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3D printer improvements


3D printer improvements
From the community for the community, mostly via an Ultimaker
Check my main links. Many of my 3D designs are free, but I can also be contracted to design yours - jeremie francois at gmail


bowden tube issue feeder addon consumables heat hot end motor
software electric weird bed

general mechanical replacement


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Review: what materials can be 3D printed?

What materials to 3D-print ?
Every now and then I am being asked about it, so here is a post on the many materials that can be 3D-printed at home.

About Me
It is not complete and will expand with time. It is no buyer's guide either, nor a technical document. Read it as a short generic survey of usable materials. As for me and many others, I print mostly with PLA filament (see below). Even though I have a set of other materials (wood, rubber, Nylon and so on), I did not test all the following myself, mostly because each material requires its set of specific timeconsuming trials and errors to achieve good quality. Mastering all of them would take me months, if not years!

Jeremie Francois


If you know me and you cannot tell exactly what my real job is, then you probably found the right Jeremie. Checkzax.frfor some pointers. I am self-employed and I help startups, research centers, small companies with their needs related to computers and maths. If you have a project and know what "R&D" is, then you already caught my interest ;) View my complete profile

Mixed wood and bioplastic (PLA)

Read more Posted by Jeremie Francois at 6:52 PM 9 comments:

+16 Recommend this on Google

Labels: consumables, general, review


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Popular Posts
Review: what materials can be 3D printed? Mixed wood and bioplastic (PLA) What materials to 3D-print ? Every now and then I am being asked about it, so here is a post on the ... Review : settings for Cura (3D printing front end and slicer) What are the most important settings in Cura ? Iswitchedto Cura as the unique front end to print with my 3D printer.This excellent s... Homemade heated bed

Short belt tensioner for NEMA 17 stepper motors

How to tension the Ultimaker short belts once for all?
The short belts that drive the main rods from the X and Y steppers must always be kept tight. Otherwise the print quality really gets bad. Two symptom that are easy to spot is non-round cylinders or "bouncing" waves in the surface of the print. The usual fix is to unscrew the 4 bolts, push the motor downwards with a thumb andtightenthe screws very hard while keeping the pressure... I just could not stand this anymore, so I designed this thingand this derivative (with an additional spring).

Upside version of the tensioner

Read more[2013/10/24


3D printer improvements

Why add a heated bed ? Do you really need an answer ? You just need one in my humble opinion. After I made mine, I never had an obje... How fine can an Ultimaker print? Ultimaker impressive quality at smallest layer heights (40,50,75 microns) I printed one famous treefrog on my Ultimaker for a friend an... What cannot be 3D printed? Time to debunk some myths! General 3D printingmisinformation: review of facts and fiction! Each technology has some fundamental limitations, and 3D printing is no... 3D printing with a smaller nozzle diameter For sure, a smaller nozzle produces finer details, but how tricky and troublesome it can be! Is it worth using a smaller nozzle on a ... Which hobbed bolt for a filament feeder? My homemade one! Driving the filament with hobbed / knurled bolts My quite efficient hobbed bolt :) As all owners of 3D printers know, one item of utm... Rollerstruder: a filament feeder / driver / extruder The rollerstruder filament drive system on an Ultimaker Almost one year ago I got rid of the plywood Ultimaker filament drive mechanism... 3D printing with cheap Nylon trimmer line/string Is filament quality so important after all? I heard a while ago that trimming line was one of the many materials that was experimented w... Molding and casting with a 3D printer Printing a mold and/or lost wax casting Or how a 3D printer also opens the way to semi-industrial homemade objects beyond artistic sculpt...

Posted by Jeremie Francois at 8:06 PM


+3 Recommend this on Google

Labels: issue, mechanical, motor, replacement

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Auto shutoff at end of print

Kill your 3D printer when it gets lazy !
I could not say it better than Daid:that headline should grab attention. Given the heat a 3D printer can generate, even when idle, I would better kill it than let it powered unattended, both for the planet, and to reduce the slightest risk of fire. ;) I stick here to the simplest and most straightforward modification, partlybecauseit is already supported by theMarlinprinter firmware. By the way, the total cost is less than $10, and you will just need a few solder points!

Read more Posted by Jeremie Francois at 12:43 PM No comments:

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Labels: addon, electric

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Major wood FDM printing breakthrough !

Extremely efficient wood 3D printing system
This is incredible... No need for a hot bed, no issue with massive overhangs, no stringing at all, noretraction, grinding nor feeding issues, not even noise, smell nor chemicals. Free and easy sourcing of material,highly portable,robust, self-powered and auto-adapting printing system. Anddamn, they even master wood gradientsand polygonal infill! Now, on the downside: it comes without a user manual andthe system is incompatible with gcode.And sometimes, it stings.

Blog Archive
2013 (13) 2012 (29) December (1) Review: what[2013/10/24


3D printer improvements

materials can be 3D printed? November (4) October (24)

How nasty.

