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korneel

Guidance wanted for replacement parts for UM2

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this is a message to and for the Ultimaker Team, which I hope you'll take some time to review and answer :)

let me start off with a very clear statement;

While responses have been slow to my support tickets, I have been following up myself with phone calls and have always gotten correct, friendly and very helpful responses. Unfortunately responses to mails have been very slow or non-existent, but that could have been caused by my own meddling by calling as well.

In short, I feel the support staff is helping me where they can and are friendly, helpful and in general very nice. I like to get a response withing 2 minutes but I understand that's not possible.

Something did pop up that lead me to this post and this set of questions.

first of all, please recognize your target audience. while i understand you might consider 3d printers for the technical savvy, and for people with some existing knowledge of 3d printing, I think you might have become a victim to your own success. I believe that, in general, when people look at 3d printers, they see the Ultimaker 2 in the same line as the Makerbot's of this world. A printer that is ready for the technical consumer. I for one, while having a technical background, did not expect the amount of tinkering I've been doing. I don't mind it, but looking at the printers I would expect the Ultimaker Original to require tinkering, and the Ultimaker 2 a much more consumer ready product. my experiences so far have not been underwriting that. error on my part for which i take full responsibility, but please consider that i might not be the only one. i think a lot of your UM2 customers (just check the forums) that bought a UM2, opted to buy the UM2 versus the UM-O because they wanted something that would be ready to go and require little intervention. once again, perhaps error n our part, but this is a mindset that you might need to address.

I also found out that apparently running 30 hour prints is heavy usage. I think with the large buildspace of the UM2, a 30 hour print is not heavy but should be considered normal. I have had serious extrusion issues and have logged a case for that. in the end, it turned out replacing the complete hot end fixed it, since the Teflon part completely fused into the metal isolator part. something that could have been avoided would it have been replaced sooner. something I would have done happily, if I knew what to look for.

This lead me to some questions that I think would help me and most of your UM2 customers;

1)can you give us some estimates on when to replace parts. I now understand I have to change the Teflon Isolator every now and then, but guidance for that would have been nice. do i also need to replace the hot-end every X hours? when do i need to perform the Atomic Cleaning? every time i change materials? or not when i go ABS to ABS? it would be nice to have directions like ; every 500 hours you have to replace the teflon isolator. every 2000 hours you have to replace the hot-end etc. etc.

2)can you post some simple youtube videos showing the replacement of the parts. I had to go all through github source files to find out that i needed 1mm of space between the teflon isolator and the metal isolator. a link on your parts page would have prevented that search and that mistake.

3)why are the replacement parts so expensive? if a teflon isolator has to be replaced every 300 hours or so, why is the thing 16 euros excluding shipping? looking at the amount of UM2s already shipped, you should be drowning in these by now because of the sheer amount of parts people need.. same goes for the hot end and the metal isolator. they are very expensive for parts easily fitting in an envelope.

please don't see these questions as a complaint. I love my UM2 but i am desperate for some guidance on when to replace and why to replace parts. obviously this is needed because there have been some statements about parts being worn.

I will be at the ultievening this monday, bringing my printer, but this is not an option for most of your customers..

just my 2 cents.

 

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Regarding makerbots - everyone who I've talked to and has one and also a UM (I've met maybe 20 people who have both) hate the makerbot compared to the UM. They say the quality is much worse and it keeps breaking and currently doesn't work at all but their UM is working great. 100% of the people who have both have told me this. Of course someone will now probably post below saying their makerbot is better and works fine, lol. Also I am told that their customer support is completely backed up for months now.

I totally agree with your perception about people buying UMO versus UM2 and makerbot. Part of the problem is the phrase "3D printing" which people and the press make it sound as simple as 2D printing. It should be called "additive manufacturing". 3D printing is just as difficult and complicated as using a milling machine yet my neighbors are much more scared of getting started on buying a milling machine.

Isolator

UM has improved the teflon isolator so that it will last longer and they are working on an all metal head I believe. Unfortunately that might be the UM3.

Atomic Method (aka cold pull)

I now do this on EVERY filament change. In fact I don't use the menu to change filament anymore. At the end of every print I set the temp to 90C and push the filament in a bit while cooling (unless I know for sure I'm printing again with the same color) and when it gets to 90C I pull the filament out the back. After it is almost to the feeder I let it cool another 20 seconds then pull fast and hard so a piece doesn't break off in the feeder. I then cut off the tip of the filament (two cuts at different angle to make a point) before storing the filament.

