Loose Filament – Problem Solved

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Loose filament and re-spooling it has been a problem probably as long as filament has been around. It loves to tangle and snap, which can turn into a headache quickly. Lots of different RepRappers have different tricks and methods for re-spooling loose filament. I have been asked many times, ” How do I put loose filament onto a spool without making a huge mess?”

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I decided to toss some effort towards coming up with a quick and simple solution. I wanted to be able to create something using parts that most people might have laying around. I will also add files for those of you that find it to be very useful or you just want to build a very clean looking one.

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For proof of concept, I gathered together all the materials that I thought I might need. Some of these parts I used are rather odd but, it goes to show you can make it out of just about anything. For the base I used an outer metal shell from a dismantled DJ light, (yes in my 2nd life I was a DJ.) Realistically you can use anything that you can slide a rod into – the rod will be mounted vertically.

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I used a rod that is about 18 or so inches long. An 8mm (Dia) threaded rod is ideal, especially if you want to add bearings to easily rotate your spool. If your base has a large flat surface, you won’t need to add the black plastic that I used. The flat surface on the bottom is used to hold the un-spooled filament during the re-spooling process. A second set of nuts can be used at the top of the threaded rod to hold the empty spool on the top. I printed a set of spool hubs that can be found on Thingiverse by searching for, “Printrbot spool hubs.” If you have spools from different companies, I recommend Thingiverse.

Once you set the loose filament on the lower flat surface, you can cut the zip ties or whatever is holding it together. After that you will find the end of the filament that is closest to the top and thread or tape it to the spool. You can either spin the spool or manipulate the filament with your hands in order to re-spool it. I find that doing it by hand is the easiest.

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It may start to tangle when you are re-spooling but, it won’t because of the rod being in the middle of the spool. Sometimes the filament that is sitting on the lower surface may need to spin and should do so by itself as long as there are no obstructions. On occasion you may need to help it along.

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Using this setup is both easy and saves your filament from getting broken or tangled. I plan on making a better version but it will function the same. The only difference will be the aesthetics. I will update with the new version as well as files for any printable parts I design.

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The Low Down on Dual Extruders

Good news in the way of dual extrusion is here. Repetier knows the importance of making multi extrusion more user friendly. They recently released Repetier Host V1.0.0 which has a ton of dual or multi extrusion add ons. For the cost of a few parts and an app you can download Repetier Informer. It will send free push notifications to your iPad or iPhone updating you on the status of your printer.

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Repetier’s New Layout

Slic3r has also gotten in the game with all kinds of new options for multi head extrusion. You can now switch nozzle size on your extra extruders. It also has an option to put a larger nozzle on and use it for quick infill. This dramatically saves on print time. CuraEngine is also included along side Skienforge.

Slic3r 1.1.7 stable us out or for the guy who has to check out the newest tech – Slic3r 1.1.2 experimental is also available. Find both versions as well as past versions by clicking HERE
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A lot of the issues described below are
One of the most annoying problems with the dual extruder printing is the plastic leaking from the idle extruder. It is especially noticeable with PLA that flows easier than ABS. Lowering the temperature of the idle extruder while it is not needed and restore it when it is time to start printing with that extruder again helps to deal with leaking. It is tricky though since leaking has to be prevented during the teperature changes.

Slic3r has an option to help prevent oozing. It will lower the temps of the unused extruder slightly to help eliminate this issue. They have come a long way in battling the issues involved with the idle hotends. Other options that are usually considered to battle these issues are wiping stations and using a “Parking place.” Both techniques are described below.

The technique being used with the current generation of the RepRap X2 printers (S/N: 020*) is to print a “parking space” besides the actual object. That “parking space” serves two purposes, one is to plug the nozzles while the temperature changes and the other is to “prime” the extruders (i.e. establish the consistent flow of plastic) before printing the actual object after the temperature change.

Wipe Station Idea
I think I have said this already but event the big boys have a wipe station in the back left corner to wipe ooze from the unused extruder. That is a rubber and wire brush wiper at a set height. I suppose that would cut some area out of the bed, hmm… Others have suggested a wiper mechanism on the extruder. Not a cap where pressure would build up but a little wiper.

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Multiple Extruders – Slic3r Setup
As new versions of Slic3r setting may change slightly.

If you have a dual (or even more than two) extruder setup, Slic3r can be used in several different ways:

You can print a normal single-material object by assigning different features to different extruders: for example multiple colors for perimeter/infill/support material; You can print a multi-material object by assigning each material to an extruder.

How to make a multi-material file
If your CAD program is not able to export a multi-material AMF file, Slic3r provides a convenient way to merge multiple STL files, representing material regions of the same object, to a single AMF file. The STL files must share the same coordinates and origin, of course. This feature is easily accessed by using the Combine multiple STL files… item from the File menu item.

You can also explore “ditto printing,” depending on your extruder spacing. This is less common due to the required extruder positioning which limits the size of your ditto prints.

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Dual and multi head extrusion has come a long way since I first started to explore it through Printrbot’s Dual Extrusion Beta program. The hardware side had made leaps and bounds but, it always seemed to be too far ahead of the software side. Repetier and Slic3r have now caught up. By caught up, I mean way up! This helps to bring more usability to multi head extrusion. It’s still something for more advanced users but, if you have determination – you too can master multi extrusion.