Read more Posted by Jeremie Francois at 12:51 PM 6 comments:

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+4 Recommend this on Google

Labels: consumables, review, weird

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Follow by Email

Poll: what are the features you added to your stock Ultimaker ?
What are your Ultimaker features?
Here is an on-going poll motivated bythis post on the Ultimaker google forum. So please keep your comments for the forum! I finally developed my own blogger poll system after failures with the official and restrictive blogger polls.

Read more Posted by Jeremie Francois at 9:17 PM 2 comments:

Recommend this on Google

Labels: addon, general, replacement, review

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

How to write a Cura / Skeinforge plugin

First, do you really really want to write a Skeinforge plugin ?
Preliminary notes: some sites such as wired link to this post, but you may like to read my less technical review about temperature gradients applied to wood first. Also, you could check this post if you just want to try it.[2013/10/24


3D printer improvements

Now, read on if you are a programmer and want to write your own plugin. Indeed and contrary to what was being done so far, I did not want to manually insert the M104 temperatures changes in the file sent to the printer, nor stay close to the ulticontroller. So I designed a plugin for the Cura / Skeinforge software pair. Since that was not trivial, I document the procedure here.

Read more Posted by Jeremie Francois at 10:06 AM No comments:

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Labels: review, software

Wood filament becoming brittle after a while

Wood filament now brittle, lost all its needed flexibility !

When I started printing this morning with my wood filament (~2-3 week old), all kinds of filament issues appeared, while I had almost none before. I soon realized that the filament now is much more fragile than one week ago. First I though I had temperature and clogging issues, since I was testing my plugin forsimulating wood grain.

Update : seller answer, see end of post. Read more Posted by Jeremie Francois at 12:54 AM No comments:

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Labels: consumables, issue

Shades of brown with wood filament, via varying temperature

Wood filament : changing temperature to get shades of brown[2013/10/24


3D printer improvements

Wood filament, temperatures from 205 to 240,home made Skeinforge plugin You probably want to check my first post aboutwood filamentif you did not already. This sequel shows howvaryingtemperatures impacts the color of the filament (as advertised). Read more Posted by Jeremie Francois at 12:53 AM 6 comments:

+3 Recommend this on Google

Labels: consumables, heat, review

Monday, October 29, 2012

Robust bowden attachment with a blind rivet nut

Using a blind rivet nut to fix the bowden tube once for all

Blind rivets nuts give you a nut where you cannot reach the other side of the support. Read more Posted by Jeremie Francois at 11:25 PM 2 comments:

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Labels: bowden tube, hot end, mechanical, replacement

How to clean the hotend and nozzle from the outside

How to remove clogged/molten filament in a V2 head?
Obviously you can disassemble the end, which is quite painful. It may also damage some items and threads in the long term.[2013/10/24


3D printer improvements

Or you try whatever comes under you hand to remove the damn molten stuff in and around the PEEK.Of course, start by removing your bowden tube from the top quick coupling.

Read more Posted by Jeremie Francois at 10:37 PM 2 comments:

+3 Recommend this on Google

Labels: bowden tube, heat, issue

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Review : settings for Cura (3D printing front end and slicer)
What are the most important settings in Cura ?
IswitchedtoCuraas the unique front end to print with my 3D printer.This excellent software from Daid is handling all theprinting workfor you: displaying and scaling the objects, slicing them into layers, sending them to the printer. It will not help youdesign or modifyyour object though.

This is called stringing (overfeeding, bad settings) but it gives an usable part and an interesting piece of art in the end Read more Posted by Jeremie Francois at 11:18 AM No comments:

+11 Recommend this on Google

Labels: general, review, software[2013/10/24


3D printer improvements

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Review : printing with wood filament

Printing with wood filament : a short review

Twisted Gear Lamp by BenitoSanduchi, printed with Cura at 80mm/s, 0.2mm layers, Ultimaker You may like to read also my post on wood shadesthough temperature changes.

What is a "wood filament"?

I bought an early batch directly from a small producer inGermany. The full reference was LAYWOO-D3 LOT F0142.It was not cheap, but it even got more expensive because everyone wanted some! How it is made sounds trivial: just a mix of saw dust and plastic... But shaping this mix into a nice filament must be tricky otherwise all the major producers would have produced it before and would be already be sellingkilometers ofit... There was no choice on the color yet. What strikes me first is the surface, which is extremely rough compared to the other filament kinds. I think there is still air in this filament... The overall stiffness is much lower than PLA, and you almost feel like you could bend it without breaking it (even though it still breaks nicely with a sharp movement and pliers). Later,I hadserious issues with the filament for some time which lost all of its flexibility, but the issue is gone thanks to a air dryer.

