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My Ultimaker is seriously flawed.

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I'm feeling pretty dissatisfied with my purchase of the ultimaker. After reading these forums, and seeing peoples comments about it initially it seems like an excellent product. However having assembled it and then run into no end of problems it seems like i'm not at all alone. I've been waiting 10 days for ultimaker support to get back to me, and have tried pretty much everything I come across on the forums and google groups in order to get something to print, or at least - to finish printing and have some modicum of quality.

When I got the printer, we had it up and running in about 5 hours - I realised it was a kit build so this is fine, everything went together well even though the instructions are rather terrible (eg: the part may be black, possibly white, you may not have it at all... if you do have it then do this *ambiguous instructions with poor photo*).

Once we had it printing, it worked amazing for about 3 hours. Tightening the heck out of the belts got nice circles eventually and we were able to calibrate .the x/y axes for their differences (as we would with any CNC machine we have). We would expect this with any machine we build or purchase (and we do have a few CNC machines).

Then, we started to get the extruder drive stripping away material and then free wheeling in the grove it made - no problem, tighten the material down until its flatting it off as it drives it. This then puts extra pressure on the bowden tube - and caused our first plug as the . From there on, we haven't had a single decent print.

What we've tried:

* Machining the end of the brass rod down, and drilling the end of the tube as suggested in the wiki so as to get a better seal.

* Printing at higher temperatures (220c).

* Printing at lower temperatures (190c).

* Printing at every temperature in between (in 2c steps).

* Cutting the end off the tube time and time again - tightening it hard, tightening it barely finger tight. (with the long M3 thumb screws).

* Varying the extrusion rate (by changing the step count in the ulticontroller) as it prints

* Cleaning the plastic clip's metal "teeth".

* Replacing the whole head assembly, including tube (lasted about 1hr).

* Replacing the whole bolt assembly on the extruder. (We bought a full set of spares of the extruder system to be able to go dual head later.)

* Printing an alternative clamp designed by a user (8 tries later, we still dont have one)

* Using different material.

* Re-measuring the material and reslicing,... over and over and over.

* Slotting the tube and putting a 1/4" E-Clip into the slot (we got about 5hrs of printing out of this, however the quality is terrible) - retrying all steps above with the eclip.

* Printed from 10mm/s to 150mm/s. Most testing around 75mm/s which seems relatively safe when compared to other CNC equipment we have.

Ultimaker support blamed it on poor quality PLA when I called them, among other things - I received the PLA from them, and I know it's not from the bad batch because they told me it had an issue and delayed my shipment 12 days as they switched the colours over. The tolerances on this plastic are pretty bad (in my opinion), it varies from 3.72 to 3.18mm - the translucent green is even worse.

Support also suggested the wood may have been damaged during assembly, so there are pictures attached to show this is not the case. Other pictures attached to show the various parts/issues.

Now, I'm utterly out of ideas. This product should not be sold with an issue that is plaguing so many users, looking at the forums and groups it seems as though pretty much everyone is having these issues. For the same price as the ultimaker cost delivered, we could have had a pre-build makerbot inventor delivered - had a heated bed and dual extruders (if not the speed - but what use is speed if you cant print!)

I'm really hoping that someone can give me some options we haven't tried here, which don't require printing. I'm really thinking something needs to be done with the telfon tube, it's teflon - no wonder the clamps are slipping on it!

Very frustrated at the moment after having spent around 120 hours trying to fix this printer.

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I have to admit that the Eclip took a huge amount more force than the standard clamp ever did. The part it was printing had a huge amount of fill with no gaps to allow pressure buildup to escape. This meant the varying tolerances of the material eventually overpressured it.

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Then, we started to get the extruder drive stripping away material and then free wheeling in the grove it made - no problem, tighten the material down until its flatting it off as it drives it. This then puts extra pressure on the bowden tube - and caused our first plug as the . From there on, we haven't had a single decent print.

That's where you started to go wrong. I made the same mistake (even after months, and people calling me an "expert" and everything).