Putting Filaments & Companies to The Test

I decided to test out a few different brands as well as different types of filament. I didn’t want to test brands VS brands because it’s been done again and again. Instead I decided to take a few different types of filament from several companies and print out objects much as, “You” the user would. Also I will share my experiences with each company. At our Prototyping lab we have been adding new equipment which will delay some of the filament tests. I will update the last few filaments that are not yet explored ASAP.

So far I will be doing a few different sample prints from: PushPlastic, Extrudables, MakerGeeks and Printrbot. Printrbot may be removed from the tests as I’ve heard that they recently changed suppliers. If I can get a recent sample, I will include them.

Update ——->>
I will soon add the (Coming soon) filament tests to this post. I will also be getting some of Printrbot’s filament from their new source. I will start testing as soon as the filament arrives from Printrbot.

I chose to test filaments from these few suppliers because RepRap Squad has had positive experiences with them as a company. They have all proven to be reliable companies that always try to keep quality up while offering affordable prices.

I will be testing out about 4+ different colors of PLA from PushPlastics. Extrudables has some HIPS that will be tested. We will be testing a large variety of exotics from MakerGeeks. We will test the updated filaments as soon as they arrive and add them to the lists.

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My Experiences With Push Plastic
Link to PushPlastic’s Store

Push Plastic offers up a good selection of filaments. Shipping is quick and packaging is above average. They take the time to properly pack items for a worry free shipping experience. They are very quick to respond to any questions I had which made for a pleasurable experience.

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PushPlastic 1.75mm Cobalt Blue PLA

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I started the tests with PushPlastic’s cobalt blue 1.75mm PLA. It looks better in person than on the site. Usually it’s the other way around. I’ve noticed that the diameter is very consistent. After a bit of printing, I can say that the colors are very vivid and that they come out the same color as it looks when it’s on the reel. I’ve ran into a lot of filament that looks nothing like it did before printing but, this is defiantly not one of them.

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I printed out several different pieces in the blue. One of my favorite being the 100mm Volkswagen logo. I plan on doing some finish work on the emblem so that it can be mounted on my car. A few pictures of this process will be taken to show how well this filament looks when finishing touches are done.

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So far I am very impressed with the quality of their filaments. This test was done at a high speed, 195 degrees Celsius – hotend, 60 degrees Celsius – bed at .3 layer height with a .4 tip.

PushPlastics 1.75mm Yellow PLA

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I am running the yellow PLA at the same settings as the rest which is stated above. For a few tests I may slow down the overall speeds to help eliminate overshoot. I have seen great results with the yellow filament. It is very consistent and I haven’t seen any signs of the filament delaminating. I will be testing a few more colors from PushPlastic soon.

PushPlastics 1.75mm Black PLA
•• Coming Soon ••

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My Experiences With Maker Geeks
Link To MakerGeeks Store

The guys at MakerGeeks are always a pleasure to work with and they are very quick to answer any questions. They also have a wide variety of filaments including: Laywood, Laybrick, PLA, ABS, Conductive, Carbon Fibre, Nylon and Color Changing – Just to name a few.

They are based within the U.S. and have just about any 3D printer related items you would ever need or want. Shipping is always quick and free within the United States. They often run 10% off deals so check their site often.

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MakerGeeks 1.75mm ABS Black

MakerGeeks black ABS was printed at 240 degrees Celsius and the heated bed was ran at 105 degrees Celsius. I’ve noticed that there are less oozing issues with this filament. It lays down the first layer very clean and consistent. I’ve had no issues with it delaminating. Overall I am very happy with this filament.

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MakerGeeks 1.75mm PLA Color Changing
This color changing filament is very neat stuff and could be used for quite a few interesting projects. Once it gets
above a specific temperature it will change colors. They make several different colors. The one I tested was a purplish black at room temp and changed to an eggshell white when brought up in temperature. The uses for this kind of filament are endless.

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The color changing filament is a PLA derivative, which makes for easy printing. It prints under the same settings as PLA and retains similar properties.

MakerGeeks 1.75mm PET
•• Coming Soon••

MakerGeeks 1.75mm Laywood
•• Coming Soon ••

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My Experiences With Printrbot
Link To Printrbot’s Store
Printrbot is a company that has steadily expanded over the last couple of years. I have had great experiences with all of the products I have purchased from them, including filament. I’ve had a couple shipping mistakes that were quickly fixed once they were aware of the problem. Their online store has expanded to carry a wide selection of printers and printer parts.

Recently I have been able to get my hands on Printrbot’s new filament. I will be doing some test prints in a few different colors of PLA. So far I plan to test white, green, black and blue.

Printrbot’s new 1.75mm PLA White

I am instantly impressed from the first test print I did. The filament feels smooth and soft out of the package. It also arrived well packed with gel packs to keep moisture away from the filament. I guessed at a starting temperature of 198 degrees Celsius. I kicked the bed temp a little bit high at 70 degrees Celsius. I was amazed how well the first print of a custom designed dual fan mount came out. So far this filament has been easy to work with. I can see why Printrbot changed suppliers as it is a definite improvement. More test are coming soon as I push the limits of this filament.

Below are the very first items I printed with Printrbot’s new filament. I designed these custom dual fan mounts for a custom computer case I am building. They are case or rad mountable and they came out great in this white filament. The white is bright and vibrant.

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Overall Experience with Printrbot’s Newest Filament:

I have to say that I am very impressed with Printrbots new filament. It works great one thing I noticed that it is very temperature sensitive. If you have your heat up to high even by a few degrees it starts to get gooey. This problem is easily remedied by lowering the temperature a few degrees. It stuck to the bed well but not too well.

