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LePaul

Of my 5 printers...my Ultimaker 2+ is my favorite...

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So,... I am just curious as to how you have five 3-D printers when you "don't have a huge toy budget". I could see if you started out with a cheap printer, saved and bought a nicer cheap printer, made upgrades and finally saved enough to buy an Ultimaker. That would make sense to me. But why would you spend your limited resources on cheap printers when you already have not just one, but two Ultimakers?

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Simply because the Ultimaker lacks the print volume my projects require

 

I started with Ultimakers...Ultimaker Original and saved saved saved and bought a reburb Ultimaker 2 from Fabrc8.  I then upgraded that with the 2+ upgrade kit.

 

But I needed to print larger.  I've been asking/begging/suggestion larger print volume since 2016.  

 

So I bought a FT-5 kit ($399)...it prints big but the melamine bed structure is warped.

 

I then bought a $399 CR-10   I have close to a thousand hours on that!

 

Early last year I bought a CR-10S since I needed more larger pieces to print (BB-8)  That was $600-ish

 

And since friends were raving about the $329 Tevo Tornado, I decided to give that a try.

 

Summary...  even if I saved saved saved...i would still lack the print volume needed.

 

 

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I too wanted a bigger print size for some of my projects. My solution was to take my $300 JGAurora and add a thicker aluminum bed support, then I put in 500mm long, 8mm rods for the y-axis with threaded rod extensions through the use of coupling nuts and m8 x 80 hex head bolts (4 each), then re-connected the bed and y-axis motor with a new, longer GT2 belt. I then put a 250 mm x 400 mm x 3 mm piece of Borosilicate Glass on top of the heated bed (after recessing new bevel head leveling bolts into the surface of the heated bed). I super glued aluminum strips to the underside of the glass to frame the build plate as an easy way to keep the glass in place but have it still just lift off. I then loaded new values for the print size followed by a new home offset position and re-flashed the board with the updated software. Now my JGAurora has a build size of 9" x 13.5" x 7.8" and it only cost around $50 for the parts. My next upgrade will be to add a larger hotbed under the glass so the whole print surface will be heated rather than just the center 8" x 8" (approx. cost will be $19).

 

I am playing around with a 3-IN-1 hot end and 3 extruders added to a board with control of 6 steppers to create a full color 3-D printer that I am hoping will have a print size of 480 mm x 480 mm x 350 mm. I am trying to build it in such a way as to be able to set the printer on any surface and have it print directly onto that surface. I hope to be able to print images in tiles by moving the printer on the surface, thus producing prints of any X-Y size on any suitable substrate, in full color. I might even be able to tile in the Z axis by having the print contain support pads for the printer to sit on so another print can be made on top of the first print in those areas that have height greater than the 350 mm capability of the z-axis.

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TH3D (Tim) and I have had some great conversations about those extruder upgrades.  I'd be curious how yours works.

 

I guess the one fun thing about these cheap printers is once you sort out any mechanical issues, it can be fun to tweak, customize and fine tune further.  It's not for everyone....and it can be frustrating, since the Chinese printers lack any level of centralized support like Ultimaker, gMax, etc.  The Facebook groups, YouTube channels and a handful of sites provide a lot of good information on various ways to upgrade, print different filaments, etc.

 

I have a CR-10 that will undergo the upgrade to CR-10S electronics, dual z and changing out the stock hot end with a Micro Swiss all metal one.  My CR-10S has an EZABL auto bed level sensor that works great.  I was put off initially when reading about them, thinking it was more work than worth it.  Then I did it (and documented it on video)...and wow, I love it.

 

The Tevo is a bit of a challenge, Y stepper driver is under powered.  I try to push new people away from this printer but they adore the sub-$400 price.  It requires a good deal of work and modifications to print well.  Toss in no Tevo support, instead relying on Facebook groups and it can be frustrating.  I also need to replace the stepper drivers (already bought a new motherboard)...the ones on my board are soldered on and cause Salmon Skin/artifacts.  The only positive on this machine is the AC powered bed for fast heating and a Titan/E3D clone extruder that works quite well.  The bed surface is terrible and the bed level screws, when turned, simply rotate the screw...no change is made. You have to be mindful of that and have the hex wrench nearby.  

