3D Printing Update: Thrills & Spills!

The Ups and Downs of 3D Printing

This post is more of a flag in the roadway of how I’m doing and what I’ve learned so far. I’ve had this printer for a couple of months now, and run it almost non-stop. Along the way, I’ve been trying to find and learn the appropriate software, and find the best forums, designers, videos, and resources along the way. As with a lot of “new” technology, there’s a lot of great things available, some necessary things, a lot of dead ends where people were excited about their new “hobby” but didn’t have the sustain needed to keep the dream alive and there are artifacts left all over the internet.

Not surprisingly, there are a lot of engineers and tinkerers that have gravitated to the 3d printing space and ecosystem. That’s great. It for sure is a technical hobby. And not just industrial engineers but software engineers. There’s a brackish mixture of hardware and software knowledge that must be learned. Which is something that attracts me. I love working with both my hands and brain.

That can be seen by another side project I built for my daughter which is this marble rollercoaster that’s motorized, with lights:

marble run city
The greatest marble run ever. It’s motorized and lit. Video coming…..

I also hooked up a Raspberry Pi 2 computer I had lying around from years ago that I had forgotten about to create a print server for my 3D printer, so it doesn’t have to be connected to my laptop. In my uncanny foresight years ago, I also bought a wireless dongle so I can hook it up to an IP address and WiFi signal here in my house. It has an SD card reader, which I have a lot of with huge memories on them, considering what was “huge” when I got the Raspberry 2(I think it’s a “B” model). I also found a Raspberry Pi 1 I got right when they came out and were hard to find. I had it shipped from England, I remember. I leapfrogged it pretty quickly, but also has a Raspberry PI SD card reader and case that fits it made just for the original Pi. It’s like having a Ford Model A in the garage.

raspberry pi 2 box

I can send print jobs to it remotely, check on it with my laptop or even phone from anywhere, and have a camera watching it with an AI program watching it for me, which will send me notices in real-time, should something happen that needs to be examined. I can shut down the project remotely, and do a number of things as if I was sitting right there. That’s pretty helpful. I’d like to hook up some lights that I can control remotely so when it’s printing at night, the camera can still video it without leaving all the lights in the room on. I have a few ideas about how to make that happen.

Here’s the camera I’ve been using, which is an old Microsoft Lifecam I bought years ago. I have a much better Webcam I now I bought to go with my old Windows computer, which is in storage, but I can’t locate it anywhere. So I’m left with this thing:

This was great stuff back in the day. Less than overwhelming today.

Here’s something I’m running into that I’m wondering about:

I was printing a lot of projects and having great success. Good adhesion, no fails, Filament was flowing as it should. I was using some red and purple filament I got from Anycubic early on, and 1) I was beginning to run low on the red and 2) I don’t like the color purple that much, although my daughter does, so I was printing a lot of stuff for her with that. I also got my hands on some really cool silky “rainbow” PLA filament that I use sparingly. It’s not “rainbow” like day-glo colors, but more subtle and earthy tones. It makes for some really cool prints.

I also have some “wood” PLA filament that I want to use but am saving it for special cases, and it also has real wood fibers in it which when extruded will wreck a brass nozzle faster than regular PLA.

I found a special and had a coupon from Anyubic, who is the company that made my printer, and I’ve been very happy with their service, and there’s a big, helpful community built around it. So I bought 4 spools of blue, green, orange and yellow filament. It came in from China, which takes a bit longer than other suppliers, but that’s normally OK. I’ve come to trust Anycubic. I’ve noticed there are people online that have grown frustrated with their turnaround time, the language barrier, or feel their parts or something about them is inferior but never can provide data for their opinion. I tend to treat complainers with a grain of salt online because it’s easy to talk trash online. Especially when no one challenges them to back up that cheap trash talk. The company or person they decry I’ve found usually has more to support their quality and credentials than the person with the issue. Not 100% of the time, but almost.

And since using this new batch of 4 colors that came in, I’ve been having failures like never before. The filament is breaking, sometimes in very inconvenient places, like within the Teflon tube. And I’m getting adherence problems. I’ve tried different supports, wall widths, print speeds, and still getting fails. It’s annoying because I have to cancel the print. Clean off the heated print bed. raise the nozzle and make sure it’s not clogged and clean, and sometimes just try another spool of filament.

So I have to wonder what’s going on and troubleshoot it with my limited knowledge. Is it the quality of the filament? Is it too dry? Too wet? I’m keeping it all in desiccant-monitored sealed tubs. It’s pretty dry here in KY, compared to SC where I’m from at least where you can drink the air.

Is the nozzle clogged? I don’t think so. I just changed it and checked for clearance, and it seemed fine. I clean the bed and make sure I keep it clean with a bit of soapy water and alcohol. I put a very fine layer of purple glue as a safety net even before the print, but there are still adherence issues.

Maybe my bed needs calibration and leveling? I’ll try that, but I’m skeptical of that being the issue.

I’m reluctant to go to the highly acclaimed forums I keep mentioning because while sometimes helpful, I’m at a point where I should know what to check. If I post a question about these things, I’ll get a bunch of people who know less than I, which I appreciate their help, but don’t want to waste their time. Or I get some that want to always ask “don’t you know how to use Google?” And/or point me to some URL of another forum where the issue is different, or never solved. Which is a waste of their and my time.

Fail #1
Fail #2
Fail #3
Fail #4
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