I saw absolutely no delamination at all with any of the prints I’ve done so far. I definitely recommend this film it to any other users. It arrived vacuum packed with the dicassant in the package which helps to eliminate moisture during shipping or storage.

Here are a few of my most recent prints with Printrbot’s 1.75mm black PLA:

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Printrbot’s older 1.75mm ABS Black

The Printrbot filament that I have been testing is from a while back. It has been properly stored in a dark container to keep dust and any moisture away. I have heard that Printrbot has changed filament suppliers not too long ago.

Overall I am happy with this ABS. I have noticed that it doesn’t strip on the extruder gear as easy as some of the PLA I first received from Printrbot almost a year ago. I also haven’t had any jams using this filament with my wood direct drive extruders.

Printrbot older 1.75mm Charcoal PLA
I have used a lot if this specific PLA and I absolutely love it. I have printed everything from drag cables to parts for the InMoov hand and arm assembly. It prints consistently and the first layer goes down effortlessly. If you add a heated bed to the equation, it won’t ever get any easier. I’ve pushed the speed well over 170mm s with no issues.

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My Experiences With Extrudables
Link To Extrudables Store

I haven’t had much experience with Extrudables as a company because they are fresh onto the marketplace. However I have known the owner through the Printrbot forums for quite sometime now. They are very helpful and stock a selection ranging from FilaFlex to color changing filaments.

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He has spent a lot of time helping out others throughout the forums which easily translates into a great customer service experience. The product was shipped quickly and they are based within the U.S.

Extrudables 1.75mm HIPS
HIPS stands for High Impact Polystyrene and is one of the most produced polymers worldwide. It is a flexible product widely used in the food packaging industry because of its strength, hygiene, and ability to retain heat. In the 3D Printing industry it is typically used in combination with a dual extruder setup. HIPS serves as a dissolvable support structure. This is very useful when printing ABS objects with floating sections, long bridged gaps or huge overhangs. It can be dissolved using Limonene after your print is finished.

However HIPS can also be used in a single extruder setting to make all kinds of useful parts that take advantage of its hygienic properties and it’s ability to retain heat. HIPS is soluble in Limonene, a colourless liquid hydrocarbon that has a strong smell of oranges.

I print most of these tests for HIPS at 235 degrees Celsius and the bed between 110-115 degrees Celsius. I printed them on blue painters tape that had been wiped down with alcohol prior to starting the prints. After the print is finished, it is recommended to let the bed completely cool down before removing it. HIPS is very pliable when heated.

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I started by printing a set of stands for my portable hard drive. I needed something durable as well as something that would help radiate the heat outward. These pieces work great! I designed them to be a little small so that the part would flex and hold onto the hard drive tightly. Flexibility is a great property of this filament.

Extrudables HIPS is top notch and a breeze to print with. I haven’t used HIPS much before testing this filament and I’m so impressed with how easy this filament is to use. The filament was consistent at a range of 1.73 – 1.75 in diameter. It feed well through my Printrbot wood direct drive extruder. I didn’t have a single jam or misdeed.

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•• Coming Soon ••
We are going to dive deep into the wonderful world of possibilities with HIPS. After having this great experience with Extrudables HIPS. I decided to give it a full on dual extruder range of testing. This HIPS is great to work with and has my mind reeling with new possibilities. I decided to do an entire article on the HIPS we received from Extrudables. Soon I will order some Limonene, so I can dissolve away the support structures. Check back soon for the Dual Extruder tests.

Overall Experiences

I have to say that I’m quite impressed by all of the filaments I tested. Each company seems to have its specialty. Wether it’s the large selection you will find with MakerGeeks or the straight forward customer service with Extrudables, you really can’t go wrong. Filament choices are very personal, to the printer being used, as well as the owner. I’ve found that different people, like different qualities in their filament.

I tested these 4 companies filament’s because of the great experiences I’ve had with each of them. No matter if I bought a little or a lot, each of them gave me: Great customer service, quick responses to questions, quality products, outstanding shipping and an overall great customer experience.

If your in the market for filament defiantly check out: Extrudables, PushPlastic, MakerGeeks and Printrbot.

Twitter Accounts:
••• @Extrudables
••• @MakerGeeks
••• @Printrbot
••• (I was unable to find one for PushPlastic)

Filament Storage Idea’s

Everybody I’ve talked to has a different way of storing filament. Being from the NW, we take our filament storage seriously. We receive a ton of rain annually.
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If your looking to store your filament on a budget – kitty litter with silica is the best bet. It’s effective, cheap and easily attainable. A large bag will last you quite a while. You will want to poor enough kitty litter in to completely cover the bottom of your container.

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Another affordable way to keep water out is to collect discussant and silica packets. These are those little white packets you often find in a new pair of shoes or other new items like pill containers. One or two of these wont do much but, I’ve found that if you ask people you know to keep their eyes out for them – you will find a ton in no time at all.

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No matter which direction you go, you will want a good container. Rubbermaid seems to work the best and is readily available within the U.S. They also come in just about any size and shape you can imagine.

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Another great container idea is a standard, round 5 – gallon bucket. These work particularly well for storing filament that is on spools.
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There is more than just moisture to protect your filament from. Other sources that can harm your filament or hotend include: Sun (makes filament brittle after constant exposure) & Dust ( it accumulates on filament and then it’s pulled into the hotend. Overtime this can clog or damage your extruder.)