Unusual deep marks left by my hobbed bolt (with a medium tension on the feeder) The filament diameter is not very constant, but it is not worse than the two kind of PLA filament I had. From 3.0 to 3.1 mm, which is totally fine for me. I never had any grinding issue (during the first week of the filament). Some[2013/10/24


3D printer improvements

people however report serious issues and varying diameters (read on from this post for example). Note that my bowden tube is non standard, and its inner diameter is 4mm (OD 6mm). This proved to help a lot obviously.

Printing wood (how weird does it sound!)

On my first print, I thought I was under extruding a bit because I heard bubbles popping out of the nozzle while printing, and the thin walls where not that smooth. I still should try with higher feed rate just to check how it behaves and if the result is smoother. However the macros for horizontal filling (picture on the right) seems to tell it is pretty well tuned. See how the successive pass really fit each other better than with PLA (my nozzle is 0.4mm). Well, it may not be better, but since the material is rough, it really looks like it is.

The layers are harder to see than with PLA. At 0.1 height, it makes walls almost invisible. But much more interestingly to me, the horizontal filling is much nicer than with PLA. Also, the extruding temperature really seems unimportant, really not like PLA. You just can set almost anything and it prints nicely, but you will get different colors. For this, you need to insert specific g-code manually in the generated file or use my forthcoming Cura/Skeinforge plugin. Also, it looks instantly "dry" out of the nozzle. So much that I may significantlyreducethe minimum time between layers so it prints faster. It really does not look like it is melting the previous layer top when the heads moves over (looks like wet cardboard more than plastic to me).However the layers still stick nicely to each other; may be because of the texture more than because they get welded ? With surprise, I realized I could bend the following object where I could not with PLA. Hence, I suspect that this material will not stand the same amount of stress as with PLA nor ABS. It actually looks like something between cardboard and a springy MDF(it gets a bit stiffer with time, not much imho). The printed object also really can be painted, much more than with PLA or ABS. It really gives a fine result, but not for all uses.

Printed at 222, 60mm/s, 100% fill. The resulting object is quite elastic.[2013/10/24


3D printer improvements

Printing at 80mm/s, I could probably go much faster

A closeup HD video that show the nice "thick" paths

Tips and issues with wooden filament

I would not leave the filament heating for long in the nozzle as it becomes really brown (and somehow crusty), so there may be a risk to obstruct the nozzle (update: good prediction since it just occurred to someone!). So I purge the head manually with regular PLA when a print is done (which now appear to me very "chemical/industrial" compared to the wood filament).

Purging : from much heated wood to pink PLA. Disgusting but safer.

I had no grinding at all when I checkedcarefullythe feeder marks on the filament. May be that was thanks tomy bowden tube replacement, or to my own feeder, or both. Actually, even though the filament surface is rough, since the material is smooth I can move it in the bowden tube as easily as with PLA (if not more). Also make sure to keep it in a sealed bag and somewhere it will not degrade as minedid :(

As a final note, I think this material really rocks for artists and designers, and even though I am not an artist, I think I will always have a spool of wooden filament nearby :) Check also how you can get different shades of brown(gradients) by varying the extruding temperature during print. And then, now, I want to go and invest a bit in making my own filament. Winter is coming and I will have a pile of wood dust, together with a pile of broken PLA things.By the way, it even smells like a biscuit :p[2013/10/24


3D printer improvements

This could be my new business card, but the clean up is more difficult than with PLA

Posted by Jeremie Francois at 7:09 PM


+4 Recommend this on Google

Labels: consumables, review

Replace the bowden tube

Replace theTeflon /PTFE / bowden tube
IorderedmoreTeflontubing before running out of the original two pieces I received with the printer. They had to be shortened regularly because they were getting damaged by traction in the quick connectors, and instead of popping out, some even was torn apart in the filament feeder plug ! The replacement I bought was a "teflon tube 4mm inner 6mm" (well, there is only one way to read the diameters). I got 12 ft for $19 with shipping on eBay.

Read more Posted by Jeremie Francois at 4:25 PM No comments:

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Labels: bowden tube, replacement

Homemade heated bed[2013/10/24


3D printer improvements

Why add a heated bed ?

Do you really need an answer ? You just need one in my humble opinion. After I made mine, I never had an object pop off by itself because of coolingretraction or because a small plastic blob was hit by the head while it printed the next layer (which occurs almost all the time with tall and thin structures). Moreover, I used a single power supply setup, that I concealed on the underside of the printer. I now have only the mains and USB cable getting out of the printer, and carry no more bulky external power supply. It also reduces the failures due to the tired stock power plug when someone bends over the printer...