 

The FT-5 has melamine pieces and sadly, the bed is warped, defying all efforts to level the thing.  I put a E3D Titan Aero on it and when I can get the printer close to level, does some of the best prints of all my printers!  The printer vibrates a lot and the result has been several screws and t-nuts coming loose or the screws falling out.  Folger Tech was kind enough to send me a replacement bed made of ACM (aluminum composite material).  I kind of dread taking that printer apart again to install it.  But this time I will make use of either nail polish or the non-permanent Loctite to help keep the t-nuts in place!  I'm debating replacing the MKS 1.4 board with a Duet.

 

And this week, Folger Tech shipped me their latest kit for review, their FT-i3 Mega.  As the name infers, it's a clone of the popular i3 design and a 24v competitor to the CR-10/Tevo Tornado style printers.  It also matches the print volume.  The steppers for the z are located on top, which I find intriguing.  Like most Folger Tech printers, it doesn't include a part cooling fan/setup.  To their credit, the documentation looks really good, so I am looking forward to a few evenings putting that together.

 

 

Edited by LePaul

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Thanks for the ongoing conversation. I think that if you are going to purchase replacement boards for printers you have already, you should consider buying boards that support 6 steppers. I think the 3-IN-1 hot end is going to become a standard in the future when support for drawing and slicing color 3-D models is common. If you add support for those extra two extruders now, installation of the three color hot end will be pretty simple. 

 

I am curious to hear how well the FT-i3 works. I have always thought that the builds with the z-axis stepper motors on top have more sway because of the excessive weight that is so far up. The biggest problem that I see with the moving bed y-axis style of machines for large sizes is the amount of inertia that such a large table has, especially if you slap a glass plate on top. This means that you have to slow the print speed down, and that really delicate models are impossible to print (too much shaking of the model).

 

When you get the ACM bed installed, please post some pictures and evaluation notes... I am always trying to find out what options work best.

 

I have not heard of the EZABL auto leveling add on yet, I will check it out. Does the auto leveling add to print time significantly or only on the first layer? If your print bed is warped, does it level the print to three points on the bed and then print the bottom flat, bridging the low spots, or does it print a warped support layer that adheres to the bed everywhere and establishes a level layer for the print to be constructed upon? Maybe it just warps the bottom layer of the print to conform to the warped bed???

 

I prefer to print on a glass bed. The glass is so level that it is easy to get the print head aligned perfectly with the surface of the glass. To achieve good adhesion, I like to use common glue stick diluted with water and spread very thin on the glass. On prints that are likely to warp, I add a drop of superglue at the corners after the first layer has printed. After the bed has cooled, it all pops off really easily.

 

Have you tried any of the flexible magnetic bed mats? It seems that they would be simple to use and effective, once the metal print surface is installed. The down side being the weight of a metal table over that of an aluminum one.

 

Monday I started a robotics project that should be fun... I am building a robot that retrieves tennis balls. Hopefully, a couple of the students from my robotics club course that I coordinate, will help with the software creation and troubleshooting. It only took an hour to build the first version of the robot using a Lego EV3 kit.

 

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21 hours ago, MrMaint said:

Thanks for the ongoing conversation. I think that if you are going to purchase replacement boards for printers you have already, you should consider buying boards that support 6 steppers. I think the 3-IN-1 hot end is going to become a standard in the future when support for drawing and slicing color 3-D models is common. If you add support for those extra two extruders now, installation of the three color hot end will be pretty simple. 

 

I just watched a review on the Palette + (I think it was George's Gadgets) and those prints came out really amazing.  It's only for 1.75mm filament and he kind of glanced over the installation process.  (I hate it when reviews do that!  Show me the pain and the victories!)  It's an interesting approach to multi material printing.  What impressed me is that is supports PVA and other support materials.  How a 3 in 1 would do remains to be seen.  You seem to be the trailblazer there!

