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.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Test Prints from Ultimaker 3 (and versus Ultimaker 2+)

As time allows I am doing some test prints on my new Ultimaker 3 with various materials.  I am also going to try and do the same print on my Ultimaker 2+.  I did not buy the new printer expecting any great improvement on the old ones but I do want to see the quality and if necessary do some tuning (in any case on either printer if some is needed).  In all cases I am using Cura and the profiles provided there-in at a resolution of 100 microns.  

Ultimaker PLA on the Ultimaker 3

This is as nearly a perfect print as I think is possible using a 400 micron nozzle on an FDM printer (at 100 micron resolution).  I could do better with a 250 micron nozzle but this is pretty good.  Note that I had accidentally printed with a brim which explains the layer of filament up the little river.

Ultimaker PLA on the Ultimaker 2+

Almost as good as the UM3 print but for the print layers being very slightly more visible and a little deformation of the sides of the bridging.  I think that I need to do some belt tightening and make sure everything is tight on the UM2+

"Upgraded" PLA on the Ultimaker 3

When I first started printing I happily purchased my filament from eBay based on price.  When I got my Ultimakers I started to notice the difference between suppliers and decided to standardise on a slightly better material than eBay cheapest.  The filament used here was 20GBP for a kilogram.  More than eBay but less than Ultimaker (35.99GBP for 750g)!  This is another nearly perfect print in my humble opinion.  

Ultimaker CPE on the Ultimaker 3

Nearly as good as the PLA prints but not quite as sharp.  These were done at the profiled temperatures and I wonder if a couple degrees lower might help.  

Ultimaker CPE on the Ultimaker 2+

'Def some issues compared to the Ultimaker 3 print.  This print was done with an older nozzle and it might bear a repeat with a newer nozzle and the same temperature decrease mentioned above.  I think these are issues that can be largely tuned out.

Colorfabb NGEN on the Ultimaker 3

I really like the NGEN portfolio of filaments from Colorfabb.  They print a lot like PLA but are more temperature resistant and have a nice look about them.   The temperature range recommendation is 220 to 240 and this was printed at 230.  I think that I would lower the temperature by 5 degrees for another attempt but this is still pretty good.

"Upgraded" PLA on a freshly tuned Ultimaker 2+

 It is clear from looking at the above prints done by my Ultimaker 2+ that some tuning is needed.  The print below on the right is after said tuning.  The one on the right is from the Ultimaker 3.  They are both pretty close to perfect.  As I stated above, I could improve the quality by using a 250 micron nozzle, and I could also slow the print down, but these are pretty good prints using the stock profile from Cura for PLA.  The tuning that I did consisted of making sure the short belts were tight, lubricating all the axis, and replacing the teflon coupler.  The coupler did not look degraded but I have to think that was the source of most of the improvement.

Colorfabb NGEN on the freshly tuned Ultimaker 2+

The tuned Ultimaker 2+ did a nice job on this print.  On par if not a little better than the Ultimaker 3 print though I would give credit to the temperature reduction.  Mechanically the printers seem pretty much the same when it comes to a single material print so the results are not a surprise nor does Ultimaker advertise an improvement for a single material print.  I am just impressed at how well my well used two year old upgraded printers do compared to a brand new Ultimaker 3!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Final Configuration for UM2 Laser Cutting Upgrade

I have been distracted by some other tasks but I have finally finished the configuration of my laser upgrade for my Ultimaker 2+ 3D Printer.  I don't really have a compelling requirement for a laser cutter though I am going to try do some of my own PCB's to save time over the shipment of tests from China.  I am also, as always, looking forward to playing with the laser!

My "user" requirements for installing the upgrade were two fold:  1st, the kit has to go onto my printer and come off of it quickly and easily as the primary use of the Ultimaker 2 is still as a printer! 2nd, I wanted to be able to use as much of the print area of the Ultimaker 2 as possible for laser cutting.  The rest of this post shows the final result.  There is detail that I am not covering here in previous posts on this topic.

This is the completed upgrade.  The laser that I am using is from J Tech Photonics purchased from RoboSavvy.  The specific laser that I bought was the, you guessed it, most powerful one available, the 3.8w Laser with the 2.5amp driver.  It is important to recognise that a 3.8w diode laser is not going to be competing with more powerful dedicated laser cutters!  But still, way powerful enough for what I need (err, want).  The door is also from J Tech Photonics with some printed hardware that I added.  Looking closely you may question why I mounted it the way that I did.  Measure twice and cut once was not how I did the door.

Here is the laser mounted on the extruder assembly of my printer using the mount that I designed and that is available on Thingiverse.  It slips underneath three of the bolts that tie the extruder together and is both sturdy and easy to get on and off.  At the top of the picture you can see the connections for the fan and for the laser.

The driver for the laser is to the rear of this picture.  It is connected to the following (all but one to the rear):
  1. Power supply
  2. Laser
  3. Laser Cooling Fan
  4. Printer Fan Power (via a voltage divider)
  5. Remote reset button
  6. End-stop Switch on Door for Safety Interlock
I have my printers standing on legs that I designed that provide some room under the printer for a tray and also give a little vibration protection as they are cushioned with a flexifill shock absorber.  In the foreground is the remote reset button for the driver as well as a switch that controls how the fan is connection.  Forward means the fan will work normally and backward means the fan power is being redirected to the driver as input to its PWM sensing logic.

The presence of the safety glass door is detected by an end stop switch that prevents the laser from operating when it is open.  Triggering this end stop with the laser running means that the driver needs to be reset...which is why the reset button is conveniently located where it is now.

I am leaving the glass on the build platform with sheets of MDF on top of the glass.  The little black prints keep the wood platform in place.

Finally, I wanted a way to be able to activate the laser without having the door installed.  I went with this approach as I really did not want a switch that could be forgotten.  I see this as being a little bit easier to remember.

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