When I change colors I no longer have to wait to get all the old plastic out.

 

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Thanks GR5!

i absolutely agree on the fact that the makerbot is a pretty bad piece of equipment.. so i was not trying to compare the 2 machines quality wise, i am absolutely convinced the UM2 is way better quality wise. I was comparing them to how they are being presented. you can walk into a consumer store and buy a makerbot.. it's marketed as a consumer device. people get the same impression from the UM2.. but i believe we agree there :)

guidelines are simply needed..

as far as the cold pull, could you explain this a little better? this seems like a very good idea!

K.

 

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Korneel, I agree with most of your mail, but the sparepart cost of a makerbot are a trilion times higher ....

We should al be very happy that the UM2 is easy to maintain by ourself. I do think UM should indeed be more clear on the skills needed to keep the machine running over time...

I have not tried it myself, and don't plan to but some stuff like the teflon parts are available for cheap on aliexpress.com/ ... I have no idea of the quality .....

 

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I'm still waiting for the prices to go down on the teflon insulators myself. I feel it should be considered a consumable item, meant to be replaced once it starts to become worn. I mean, the part is THE fastest wearing part on the machine from what I've seen first hand.

If I buy 1 insulator right now, it would cost me $63.81 with shipping. .........yeah.......

I'd be happy with a bag full of the old ones at $3.00 a piece so I can always have a fresh insulator in the machine.

That's just my take on it though... Maybe it will be different when fbrc8 starts stocking parts (if they do)

 

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Cold pull is very simple. Heat head to 180C or warmer and push in the PLA until a little is coming out the nozzle. Then let it cool to 90C (130C for ABS). Then pull hard back at the feeder. Maybe 10kg of force. If you need more force it's too cold. If you need less than 1KG force it was too hot. Here are 4 successive cold pulls - the first one was slightly too warm but good enough:

HotPushColdPull.JPG

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I found a new method that seems to work very good.

I heat the nozzle up to about 250, insert Nylon (I have 645 but I'm sure other nylon would work too). Push the nylon through until I'm sure the head is nice and full. Then I let cool down to 30~50 C or so. Then I heat BACK up pulling on the filament while it's heating. I think it has something to do with the filament cooling down almost completely and when heating back up, the surface of the filament inside the nozzle heats up before the core, so the core retains its shape and wedges gunk out really well. Combined with the slipperiness of the nylon, it makes for a nice 1-time clean pull.

 

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let me address these points one by one..

also, I'm not trying to start a discussion between forum members, merely looking for answers to my questions regarding the wear and tear of the machine. so please don't feel i'm trying to disprove any points here :)

 

 

Korneel, I agree with most of your mail, but the sparepart cost of a makerbot are a trilion times higher ....

We should al be very happy that the UM2 is easy to maintain by ourself. I do think UM should indeed be more clear on the skills needed to keep the machine running over time...

I have not tried it myself, and don't plan to but some stuff like the teflon parts are available for cheap on aliexpress.com/ ... I have no idea of the quality .....

 

I agree with your point that different machines have way higher prices but we have to make a fair comparison. I'm quite lucky living in NL, close to Geldermalsen and Utrecht, and I can go to these ultievenings. I can probably give the Ultimaker team 15 euros and get a Teflon part.. people in different countries don't have this option and they pay 63 dollars.. see below... also, for the Makerbot (which is a PoS.. ) you buy a complete new printhead.. so you buy the complete hotend (70 euros UM2 price), you buy a complete auto-level kit with electronics (15 euros?) and you buy the complete enclosure and cooling assembly (30 euros?) so we are talking realistically 115 to 120 euros versus 175 USD.. now the price difference isn't that high anymore..

I am very happy that the UM2 is so easy to maintain. i just don't know which parts to maintain when.. I had my Teflon part melt into the hot end.. so i needed to replace the complete hot-end.. if i had known to replace it sooner, that would have saved me a pretty penny. it would have also saved me a boatload of filament that i now wasted because the Teflon part was worn..

a pessimistic person would say that not having guidance on a 15 euro piece has just cost me well over 150 euros..

 

I'm still waiting for the prices to go down on the teflon insulators myself. I feel it should be considered a consumable item, meant to be replaced once it starts to become worn. I mean, the part is THE fastest wearing part on the machine from what I've seen first hand.

If I buy 1 insulator right now, it would cost me $63.81 with shipping. .........yeah.......

I'd be happy with a bag full of the old ones at $3.00 a piece so I can always have a fresh insulator in the machine.