You had a plug starting, right at that point. Your bowden tube has moved up a bit, a plug starts forming, and then you need more force to push PLA trough it.

 

What we've tried:

* Machining the end of the brass rod down, and drilling the end of the tube as suggested in the wiki so as to get a better seal.

Machinging the brass? Where does it say that and who added it? It's a bad suggestion IMHO. Drilling the end of the tube will make it worse, as it makes it easier to form plugs.

 

* Cutting the end off the tube time and time again - tightening it hard, tightening it barely finger tight. (with the long M3 thumb screws).
When the tube is too tight, it compresses at the end, making it harder to filament to get trought, and making it easier for a plug to push the tube up.

 

* Cleaning the plastic clip's metal "teeth".

* Replacing the whole head assembly, including tube (lasted about 1hr).

The white clip? Did you replace this clip? IMHO, it's the source of most troubles, it's not gripping enough.

 

* Printed from 10mm/s to 150mm/s. Most testing around 75mm/s which seems relatively safe when compared to other CNC equipment we have.
Stick to 50mm/s until you have everything in working order. I still print at 50mm/s to get the best quality (but I have play in my linear bearings)

Print at 230C until you are sure that everything works, ignore the people that say you should lower the temperature, that will only make things worse. A lower temperature will put more pressure on the tube, same for higher speeds.

 

Ultimaker support blamed it on poor quality PLA when I called them, among other things - I received the PLA from them, and I know it's not from the bad batch because they told me it had an issue and delayed my shipment 12 days as they switched the colours over. The tolerances on this plastic are pretty bad (in my opinion), it varies from 3.72 to 3.18mm - the translucent green is even worse.
3.72? That's quite thick for 3mm filament that should be between 2.9 and 3.0. Variations of more then 0.1mm won't work with the current design (they are working on an upgrade to fix this)

 

Support also suggested the wood may have been damaged during assembly, so there are pictures attached to show this is not the case. Other pictures attached to show the various parts/issues.
To bad the pictures are not viewable for me unless I buy a larger monitor.

 

Now, I'm utterly out of ideas. This product should not be sold with an issue that is plaguing so many users, looking at the forums and groups it seems as though pretty much everyone is having these issues.
It's the nr1 issue, I won't deny that. But if it was plaguing everyone, then I wouldn't have time to reply to any of them. (and I didn't have a problem until I added dual extrusion, which I solved pretty quick)

 

For the same price as the ultimaker cost delivered, we could have had a pre-build makerbot inventor delivered - had a heated bed and dual extruders (if not the speed - but what use is speed if you cant print!)
Sorry, but the replicators are also not without problems, even pre-assembled. The price I cannot argue about, but it largely depends on where you live. Shipping a replicator from the US to Europe is not cheap, shipping an Ultimaker kit the other way around is also not cheap.

 

I'm really hoping that someone can give me some options we haven't tried here, which don't require printing. I'm really thinking something needs to be done with the telfon tube, it's teflon - no wonder the clamps are slipping on it!
It's PFTA, a form of teflon. So yes, it's slippery, that's the idea. Filament needs to slide trough it.

But, most likely, you are having plugs. Caused by the bowden tube not staying in place. I'm seeing something strange on one of your photos, where you look straight into the PEEK part on the brass. The brass tube end should be level with the ridge of the PEEK. Could be an optical illusion.

See:

Bowden_plug.gif

The tube should make a straight connection. And be kept firmly in place. I'm using 2 white clips on my tube to keep everything in place.

One of the problems is the white clip, first off, it's too close to the hot area, so it can get soft, causing everything to fail. You can put it on top of the printer head if you move around some stuff. (The unreleased beta hotend kit has it on top instead of the bottom). Secondly, some white clips seem to have bad teeth, where the metal is pushed too far into the plastic.

(The 2 people doing Ultimaker support are trying their best, but they also don't know everything)

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I would take Daid's advice under consideration, especially when he's talking about lowering the speed and raising the temperature. Get it printing well first, then start playing with speed/temp.