This post is divided into 4 parts: 1. Trying different material for a cold bed (aka no hot bed!) 2. Using resistors and a sheet of stainless steel sheet (for reference) 3. Using Peltier modules (for reference) 4. Working hot bed with a PCB (win)

Trying different material for a cold bed

First, I started printing PLA on the acrylic bed covered by the regular 3M blue scotch. Not so good, as anyone knows, it does not stick that much (or the opposite sometimes!), and the bed needs to be redone all the time with small gaps between the bands. I also tried the 3M scotch 2090 (aka painters tape, 48mm), which did a bit better. I did not try to print directly on the naked acrylic bed as some people did, because I really think it would damage it when the head stays low for a while (which happens to me regularly, eg on lost connection or interrupted prints). For some time, I also used sprayed adhesive on a regular sheet of paper on the acrylic bed. This did work well, but the objects stuck so much to the paper that they often damaged it when they were removed from the bed. So I regularly had to remove pieces of paper from the objects and to redo the bed. Kapton (picture on the left) was an intermediate and classic choice. Just buy some anyway since it is very useful all the time. It is a kind of heatresistant scotch that does not degrade with time. I finally decided I really had to get a heated bed (or hot bed, or heating bed, whatever, something semi-hot I would print upon...). What is surprising to me is that Ultimaker still did not provide nor even recommend an "official" one. And not surprisingly, there are as many

Heat-resistant Kapton tape

heated bed designs as hobbyists.[2013/10/24


3D printer improvements

May be when the market is ready we get heated bed stock with the printer, but for now no design rule them all. Since I also bought me a printer to hack it, I chose the obvious solution : build one on my own too (YAHB, yet another heated bed).

First attempt: make a hotbed with resistors and a sheet of stainless steel
I had an unused RC2C kit around, that I bought when I thought I would naively create my own printer. Then I cowardly bought an Ultimaker ;) Well, I still think I'll use this for a milling machine, but this will be later on. The kit came with these block resistors (embedded in metallic cases that can be screwed on a support). Actually, they were quite bulky and they were chosen for the R2C2 24V power supply. Powering them with a 19V made them heat slower. I used a convenientDS18B20 cheap digital sensor to get the temperature and basic relay, which were controlled by a small and cheap arduino pro mini. I also used an optocoupler to separate the signals.

But the final issue was that I just had no aluminum plate at the time. Instead, I used a very stiff 3 mm stainless steel plate (so hard to cut, wow!). But stainless steel is a bad choice when it comes to heating. It was very slow to conduct heat, and failed quite miserably in the end. The conclusion is : do not even waste spare stainless steel for a bed !

Second attempt:make a hotbed withPeltier modules and plywood support

I had a thin sheet of 1mm aluminum around, no more. It was too thin to try with the resistors, without bending it awfully, so I switched to another design. I glued the aluminum it to a thick plywood plank for rigidity, in which I had cut two 4cm x 4cm holes, respectively for two TEC12710 Peltier modules I bought on ebay (at around $13). Before using Peltier modules, I recommend reading about them, such as from thisFAQ. Respective heatsinks were held in place with a springy but hard metallic wire (a motorbike wheel spoke, excellent stuff to keep), itself maintained by screws in the plywood (see below). I also added some thermal paste between the Peltier and the aluminum sheet.[2013/10/24


3D printer improvements

Now, this design was simple and clean, for sure. And it was much thinner than with the bulky resistor-based one. I knew the Peltier would not heat much over ~50, but that may still have been OK for PLA. Hence I did not use any temperature sensor, which is wrong... Yes it heated... but only for two minutes before it killed itself. Actually I quickly blew the two Peltier modules. For one, I would better use a fan-based active cooling. But more, I think the power supply I bought was so harsh that the Peltier had time to melt they own core before spreading the heat to the bed (aka reach the reflow temperature). There was no limiting temperature sensor I could check to make them heat progressively : I should have hashed the current flow, and not applied it all, and give more time to reach the target temperature. The conclusion is : do not use Peltier module to heat your bed like this, unless you want to spend a lot on big ones plus proper cooling ! Even with controlled heating to their maximum, I am not sure they would work in the long term. They would not let you heat enough for ABS plastic neither, so it is a no go in my opinion. Since I did not want to burn more Peltier modules, which proved to be not so cheap when you destroy them like this, I finally switched to a classic PCB heating element. BTW, I still like the magic of Peltier modules, and I probably will get back to them one day, but may be for an actively cooled thermal valve. I suspect they are better used for cooling than for heating.