That's just my take on it though... Maybe it will be different when fbrc8 starts stocking parts (if they do)

 

agreed. I'm just trying to find out which pieces are consumables, which ones are not. the ones that are consumables need to have prices alike. if the telfon parts need to replaced every 500 hours, i would expect packages of 5 pieces for a good price since 500 hours isn't that much in all honesty.. with the build volume the UM2 offers that can be reached in just a couple of prints..

 

Cold pull is very simple. Heat head to 180C or warmer and push in the PLA until a little is coming out the nozzle. Then let it cool to 90C (130C for ABS). Then pull hard back at the feeder. Maybe 10kg of force. If you need more force it's too cold. If you need less than 1KG force it was too hot. Here are 4 successive cold pulls - the first one was slightly too warm but good enough:

HotPushColdPull.JPG

 

thank you! this is great guidance! i was using the Atomic method but it just isn't that clear unfortunately.. I think i should start a Wiki that houses all these user tips.

 

I found a new method that seems to work very good.

I heat the nozzle up to about 250, insert Nylon (I have 645 but I'm sure other nylon would work too). Push the nylon through until I'm sure the head is nice and full. Then I let cool down to 30~50 C or so. Then I heat BACK up pulling on the filament while it's heating. I think it has something to do with the filament cooling down almost completely and when heating back up, the surface of the filament inside the nozzle heats up before the core, so the core retains its shape and wedges gunk out really well. Combined with the slipperiness of the nylon, it makes for a nice 1-time clean pull.

 

tried this, went perfect! i first did the PLA atomic method with a white piece of PLA, just to see if there was burned residue in the hot-end. when it kept coming out clean, i tried this method.. took all of the white PLA residu straight out!

 

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EDIT on the nylon-

I used some nylon that was exposed to humidity for a while, and it didn't work that great. It did work, just not as good as the fresh nylon. Since Nylon absorbs moisture very well, I think the moisture turned to steam in the hot end and made the filament rather "aerated" , It kept breaking when I pulled. So make sure the Nylon isn't full of moisture for best results,

Also, My Nylon measures in at 3mm. Pretty much the limit for the UM2. If your insulator is worn, it may be very difficult to use Nylon (possibly other materials as well) in a cold pull. I had to debur one of my UM2's insulators to get the cold pull to work, so keep an eye out for that as well.

I would also recommend not doing the cold pull with the head moved to the middle of the build. Keep it in one of the corners so if you have to pull up with force, you're not bending your XY rods.

 

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so today i attended the ultievening, good evening, good attendance, fantastic explanation by Dirk and Marit, who knew those rods could come loose? very happy with both of them, great additions to the Ultimaker team!

i asked my replacement guidance question and apparently there are many factors that influence the time between replacements.. there also seems to be a guidance but this was not given at that time..

me and Dirk did discuss an option that I believe is very viable and should only require little change.

in the current firmware for the UM2, there is a tracker that keeps track of the number of hours the machine is on, numbers of hours it's printing, and meters of filament it has processed.

it should be relatively easy to add a tracker for amount of hours printer at temperature X.

using those details, there should be an easy way to give a partial guidance to when to replace the Teflon piece.. apparently printing at 210 degrees would make it last "forever" but at 260 it would not last very long..

so why not expand the tracker with the amount of hours printer at temperature X and a nice tracker that says when it might be a good idea to replace your teflon piece?

after the damage i've had, i'd rather spend the 15 euros (please offer like a 5 pack of those things) replacing it too soon, then replacing the complete head because i replaced it too late...

 

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3D printing is not there yet for the mass consumer market and will not be there yet for quite some time. Making a product easy to use is hard. Take a look at standard 2D printers. I still have problems with the fuckers, despite working with them for about a decade. They have been around for much longer and they are still a complete nightmare to work with.

As for the teflon piece; We simply don't know. We have some sort of guesstimate, but with some people it breaks down before that, with others after it. Although I agree that it's relatively simple to add such a counter in the code, it's by no means quick. We've quite outgrown the 'We hack a feature in something and release it as is without any testing'. This means that every single feature needs to be tested over and over again

 

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Hi Nallath;

fully understood;

there are a couple of points i want to address though;

while I understand 3d printing is not at a fully mature level, I also want to say that the UM2 is very much being marketed as "Fully assembled. Imagine it, Make it, Easy. The Ultimaker 2 is open source and designed for the best user experience in 3D printing".

