/Fathers day than some clothes or nik-naks of some sort. :D

July 26, 2014
by Rick_S
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This is a photo of the Gear Bearing I printed.

Gear Bearing Photo

And a brief video of it being spun. Gear Bearing Video

Rick

July 26, 2014
by dvdsnyd
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Very Nice Rick! I am currently backing a Cobblebot on Kickstarter. Cobblebot They are claiming a 15x15x15 inch build volume for $299, plus delivery by January 2015. I am a little skeptical, but can always pull out before the end of the campaign. 3D printing is so intriguing! I have looked at those PrintrBot metal kit printers too. Looks like a pretty solid little unit. Any other plans on what you'll be printing with it?

July 27, 2014
by Rick_S
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Once I get my nozzle situation back in order and get it re-setup, I plan on making a few more gadgets. Long run though, I'm hopeful, once I build my modeling skills a bit, to make bezels for my LCD's, and custom cases for my many little projects that I've had.

July 27, 2014
by dvdsnyd
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Nice!

What modeling software are you using?

July 27, 2014
by Rick_S
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I'm trying out a couple, My son is a student, so I'm trying his student license of Autodesk Inventor, and I'm trying DesignSpark. I'm not very good at either. I wish I could afford MasterCAM, I use that at work, and modeling is a breeze with that. But at around $10K a license for design with solids, it's a bit cost prohibitive for the home user :D

July 27, 2014
by dvdsnyd
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Have you tried out Google Sketchup? I would have to imagine that it would give you the ability to output the proper file format?

July 27, 2014
by Rick_S
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I did, you need a plugin for stl's. Being used to industrial software, sketchup just falls way too short. Its interface is terrible and not very intuitive compared to the industrial software I use regularly.

July 27, 2014
by dvdsnyd
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I know what you mean. I use Solidworks at school and now work. One nice thing about Solidworks is they have a home user license, which is basically a seat that can be used at home. Looking forward to getting that set up. Before I began working in my current role, I tried a piece of software called AlibreCad, I think it is now something else. It was "OK" but, like you said, just not as intuitive as some of the better known software.

I really want to go for a 3D printer... I've been following printers on Kickstarter for probably 2 years now, so many of them end up being too good to be true. (Sorry didn't mean to hijack your thread)

July 27, 2014
by Rick_S
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No problem , any 3d printer talk is ok with me.

July 27, 2014
by JKITSON
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Rick

You commented about making cases for projects. I need to make cases for my Tractor Pull Sled Monitors. Have looked into custom cases from suppliers & were to pricey...

I am going to look at 3d printers real serious now..

Thanks for the comments and the info in this thread...

Jim

July 31, 2014
by Ralphxyz
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The cheapest I could purchase Solidworks for was $7,000.00 for a home user license, that was two years ago maybe they have changed.

Sketchup had things about it that were great for me being a know nothing but it left a lot of holes that were a pain to fix.

Alibre became GeoMagic which I had a license for at $1,300.

Generally I use MOI (http://moi3d.com/).

It was developed by the developer of a big commercial 3D Cad program but it definitely is a work in progress.

There are some free programs that are all math based but they are beyond me, a lot of programmers like them.

So Rick how is it going? What are you using for a slicer?

July 31, 2014
by Rick_S
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I haven't played with different slicers, the version of repetier I have uses Sli3r.

October 04, 2014
by Rick_S
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Well I did a little combine of my electronics fun with my new 3d printing capabilities and this is the result.

Thingiverse Link

Here are some photo's of some prints I've made as well as the display. I made the case models in Inventor. The other printed parts were from Thingiverse other than the pig puzzle. That was modeled by a co-worker of mine who owns the original wood version.

Rick

October 04, 2014
by sask55
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Rick

Those are some good looking prints. I have never given 3D printing much thought, too many other things on my plate.

I think I may have a general idea how the printer produces a piece from an existing file for a 3D object. I am wandering how you produced the 3d print file or files from an existing object. In other words, generally speaking how do you take a physical object like a wooden pig puzzle and generate the files required to make the pieces if you did not have any design drawings at all?