I ran into similar issues as you. I tried my own solution (PFA tube 4mm ID 6mm OD) and it landed its own set of problems. Eventually I got a replacement tube from Ultimaker Support and my problems went away.

Ultimaker blaming it on PLA: Well, from your own measurements it sounds like they got a bad batch of PLA. I'm not sure if they will replace that (I wasted most of my original spool and none was replaced). Easiest way to test the theory is to buy some local PLA in your area, one that meets tolerances.

I don't think there are any problem-free kits out there, even pre-assembled ones. If you want an easy turn-key solution that is hassle free, those printers do exist. They have five digit price tags and their material costs are higher. You get what you pay for! :D

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Daid, you are a star :) Thanks for the in depth response.

 

Then, we started to get the extruder drive stripping away material and then free wheeling in the grove it made - no problem, tighten the material down until its flatting it off as it drives it. This then puts extra pressure on the bowden tube - and caused our first plug as the . From there on, we haven't had a single decent print.

That's where you started to go wrong. I made the same mistake (even after months, and people calling me an "expert" and everything).

You had a plug starting, right at that point. Your bowden tube has moved up a bit, a plug starts forming, and then you need more force to push PLA trough it.

 

Very interesting, in this case with constant extrusion we're seeing a plug form in the first layer or two...

 

 

What we've tried:

* Machining the end of the brass rod down, and drilling the end of the tube as suggested in the wiki so as to get a better seal.

Machinging the brass? Where does it say that and who added it? It's a bad suggestion IMHO. Drilling the end of the tube will make it worse, as it makes it easier to form plugs.

 

On this page:

http://wiki.ultimaker.com/Jamming#Hack_ ... nt_jamming

The way we did the tube makes this a very tight fit/hopefully seal and allows the tube to move up about 1.5mm before popping off completely.

 

* Cutting the end off the tube time and time again - tightening it hard, tightening it barely finger tight. (with the long M3 thumb screws).
When the tube is too tight, it compresses at the end, making it harder to filament to get trought, and making it easier for a plug to push the tube up.

 

I suspected we might be seeing some concertina action there and slackening off the pressure did seem to help (from using a tool to tighten the thumb screws to just getting it finger tight.) I'll keep the light pressure on from now on.

 

* Cleaning the plastic clip's metal "teeth".

* Replacing the whole head assembly, including tube (lasted about 1hr).

The white clip? Did you replace this clip? IMHO, it's the source of most troubles, it's not gripping enough.

I agree, you can see the gouges in the tube showing its just sliding along the surface removing a small amount of tube surface in the process. I dont have a replacement clip, and ultimaker support still have not told me a part number or where i can expect to source one from. I looked through all the drawers which hold similar such parts at Masters (a new hardware warehouse chain here) but didnt come up with anything - they were my best bet for something local - hence going for the eclip instead.

 

* Printed from 10mm/s to 150mm/s. Most testing around 75mm/s which seems relatively safe when compared to other CNC equipment we have.
Stick to 50mm/s until you have everything in working order. I still print at 50mm/s to get the best quality (but I have play in my linear bearings)

Print at 230C until you are sure that everything works, ignore the people that say you should lower the temperature, that will only make things worse. A lower temperature will put more pressure on the tube, same for higher speeds.

I must admit, our first tests were up at 220C (which the sticker on the PLA says not to exceed) however we had some pitting in the skin and overhanging/angled areas looked really terrible where the fan couldnt cool it fast enough. The threads on the bowden tube clamp on thingiverse also came out terribly at the higher temperatures as they became very "spongey" from not cooling down. I'll try going back to the higher temps and go at 50mm/s for further testing.

