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sjensen

Looking to buy but have a few questions...

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Hi everyone,

I've been looking to buy a printer the last few weeks and have almost settled on an Ultimaker(or maybe a an UP??) I thought I'd post some of the questions that have come to mind as I've been researching. I'm a 3d artist and do a lot of 3d sculpture so I'd be looking to get a nice print and clean it up.

1. Does any of the software that you can use with the Ultimaker automatically create support structures if needed?? It looks like Cura is the collection of software that would be the easiest for me to use so it would be cool if this did it. Alternatively, are there methods to build the supports in your 3d package in so they do their job but are easy to remove?

2.I'm planning on printing my models with 1-2mm push in on them so I can cover them with wax and use that to sculpt the very fine detail. Wax melts at around 60-85°C and I think abs and pvc melt at a little over 100°C so I think I should be ok. Does this sound like a good idea to you? Not sure how well the wax would stick?

3. Does anyone know if a heated bed version is due out soon? I'm in no rush to buy so I could hold off if that were the case(not a big issue for me tho)

4. I haven't been able to find good info on how the machine is calibrated. Is it all done with the software? Or is it a combination of software and tweaking the hardware? Any links?

5.Finally, given that I'm mostly interested in just printing(as opposed to tweaking), will the Ultimaker give me better results than the UP printer? I've seen prints from the Ultimaker that far exceed what the UP printer is capable of but I'm not sure of the level of expertise that went into them. Would they be doable for your average user.

I'm pretty close to buying but these were a few things I wanted to get straight before I do.

Thanks for your help!

Sam

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1. Yes, the software will create it for you (a lot of stuff can be printed without support though). The main slicers right now would be Netfabb, Skeinforge (which cura uses) and slic3r, all of these can generate support automatically. And yes, you can create your own as well if you feel like.

2. PLA might be iffy at that temperature as it starts going a wee bit soft at those kinds of temperatures. ABS might be a better choice there.

3. As far as I know they're working on it. No idea on timeframe though.

4. It's a bit of both really. But I'd say the majority is in the actual hardware. It's pretty easy to get good results, getting those last bits of perfection out takes a bit of fiddling in some cases. It's not an exact science so it's hard to say "this is what you have to do". I'd say the main things is to get belt tension correct, that seems to be the thing that impacts print quality the most.

5. This one I can't help you on as I have no experience with the UP! printer at all.

Hopefully someone else will chime in and fill in the blanks. But I'll leave you with this; I doubt you'll be sorry if you go with the Ultimaker, it's a pretty damn good printer.

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I do not think there is any <$3000 3D printer that does not need tweaking.

The problems are (in my book)

1. Materials are not equal.... So some materials like to print at 210 degrees - other at 230. Some are very even - some are not.

2. Self assembly - well the Ultimaker is only as good as you can get it. It is not easy to get all the items aligned perfectly.

And then on to Ultimaker weaknesses:

1. Hot End - is lightweight - but Matrial Extruder is far away - so material retention (spool back) has a lack before no material comes out. That gives more stringing than other solutions - but potentially can print faster since Hot End is more light weight.

2. Material Extruder with bowden cable - well is a very weak point. Some people have 0 problems - other have a lot. I cant really say anything positive about the current Material Extruder.

3. Temperature sensor - they seem to be all over the place. Some people measure 30 deg. difference - others - like mine is 16 degrees out. So when I set it at 225 - I am printing at 209. - That is a bugger for generic material profiles.

4. The bed levelling - well - you need to use a screwdriver from the top - just the weight of the screwdriver is enough to offset the level to much. I like the Replicators method better

5. The stop switches - are all actuated by wood ends. On X/Y it is not so much of an issue - but on the Z top switch it is. It is not easy to get the Ultimaker switch to stop the same place every time. There are small variations.

6. Maintenance - get some locktite and apply that to screws once you know things have settled (unscrew a bit - and locktite to screw and screw back in) - all the movements has a tendency to loosen bolts...