Third attempt: make a working hot bed with a PCB (win)

This one is working really well, and I like the way I did it for the leveling. Using a PCB as a heater

This is a regular Thing-O-Matic Heater Board v1.1, that I paid $20+$6on ebay. It is much smaller than the Ultimaker bed size, but thanks to the aluminum sheet, I do not think it makes a difference in the end. May be it heats less quickly but I get to 55 in one or two minutes, which is OK for me. By the way, I could have tried first to use thin strips of food aluminum sheets instead, or even some nichrome wire just to try to reduce the BOM. But I wanted a working hot bed now![2013/10/24


3D printer improvements

Ouch, what a messy piece of work (but it will be hidden)

The sensor is a 1 wire dallasDS18B20 (or DS1820). It gives direct digital values so it's extremely easy to interface. It may not be ok for high temperatures however (ie. may not reach the ABS requirements, when you really need high bed temperatures). I also had to cut one track if I remember near the yellow short cable above. You may find it out by clicking on the picture. The cables that go to the left are for a LED. However I forgot to drill the aluminum for the LED to be seen from the top on the bed, so I only can see it from the bed side... This is not a big problem since I hear the relay clicking and feel the warm with my hand. Still, it would have been cool to get some light through the bed.

I tried to think of a better way to fix the PCB, but it works quite well like this with Kapton tape... KISS I paid $8.29 en ebay for a "50mm 5cm X 33m 100ft Kapton Tape High Temperature Heat Resistant". By the way, this Kapton tape is really useful even on cold beds and for protecting the head. Larger tape could be nice, but I find it already difficult to lay this one properly with no spurious folds, so I am not sure a bigger tape would be easier. Using an aluminum plate to distribute heat and have a flat bed[2013/10/24


3D printer improvements

I drilled with 3mm, and used a 8mm drill (see alsothis useful tool) for the bevels so the screw heads are flush. I wanted to add a glass on top of the alu bed from the beginning, to protect both the aluminum and the head. Talking about the aluminum, this is a 3mm thick 25x25 cm item I got for 5+8 for this "Aluminium Sheet - 3mm x 250mm x 250mm" on ebay. I just could not find the same thickness at local hardware shop, weird. And I suggest this is right, but the minimum thickness for an alu bed whatever you put on top of it.

Using rubber pivot beneath the aluminum bed

I think this is my real contribution to heated beds :these pieces of rubber really simplify the bed leveling b/c they provide a unique and quite convenient central pivot, with the addition that the 3 screws no more need springs ! One very nice kind of rubber are the halves of destroyed squash balls ; these are almost indestructible (at least without a racket)... The big ring is to distribute the load on a bigger surface and push firmly the PCB against the aluminum, while leaving some room around the temperature sensor. Its thickness is a bit bigger than that of the 2 nuts on the screws as seen below. I kept the outside edges open so that heat flows outwards. The aluminum may be heated more uniformly this way (which is probably not significant), but more importantly, it cools down faster after a print by letting hot air flow outside.[2013/10/24


3D printer improvements

The layered bed as seen from the side. I have just enough room to plug the power and signal cables. I added a cheap black plywood bottom layer to avoid wasting heat, and to spread it evenly.

I did not worry that the wood bends with temperature, since the three screws are attached to the aluminum in the first place. Its main use is to isolate the PCB so that the heat goes primarily to the aluminum, and not elsewhere. I painted the wood black with some metallic spray, partly because I did not want to spend the time varnishing it as the rest of the printer ;) Heated bed final setup

Final setup: screws should be shortened to get more Z volume (which I never missed so far)

Once again, no spring and only three screws made me quite happy compared to the initial setup ! The real trick is the two pieces of rubber in the middle, that act both as a pivot and a spring. Also, there are only 3 screws, not 4 of them. They are 3mm thread diameter, I drilled one hole on the back of the Z-carriage. The front one are in the small and already damaged Delrin stock parts. Next step would be to get rid of the whole existing Z plywood. I have a bit of up/down freeplay because the two Z linear bearing are not clamped enough by the arm plywood, and same with the Z ballscrew (well it's no ballscrew in fact). Soon or later, I will head towards a triangular support made of steel rods, pointed towards me. And may be add a third vertical rod and linear bearing in the front of the bed to make the whole platform very steady. Add an overall oven glass on top of the aluminum ? Finally, I added an oven glass on the top of the aluminum sheet. It was cut for me for a so-called discount price because of its size for about 25 (huh).[2013/10/24


3D printer improvements

I really think it improves the setup for two reasons at least : it makes the surface absolutely flat (the aluminum is almost never really flat and moves with temperature) it dampens the temperature raise very homogeneously: the aluminum conducts heats very quickly, and then diffuses upwards in the glass from everywhere

Printing on oven glass or not? Initially, I was expecting to swap between two glass plates in case the parts were hard to remove, but this proved false even when the bed was kept hot (ie. it's easy to pop the object from the glass, even when hot). I added Kapton on the glass, not sure why but I like it. May be I feel that it protects the class against scratches, even though an oven glass is almost indestructible (I dropped it once from about 1m20 on the hard floor with barely a scratch!). I think Kapton also gives a tiny bit of margin to better adjust the Z bed leveling, especially as you'll see the head scratch the Kapton when it's too low... Finally, it improved how the object sticks to the bed. Since the oven glass extremely robust compared to regular glass that I would not want to use, I even used paper clips to hold it in place with pieces of Kapton under the clip jaws. Using four of them forces contact with the aluminum everywhere. This is NOT recommended for regular glass that probably would break (the two material expand quite differently with heat). In any case, I used two pair of pliers to make the paper clip a bit looser/wider. In the first picture in this post you'll notice that I added a dumb plastic clamp to keep the cable close to the printer wall, though I could print a smaller dedicated clip.