At RepRap Squad’s shop we use a combination of all of these ideas and techniques. That way we can keep the amount of storage space used low, while making sure our filament is always ready to be used.

RepRap Squad’s Mini 3-D Printer

We’ve built a lot of medium to large sized 3D printers but, we haven’t ever tackled a small or mini 3D printer. I just came across some 5-6mm rods with matching bushings so I thought, ” why not?” Since we are still working on our Aluminum Plus, I figured that I can start on the mini printer while building our Plus. I will continue to update as I go. All design ideas and concepts will be laid out here for others to use.

I’ve started to draw up different designs to see what will work and what won’t work with a mini 3-D printer. I don’t want to dump a ton of money into this build as it’s more of a fun side project. I also want to keep costs down to show that 3-D printers can be built cheaply as I’ve done in the past. More than likely I will use a RAMPS 1.4 controller to run the setup because they can be had for a reasonable amount of money. I’ve started to stockpile parts and separate things that I think will go great for this build.

Here’s a quick design I threw together using Sketchup. I also kept in mind the parts I have available.

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My plans for this printer once it’s finished is to use it as a teaching aid. It will be great for transportation, due to its size. Eventually, I will more than likely I will donate it to someone that would have a good use for it.

Update: June 1st 2014
A few more parts that I have collected include Kevlar string which I plan to test with a pulley setup as well as some UMHW that will be used as a swappable bed. I will be custom designing the majority of pieces due the space constraints.

Printrbot Announces CNC Release

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I’ve always wondered wether or not Brook would release a CNC machine. I got the answer to that question when he released info on a CNC machine plan to be released late fall. Brooks goal was to make a beginner CNC machine that was both easy to use and affordable to the beginning user.

CNC machines are what we call subtractive manufacturing while 3-D printers are considered additive Manufacturing. Having both would definitely cover the majority of needs for a small to medium sized shop. A good portion of us advanced users started off with multi-axis CNC machines. I was lucky enough to have CNC experience passed down to me through friends and family. The first 3 axis machine I had ever built was a desktop sized CNC machine. The nice part about desktop sized CNCs is that they are typically large enough for most projects but, still small enough to fit in most spaces. Printrbot’s CNC looks to fall in line with these types of setups.

Printrbot’s CNC shows lots of promise with a wireless setup that will allow you to operate the CNC from your iPad. From what we’ve heard, the build is open source with the control setup being excluded. The reason behind the closed source control software is due to it being built outside Printrbot’s shop. Early pictures show that it comes with a nice controller case with a large emergency stop button that is a must when owning a CNC. Having completely enclosed electronics is also important due to all the dust that builds up during operations. No word yet on if Printrbot will offer a dust suction system which would help to keep the particles to a minimum. Nema 23 motors are used on this platform which are quite a bit larger than what were used to.

I can imagine that Printrbot will continue to let their CNC platform evolve after it’s release in the late fall/winter timeline. I do know that Brook has a lot of passion when it comes to both CNC and 3-D printer design. This passion translates into a great product at an affordable price. RepRap Squad will defiantly be following the progress on Printrbot’s CNC and updates will be posted here.

RepRap Squad’s New Aluminum Plus

I’ve always been a big fan of Printrbots designs and products. I decided it was time to build our version of the Printrbot Plus platform using high end parts.

We wanted to build a printer that was fast, efficient and as strong as can be. Solid aluminum blocks were milled out to replace the carriage mount, x axis and z axis setup that is similar in design to printrbots plus v2. Recently we received 25mm by 40mm aluminum tubing to make the frame and support structure. This printer will be decent size at about: 10-12″ x axis, 10 -16″ y and z axis’s. The strong materials used as well as the design will allow it to be used as a CNC or laser cutter. Lots of new technology will be applied to this build and high end parts will be used.
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The y axis already has aluminum bearing blocks and we plan to use aluminum for all the rod mounts. Abs plastic will be used when necessary, primarily for sub mounts and brackets.

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I’ve worked out the main setup including the x axis rod mounts as well as the x axis ends that make up the z axis. The x axis idler bearing will be quite a bit larger than the typical 608 bearings that are usually used. Since I haven’t completely decided how I plan to do the base and y axis. I plan to make a little jig or stand that can be used to mount the z and x axis’s while I work on them. I took two pieces of square aluminum tubing and bolted them together. These will work as a base to hold the setup for now.
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I found some nice, heavy duty endstop or homing switches that I plan on using. The x axis homing switch was mounted today. Only time will tell whether or not these new switches will perform better than the typical ones used. Right now I currently have the x axis at about 12+ inches which will be plenty wide. The dual rod screws in the x axis mounts help the whole top from twisting. Once all 8 grub screws are tightened onto the x axis rods it makes the entire section of upper parts function as one piece.
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I have yet to decide whether or not I will use the dual extruder setup that I have or make a single extruder setup. More than likely I will be using a ramps 1.4 controller that I have. The ramps controller supports dual extruders so the only parts I would need that I currently dont have would be an extra hotend. I plan to run Ubis hotends on this build because I have found them to be reliable. I will update this post as the build goes on.

Update: April 12th 2014
Today I was able to start cutting the aluminum tubing for the frame. I’ve decided on parts of the frame design but, not entirely. Right now I’m leaning towards a frame layout similar to the Bukitobot. I have finished the main vertical support and the top horizontal portion. As of now I’m working on designing the y axis setup which will help determine the last portion of the frames layout. I should be able to update with some pictures tomorrow.

