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  1. #1
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    3D Printer Knowlege and advice for upgrading

    Hi,

    I got into 3D printing fairly early on, I got a RapMan from bits from bytes. The printer is getting a bit old now, its discontinued along with the software. I have heard/hope that current generation printers are much more reliable and fail on prints much less often. So I am considering upgrading and buying a new printer in order to savetime and frustration trying to tune up my old printer to just about get prints working.

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    What printers do you guys have and what printers would you recommend?

    Roughly speaking I'm looking for 50-100micron layer hight, ABS printing. Build size minimum of 150mm cube (but ideally bigger). Also I live in the UK if that makes any difference.

    I've done a bit of research, but there is such a vast selection and massive range of prices that actually finding which ones I might want out of 100s is a bit daunting. Form my research so far these seam to be cropping up as.
    • MakerGear M2
    • FlashForge Creator Pro
    • UltiMaker 2
    • Lulzbot
    • Zortrax M200
    • Spiderbot
    • XYZprinting Da Vinci 2.0 - price looks good but have read prints are bad
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  2. #2

    Re: 3D Printer Knowlege and advice for upgrading

    First: The technology hasn't REALLY changed. You still melt plastic, and squirt it out a nozzle, hopefully at a correct flow rate at a correct position.
    The fact that nobody's making that particular model anymore isn't, in itself, a real problem. It'll still do the same thing it did yesterday.

    Now, that being said -- fused deposit manufacturing is unlikely to survive long term as a 3D printing technology.
    I'm still using a Printrbot Junior (plywood, 100x100 mm build board, PLA only.) However, it works for the kinds of prototype bits and bobs I make. For "real" things, I go to Shapeways (using selective laser sintering of nylon powder) or mill it out of aluminum.

    In the research I've made, I've come to the conclusion that DLP-based resin-based printers are likely the next big thing. There are some resin-based printers that use lasers (Form 1, for example) which have bigger build area but run slower than DLP. Give it a year, and DLP will be mainstream (it's already quite available, although the existing offerings have some teething problems.)

    So: That's my advice. Stay with what you have for as long as you can, and then go with a DLP/resin based solution.

    Btw: What kind of "print failures" do you have? For me, it's adhesion to the build platform; once I clean the nozzle and calibrate the Z and wipe the blue tape with alcohol, mine prints just fine, and when it's going to fail, it will going to fail early, so I can check it for the first minute to make sure, and then leave it.

  3. #3

    Re: 3D Printer Knowlege and advice for upgrading

    I have a Formlab resin based printer. In general, I would not recommend this type of printer for creating any final robot parts - at least not yet. While they have a new "tough" resin that I have not tried yet, I can say from experience that all of the previous resins will warp over time. It's great for rapid prototyping of parts that will be sent to Shapeways or milled out of a better material. It's really bad for final parts that you will be using for any amount of time.

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    Re: 3D Printer Knowlege and advice for upgrading

    Super-duper linky found via birdman's recommendation of 3dhubs for local prints: https://www.3dhubs.com/best-3d-printer-guide

    DLP/laser cured resin printers have been around for a while, but mostly in the form of big and expensive commercial printers because of patents and resin costs. While it is an awesome technology, I'm not so sure it will be quite so popular as FDM because filling the print area with resin gets really expensive. There was a university research printer 10+ years ago that used syringes of quick cure epoxy instead of plastic filament to print, but again really expensive consumables and limited continuous print capacity (had to pause while swapping syringes).

    I hope reliable granule extruders are the next widely used development since it would mean that many more commonly available materials (virgin plastic pellets, recycled plastic shred, InstaMorph, sugar, chocolate, wax, etc.) could be used with existing printers (even if only making your own filament for existing extruders) instead of buying new machines with expensive specialty resins. One of the many things I still have not gotten around to doing is an attempt to build a cheap granule extruder for printing with granulated sugar and/or baker's wax for making molds. Have both wood and carbide-tipped masonry auger bits in 0.25", but not sure I have anything on hand to use as the housing/chamber. Seeing as I have a big spool of solder and bigger spool of crap 20~22AWG solid wire, I might try making a chamber by wrapping multiple layers of bare copper wire around a form then soldering it into a fairly solid block of copper, tin, and a smidgen of silver (1~2 layers of longitudinal strips with 'hook'-like bends on both ends to solidly grip outer layers and mounts, then one or two helical layers along entire length for radial strength). Which brings to mind several awesome metal-based FDM technologies that are used instead of casting where it is not feasible to make a mold or using a material not suited to casting; often still have to be machined for finishing, but still less wasted time, end mills, and material than milling from a solid block.
    Please pardon the pedantry... and the profanity... and the convoluted speech pattern...
    "You have failed me, Brain!"
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  5. #5