I think, and also listening to the feedback yesterday evening, it would be a very good idea to send out that guesstimate. I'm a very happy customer, I've always had great customer service and i've experienced Ultimaker to be a very open and addressable company.

I think the questions that I'm raising, specifically around wear and tear guidance would greatly reduce calls towards your (i believe quite overwhelmed) support department.

i understand the counter might be delayed because of checks you need to do before releasing it, i'm happy to test and i think it would make a great addition.

 

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I agree with you Nallath, the 3D printer situation reminds me of the first LaserJet being delivered to our office (circa early 80's) the whole office stopped work to look at it, then the first job was to make a cable to get it to work which took hours.

and by the way I worked for Hewlett Packard at the time ! so you would thing we could sort it quickly

 

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I think this a an excellent and thoughtful post by korneel, and I agree with just about everything he said.

I've been working with a few different 3D printers over the past several years (mostly a Makergear M2 and my Ultimaker 2, which I received this past summer), and I can certainly appreciate how much easier it has been to operate and troubleshoot my Ultimaker 2 than it was with the M2, which I had been using for two years and experienced SO many problems with. It was so nice to see that the U2 actually comes with its own software, a manual, and a well established online forum with a large user base who are always so helpful (none of which the M2 had). I enjoy troubleshooting computer/electronic stuff, so I've been able to find most of the information I need here on the Ultimaker forum, and I haven't had to contact Ultimaker support directly yet (not counting a few replies I've received from illuminarti here on this forum!). That said, anyone who hasn't had experience using another machine and support options won't necessarily be able to appreciate those differences.

Even after several years of working with FDM printers, troubleshooting my printing problems can still be a daunting task because of all the different variables that can affect print quality. This forum can be a mixed blessing, because although I've gleaned quite a bit of helpful information here, I've also read about some things that worry me about my U2 (possibly unnecessarily) like this whole teflon insulator thing, which puts another wrinkle into my troubleshooting efforts that I had never considered before, because this information isn't readily available (as far as I know). I just happened to stumble upon this concern while reading various posts on this forum. I've gradually started to experience some under-extrusion problems with my U2 which I think I've solved by increasing my flow rate to 120%, but I'm not sure if that's an indicator that something in the printer needs to be replaced, like the teflon insulator, perhaps? Or, even though I regularly perform the "cold pull" trick with my filament (which I would have never known about if I hadn't visited this forum often), maybe my hot end is still partially clogged?

So, I'm basically agreeing with korneel that, compared to most other FDM 3D printer manufacturers, Ultimaker's product and support is top notch, but there is still a lot of room for improvement. The manual that's included with the printer is a really nice touch, but the maintenance section is severely lacking. My recommendation is to either make the manual more comprehensive in this regard, or to include a URL which is constantly updated with comprehensive information (without users having to continuously search and wade through this forum).

I'm still very confused about this whole teflon insulator issue. When should I be concerned that it needs to be replaced? As part of my regular maintenance, should I be taking apart the hot end assembly from time to time to check for specific problems with the teflon insulator, the hot end, the spring, the fans, etc.? If so, what should I be looking for?

If the teflon part is as much a "consumable" as some of the people on this forum are claiming, shouldn't the U2 ship with at least one or two spares? (After all, the manual itself suggests printing at 260C for at least 10 minutes to fix a clogged nozzle which, according to this thread, will damage the teflon insulator if done repeatedly.)

 

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i feel your pain :) hence the topic..

most likely your teflon insulator needs replacement. when you do a hot pull, is there a bit of a "bubble" on the tip? if so, the teflon insulator needs replacement..

open the hot end and you can see how it looks.. you can download the installation manaual and compare pictures to the insulator you have...

 

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I have to say I agree with Korneel. I plan on ordering the Hot end pack with an extra PTFE coupler, but I really have no idea what other parts I should get as well. Should I get an extra bowden tube, belts, or any other parts as well? I live in Canada so obviously I wouldn't want to have a lot of downtime if I have to get parts from the Netherlands. I wouldn't worry as much if I could get them from the US, which hopefully is planned for the future since mine was assembled in the US.

Luckily I only plan on printing with PLA for the time being so at least that gives me some piece of mind about wear and tear on the coupler.

 

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3)why are the replacement parts so expensive? if a teflon isolator has to be replaced every 300 hours or so, why is the thing 16 euros excluding shipping? looking at the amount of UM2s already shipped, you should be drowning in these by now because of the sheer amount of parts people need.. same goes for the hot end and the metal isolator. they are very expensive for parts easily fitting in an envelope.