I started cutting and mocking up a lot of the frame. I still haven’t completely decided on exactly how the frame will be done but, I have enough to show a few pictures. I designed and printed a few brackets as well as motor mounts for the z axis.
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Update: April 19th 2014
Today I started to design the end caps that cover the ends of the aluminum tubing. I figured it would take a few different attempts to get it right but, I was luck enough to get it right the first time. I also re-designed the x axis motor mount that bolts onto the aluminum mounts. I needed to shave a few mm off of one side for a better fit. This also gave me a chance to make a more user friendly z axis switch adjustment. The main bolts for the y axis support have been installed as well.

The plan right now is to have the y axis removable for easier transportation. The z axis smooth rod mounts also need to be designed as I plan to support them from the top as well. I managed to add two feet to the main structure for easy leveling. These feet also have a non slip under coating, that way the printer won’t walk during high speed operations.

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Update: April 20th 2014
Lots of work has been done today. I was able to cut the remaining pieces for the frame as well as print out some more end caps. The end caps on the aluminum tubing are not required but, they do give it a more polished look. The y axis rod mounts have been designed and printed but I have one more set to go. The top z axis rod mounts have also been designed and printed. I still need to design the ones that will help to stablize the bottom of the rods. Once all of these parts are finished and mounted I will take some pics.

I have also been trying to figure out how exactly I should mount the controller bay. As of now it will be mounted behind the left vertical uprights. The power supply will more than likely be mounted behind the right vertical uprights. I’m trying to keep everything mounted very well for transportation reasons. Some of the wiring is planned to run inside the tubing while the other bits will be ran along the outside of the tubing.
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I also wanted to give a special thanks to Gold August for milling out the ends and rod mounts. He definitely did a great job and they came out exactly how I imagined it.

Update: April 21st 2014
I was able to design a few 90 degree support brackets that will be used for the lower frame/ y axis sub structure. The design printed great the first time and I was able to print 4 of them in about an hour. The brackets are heavy duty and help to keep everything aligned. I’m still trying to figure out what kind of cable management system to use. the xbox 360 16.5 amp 203watt psu was mounted behind the right vertical tubing as mentioned earlier. I was able to secure it using a large L bracket and a couple zip ties. The power plug is at the rear of the bot, this keeps it out of the way during operations.

Update: April 24th 2014
I finally have access to a decent camera so I took a few updated pics on the build progress.

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Update: April 27th 2014
A decent amount of progress has been done. I designed and printed wire organizers and pass throughs. I also mounted a wire terminal block so that all the wiring could be split off of the power supply. The rear cross brace supports have also been added to the y axis’s sub mount. The beds smooth rod setup will be different than any other build I’ve had.

I’m changing it a bit in order to fully support the y axis because the rods are fairly long. This will leave the build with a huge y axis as well as a large x and z axis. The z axis will come in about 15 inches, depending on how the bed is setup will alter the z height. Right now the x axis is about 13 inches and the y will be about 16 inches.

Update: April 29th 2014
Today I’m trying to tackle the y axis and the beds setup. I’ve debated back and fourth several different setups but, in the end I think I will use a setup that is similar to printrbots design. More than likely the rods will go under the cross braces in the frame with a center mounted motor. That will allow me to use at least two idlers on the y axis. I also need to reprint a larger RepRap Squad logo that goes on the top of the frame.

Most of the rods im currently using are ones I use for mock ups. Now that I know exactly how long they need to be. I can order a few sets. I plan to explore printable bearings, but if they are not up to my standards then I will have to order a set of lm12uu bearings.

Update: April 30th 2014
I was able to adapt the rear spacers for the carriage. Since I made the x axis carriage mount a lot smaller and lighter, I needed to add spacers to the rear so that the x axis belt could be attached. I still need to decide if I will add a part to adjust the belt or if I will add an idler similar to what I have on my printrbot plus. The advantage of an idler is that it can be adjusted on the fly but, it requires more design and effort to install. I will try and get some pictures today of the progress.

Update: May 1st 2014
I was able to get a few pics together so that you could see how the belt was mounted to the carriage. It came out better than I hoped.

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Today I plan on sorting out the cable management set up. I want the wiring to be as organized as possible, that way everything is accessible. I’ve been working on designing different strain relief mounts to put through out the frame. I made sure to put some wiring mounts under the frame as well. right now I am printing a setup that will organize the wiring going into the controller bay.

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Update: May 5th 2014
Inwas able to print and mount the rear corner brackets that help to support the frame. After adding these supports the frame became solid and doesn’t move in any direction. I still need to decide on the y axis setup as I want it to take advantage of the available space while supporting the rods as much as possible. I need to find a happy medium between rod support and usable print space along the y axis. I added in a couple strain reliefs for the wiring that goes into the control bay.

The cooling system has been wired into the terminal block which splits power coming from the psu. The controllers enclosure has a top mounted 60mm exhaust fan and two side mounted 50mm inlet fans which should keep the controller nice and cool during operation. The cooling system for the electronics also has a bypass switch but, I’ve wired everything to come on once the power supply is taken off of standby. I also plan on adding a couple leds. One led will state that the psu is off of standby, the other will state wether or not power is going to the extruder.

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Update: May 10th 2014

I finally got some time to work on the build a bit more today. I designed the 90° corner brackets for the front that go around the motor mounts. These were a little bit difficult to do because they had to go with the motor mount as well as strengthen the lower supports on the frame. I’m currently printing off the left bracket set to see if it will fit correctly. If the left one turns out okay I will print off the right set.

