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Incorrect Printer Error

The 3D printers in the lab will now inform you when you have sliced a file with a printer profile meant for another printer. If this happens you will see an error message like this on the Ender3 and Prusa MK3s printers and your print will not start. You have to reset the machine to get it out of this state.
image of Ender3 screen showing error message
Ender-3 hitting the error

Why?

It is pretty easy to accidentally select the wrong printer profile and then start printing something only to get unexpected results because the settings are all wrong. In the best case you get a bad print and it is no big deal. In the worst case it can cause sever damage to the machine and break nozzles, beds, or other parts.

How?

I made some modifications to the Marlin firmware to add a new gcode command to let me do this. If you are interested in checking it out you can look at my github page. I also have a pull request up to get this back into the main branch of Marlin so it may be there soon too.

What should you do if you see this message?

Simple. Just go back and re-slice your file making sure to select the correct printer. Reset the machine and start the print again and you should be all good.

Anything else?

There is one quirk of this on the PowerSpec Duplicator i3+. It behaves correctly but it does not display the error message. It just sits on the print screen and the pre-heat does not start. If you were happened to be connected to it via a computer you would see the errors in the console but that is not much help for nearly all lab prints. I am working on some modifications to get it displaying but it may take a bit. Just be aware that you should check if you print is actually preheating when you click on the file to start it. If there are zeros on the bottom set of numbers it is not preheating (that is the target temp).

This is what it looks like when you have hit the error:
PDi3+ hitting the error

This is what it looks like when all is good:
PDi3+ Starting normally

0.6mm 3D Printer Nozzle Installed

The new 0.6mm nozzle

The PowerSpec Duplicator i3+ printer in the lab has been updated with a new nozzle that is 0.6mm up from the default 0.4mm one. The print profiles in PrusaSlicer on the computer have been updated and the profiles have been backed up to Google Drive if you want to import them to your personal computer.

Why a larger nozzle?

So why would you want to use a larger nozzle? The simple answer is so that you can print large things faster. A lot of mechanical parts do not need a lot of fine detail so you are not really gaining anything by printing at very fine layer heights. In fact, you are generally making your mechanical parts weaker by printing them at very fine layer heights. Very fine layer heights tend to have worse layer adhesion than thicker ones.

A 0.4mm nozzle has a bore with an area of 0.13mm, a 0.6mm nozzle has a bore with an area of 0.28mm, that is 215% bigger. What that gets you is the ability to print much thicker layers and print fewer perimeters to get the same thickness of walls since you are extruding so much more plastic with the same set of moves. Since you can reasonably print at 80% of the width you can get up to 0.48mm layer heights with this new nozzle and I would say a reasonable middle ground is 0.35mm or 0.4mm.

This print was done as a test and it took 25 minutes to print at 0.4mm layer height with 2 perimeters. This model with a similar wall thickness at 0.2mm layer heights with a 0.4mm nozzle would have taken well over an hour. Consider giving this printer a go when you have some mechanical parts that are large and you would like to get them printed quickly. The layers are more visible but the layer adhesion is also extremely high and you can get some very, very strong prints in less than half the time.

July 3D Lab Update

Slicer Updates

The default slicing software we are recommending you use has been updated from Slic3r PE to PrusaSlicer. Do not worry about learning too much new, though. PrusaSlicer is just the next edition of Slic3r PE, it just was a large update and came with a name change.

The lab computer has been updated so PrusaSlicer is now the application with shortcuts on the taskbar and it is the default application to open STL files now. I have also moved over all the profiles but should you absolutely need to use the older Slic3r PE it is still on there for the moment.

Slicing Profile Updates

We have been having some confusion about what profiles to select when since it was set up that the Prusa printer was “system default” which was good for getting profile updates from Prusa but it was confusing and inconsistent for the lab process.