One single power supply located under the printer

The single-power supply setup (with the extended feet I had to design)[2013/10/24


3D printer improvements

I bought this power supply from ebay (a 300W 24V 12.5A Switching Power Supply, for $26+28), and then I cowardly tuned it to 19V, as there is a convenient trimpot, and soI could solder wires directly to the power connector of the main board. I was glad to get rid of the old and bulky external power supply, and have everything within the printer. The power supply never had an issue sinceOctober2011. A second output of the power supply powers an arduino pro mini (see the bottom-left case?). It controls the heated bed temperature through a relay. For now it just does bang-bang with a 1 hysteresis, targeting a fixed temperature of 55. There is a dumb off/on switch that goes to the other side but I plan to add some better interface later (eg. 7-digit led temp display + control), or get back to a thermistor and plug the logics to the main printer board so I benefit from Marlin firmware support. Integrate the hot bed electronics to the Ultimaker firmware ? Sincerely, I would not have my hot bed powered by the stock Arduino main board neither the stock power supply. At least buy a bigger power supply, then use a cheap relay (or a huge and costly low-resistance mosfet). And recompile the firmware in order to disable bed PWM (not suited for a relay). I would not power the Ultimaker with anything else than 19V also because I don't want to take any risks, even though some people used 21V (the regulator is said to get really hot). Having separate hotbed electronics and control NEVER was an issue to me. May be one day I will switch to a firmware-controller hot bed, but I would have to recompile it because it will not support the convenient DS1820 temperature sensor I used anyway... Future improvements There is no main switch at all, but I since added a self shutdown circuit (aka suicide), that also switches the hotbed off. May be I will try a safer watchdog with the pro mini to spy on the printer noise or vibration and shut it automatically when idle for some time. My setup also powers 2 serial short strips of leds (2x12V). I sticked them on the vertical walls of the box, and though it makes it like the NASA by night, it is not really the most efficient place. I need to design a printed support and post about it.

The electronics and arduino code that drives the relay

The schematics are straightforward: the DS signal goes to pin 12 (see arduino playground for more on this), a switch is added to pin 11 (to the ground to disable heating the bed), and the relay is driven with a small transistor on pin 10 to avoid asking too much current from the arduino pro mini (why? how? see this detailed post for example). I even could use a single AVR 8 pin chip, not an $10 arduino. For now, temperature is hard-coded to 55, here is the raw source code:
#define DS18S20_ID 0x10 #define DS18B20_ID 0x28 #define PIN_BED_SWITCH 11 // on/off main switch to enable/disable heating the bed #define PIN_RELAY 10 // the relay pin #define BED_TEMP_MIN 54 #define BED_TEMP_MAX 55 // // OneWire Library: // #include <OneWire.h> OneWire ds(12); // the DS18 sensor pin byte dsAddr[8]; long prevMillis= 0; enum { TMP_OK=0, TMP_AVAILABLE=0, TMP_IN_PROGRESS=1, TMP_NOT_FOUND= - 1, TMP_BAD_CHECKSUM=-2, TMP_UNKNOWN_DEVICE= - 3 }; int getTemperature(byte addr[8], float* temp) { *temp= -100; if(addr[0]==0) return TMP_NOT_FOUND; byte i; byte present = 0; byte data[12]; if(prevMillis==0) // start conversion { ds.reset();[2013/10/24