I was also able to make the supports that hold the z-axis motors. The point of these supports is to hold the bottom of the motors, which will help to keep the z axis inline with the upper rod mount.

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Update: May 13th 2014
I finally had time to finish printing and installing the front 90° brackets that go around the z-axis motor mounts. These two brackets helped to make the entire structure rock solid. I also managed to install the spacers under the Z axis motor mounts which clear up the gap between the base and the bottom of the motor. A few more end caps were also printed today to cover the ends of the aluminum tubing. Although doing this isn’t required I think that it gives it a clean look.

The list of parts that still need to be printed is getting pretty small. I still haven’t completely decided on how the y-axis will be set up. I’ve been putting it off a little while until I can do more research. I have about three or four different ways that I could do the y-axis but I’m still debating which one is the best for this platform.

I should be able to snap a few pictures of the build progress later today. Most of the major parts within the structure that tied to the axis’s are adjustable so that they can be fine-tuned once I get the new parts. I always use a spare set of parts that are just used to mock up for builds. That way I can order the pieces once the frame and structure is complete.

This 3-D printer is turning out to be exactly how I imagined it before building. It has a large print area while still offering up great portability. It will definitely be strong enough to run as a small CNC mill. I’ve also been debating getting a laser attachment for laser etching.

Update: May 20th 2014
I’m working on an auto leveling setup for this build. Printrbot has already created an auto leveling setup. I was able to find some parts that cost about .50 cents that I’m using to build the probe. I will update with info as I go.

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Update: May 22nd 2014
I’ve been working out a lot of the smaller details lately. Things like heatsinks on the extruder motor as well as the X axis motor. The z-axis already has integrated heat-sinks built into the spacers and when I mount the y-axis motor I will add a heat-sink at that time as well. While having heatsinks is not a requirement, it helps to keep the motors running cooler which makes them last longer and perform better. I’ve also been working out my probe set up which will allow for the software to compensate for the angle of the bed.

I finally got around to printing off all the end caps for the aluminum tubing. Next I plan to tackle the y-axis and print bed set up. Once it’s finished I will have to pull the whole thing apart, sand it down, etch and prep the aluminum tubing for paint.

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Update: May 25th 2014

I decided to take some time today to figure out where I wanted to mount the spools. Some people integrate them into the design and others just assume the end-user can figure it out for themselves. Using a tabletop mounted spool was also an option but, for the most part I wanted this build to be self-contained. I wanted transports to be as easy as possible as well as keeping set up times to a minimum. After playing with different spool mounting options I came up with a three-point spool mounting system.

This setup allows you to mount a spool either horizontally or vertically depending on your needs. It also supports two spools at once for dual extruder printing. Realistically you could mount up to 3 spools at one time with two of them being mounted vertically and one mounted horizontally. No matter which mount you use. The transition is easy and only requires a couple easy to remove bolts.

Today I will also start to tackle the bed mount system. I will be using a three-point adjustment for the bed because it is a lot more reliable and easier to tune. Four-point systems work but, tend to be a lot more finicky and involved to tune correctly. I am also going back-and-forth whether or not to add to heated beds or just one. I have enough space to run two 8×8 beds stacked one after another. Doing this would give me about 8×16 inches of heated print surface.

Update: May 26th 2014
I started ordering some parts to replace the mockup pieces. Today the threaded rod arrived and it was surprisingly straight. The z axis threaded rods are about 20″ long on each side. I used a custom pair of matching Kysan motors for the z axis. I still need to order 3 more large Kysans for the x, y and extruder.

The z axis threaded rods are cut a little bit longer than required. I did this so I could add handles at the top of each rod. These handles make for quick and accurate manual adjustments. For anyone that is an avid user, this is must. I also finished up all the matching spool mounts.

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Update: July 3rd 2014
I just got the parts in for the horizontally mounted spool roller. This will offer up a spool feed system that is mounted on the middle section on the top of the frame. Including the 2 side mounts, up to 5 spools can be mounted on the frame. I also installed quick release knobs for the spool mounts so that they can quickly be removed.

The horizontally mounted spool holder is adjustable to fit just about any size spool. The two vertically mounted spool holders will hold a large range of spool sizes.

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Update: July 11th 2014
Recently a decent amount of time has been spent wiring the cooling system as well as the main power switch. The main power switch will take the xbox psu off of standby. The electronics bay has 3 fans. Two exhaust fans and one intake. I have carefully designed an airflow path to optimize cooling. I used quick disconnect plugs that lock for each fan which allows any of them to be moved or turned off.

I have also started working on the dual extruder setup that I will use for this build.

Update: July 3rd 2014
As you may of noticed, I haven’t updated this post in a little while. This has been due to lots of exciting things going on behind the scenes at RepRap Squad. I have however, recently had some free time to work on this beast.

I purchased some smaller spiral wrap for some of the cable sets that are located within the electronics bay. I spent some time today organizing those wires as well as making sure that all the fans are working. So far this setup has 3 fans to cool the electronics bay. Two of those fans are inlets and the one mounted on the lid is an outlet. I did this intentionally to create an efficient airflow pattern. Cold air from down low push in from both sides making the warm air exit upwards.

Luckily I had a few quick moments to take a couple pics of the progress.

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Update: July 4th 2014
I had some free time so I started to design the cable management setup that will be mounted behind the left vertical frame riser. The cabling that will be held up will be for the two Bowden extruders that will be mounted right above each spool.