I have now set up all the printers to use the same format so the process is:

  1. Select your printer
    1. This is the bottom drop down on the right hand side of PrusaSlicer, the same place as it was in Slic3r PE. Pick the printer you are going to use and note the abbreviation in the parenthesis at the beginning of the printer name, that will be at the beginning of the print profile names meant for that printer.
  2. Select your print profile
    1. This is the top drop down just like in Slic3r PE. Select a print profile that matches the printer and filament type you are using. This isĀ REALLYimportant. The print profile has a lot of fine tuned settings for the specific printer and you are not going to get the results you expect if you use a profile for a different printer than the one you are using.
  3. Select your filament profile
    1. This is the middle drop down, just like in Slic3r PE. Just select the filament you are using. If there is not one for your filament you can make one. Your spool should have some reccomendations on settingsĀ  for you to use. Always remember that a good place to start with a filament is right in the middle of the ranges that the manufacturer suggests.

3D Lab Project Frame

Following in the example of the Laser Lab, the 3D lab now has a digital project frame to show off the projects members are doing. To submit a picture for the slide show just email it to 3dlab+project-frame@tcmaker.org .

3D Lab Project Frame

3D Lab June Update

This is the first official 3D Lab news letter and I just wanted to take a moment to introduce myself, the people helping me out, and the lab.

The Lab

First off, by now you have likely noticed, but we have a full fledged 3D Lab at the space now. We started the lab late last year with one printer in the Artifactory and have since grown to three printers and relocated to the front room of the lobby in the same room as the computer lab. If you have not checked out the lab yet please come by sometime and check it out. We run orientation classes on the first Wednesday of the month and the third Saturday morning of the month to get people trained on how to use the machines.

Who is running the lab?

If we have not met yet, hello, my name is Joseph and I am the 3D Lab (and Computer Lab) manager. I have been doing 3D printing since about 2012 and used to run the 3D Lab at the Milwaukee Makerspace before I moved up here. Helping me out with various things around the lab are Michael Butler (the Electronics manager) and Jaysen B.. If you are ever in the lab and need help please feel free to flag any of us down, email 3dlab@tcmaker.org, or post on the slack channel.

Want to help out?

If you would like to volunteer to help out we always appreciate the extra help. Just email me at 3dlab@tcmaker.org and we can talk.

New SD card tags

We recently had several SD cards go missing. It happens, they are small and easily misplaced. But they also get pricey to replace often so I have been trying to figure out how to make them stand out more and be harder to misplace. Enter these new tags I designed this morning. The cards are now labeled very clearly per printer and they should be vastly more visible. Please remember that gcode is printer specific so please only use the marked card with the correct printer so we do not run the wrong gcode on a machine.

WiFi sign project

Recently I designed some new WiFi password signs for the space and I have been working on printing out several to hang up around the space. If you are and you feel like there is a place that still needs a sign please print one out and hang it up. The file is in the downloads folder of the 3D Lab computer. I have just been printing them out and using a permanent marker to color the raised text but you could also pause the printer when it gets to the text and change the filament color (like I did for the SD card tags).

Anyone want to fix this printer?

We recently had someone donate this old Solidoodle printer. It is a good frame but the board is shot and a lot of the parts are also very much broken. It needs a lot of work but could be a good printer to be enclosed for printing ABS and other materials that need to be in an enclosed and ventilated space. I personally do not have the time to fix it but if someone feels up to the challenge please reach out to me at 3dlab@tcmaker.org and let me know you want to take on the project. I brought in a spare arduino mega and an old j-head hotend I had so maybe we could replace the board with a ramps and just fix up the broken parts and be good.

3D Lab Computer is Back Up

The lab computer is back up and running. The old one is back up and running for the moment and I am still working on getting a new computer set up to replace it if it goes down again.

3D Lab Computer Down

The 3D Lab computer has finally released its magic smoke and is no more. I am working to get it replaced as soon as possible (hopefully in the next day or so) but in the mean time you can slice your files at home or use one of the CAD computers in the lab with the normal 3D Lab account.

The Scli3r config backup can be found on our google drive here