3D printer improvements; // Start conversion ds.write(0x44, 1); // RequestScratchPad // Will wait some time... prevMillis= millis(); return TMP_IN_PROGRESS; } if(millis() < prevMillis + 850) return TMP_IN_PROGRESS; // Issue Read scratchpad command present = ds.reset();; ds.write(0xBE); // ReadScratchPad // Receive 9 bytes for(i=0; i<9; i++) data[i]=; // Calculate temperature value *temp= ( (data[1] << 8) + data[0] )*0.0625; prevMillis= 0; return TMP_AVAILABLE; } int initTemperature(byte addr[8]) { //find a device if(! { Serial.println("No sensor found!"); ds.reset_search(); return TMP_NOT_FOUND; } if(OneWire::crc8( addr, 7) != addr[7]) return TMP_BAD_CHECKSUM; if(addr[0] != DS18S20_ID && addr[0] != DS18B20_ID) return TMP_UNKNOWN_DEVICE; return TMP_OK; } void setup() { Serial.begin(9600); ds.reset_search(); initTemperature(dsAddr); Serial.println("INIT OK"); pinMode(PIN_RELAY, OUTPUT); digitalWrite(PIN_RELAY, LOW); pinMode(PIN_BED_SWITCH, INPUT); digitalWrite(PIN_BED_SWITCH, HIGH); // internal pull - up resistor } float lastTemp=0; void loop() { if(digitalRead(PIN_BED_SWITCH)==LOW) { digitalWrite(PIN_RELAY, LOW); Serial.println("Disabled by switch"); while(digitalRead(PIN_BED_SWITCH)==LOW) { digitalWrite(13, HIGH); delay(100); digitalWrite(13, LOW); delay(1900); } Serial.println("Enabled by switch"); } digitalWrite(13, HIGH); delay(200); float t; int err= getTemperature(dsAddr, &t); if(err<0) { Serial.print("Error #"); Serial.println(err); } else if(err==TMP_AVAILABLE) { Serial.print("Temperature: "); Serial.print(t); if(t<BED_TEMP_MIN) { digitalWrite(13, HIGH); digitalWrite(PIN_RELAY, HIGH); Serial.println(" (heating)"); } else if(t>BED_TEMP_MAX || (t>BED_TEMP_MIN && t - lastTemp>0)) { digitalWrite(13, LOW); digitalWrite(PIN_RELAY, LOW); Serial.println(" (cooling)"); }[2013/10/24


3D printer improvements
else { Serial.println(" (idle)"); } lastTemp= t; delay(650); } }

Feel free to ask for more info, and, yes, you need a heated bed also ; it really changed my life ;)

Posted by Jeremie Francois at 1:37 AM

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Labels: bed, electric, heat, mechanical, replacement

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Review : which software for 3D printers?

A short review of 3D-printing softwares

Example: Cura as a smart front end to show, scale, slice and print Read more Posted by Jeremie Francois at 9:10 PM No comments:

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Labels: general, review, software

Presenting my eBay Ultimaker clone (part 2): the head

An improved hot head that looked like an official V2
You may want to check also the first part. To the credit of my seller, the printer came with a few special improvements from the real machine.To his discredit though, freely using the name Ultimaker is illegal, and I am far from sure that he released these modifications under an open hardware licence , as required by the initial designers of the Ultimaker. As a general rule, consider also that your free support should come from your seller and especially not from the company that got abused in the first place! Read more Posted by Jeremie Francois at 6:55 PM 5 comments:[2013/10/24


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Labels: general, hot end

Bevel the bowden tube ends

I use a very convenient tool to deburr/countersink/bevel the bowden tube ends. I found it by chance and it is very cheap. Now I use it everywhere (it also will deal with aluminium by the way). There are two reasons to use it on bowden tube ends in my opinion : it reduces friction of the filament on the tube square edges it makes the tube softer so that it can be applied with progressive force against the PEEK for example, for a better seal Before buying the tool I used my biggest drills, but it was much harder to do a proper job.

Read more Posted by Jeremie Francois at 9:28 AM 6 comments:

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Labels: bowden tube, mechanical

Monday, October 22, 2012

Printed filament feeder small gear

The small stock delrin gear on the feeder stepper motor got some freeplay with time. I first replaced it with one I found on thingiverse made by Chasmaker. You can download my derivativehere.

Read more Posted by Jeremie Francois at 11:11 AM No comments:

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Labels: feeder, mechanical, replacement[2013/10/24


3D printer improvements

Removable filament feeder : add a plug to the stepper motor cables

Add a plug to the extruder stepper motor cable !

The case slot design let me thought it would be easy to remove the filament feeder for transportation, good idea. But... did they forget that the stepper cables are going through the case with no way to unplug them ? Note that the unusual feeder itself is described here. Read more Posted by Jeremie Francois at 10:41 AM No comments:

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Labels: electric, feeder, motor

Lock the filament feeder in place

When I pushed the filament manually, I had to prevent the feeder from popping out of its attachment slots. I designed thisthingto make my life easier. Interestingly, it is also one quite popular object on thingiverse, so there must be a lot of people annoyed with this attachment (and because of failure with the hobbed bolt). Actually I almost never had to push the filament manually anymore, but this is due to my new and ownfilament feederdesign.

Posted by Jeremie Francois at 10:21 AM

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Labels: addon, feeder

Heat sink on the stepper motors[2013/10/24


3D printer improvements

Clean passive cooling on a stepper motor

Cool down your steppers : active or passing ?

For some time I was developing a new filament feeder, made out of PLA plastic, and finally,after a long print,I stumbled upon a feared issue : the motor gets hotter with work, and since it was over-extruding it got hot to the point it started to melt the pla around its screw mounts... Read more Posted by Jeremie Francois at 10:15 AM 2 comments:

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Labels: addon, heat, motor

Replace the filament feeder big gear

I am not sure that the plywood I received was of top quality, because the wheel teeth started wear out pretty early. Before it was too late,I designed and printed a drop inreplacement. It is really working well, without any wear though I really made its life hard sometimes. You may like also the small gear replacement.

