Posts Tagged ‘calibrate’

MakerBot TV Season 1 Episode 2!

Posted by on Monday, September 12, 2011 in Uncategorized

I’m sure you’ve all been at the edge of your seats eagerly awaiting the arrival of MakerBot TV’s second episode!
Well wait no more – S01E02 is here!!! And it is, dare I say, even more awesome than the first one!

In this episode we’ll get you hyped-up for Maker Faire, have some behind-the-scenes fun with turtle-building Skimbal, learn about bot calibration with Elliot and get the low down on a brand new and totally rad MakerBot challenge with Bre.

Special Thanks to:
Tony Buser for the use of Bobble Head Bob, 2ROBOTGUY for his alphabet design.
And all these great folks for the use of their music: Doctor Popular, Vim, µB and Trash80.


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ProfileMaker – Stop printing calibration cubes!

Posted by on Wednesday, May 11, 2011 in Uncategorized

Obsolete 40mm Cube Test Object by bre

Obsolete 40mm Cube Test Object by bre

As some of you may know, I’ve been working on a Skeinforge calibration projected called, “ProfileMaker.”  I released v3.0 last month over at MakerBlock.com1  My goal was a web-based cross-platform easy-to-use Skeinforge setting calculator.2

Calibration by cube is essentially a trial and error process.  Print a cube, examine the results, take some notes, change a setting, and LRR3 until you have a satisfactory result.  There’s nothing wrong this this, but it is time consuming and can be frustrating.  ProfileMaker uses the same math and formulas as Dave’s Profileinator to derive the flowrate (or speed at which plastic comes out of the nozzle) based on the few settings you choose.  There are also some advanced options, for the more adventurous.

When you calculate some new profile settings, ProfileMaker will generate the settings and tell you exactly where to enter them in Skeinforge.  Or, if you wish, it can e-mail a zip file containing those settings as part of a complete profile.  Just unzip into your directory and start slicing!

As always, I’d appreciate feedback!

  1. In that time more than 200 people have generated nearly 1000 profiles.  I see this as a good trend.  If people weren’t happy with the profiles they’re getting, they probably wouldn’t come back to generate five profiles on average. []
  2. In fact, if this isn’t the easiest Skeinforge calibration system you’ve EVER used, I’ll give you your money back! []
  3. Lather, rinse, repeat. []
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How to get better results from your 3D printer – Calibrating Software

Posted by on Wednesday, January 26, 2011 in Uncategorized
ReplicatorG is your friend!

ReplicatorG is your friend!

This is the third in a series of posts about ways to get even better print results from your 3D printer.  The absolute best part about the two prior posts, on calibrating hardware and upgrading hardware, have to be the voluminous comments.  Please keep your hints, tips, hacks, and suggestions flying in!

  • Calibrate Software. Once you’ve got your 3D printer hardware tuned up, it’s time to look to the software, especially the Skeinforge settings for your machine.
  1. Skeinforge calibration.  There are a number of guides out there, but the one I would recommend is the series written by Dave Durant.
    1. Skeinforge basic settings
    2. Five critical Skeinforge settings
    3. Configuring the latest version of Skeinforge
    4. Creating a new Skeinforge profile
    5. Tuning a new Skeinforge profile
  2. Find the best print temperature for your choice of plastic.  The ideal plastic temperature would be hot enough that it will stick to the platform and to the layer underneath.  It should also be cool enough that by the time the next layer is laid down the prior layer isn’t too molten allowing it to deform.  I print PLA at around 195-205 for small to larger objects, respectively.  I print ABS at around 220-230 for small to larger objects, respectively.
  3. Find a good build platform temperature.  Not so hot that the plastic is kept molten, but not so cool as to allow warping.  A good warm build surface also allows the plastic to adhere to the build surface better.  When printing in PLA I like to keep the build platform at about 70 degrees and at 135-140 for ABS.  There’s very little warping with PLA even without a warm build surface, but the PLA sticks so much better.
  4. Even after your machine is well calibrated, there are still a number of ways to improve Skeinforge calibration.  There are just dozens of little settings to tweak.  Configuring the Skeinforge Oozebane setting can remove the little plastic strings that get left between parts. 1
  5. Calibrate Skeinforge for printing with a higher Z-axis resolution by trying to print with thinner layers.  The main downside is that printing overhangs may become more difficult.  Reading Dave Durant’s posts should help with this.
  6. Tune your “start.txt” and “end.txt” files in ReplicatorG.  You can add some pretty cool things to the start and end files.  You’ll need to read up on your GCode, but it’s well worth the trouble to fine tune the start routines for your machine.  Perhaps you need a longer extrusion time?  Need to adjust where the wipe procedure homes in?  This is the place to get to work!
  7. Experiment with using the “outline” plugin either in conjunction with or in lieu of the “wipe” command.  Thanks to Riche for e-mailing me this tip!
  8. Skeinforge 0006 or 35?  It’s tempting to stick with an older version of Skeinforge once you’ve got all of your settings dialed down.  Switching to the latest Skeinforge version within ReplicatorG allows you to use the latest features, improvements, and plugins.  Yeah, it’s more work.  But, then again, if you were afraid of a little elbow grease you wouldn’t have build your own 3D printer, would you?
  9. Cupcake:  Can you build a set of “start.txt” and “end.txt” files to replicate the auto-homing behavior of the Thing-O-Matic using your stock Generation 3 electronics?  I bet you can!
  10. Thing-O-Matic:  Calibrate your starting height in Skeinforge.  Obviously you don’t want to smash the print head into the build platform.  Neither do you want to start building10mm above the build platform.  You may find that it’s best to start at different heights depending upon the material you’re printing on and the plastic with which you’re printing.