 

In 300 hours you run trough about 15 rolls of PLA. Which is about 472.50 euros (ex tax). So that part adds about 3% running costs.

But, that's not the reality. The reality is that we're also learning. The market is moving so fast that everyone is having a hard time keeping up. (See Makerbot for example. They thought they had everything running smoother then they really have. Causing more problems for them now with their smart extruder)

Ideally the machine requires little to no maintenance. But for the UM2 I would say the following parts need maintenance replacement, in that order:

* The PTFE is the first to go as everyone has noticed. The latest pieces are a bit better then the first ones shipping. But be sure that we're not 100% happy about this yet.

* The nozzle is the next bit. While it can last forever, it can clogged or get damaged.

* The PT100 sensor. Wait? What? Yes. This one can break if you are trying to replace the nozzle. As the wires are a bit thin this breaks easier then the heater. The nozzle+heaterblock as once piece might haven't been the best design for maintenance.

* The "hotend isolator", that round thingy with the holes in it. If you screw the nozzle in wrong, then you can ruin the threads of this thing and it will leak like no tomorrow. You might be able to fix this with teflon tape, but that's something I never tested (did work for my Ultimaker Original which also leaked like no tomorrow)

All the other parts, I've never seen those break under normal use. But some people have reported that their belts wear out after lots and lots of use. However, I don't think those fail instantly, they just get worse, so you have time to get replacements when you notice they start to wear too much.

(The heated bed is one of the most often replaced parts right now. But that's due to production issues, which our electronics guy is working on to solve. Once the bed works it never needs to be replaced)

Now, I have one of the older UM Originals at home. It's still running the stock hotend (first version), first bowden tube, none of the belts, bearings, or anything has been replaced in 3 years, except for some upgrades. So some machines simply run forever, while others need maintenance. We to not know why yet.

 

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Wow Great topic.

Thanks Daid for laying out the things to look for.

I am very pleased with the way the concerns, problems, complaints are being handled here. I think we all have the same goal. To improve reliability and print quality and not place blame. I think the big thing is that everyone would like an easy place to go that could give us an idea as to what may be potential weakness areas etc... for troubleshooting.

This guide is SO HELPFUL:

http://support.3dverkstan.se/article/23-a-visual-ultimaker-troubleshooting-guide#underextrusion

Perhaps a list with photos of some of the additional issues and potential resolutions in an easy to find location. I find that I stumble upon some of the problems while looking through the forums. I know it is dangerous to point out potential flaws and fixes, but I think everyone would appreciate knowing all of the possibilities and places to look.

Underextrusion seems to be the biggest issue that I see come up. What steps or tips do the advanced printers here use to remedy the situation.

Tip replacement

Teflon insulator replacement

Atomic method

Extruder modifications (what printable versions are currently out there)

Filament reel holders and placements

Filament quality

Maybe these are all collectively located somewhere and I just haven't found it yet. So far I find bits of advice from various topics.

Thanks to everyone here for all of the help.

 

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Great info,

but what about videos for how to replace parts,

ESPECIALLY THOSE SENSITIVE WIRES that you've mentioned? :)

I happen to have a UM2 hot end kit on the way...

(Maybe the kit comes with instructions?

Not that it would be an excuse for not posting any and all maintenance guidance you can think of,

as soon as you can produce it,

if not sooner...)

BTW - On your Software page, how about posting occasional estimates for when the next version update will be ready?

Thanks for you efforts!

 

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UPDATING after my successful if risky hot end change on my UM2.

I will upload photos and more details later, but it's important to me to notify anyone else who is about to attempt this, of a piece of info I feel crummy for having had to stumble upon :\

The "set screw" that goes into the nozzle block invades slightly into both the horizontal holes in the block, and so is keeping in place both sensor and heater. Pulling them out should only be attempted after the set screw is removed.

This info seems key if the sensor and/or heating cartridge really are fragile (as nallath said), and it was never mentioned to me, even tho I've gotten two email replies from UM support since I told them I've ordered the replacement parts and am about to try replacing... :(

Maybe that's why it's named "set screw"?

(For me, the screw was stuck, and I didn't focus effort on removing it because I didn't know its dual function. Not sure how, but the heater cartridge still just slid out with zero effort and thankfully the sensor came out without damage after 2 minutes of gentle pulling and rocking with pliers (holding on to parts that seemed less fragile than say the wire connection). Only when installing the new nozzle I saw the small bumps the screw makes inside the holes, noticing them because they wouldn't let me push the heater and sensor all the way inside.)

 

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