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.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Ultimaker 2 Improvements

My Ultimaker 2 is a really nice printer.  It should be as it cost a fortune!  Over twice that of my Wanhao Duplicator 4S, which is a Chinese knock-off of the Makerbot Replicator which carries a more premium price tag (though not that of the Ultimaker 2).

The almost exorbitant cost of the Ultimaker 2 comes with the following advantages (in no particular order):

  • Out of the box it looks and feels like a high quality, precision, piece of hardware.  It is really sharp.  My first thought in seeing the design and build quality was to compare it to an Apple product.  It is also quite small (70% the width of my Duplicator).
  • Also out of the box...it simply works.  Loaded a model into Cura, sliced it to an SD card, and printed it quite nicely.  This was not my experience with the Duplicator.   I have gone on to do significant tuning using Simplify3D as my slicer but for many users this would be over kill.
  • Possibly most importantly there is the quality and precision of the prints the Ultimaker 2 produces.  Resolution of up to 0.06mm with the precision to back that up.
  • Finally, and the reason for this post, the open design of the Ultimaker 2 is also attractive to me as it allows for easy after market mods to be made available and implemented.  
The remainder of this post discusses the mods that I have done to and around my Ultimaker 2 in order of their utility (from lowest to highest).

Vibration Reducing Feet

I am not sure they even work but they give me room for the below storage tray so I am happy with them in any case.

Under Printer Storage

Not my best of designs as I was in a hurry!  But it works.  Printed with layer height of .4mm from an .8mm nozzle ... fast!

Filament Reel Holder

I found the reel on the back cumbersome for easy and fast material changes and didn't particularily feel that it feeds as well as it could from there either.  Found this design on Thingiverse and did a remix of it to change the way spools are secured on the turn table.  I like the result a lot.

Top Enclosure and Door

There are people that profess to be able to print ABS on the Ultimaker 2 without an enclosure but I am not one of them.  What ever the reason my solution was upon me when I found the below enclosure from a company in Germany:

Improved Fan Mount/Duct

In my experience the right cooling solution is essential for printing ABS reliably and with good quality.  On my Wanhao Duplicator 4S that meant this ducted fan solution which made this kind of difference in printing.  On my Ultimaker 2 I had to implement a two part solution...one that I am still evolving.  Here is an image of the current state and a link to a blog entry about this solution.  NOTE that my parasitic duct only fits the upgraded nozzle discussed below (as it is longer).

 Earlier blog post about this cooling solution

Custom Heater Block with Interchangeable Nozzles

The first three improvements that I talk about above are really just nice to haves.  They are certainly not game changers but they do make life easier.

The next two made it possible for me to print ABS on my Ultimaker 2 with the same level of reliability and precision as I am used to on my Wanhao Duplicator 4S (an enclosed printer with a customized cooling solution).  For me these were essential if I was to print ABS but they may not be for everyone.

This last improvement, however, is the best of them all.  Of course it is something that you can get by without...but...once you have it you will wonder how!

With the custom heater block and interchangeable nozzle solution from 3DSolex I can switch between a specialty filament that requires a steel nozzle, to a tiny detailed print that needs an equally tiny nozzle, to a draft print that can take advantage of a huge nozzle.  In between I can have 0.4mm nozzles for PLA and one for ABS...or maybe even one for each colour that I print!  Changing them takes less than a minute.  It takes longer to change the material than the nozzle though they become past of the same process.

There is more about this mod in these two previous posts..FIRST ONE and SECOND ONE.  

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