I plan on designing a bracket that will hold each Bowden setup. I may or may not move the side spools downwards to make room for the dual Bowden setup.

July 7th 2014
I was able to print a few test brackets that will go behind the vertical risers on the left. I will probably end up changing the design a little bit but these test pieces let me know where everything will go. I also had to keep in mind, a possible third extruder. Currently the plan is to use a dual Bowden extruder setup and each Bowden gear set will be mounted directly above its corresponding spool.

The cable management design will hold wiring for up to three Bowden extruders and top mounted task lights. With this specific build I am trying to keep in mind any future upgrades as well as possible mods. Everything is self-contained within the build.

Since I have made the recent decision to go with a dual extruder and possible triple extruder. I will need to add another mount for a second psu. I haven’t decided if I will add a second 203watt xbox psu or go with a laptop psu for my second supply.

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Update: July 8th 2014
Testing out new filament from PushPlastic gave me an opportunity to print the laptop psu mounts. This printer will have two power supply’s. The largest one is enough to power an extruder and heated bed, while the laptop psu will power the 2nd extruder. Once I add a larger bed and a possible triple extruder setup, I will need to swap out the laptop psu for a 2nd 203 watt xbox psu that I have. With the 2 xbox psus I will be running about 400 watts @ approx 35 amps between the two. The laptop psu and the single xbox psu would offer up about 22 amps. I am a big fan of the xbox psus as they have lots of built in features, active cooling and a great shape that works with a lot of platforms.

So far I am very impressed with PushPlastics filament. Later this week I plan to test out other filaments from PushPlastic as well as some HIPS from Extrudables. I will do a separate post for the tests of those filaments. They will be done in multiple colors along with a few samples of MakerGeeks. If you would like to mod an xbox psu to work with your RepRap, I have a post on how to do it. Use the search bar to find the write up.

Update: July 12th 2014
I was able to get the laptop Psu mounted along side the larger Xbox Psu. It’s a perfect fit and doesn’t really take up any extra space. I also managed to put together the mount for handheld LCD/controller. I wanted to make sure that the mount was adjustable as well as being viewable when it’s set on a tabletop. I ended up coming up with a great mounting system that made both these options available.

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What’s Your 3D Printer Doing When Your Away?

3D printers can be dangerous like any other appliance or piece of machinery. If you don’t know what your doing, ask someone that does. If operated properly they are perfectly safe machines.
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This is an important topic that is rarely discussed but, it’s definitely one of the most important things to know if you own any kind of 3D printer. Most users and not just new owners, have a misconception that it is okay to leave their printer unattended while printing. We are all guilty of stepping out of the room for a few minutes when its running. The main issue is the long prints. How do you do a 12 hr or longer print without leaving it running alone? There are many different ways to limit the potential hazard of it catching fire or something else that could lead to a catastrophic failure.

It’s not to hard to cut up a larger print into smaller prints that can later be bolted or fused together. This is a common practice done by many advanced users. A lot of prints that I model are designed to be printed separately and later assembled into one larger piece. Doing this has another advantage as there’s nothing more frustrating than getting 11 hrs into a print to have it fail. I also take other precautions like keeping a fire extinguisher within a few feet of my printers.

Another neat mod is adding an ip camera or a setup with raspberry pi so that prints can be easily monitored via cell phone, computer or tablet. You can buy cheap portable setups or make one yourself for a reasonable amount of money. At RepRap Squad we have several different temp sensors tied into an alarm system. Once two or more of those sensors reach a pre set temp it sounds an alarm. We are currently in the midst of adding text messaging into the alarm system for added protection. Even with all the safety measures that we have taken at the shop, we still rarely leave the printer running by itself.

Another important part of owning a 3D printer is being safe when making modifications to your printer. If you don’t know what you’re doing it is important to ask someone that does or do the research to find out how to do it. I have heard as well as experienced plenty of people that just went ahead with the modification and didn’t know what they were doing. Typically it ended up in an almost catastrophic failure. Power supplies melting or catching on fire as well as wiring hazards, all because the owner didn’t have a full understanding of what they were doing.

If anybody ever has any questions or needs any help we are at RepRap Squad are always available.

Here’s one of many stories I found about people being careless and catching their printer on fire.

I set my Mendelmax on fire today…

Hint to the wise, do not be printing on one, printer, forget the power switch is live on the Mendelmax… cut wires to fan so you can add two more to keep your POS Printroboard from overheating and immediately have the wire you cut erupt in flames.

Next step is to not run out of the room looking for a fire extinguisher that you wife moved while cleaning the kitchen… that would be the time you would want to … I don’t know turn the power off to the PS?

So while Mendelmax is on fire, I am in the other room looking for a fire extinguisher (power supply still on), the fire alarm goes off. Wife sticks head out of door asking what the hell is going on (Third Shifter).. I say popcorn again.. she goes back to bed.

Get back in office, no fire extinguisher, turn power off. Patt out the burnt wires. After 1 hour of trouble shooting I lost 2 RP parts, pretty much all my wires, and that’s about it…. WIN! (ish)

This is the Second RepRap I have ever set on fire 🙂

Here’s the link to the above story:
http://repraplogphase.blogspot.com/2012/09/second-reprap-fire-again-not-repraps.html?m=1

Posted from RepRap Squad HQ

Printrbot’s Aluminum Extruder Goes Plastic

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We recently found the printable version of printrbots new aluminum extruder. I wanted to make an adapter plate for our dual extruder setup on our plus as it comes with 2 DDE. Soon Printrbot will be offering the aluminum extruder on the plus’s dual extruder kit. We wanted to test out the design before we spent almost $100 on 2 new aluminum DDE.

