Longer Prints, Less Failure

I want to get to the point that I can leave the printer running a complicated 8 hour print without worrying about it. One of my struggles has been the print failing on heavy fill layers. I assumed the nozzle was getting clogged, and started doing work to address that. I posted in the Solidoodle group here https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups#!topic/solidoodle/prqXxKRTWmk and I spent a few hours fiddling with things to get it to work. One user mentioned doing a calibration on the output of the nozzle. Normally “calibration” seems like a high tech word, but in this case it involved cutting a length of straw to 100mm and using it to mark somewhere along the plastic, to measure if a 100mm print is actually 100mm. When I first did this, I immediately saw what my problem was! The plastic was not coming into my printer smoothly at all, it was stuttering, and in that 100mm test, I was only getting maybe 50mm of total plastic. I looked at what my setup was for feeding in plastic: I had the spool of plastic on some PVC behind my printer, coming through one of the holes shared with the wiring for the printer. I decided the first thing I was going to try was to build a better PVC device for holding my plastic spool, as seen here: http://i.imgur.com/O0i6uIv.jpg. After building that, I placed it on a handy shelf above my printer, so my plastic was coming straight down http://i.imgur.com/9CptxrY.jpg.

After that, I tried printing a few tests, and it was new bad news: each vertical layer was farther off than the previous, creating an odd tiered effect http://i.imgur.com/Ryysf9H.jpg. At this point it was really late in the day, and I was tired, so I shut everything down, and went to bed.

When I woke up in the morning, I ran another print, of the dice tower again, to check things out. Success, no problems for this 7 hour print: http://i.imgur.com/Pbkbykb.gif. I updated my post on the google group above, and it seems like my electronics might be overheating when I run the printer for long stretches of time, which seem to be 15+ hours straight.

With the plastic feed for my printer fixed, I figured I could attempt a print for my fiance again: She wanted me to print out a large deer head, which was an 8 hour print. I had tried many times the previous week, and it failed anywhere between the 10 minute to 6 hour mark. I tried it again last night, and it went wonderfully, here is a photo with less than 1 minute remaining on the print: http://i.imgur.com/sFw9xJu.jpg.

I am still having the time of my life with this printer, every day I’m learning something new, fixing something, and improving the quality and types of prints I can accomplish.


Joseph Stankowicz is a software engineer who has worked in the video games industry for over eight years. The last two years have had a heavy focus on Unity development, where he helped ship over eleven titles to iOS and Android platforms. He also is really excited about 3D printing, and keeps his Solidoodle 3 printing out stuff as often as possible. You can view his LinkedIn profile here http://www.linkedin.com/pub/joseph-stankowicz/60/294/420

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Posted in 3D Printing

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