 

Ultimaker support blamed it on poor quality PLA when I called them, among other things - I received the PLA from them, and I know it's not from the bad batch because they told me it had an issue and delayed my shipment 12 days as they switched the colours over. The tolerances on this plastic are pretty bad (in my opinion), it varies from 3.72 to 3.18mm - the translucent green is even worse.
3.72? That's quite thick for 3mm filament that should be between 2.9 and 3.0. Variations of more then 0.1mm won't work with the current design (they are working on an upgrade to fix this)

Sorry that was a typo - it was meant to be 2.72 :) I'm seeing variations on both spools of +/- 0.3-0.4mm within a 30cm area which makes it very difficult to know what to put into Cura. I have some more PLA and ABS hopefully arriving from an Australian supplier today or tomorrow. They were shipped almost 2 weeks ago, but Australia is a big place and we're in Perth (most isolated capital city in the world.)

 

To bad the pictures are not viewable for me unless I buy a larger monitor.

Hmm, i see them just fine even through a small remote desktop window using Opera, it even gives me a scroll bar :)

 

 

For the same price as the ultimaker cost delivered, we could have had a pre-build makerbot inventor delivered - had a heated bed and dual extruders (if not the speed - but what use is speed if you cant print!)
Sorry, but the replicators are also not without problems, even pre-assembled. The price I cannot argue about, but it largely depends on where you live. Shipping a replicator from the US to Europe is not cheap, shipping an Ultimaker kit the other way around is also not cheap.

Unfortunately I'm in Australia and have to pay large shipping fees for everything :)

 

But, most likely, you are having plugs. Caused by the bowden tube not staying in place. I'm seeing something strange on one of your photos, where you look straight into the PEEK part on the brass. The brass tube end should be level with the ridge of the PEEK. Could be an optical illusion.

 

It's not an optical illusion, it's the machining mentioned earlier as the wiki article suggested.

 

The tube should make a straight connection. And be kept firmly in place. I'm using 2 white clips on my tube to keep everything in place.

One of the problems is the white clip, first off, it's too close to the hot area, so it can get soft, causing everything to fail. You can put it on top of the printer head if you move around some stuff. (The unreleased beta hotend kit has it on top instead of the bottom). Secondly, some white clips seem to have bad teeth, where the metal is pushed too far into the plastic.

 

I suspect i have one of the bad white clips then. Where did you get your second one from? Considering we plan to print ABS as our main material I can only imagine our issues are going to get worse if we use a white clip rather than an e-clip.

Ultimaker should hire you Daid, you are the most helpful person on these forums!

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I ran into similar issues as you. I tried my own solution (PFA tube 4mm ID 6mm OD) and it landed its own set of problems. Eventually I got a replacement tube from Ultimaker Support and my problems went away.

 

Considering I can't even get a part number out of them, I doubt I'll get a replacement part from them. It's not listed on their store so i'm not sure where even get one.

 

Ultimaker blaming it on PLA: Well, from your own measurements it sounds like they got a bad batch of PLA. I'm not sure if they will replace that (I wasted most of my original spool and none was replaced). Easiest way to test the theory is to buy some local PLA in your area, one that meets tolerances.

 

I'm hoping to get some from BilbyCNC in the next few days.

 

I don't think there are any problem-free kits out there, even pre-assembled ones. If you want an easy turn-key solution that is hassle free, those printers do exist. They have five digit price tags and their material costs are higher. You get what you pay for! :D

Well, this is for a business so we can print prototypes and small volume parts. With our chargeout rates and the amount of hours we've spent on it so far we're into 5 figure costs already (if we consider the time spent on this and not doing consulting as cost).

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I sourced my white clips from Ultimaker. (indirectly) I used 4 of them on my machine, as I have dual extrusion and placed clips on the top and bottom plates.

I don't think machining the brass like suggested is an improvement, because it increases the contact area between the brass and the tube. Which means more temperature gets to the tube, and the tube gets soft when it gets hot.

The bowden tube is listed on the UM store, but you need to use the search function. But it doesn't have part numbers.