7. Maintenance of hot-end fx if your material plugs - you need to take most of the assembly apart (fan first, then bottom plate- then heat it up so you can remove the plug - and then "reverse")

8. Design - in general there is a lack of "error handling" in the ultimaker. There is no error if stepper motors are to heavy loaded (like when the extruder pushes to hard), no error if the fans are not spinning etc - the only "error handling" i have found is the temperature sensor - that stops the printer if it gets >268 degrees or below 0. (which is a bugger if you want to print at 260 degrees - and your temperature sensor is measuring -16 degrees lower than it should. That means max REAL print temperature is 252 degrees.

But once you learn all the features it is a great machine - if you need detailed prints, high speed and 8x8x8 build size. But fiddle free it is not....

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8. Design - in general there is a lack of "error handling" in the ultimaker. There is no error if stepper motors are to heavy loaded (like when the extruder pushes to hard), no error if the fans are not spinning etc - the only "error handling" i have found is the temperature sensor - that stops the printer if it gets >268 degrees or below 0. (which is a bugger if you want to print at 260 degrees - and your temperature sensor is measuring -16 degrees lower than it should. That means max REAL print temperature is 252 degrees.

Thats with all reprap machines, its not just the UM. The problem is that the stepper motors dont give any feedback. Onliest way to fix it is to use stepper drivers that actually can sense the load. There is a function in Marlin to calibrate the temperature. Normally you would print with PLA, which means you will never reach the 260C. And if you go to 300C and beyond, the PEEK melts...

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5.Finally, given that I'm mostly interested in just printing(as opposed to tweaking), will the Ultimaker give me better results than the UP printer? I've seen prints from the Ultimaker that far exceed what the UP printer is capable of but I'm not sure of the level of expertise that went into them. Would they be doable for your average user.

I have never used/seen the UP! myself. But from what I can gather from the internet.

 

  • [*:ytntm1hg]The UP! uses closed source software. You are stuck with features they make, and capabilities they add. Ultimaker is build around free and OpenSource software. Anyone can adapt this and make new versions. This has advantages and disadvantages.

    [*:ytntm1hg]Most prints you see from the UP! are done in ABS. While prints on the Ultimaker are done in PLA. PLA is easier to print at thinner layers, which gives the ultra quality you see. Some of the best prints I've seen on Thingiverse come from Ultimaker or UP! printers.

    [*:ytntm1hg]The Ultimaker requires assembly, the UP! comes pre-assembled.

    [*:ytntm1hg]The Ultimaker has a bigger build area. 200x200mm vs 150x150mm.

    [*:ytntm1hg]The Ultimaker requires a bit of maintenance from time to time, like cleanup, oil, some new tape on the bed. The UP! is advertised as requiring none.

    [*:ytntm1hg]The Ultimaker will print faster.

    [*:ytntm1hg]The Ultimaker is made by dutch people. And dutch people are just awesome.

 

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(which is a bugger if you want to print at 260 degrees - and your temperature sensor is measuring -16 degrees lower than it should. That means max REAL print temperature is 252 degrees.
New firmwares have the limit set on 275. And you can configure any temperature you want as max:

http://daid.eu/~daid/marlin_build/

See "Extruder maximum temperature"

You can also set an offset or gain to the temperature sensor there.

Really, there are solutions to your problems (plus of OpenSource). But finding them using them can be a bit hard sometimes (min of OpenSource)

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8. Design - in general there is a lack of "error handling" in the ultimaker. There is no error if stepper motors are to heavy loaded (like when the extruder pushes to hard), no error if the fans are not spinning etc - the only "error handling" i have found is the temperature sensor - that stops the printer if it gets >268 degrees or below 0. (which is a bugger if you want to print at 260 degrees - and your temperature sensor is measuring -16 degrees lower than it should. That means max REAL print temperature is 252 degrees.

Thats with all reprap machines, its not just the UM. The problem is that the stepper motors dont give any feedback. Onliest way to fix it is to use stepper drivers that actually can sense the load. There is a function in Marlin to calibrate the temperature. Normally you would print with PLA, which means you will never reach the 260C. And if you go to 300C and beyond, the PEEK melts...

I know it is a RepRap "issue" but the current design could have made use of fan sensors. :) And I know there are solutions.

And I know about BuildMarlin - and I know a lot of the solutions. But why have they not "migrated" down into the shipping versions of the Ultimaker? It is the same problems that still bugs down the Ultimaker. But I guess - printing all the replacement parts :-) teaches you how you machine reacts.