What am I missing here?  What software calibration tricks and tips do you have to share?

  1. Some have referred to Oozebane as a dark art, not without some cause. []
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How to get better results from your 3D printer – Upgrading Hardware

Posted by on Tuesday, January 25, 2011 in Uncategorized
Z-Rider by Twotimes

Z-Rider by Twotimes

The last post dealt with ways to get better print results from your 3D printer through hardware calibration. The suggestions and comments were easily the best part of that post, so keep them coming!  As before, some of these tips are more important to the Cupcake, but they’re all considerations when trying to get the best possible prints from your robot.

  • Upgrade Hardware.
  1. Make or buy a good feed system for your filament.  Some people use baskets suspended from the ceiling, coils sitting on lazy suzans, or filament spindle boxes.  I used a DIY filament spindle for about nine months before switching a filament spindle box.  The elimination of tangles was dramatic.  A simple tangle can completely screw up a print job by stopping plastic extrusion or yanking the Z stage or entire robot out of whack.  The investment in a good trouble free filament spindle box will make sure you can walk away from your 3D printer with peace of mind.
  2. Whether you get a filament box or make your own, definitely get a “feeding tube” for the plastic.
  3. Cupcake:  There have been many Z axis cranks, but the original by Zaggo is still my favorite.  This was the first printable 3D printer upgrade of which I really took note.
  4. Cupcake:  If you’re upgrading from a basic Cupcake CNC kit, the most important upgrade you can get IMHO is definitely moving to the MK5 Plastruder.  This single upgrade will make your life easier than you can imagine.
  5. Cupcake:  Source, print, assemble, and install Twotimes’ XY lowrider for quieter and smoother printing.
  6. Cupcake:  Upgrade to the Automated Build Platform or source, print, assemble, and install the Pfierce Robotic Build Platform by Chooch for flatter and automated printing from a heated build platform.
  7. Cupcake:  Source, print, assemble, and install the epic Z axis riders by Twotimes or TheRuttmeister for smoother printing and less Z wobble.
  8. Cupcake:  Source, print, assemble, and install the Zydac’s Z Axis Extender Kit or the Pfierce Z-axis extenders by Chooch for extra build height.

What am I leaving out?  How would you upgrade your hardware?

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How to get better results from your 3D printer – Calibrating Hardware

Posted by on Monday, January 24, 2011 in Uncategorized
How to get better results from your 3D printer: Calibrating Hardware

How to get better results from your 3D printer: Calibrating Hardware

With the recent launch of the Thing-O-Matic, I’ve collected a number of ways to get a better result from a 3D printer. 1  If you’ve got a suggestion, please let me know in the comments!  Some of these tips are more important to the Cupcake, some are really only applicable to certain versions of these printers, but they’re all considerations when trying to get the best possible prints from your robot.

  • Calibrate Hardware. The most obvious way to get a better print is to calibrate your machine’s hardware.  These kinds of tweaks could take a number of forms.  You could:
  1. Make sure all of the bolts/nuts are tightened properly.
  2. Make sure all pulleys are tightened properly to their bolts.
  3. Get the right tension on the belts by setting the proper tension on the pulleys.  There are a few pulley tensioners on Thingiverse that could help with this issue for Cupcakes.
  4. Make sure the bearings on the X and Y axes slide smoothly.  If the hole the bearings slide into are too tight, they will cause the bearings to bind up on the precision rods.  The solution is to sand the hole slightly to widen it.
  5. Insert something springy between the X or Y axis end caps and the X or Y axes. 2 This reduces play, noise, and will ensure a slightly better print job when it comes to small details.  There are printable end caps that help reduce this problem.3
  6. Make sure the extruder has the proper filament tension.4
  7. Adjust your stepper motor torque for the Thing-O-Matic or Cupcake.  You want enough power that the stage moves in a responsive manner and won’t lose steps, but low enough that you’re not overheating the motor or operating in a needlessly noisy way.
  8. Thing-O-Matic:  Make sure the endstops are properly and securely adjusted.  If there is any wiggle, you could get variable starting build heights.
  9. Thing-O-Matic:  Make sure the cables running to the X and Y stages have enough slack to work and but not so much they will get caught on something.
  10. Thing-O-Matic:  Make sure you’ve run the wires down the proper sides.  Even if you have your Thing-O-Matic wired properly, running the wires near to the wrong wires can lead to EM noise which could case printing problems.
  11. Cupcake:  Level your build platform.
  12. Cupcake:  Level your Z stage.
  13. Cupcake:  Reduce the play between the XY axis stage and the XY build platform.
  14. Cupcake:  Make sure there is no grime in the Z rod threads.
  15. Cupcake:  Replace warped Z rods.
  16. Cupcake:  Add Z axis wobble arrestors.
  17. Cupcake:  Widen the Z axis holder on the Z platform by sanding the notch if you’re having a problem with just one bent rod.
  18. Cupcake:  Take the clamp off the worst Z axis rod and double-clamp the best Z axis rod (via the MakerBot Support Stream and Charles Pax).

More tips on getting better print results tomorrow!

  1. Photo courtesy of MakerBot []
  2. I use little bits of paper towel []
  3. I’m having trouble locating these Things.  If you can leave a link in the comment, I’ll update the post. []
  4. This is SO much easier with a MK5 Plastruder it’s not even funny []
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