3D Printer – Ultimaker
July 19, 2012 1 Comment
Hello everybody !
It’s been a while since my last post, 4 months more exactly. If we consider that the last couple of posts weren’t that “involved”, it’s been more than 6months, since January, when I did my last serious project / blogg post …
The good news is that I’m back… the bad one, is that this is still not the most involved project I’ve done… but nevertheless, it’s a completely new field for me, one in which I’ve been wanting to get some experience for a couple of years now !
It all started this February when I saw this new project called Sumpod : their offer / website has changed since, but at that time it was a novelty to see a 3D printer under the psychological barrier of 500£ (400 if I remember correctly).
“Yet another one of these !” you will say… yes, I know, 3D printers seem to be the quadcopters of 2-3 years ago, the fashionable bits of hardware that everybody wants to have / build… but hey, I’ve never pretended to be impermeable to the general tastes and collective madness ! :)
Soon after seeing it, I decided that I could afford it and should order one… a few days spent requesting information and surfing the net for comparisons and advice, and one late night, I don’t really know how, I ended up ordering an Ultimater !
Now, as you can see, this is quite a different beast, which also costed roughly 3-4 times more than the Sumpod, but it’s supposed to have a much bigger building volume and speed…
In any case, don’t quote me on all this, as I’m a beginner in this field and the choice was more or less random…
I received the kit 6 weeks after ordering, and here I am, another 3 months later, finally having time to build it ! :)
It was only once I started looking at the building instructions (after having ordered it … lol..:) ) that I realised just how non trivial it would be to build it…
Given that we had done some painting in our flat and had some left overs, I was surprisingly motivated to make it look gorgeous in a diluted version of the purple-ish paint used for the main bathroom:
Next were the limit switches and assembly of the main box:
Installing the X / Y axis motors :
Then some other easy bits and bobs, whose names I had never heard before :
It starts to look like a printer:
Now the most delicate bit to build, the extruder… to be honest I had always assumed that the kit would come with it completely built and I’d only have to screw it in place… not really…
It’s also the first piece when I felt disappointed by the quality of the materials: the plastic bits (the push in fitting and the horse shoe) retaining the PFA tube seem quite flimsy, and the instructions on the Ultimaker’s website start to be less clear than at the beginning…
The whole instructions around the PFA tube and how much exactly it has to protrude in order to press firmly against the peek are unclear.
In any case, I’ve managed to mount it, but will remain worried until the end that the whole thing is badly mounted and will start leaking and jamming…
Now it’s time for the motor that will push the actual PLA plastic through the extruder:
And finally, the last bit of the puzzle, the electronics (an Arduino AtMega 2560 and Ultimaker’s custom motor controller board):
A few small details before everything is done…
And now it’s ready to print !
Not so quickly, it wasn’t really working from the beginning!
After a couple of hours of frustration, I replaced the ReplicatorG software with Cura, and after a few more tweaks everything started to magically work ! I don’t really understand why ReplicatorG is such a massive pain to use compared to Cura, especially that both have dedicated Ultimaker versions !?
In any case, it was with great pleasure that I saw the plastic starting to flow in a nice and regular manner:
And finally here are the 1st (reasonable) results:
I’m using black PLA, and it seems that any temperature between 210 – 240 C would work, though for small details I found out that a lower temperature is better if you want to avoid everything melting together in a little blob!
I haven’t yet had time to play with many other settings or to test how quickly or accurate the printer is. Most importantly, it appears that it’s quite important to fine tune all the mechanical parts and then the software configuration as this can substantially affect the final result.
Now all that I have left to do, is to learn FreeCAD and start creating some nice 3D models ! :)
Hope you enjoyed my ramblings and nice pictures ! :)