I think that the printed version may work great as I’ve heard of issues with the aluminum extruder acting as a heatsink causing jams. There are several reasons why I would like to use the aluminum extruders design. The main one is the orientation of the motors and the second is the convenience involved with the new design.
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If I can get the new design to work properly than I will also need to custom design new fan mounts. I want to use the aluminum extruder mounts as they are an important part of the dual extruders design. They also allow for easy adjustments of hotend heights. I printed off the first of the two that I will need and tomorrow I plan on printing the second so I can start to mock up the adapter mount.

You can find the printable version of this DDE HERE
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Update: March 26th 2014
I printed the first of the two required for my dual extruder setup. I was rather surprised to see how well the parts printed with out adding any support structures. The parts required a little bit of clean up to get everything to fit right. I tested them on the dual extruder plate because I was worried that they both wouldn’t fit correctly. After some mock up it looked as if it wouldn’t need much if any modifications other than a mount plate. I only have one position that I can mount these because I want to reuse the aluminum extruder mount. I plan on printing off the second extruder today ao that I can figure out mounting points on the carriage.

Here’s the first extruder to be finished, with the 2nd printing away
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Now that I’ve printed out my two mock up versions and tested them on the dual extruder mounting plate. I can see that they are a little bit too wide to fit with the stock dual aluminum extruder mount. I will have to modify them a little bit in order to fit both of them correctly. I can either modify the model, modify it after its printed or design a new dual extruder setup.

The wood direct drive extruders work fine as they are now but, I like the accessibility of the design as well as the orientation of the stepper motors. I also want to see if my smaller nema 17 custom Kysan steppers will do the job. Since I’m running 1.75mm filament, the smaller Kysans should have enough torque to do the job. The only way to know for sure is tontest them out. I do know that I will at least need to add heatsinks to them as I do know with my current setup. The question is, will I have to run 40mm fans as well.
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The two mock up versions pictured above were printed in PLA at 160mm p/s at 20% infill and .3 layer height. The final versions will be printed in ABS with much higher infill, slower print speeds to reduce any over shoot and more infill. I might change the layer height to .2 as well. The aluminum extruder mount works well to keep the heat away from the extruders.

Posted from RepRap Squad HQ

Printrbot Plus V3? – The Changes Of Life

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We had heard that some changes in the way of dual extruder setups would happen on the Plus but, we awoke to see that the platform had completely changed. The x axis rod layout changed from one above the other to side by side. This change is using what looks to be the same aluminum blocks used on the new Go V2. We also couldn’t help to notice that the bed rods or Y axis rods were moved back to above the base much as they used to be back with the old Plus V1. Its hard to tell in the pictures but, it looks as if the feet have been removed.

Its also noted that the final version may be different. This was the case with the recent release of the all metal simple. The first few set of pictures were of the prototype. In the final version of the all metal simple, part of the z axis was changed up a bit and looks much better in my opinion. Back to the new Plus’s platform. No word on what this version will be called as on their page it just says Printrbot Plus. Going along with the naming of their bots, I would assume that this new version would be called the Plus V3.

This new version boasts a 10×10 inch print surface with 8×8 of that being heated. All aluminum bearing blocks assure stability within the platform. This new version also comes with Raspberry Pi loaded with octoprint allowing users to remotely control as well as monitor their printer via video relaying. As with the other bots available, it now has the new aluminum extruder. We expect to see a release of a version with dual extruders soon. The assembled version of the new Plus will cost you $1,299.00.

Printrbot’s Information on the redesigned Plus

This is the new Assembled Printrbot PLUS
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While designing the most recent rev of the Go, Team Printrbot found a number of upgrades to make to the existing Plus v2.1.  With a 10″ x 10″ x 10″ build volume, additional aluminum Z-blocks, alu extruder, and Raspberry Pi, this new Plus is larger, stronger, and smarter.  Laser cut birch construction, an assembled Ubis hot end, 12mm Z-axis rods, all aluminum bearing blocks, 3/8″ Acme rods, GT2 belts/pulleys, and a sample of 1.75mm filament all remain standard with the Printrbot Plus

Parts Included:
Alu Extruder
Raspberry Pi loaded with Octoprint (control the Printrboard over Wi-Fi)
10″ x 10″ 10″ build volume
Updated metal Z couplers
3/8″ Acme Rods
Gt2 belt and Aluminum pulleys
Custom machined aluminum build plate
Power Supply
Printrboard: all-in-one assembled electronics with integrated micro SD card slot (no soldering required)
5 NEMA 17 stepper motors complete with cable ends attached
laser cut birch construction
hardware (8mm smooth rods, threaded rods, and bearings — ** Z axis is 12mm smooth rods  and  12 mm linear bearings )
assembled Ubis hot end
nuts, bolts, washers, zip ties
laser cut print bed
8×8 heated bed
misc assembled cables (no soldering required)
3 mechanical end stops (no soldering required)
micro USB cable
Sample of filament
Fan mount with Fan
Laser cut wood is standard 1/4″ (6mm) thick
*** IMAGES SHOWN ARE PROTOTYPES.  FINAL PRODUCT MAY VARY SLIGHTLY

Posted from RepRap Squad HQ

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