And Firmware should not be the place where you calibrate a k probe. That should be available as a simple command that is stored in eeprom. And there should be an "agreed" point of where to measure the "base temperature" from. So fx. take the screw out of the alu block and pop your calibration probe in there (that would be my suggestion)

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I know it is a RepRap "issue" but the current design could have made use of fan sensors. :) And I know there are solutions.

Its easy speaking. However, just saying is one thing, actually implementing it is another. You are working with sensors that arent really accurate and you need to device a way to get the info out without losing too many pins.

 

And I know about BuildMarlin - and I know a lot of the solutions. But why have they not "migrated" down into the shipping versions of the Ultimaker? It is the same problems that still bugs down the Ultimaker.

The build-me-marlin is actually part of the newest UM firmware. Thats how I know that this function is actually available. However, I didnt had the time to actually put it in repg.

 

And Firmware should not be the place where you calibrate a k probe. That should be available as a simple command that is stored in eeprom. And there should be an "agreed" point of where to measure the "base temperature" from. So fx. take the screw out of the alu block and pop your calibration probe in there (that would be my suggestion)

Well, what that command does is simple: It heats up to 150C while measuring, and based on that calculates the PID values. Those values can be stored in eeprom.

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I know it is a RepRap "issue" but the current design could have made use of fan sensors. :) And I know there are solutions.

Its easy speaking. However, just saying is one thing, actually implementing it is another. You are working with sensors that arent really accurate and you need to device a way to get the info out without losing too many pins.

 

And I know about BuildMarlin - and I know a lot of the solutions. But why have they not "migrated" down into the shipping versions of the Ultimaker? It is the same problems that still bugs down the Ultimaker.

The build-me-marlin is actually part of the newest UM firmware. Thats how I know that this function is actually available. However, I didnt had the time to actually put it in repg.

 

And Firmware should not be the place where you calibrate a k probe. That should be available as a simple command that is stored in eeprom. And there should be an "agreed" point of where to measure the "base temperature" from. So fx. take the screw out of the alu block and pop your calibration probe in there (that would be my suggestion)

Well, what that command does is simple: It heats up to 150C while measuring, and based on that calculates the PID values. Those values can be stored in eeprom.

thanks - is there any documentation for the calibration procedure?

2nd .. i am an electronics engineer... I know MSP430 and PIC - not so much Arduino - but not many items are fast - so a lot of things could be offloaded via I2C to a separate controller. Would it add cost - yes. But Id rather spend another $20 on the electronics and have "adult supervision" :- than have broken components in my printer.

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thanks - is there any documentation for the calibration procedure?
For temperature, don't worry about it for now. Most temperature sensors are working fine, and there are a few cases where people have issues. Unless you have serious problems, or want to tinker with the machine, you shouldn't be needing more electrical knowledge and calibration knowledge then knowing how to plug in some cables.

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thanks - is there any documentation for the calibration procedure?
For temperature, don't worry about it for now. Most temperature sensors are working fine, and there are a few cases where people have issues. Unless you have serious problems, or want to tinker with the machine, you shouldn't be needing more electrical knowledge and calibration knowledge then knowing how to plug in some cables.

I do not agree. It would actually help a lot if temperature measurement was consistent between printers. That would make it a lot easier to make Material Profiles that would more or less work across printers. Right now reading the forum - many say their sensors are "off" just like mine was. If they came out of Ultimaker "pre-calibrated" it would help. Then you could build a database of Ultimachine and other suppliers materials and colors - and get a "reasonable" first print. So when the instructions says print at 200 degrees - you do not have to increase or decrease it before it "works"

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I think (not 100% sure) that most problem with the temperature readings are not because of bad sensors, but because of bad assembly. It's quite possible to damage the insulation of the thermocouple and then you can get a 2nd thermocouple point. (with the screw holding everything in the heater block damage can be done) This will make your readings wrong. Thermocouples, combined with the AD597, should give an accurate reading. Unless you have faulty equipment, the reading should be right.

If you want to know if the sensor is working right, there is always the boiling water and frozen water. This should be within 1C of 0C and 100C

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