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Labels: feeder, mechanical, replacement

Reduce friction on the rods and bearings

Seethe thing I didto reduced a bit the useless friction that the standard[2013/10/24


3D printer improvements

plywood losanges were applying to the bearing and/or the X/Y rods. This may not be significant, and a hole in the object would make oiling the bearing possible. To do so,you can also use the batman derived object on thingiverse! :D

Posted by Jeremie Francois at 9:26 AM

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Labels: mechanical, replacement

Belt tensionier : the best so far

Tighten the printer belts
Update : before you cut you belts, you probably better try mybanana XY blocks! They replace the ugly wooden block that try to both hold the head rod and to tighten belt (and they fail at both in my opinion). Back to the old post: I tried many ways to better tension my long X/Y belts (the short belts are another fixed issue).All other (PLA) printed belt tensioners I tried just failed miserably after a while because they could not stand the stress in the long term. Or they were bulky and hit the sliding blocks. So the best I found definitely were dumbzip tietensioners! Read more Posted by Jeremie Francois at 9:23 AM No comments:

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Labels: addon, mechanical

Isolate the hot end with Kapton and fight plastic leaks
Simply use kapton on your hot end !
My head came pre-assembled but it had a small leak between the Peek isolation and the aluminium heating block, that appearedat high temperatures.This resulted in oxydized PLA liquid (the brown juice that becomes crusty when cold), and it dropped on my prints, leaving a dirty dark trace in the object. I first wrapped the peek and heating element with aIn any case I see no reason to do otherwise now. paper towel. But I had to change it often, and it becomes so dry that I was fearing it could start burning with the smallest trigger. But the leak finally reduced on its own.

Read more Posted by Jeremie Francois at 9:21 AM No comments:

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Labels: heat, hot end[2013/10/24


3D printer improvements

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Filament plug, hot head and the short bowden tube

Get rid of a plastic plug in an early Ultimaker V2-like hot end
Updated: check my alternateblind rivet nutsetup, it is way more robust. Shortly after Ichanged the small bowden tube between the two plates of my V2-like hot end, I made the mistake to cut it a bit too short. Well, I did not try to find a place that would specify this the length, given that my head was not designed by Ultimaker in the first place -- I think.

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Labels: bowden tube, hot end, issue

Re-drilled the top brass quick connector

My hot end has a quick bowden connector made of brass and directly screwed in the top plate plywood (huh). I recently had my second filament failure, located between the top and bottom plates.Two failures in 6 months still are too often for me, especially with thismetric screw in the plywood (a metallic nut really should be insertedthere)... I found some way to improve a bit though. I drilled the brass quick connector round and a bit wider. It had a hexagonal inner shape which aperture was uselessly smaller than the inner section of the bowden tube.

Read more Posted by Jeremie Francois at 8:40 PM No comments:

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Labels: bowden tube, issue, mechanical

Varnish your printer plywood before it is too late![2013/10/24


3D printer improvements

Paint or varnish your 3D printer plywood first !

Since I could not think of a good color to use, I applied transparent varnish on the raw lasercut plywood. I diluted a bit the first application to get it deeper into the wood. After waiting a bit I applied a thicker layer, and startedassembly before it was fully dry (as I could not wait). In fact, it made the parts stick a bit on each other, which proved to be good for the overall robustness ! Considering other's Ultimakers, I think my varnish protects all the wood parts against dirt and oil, so I warmly recommend this. Even hot melted plastic probably can stick enough on unprotected plywood to damage the surface when you remove it later. And moreover, it must be much harder to do afterwards, so do not rush to assemble yours... make it happy first!

Posted by Jeremie Francois at 8:28 PM

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Labels: addon, general

Presenting my eBay Ultimaker clone (part 1)

The Ultimaker I bought proved to be a (nice) clone !
I bought what was abusively called anUltimakeroneBayon March, 2012. In fact the printer I got was an illegalclone of the "real" Ultimaker, made by aChineseguy and sold oneBay, that he laterrenamed to a bluepainted clone name before he went out of business. Still, there where a few differences with the original printer (mostly the head). So this post about my printer may help re-injected some tips into the open hardware community.Moreover, he does not seem to be selling printer anymore, so I will probably not harm the real and only Ultimaker you should buy ! Seriously, do not come and ask for support from the "good guys" if ever you bought a clone, this is not fair at all. I am far from certain that you would get support with low-cost clones so you would better go with something reliable in the first place. To make it clear: even though the seller proved to be reliable, talkative and he did know his stuff, I suggest you read the relatedultimaker forum discussion.Until then I did not fully realizedthat "open hardware" does not mean you could legally reuse brand names like this !

Read more Posted by Jeremie Francois at 7:51 PM No comments:

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3D printer improvements

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