That indeed is bad PLA, 2.7-3.0 is quite a bit of variation, even if you would manage to get it to extrude right, it will create uneven prints (it will most likely jam at the extruder before you get to that point)

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Ok so now I have two Eclips on the tube, one at the upper wood piece, one on the lower. Hopefully this will provide some redundancy. The new plastic came in from BilbyCNC and the first lot i grabbed out varies from 2.98 to 3.01 along its length, and its very circular. It has a totally different feel to the stuff that came from Ultimaker. The PLA from ultimaker was an elliptical shape, and therefore very difficult to measure - I thought this was normal.

I've got the extruder drive with just enough pressure to extrude I believe, so we'll see if it slips up.

This bowden tube is starting to become a bit short i feel, so I believe if it slips again i'll have to throw it out and go back to my spare.

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These new photos are all narrower for Daid :)

All of these prints are at 215C, 0.1mm layers, 0.1mm base, double height skin, 50mm/s, travel speed 200mm/s - in Cura

The first print is a 3 hole test that was posted on the forum.

I also tried this:

http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:22263

. These settings are with 0 retraction and the top parts of the pieces really go to crap, they dont seem to have enough density or something. Quite a few prints I'll need to do have similar features, so this is fairly critical to me if anyone has some ideas.

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The PLA from ultimaker was an elliptical shape, and therefore very difficult to measure - I thought this was normal.
Nope, that's not normal.

I see your results are improving. :D great. Now, on to get those nipples to print correctly.

It's not impossible to print something that small, or even smaller. It's just that you haven't dialled in your settings as you want them yet.

Example of what is possible:

http://daid.eu/~daid/IMG_20120418 ... .small.jpg

First, retraction. Put it on 4.5mm at 50mm/s. This will help a lot with the strings. Next, the temperature, I know I said use 230C. And with 230C you are no longer getting jams I assume. It's time to lower this then. Try 220C first, if that works, try 210C.

Also, the "minimal layer time" and "minimal feedrate" settings, you might need to tweak these depending on your temperature. IMHO the defaults in Cura are not really correct yet and could use an update. The minimal layer time causes the printer to slow down, up to the point where it hits the minimal feedrate. However, it still goes quite slow at the minimal feedrate, causing layers below it to meld due to the heat from the nozzle.

The hole-calibration test piece also shows some signs of over-extruding, this could cause your minor slipping you see.

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Thanks for the link futurejames, I can't see that in any of the categories! I wonder what other useful parts are in the store but not showing up :)

Via the cheapest postage option for just 1 tube: Grand Total Excl. Tax €28.50 I might have to find somewhere to source these locally, as even at crazy australian prices I might be able to get it cheaper :)

Daid, Yes i'm starting to get better results for the print which is heading back towards what I had initially.

I'll hook a PC up to the ultimaker and run the Z axis calibration test again as the filament tolerances are really awesome on this stuff from BilbyCNC. I find it interesting that it appears to be over extruding yet it cant print the fine parts (we're working on a redesign of the part to try to bring it within the envelope of the printer).

I'm not too fussed about retraction but i'll try the settings you mention.

I might load some different coloured filament in the printer to give better contrast on the blue tape. It's hard enough taking photos of tiny parts with a macro lenses depth of field hand held without it all blending in :)

What are your thoughts on initial layer size?

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I apologise in advance for the number of posts that follow... with the limit of 3 attachments per post this is the best I can do :)

Each set of pictures shows the square in focus, the circle in focus, and from the side to show the layers.

Attached - print at 220 Celcius, 50mm/s print, 4.5mm retraction at 50mm/s. I also changed the minimum speed to 25mm/s (up from 2mm/s). Double skin is off, 0.1mm layers, 0.1mm initial layer, 0.8mm wall, 200mm/s jumps.

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I always have a thick (0.3mm) initial layer. This makes it easier to remove the objects from the bed. I think your start Z is slightly to low, as the first layers seem squished. But those prints are looking very nice. Are you happier now with your machine? :)

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Daid, I just want to say thanks for all the info and support you give folks here on the forum. I am waiting for my first UM and I always study a bit the 'troubleshooting' section before, no matter what the project area, to get an idea what is coming. You have given such great, detailed info I have much greater confidence in what I need to do. Again, thank you.

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