Now in 3D (Part 4)
March 12, 2014
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This is the fourth and final installment of Sturdley’s misadventures in building a 3D printer. See here for the entire series. Last time I was experiencing power supply-related shenanigans and awaiting arrival of a 12V supply from the internets. The new supply was delayed several days due to weather. During the wait, I took the opportunity to measure the extruder rate and level the print bed. Once the supply was delivered, I took a brief 10 minutes to wire it up to the printer only to run into more problems with the electrical outlet near my workbench. Now I have had a new circuit installed just for the workbench, so I’ve got my fingers crossed that the power lines running to my house do not spontaneously combust.
Once the power situation was resolved, I loaded up the test cube for printing. The 1 inch cube took about an hour and 45 minutes. I followed this up with a different test pattern, a stair-step pattern that ran for about an hour. Both objects came out quite nicely. The stair-step pattern measurements were quite close to the 3D model. I printed a standard Lego block, but there were issues fitting with the real thing, and it lost one of the “round things” (studs – I had to look it up) on top after separating the pieces. I have since printed several other items: a squirrel, some brackets for a wall-mounted filament holder (they were insufficiently strong for the job), a knob for the printer, some spacers for the Z-axis threaded rods (no more vibrating against the wood frame!), a copy of Greg’s accessible extruder, a tardis, a star trek communicator, and more test patterns. Most of these objects are available on Thingiverse, by the way.
In the process of printing stuff, I noticed some printer issues that required attention. The Y-axis belt was skewed resulting in the edge rubbing against the pulley on one end and the wood frame on the other end. It was also a bit too tight. Reversing the pulley on the motor and loosening the belt tension drastically reduced the friction and noise. The stepper motors are running quite hot, and the extruder gears seem to be wearing a good deal faster than I expected (good thing I already have a backup printed). These things are rather minor, however, and easily fixed.
Then last night I ran into a new issue with – you guessed it – the power supply. The 12V supply that had been working so well for 2 weeks developed a slight buzzing sound and an inability to hold a voltage. It’s still within the return period (and unlike the ATX supply did not necessitate cutting parts off, voiding the warranty) so it is on its way back to whence it came and a new one scheduled to arrive later this week. At this time, I would like to request that if any of my readers have influence with the gods of electromagnetism that you please intervene on my behalf. My sanity is at stake.
All told, I am exceedingly happy with this printer. The prints were coming out great from day one, and almost every problem I encountered was the result of my own actions or simple bad luck.