I assume that if you wanted to replicate a piece with the 3d printer you would first have to carefully measure and then draw the piece using a 3d drawing cad programme like Sketchup, DesignCad, AutoCAd ect. Then what? Is that where a slicer application come in to play? Does the slicer produce a series of instructions that the printer can follow to make the piece by printing a sequence of layers or slices? I am just curies about the general concept and process involved with replicating existing pieces.

Not that it matters, but I now see that the gear bearing that you printed is larger then I had originally thought it was from your earlier post and video. I somehow missed the size in relationship to your fingers in the video. Perhaps in the future you could include a familiar object in the photos (coin, bill, ruler) as a size reference. It would just give us a little better feel for what you have printed.

I am also curious about the cost of the materials (plastic) used by these printers. If you ignore the fixed cost incurred buying the printer and software, roughly how much does it cost to buy the plastic? Ball park, would there be 10 cents, one dollar ,ten dollars worth of plastic material in the bearing?

Your post has really peeked my interest in these printers. Very interesting to me.

October 04, 2014
by Rick_S
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You are exactly right about the process. Model the part in 3D software, in this case Autodesk Inventor, save the file as an STL format file, slice the file, and print. As for the cost, the plastic comes in a 2.2lb spool for between $20 to $40 depending on brand, sales, etc. that bearing weighs about an ounce so it cost less than a dollar to print.

October 06, 2014
by Ralphxyz
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Rick I am sooooo envious of your printers capabilities, and of course your abilities. I have not been able to get anywhere near the quality of your prints.

Now of course as far as filament cost go I have a Filastruder, still unassembled, to make my own filament. Saving considerable.

I might actually get my big expensive RPM printer/mill. I hear they have actually shipped 4 after a year and a half delay.

October 08, 2014
by Rick_S
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I'd have to be doing an awful lot of printing to justify a $300 filament extruder. I haven't really looked much at filament extruders, but i havent generated enough scrap to re-extrude into filament, and i could buy an awful lot of pre-made stuff for the cost.

So let me get this straight, you have a 3d printer, filament extruder kit, and a 3d printer /mill on the way... Wow, you get all the fun toys...

Do you have any special plans for them or just tinkering?

October 09, 2014
by Ralphxyz
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just tinkering!!

I just wanted to be up to date with this 3D printing thing.

I have always wanted a X/Y mechanism for my dremel, now I have visions of a CNC mill (even wood and plastics or aluminium would be fine) and then I want a Laser Cutter and of course I have SLS in mind.

It's kinda challenging as I am living off Social Security. I ordered the RPM just as I was retiring so I had a paycheck for that purchase.

October 09, 2014
by dvdsnyd
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Nice Prints Rick! That Printrbot simple sure is tempting!

I kept thinking though, and for what I want to do, I think I would be better off with some sort of CNC mill. One day though...one day I shall have a 3d printer!

This is what I've been eyeing up recently: Shapeoko I am thinking about getting it as my Xmas gift this year. The full kit is $650. Many people modding them, like changing the spindle and increasing the cut area. People have done 1/4" aluminum even.

Here is the Wiki

October 09, 2014
by Rick_S
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I guess the machining end of things just doesn't do it as much for me as a home hobby. I'm a journeyman machinist by trade, programmed CNC machines big enough to park a schoolbus on their table and currently do estimating for my company. I've been doing this over 20 years. Machining at home would be convenient, but if I really wanted to machine something the owner would let me do it after or before work if the machine wasn't currently running a job. Maybe when i get old like Ralph ;) and retire, I might think about a mini mill. My problem is these hobby machines are so lacking compared to what I'm accustomed to, that they leave me looking for more.

November 30, 2014
by sask55
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Rick

I was thinking about 3D printing again last night. I have couple of questions about your printed items, and 3D printing in general.

Is it possible to print a horizontal suspended surface where there is nothing under the printed material to support the fresh print while it cools? Could you print a hollow completely inclosed box or sphere in one piece?