 

Quote

I am curious to hear how well the FT-i3 works. I have always thought that the builds with the z-axis stepper motors on top have more sway because of the excessive weight that is so far up. The biggest problem that I see with the moving bed y-axis style of machines for large sizes is the amount of inertia that such a large table has, especially if you slap a glass plate on top. This means that you have to slow the print speed down, and that really delicate models are impossible to print (too much shaking of the model).

 

I asked John Folger that very questions [high mounted steppers] and he said it was a bit of an ongoing controversy.  

I haven't been a fan of the moving beds for a long time and sort of endure them since, frankly, the printers are so cheap!  There's a lot you can do to reduce the weight, adjust acceleration, jerk and other settings.  I've moved away from glass and use either mirror tile or polypropelene bed surfaces.  (Tiny Machines for the latter)  But I think you understand the issue really well...if your bed is going to move and wobble, adhesion and a good first layer is paramount to success.  

 

Quote

When you get the ACM bed installed, please post some pictures and evaluation notes... I am always trying to find out what options work best.

 

From my background in building aluminum robots (such as my full-size R2-D2), I have a deep love of all things aluminum.  I wanted to make my own bed but I think it would be too heavy.  ACM is basically 1/8 inch (or less from what I can see) sandwiched around some plastic type material.  How well it works as a 3D printer bed remains to be seen...it looks very flat! It's also a very cost effective material for sign shops (it turns out my sign making friend has all kinds of it in stock).  I have also seen some that has a wood/wood looking material in the middle.  

 

Quote

I have not heard of the EZABL auto leveling add on yet, I will check it out. Does the auto leveling add to print time significantly or only on the first layer? If your print bed is warped, does it level the print to three points on the bed and then print the bottom flat, bridging the low spots, or does it print a warped support layer that adheres to the bed everywhere and establishes a level layer for the print to be constructed upon? Maybe it just warps the bottom layer of the print to conform to the warped bed???

 

Here's the link to what I am using:  https://www.th3dstudio.com/product/ezabl-kit-ez-connect-version-cr-10-abl/

 

It's using open source firmware (Marlin) and it is doing a 4 x 4 (16 points) grid with the proximity sensor.  For those of us with imperfect glass or just like the idea of an auto bed leveling device, it works very well.  It many cases people are replacing the bed springs with metal or plastic spacers and use only the sensor.  On the first layer, you can Babystep the first layer, moving Z up or down in great detail for a perfect first layer.  It isn't set it and forget it, every filament seems to work a bit differently, I find I have to raise or lower on different brands.  It's just how it flows.

 

 

Quote

I prefer to print on a glass bed. The glass is so level that it is easy to get the print head aligned perfectly with the surface of the glass. To achieve good adhesion, I like to use common glue stick diluted with water and spread very thin on the glass. On prints that are likely to warp, I add a drop of superglue at the corners after the first layer has printed. After the bed has cooled, it all pops off really easily.

 

I followed the advice given here and elsewhere, diluted wood glue with water, at a 10:1 ratio.  I keep it in a squeeze bottle and for quite some time, I would paint a thin layer of it on a clean piece of glass, heat and it would work great.  However on my moving bed printers, it sometimes wasn't strong enough to hold down a large, 4 day print.  (My BB-8 pieces)  PEI sheets worked pretty good, removing them was a nightmare!

 

Quote

Have you tried any of the flexible magnetic bed mats? It seems that they would be simple to use and effective, once the metal print surface is installed. The down side being the weight of a metal table over that of an aluminum one.

 

I would really like to, the pricing isn't too crazy.  I think BuildTak has a system they sell.  Josef Prusa has really been a leader in this area of development.

 

Quote

Monday I started a robotics project that should be fun... I am building a robot that retrieves tennis balls. Hopefully, a couple of the students from my robotics club course that I coordinate, will help with the software creation and troubleshooting. It only took an hour to build the first version of the robot using a Lego EV3 kit.

 

 

Lego robotics look fun.  Probably a whole lot cheaper than the $10k I have wrapped up in my R2  🙂  (Details...  https://www.facebook.com/PJsR2D2 )

 

 

Edited by LePaul

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