    Re: 3D Printer Knowlege and advice for upgrading

    If you don't believe in cured resin, the the other technology is sintering (SLS.)
    This is what Shapeways uses for their high-quality low-cost nylon prints, and it is used in industry for metals, too.
    With the right setup, you can sinter whatever you want (powdered sugar?) if you're willing to clean up after it ;-)
    I don't know of any realible, low-cost sintering solutions yet, mainly because of the materials handling in spreading the powder evenly.

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    Re: 3D Printer Knowlege and advice for upgrading

    Quote Originally Posted by jwatte View Post
    With the right setup, you can sinter whatever you want (powdered sugar?) if you're willing to clean up after it ;-)
    Indeed. The folks at Evil Mad Scientist built a 3D printer for sugar using a hot air nozzle (think it was named candyfab). SLS is a nice technology, but it requires lasers more powerful than pointers and powders of very uniform size. Lasers with enough output to melt plastic tend to be rather expensive/dangerous and powdered materials can be much more expensive (and messy and/or dangerous) than commonly available pellets.

    Quote Originally Posted by jwatte View Post
    I don't know of any realible, low-cost sintering solutions yet, mainly because of the materials handling in spreading the powder evenly.
    If the powder/slurry is sufficiently low viscosity, then you might be able to use an electrostatic sprayer system to just add a new coat to the object and/or build tray. While they were originally developed for more uniform pesticide application, they have been used for uniform distribution of powder-coat/bake-on paints and 'spray on tans' for several years.
    Please pardon the pedantry... and the profanity... and the convoluted speech pattern...
    "You have failed me, Brain!"
    [git][mech][hack]
    gives free advice only on public threads

  7. #7
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    Re: 3D Printer Knowlege and advice for upgrading

    Most of my print failures are bed adhesion, either at the beginning, or later warping, which the print head then drives through and rips off the print!!!

    The other issue is the software was very basic before being discontinued, so features like changing settings whiles printing dont exist. Automatic compensation for flowrate and speed dosent exist. So I have to manually generate the settings for every temperature and speed combination manually! Which really makes a difference for larger prints as the warping varys with flow rate. So having to guess the right setting is also annoying. I do have a heated bed, but its not linked to the controller as I added it afterwards manually, so single temperature for entire build.

    I have just thought, that maybe its the controller that I could swap out. Getting a reprap controller with the better software on PC might help with controlling I would need see if it supports my printer.

    I do own a laser cutter and have done some SLS research, there was a lot of buzz around 2012/2013 but it seams to have been given up on. So no easy SLS machines to duplicate and experimenting would take too much time for me.

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    Re: 3D Printer Knowlege and advice for upgrading

    If it is just four stepper motors, a heating element, and temperature sensor then it is almost guaranteed that you could find a newer controller + motor drivers + extruder/bed controller to interface with it. It might require a bit of rewiring and maybe beefier motor drivers (NEMA23 steppers?), but it looks like it is pretty much the same as every other printer: a frame with at least three bipolar stepper motors for positioning, another motor for the extruder, and a couple resistive heating elements for extruder and heated bed. The printer properties (build volume, steps per mm, etc.) should be configurable in software.


    If you are trying to run NEMA23 motors with cheap 'pololu'/allegro stepper motor controllers, then add lots of capacitance to the power lines near the motor drivers or you will kill them with over-voltage conditions (braking/regen). Tried using the pololu boards with surplus NEMA23 and pancake stepper motors without spec sheets that wound up being rated 3~5A each; killed two or three boards very quickly because I had stupidly disconnected the local power rail from the main rail that had all the big capacitors on it.
    Please pardon the pedantry... and the profanity... and the convoluted speech pattern...
    "You have failed me, Brain!"
    [git][mech][hack]
    gives free advice only on public threads

  9. #9

    Re: 3D Printer Knowlege and advice for upgrading

    Another useful thing to add is a bi-directional TVS with a stand-off slightly higher than the supply voltage.
    Add it across the motor power outputs (not input power supply) and you'll have much more robust drivers.

  10. #10
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    Re: 3D Printer Knowlege and advice for upgrading

    On further investigation. I think building a heated chamber is probably the worth a try before buying a new printer.

    This example http://reprap.org/wiki/Heated_Build_Chamber uses the same printer as mine and demonstrates the results.

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