I see the fine detail you have on the texture finish on the outside surface of your printed case. I am curious, is it possible to print a texture surface like that on any surface orientation? Can you print that texture on the bottom, sides, top of a box shaped print? Would it be possible to print with that much fine detail on both sides of all of the case surfaces inside and out?

I am just trying to get a better understanding of the capabilities of this type of printer.

Darryl

November 30, 2014
by Rick_S
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You can't print over open air, but you can opt to have support material printed to provide a base for surfaces that would be in open air. I did this for the counter bore that the rotary encoder is in to help it print better. Small gaps you can sometimes get away with, that is called bridging. Keep in mind, the plastic extruder works kind of like a precision hot glue gun, so if you extrude over open air, you'd just get a fine thread squirting from the extruder.

Rick

November 30, 2014
by Ralphxyz
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Daryl, chances are a side will have a different textured look.

Most sides are printed with one layer on top of the other instead of running diagonally across as Ricks images show.

I am amazed at the quality Rick got on early prints.

Rick can you send me the .stl for that gear.

I am finally getting some good prints with ABS I'd like to try the gear.

Ralph

November 30, 2014
by Rick_S
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Ralph, if you're talking about the green gear bearing, it is on thingiverse.com HERE.

Rick

December 01, 2014
by sask55
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The extruder is using what appears to be possibly a stepper motor to push the printing material into the heated tip. Does the rate (speed ) of that motor vary from time to time depending on control instructions , or does it just started and stopped always delivering the material at the same constant rate while it is commanded to do so? You may not necessarily know the details of the nature of the extruder control. Basically: I am wondering if it requires a changing frequency clk signal to set the speed , and therefore volume of material delivered to the printer head, or is it a simpler off and on control signal always at the same frequency. I am considering the option of including the hardware capability to add a extruder to my mill design and therefore giving me the capability to print on the mill bed. It would be helpful for me to know if I will require precise control of the speed or just precisely control motor on/off timeing?

Thanks for the info

Darryl

December 01, 2014
by Rick_S
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I believe the rate of rotation is constant, the axis is defined as E and the "motion" is mm of filament fed. E 0 resets the extruder E1 would pass 1mm of filament. How much the servo rotates to do this would be dependent on the extruder setup.

December 01, 2014
by Ralphxyz
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and then there is the speed of your printing!

With my 2^ which is not very robust you might print long perimeters at 50mm/s (millimeters per second) while infills might be at 35mm/s and short perimeters at 25mm/s.

There are calibration steps to extract a defined amount of filament.

Yes all of the axis and extruder are stepper driven (normally).

It should be very easy to add an extruder to a CNC mill, you might not get the speed of a dedicated 3D printer but functionally it will work.

Now I am starting to explore dual extruders.

I am currently using a PICO extruder which works great. it is a bit pricey but really nice.

I am using it with a Bowden setup.

December 02, 2014
by Ralphxyz
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Darryl what firmware and electronics are you going to use for your mill?

I there is LinuxCNC but I am not sure if it is used for 3Dprinting.

Ralph

February 10, 2015
by JKITSON
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I looked into the LinuxCNC software and then built up a PC for a friend and installed the LinuxCNC program. He then set it up on his cnc unit and is very happy with it. He had been using Windows software that would lockup etc.

Thanks Rick, Darryl & Ralph for the info.

Jim

April 07, 2015
by BobaMosfet
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Rick S-

Above, I think you said you were using PLA-- how is that working out (still)? I've heard that it 'dissolves' after several months? Just wondering if there is any truth in that. If so, have you worked with ABS at all? Will that printer work with ABS?

Thanks :)

BM

April 07, 2015
by Rick_S
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PLA doesn't dissolve unless it's subjected to long exposure to water. It's a plant based plastic. I actually have a coffee cup made from PLA (Not printed an actual promotional cup with my employers logo on it) that is fine, just not dishwasher safe.

The only issues I've had with PLA is slight warpage of the first few layers that have a large flat surface on the machines bed. Otherwise, it prints great and I've been quite satisfied with the printer.

I haven't printed with ABS yet because to print with it, you really need a heated print bed, which is a $99 dollar I haven't invested in yet for my printer. I likely will at some point, but haven't yet.

Rick

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