Evolution of a Blog

This blog has evolved as I have as a maker. It starts at the beginning of my journey where I began to re-tread my tires in the useful lore of micro electronics and the open-source software that can drive them. While building solutions around micro-electronics are still an occasional topic my more recent focus has been on the 3D Printing side of making.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Intrigued by Specialty Filament Materials - Part 1

Since I started 3D printing I have been intrigued by some of the specialty materials that are available for prints.  You can get filament that looks like stone, or wood, or metal.   You can also get filament that is reinforced with Carbon Fiber which is what I decided that I needed to be able to print with.   Not sure why I think this but I do.

I knew that printing with a carbon fiber reinforced filament was going to be hard on my nozzle so I had to consider how I was going to deal with this.  The normal brass nozzle was just not going to be practical as erosion from even one print will have widened the nozzle!  I have upgraded nozzles on my Wanhao Duplicator 4S but really wanted to be able to print the specialty materials on my Ultimaker 2.

The above led me to shop around for an upgrade that would allow me to easily switch nozzles on the Ultimaker 2.  What I found was 3dSolex:

They state a 10 second change butI think that is the Olympic Gold Medal timing.  I can do it in less than a minute which is still pretty great!  It really is pretty cool though installation is not for the faint of heart.

The upgrade consists of a new heater block into which the interchangeable nozzles fit.  Installing this new heater block requires that you disassemble the hot end of your Ultimaker 2 and then that you extract the heating element and temperature sensor from the old heater block.  This is where it got interesting for me.   The heater came out pretty easily as part of it protruded outside of the heater block.   The temperature sensor, however, had been mounted in the old block such that there was no way to grab it to be able to get it out of the block.

Had I known the challenge that I was going to face I would still have done the upgrade but I would have bought a new temperature sensor at the same time as the nozzle upgrade.  In fact, you can get one with the nozzle upgrade!   There are also cheap clones available on eBay though I am not sure how well they work.  The lesson here, if you are considering doing this upgrade, is to take a look at your existing heater block and see if you are going to be able to extract the current temperature sensor.   If it looks problematic order a new sensor (or do not order the nozzle upgrade)!

Installing the new heater block was pretty straight forward.   There are excellent instructions on the 3DSolex website.   Follow them!   

Running the new temperature sensor control lead was actually the most challenging part of the operation.  I did not want to take the whole wiring harness apart so I used the wire from the old temperature sensor to fish the new temperature sensor through the wiring harness,  Not necessarily easy but it worked well!

Two more recommendations in regards to this upgrade.    Print the torque wrench found at this link:

It really takes the uncertainty out of how much to tighten the nozzles.  Finally, when using this wrench, you will need to have the nozzle heated to remove one that has been used.  You should also heat the nozzle and re-tighten once you mount a new one.

In my next post I will talk about actually printing using ColorFabb' XT-CF20 filament.

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