Solidoodle Resurrected 10 Months Later…

20151213_Solidoodle Slip

*sigh… I really wanted to give my Solidoodle Press another chance to do anything other than act as a shelf to stack books on next to my desk. It’s been 10 months since my last post about the 3D printer, and therefore 10 months since I simply gave up trying to make it work after many long hours spent tweaking both the hardware and software with no success.

Obviously from the photos above it’s safe to say that I’m still at square one, although have to admit that these failed prints are about as good as anything I’ve had from the machine EVER! What I’m noticing is some slipping, where for some reason the printer decides to start printing 5-10mm offset in the y direction part way through the print. Up until this point of the prints I had been really excited that things were finally working and looking OK! As I look over at the printer which is having a 3rd attempt at this part while I write this post it looks like the same has happened again… I’m not surprised, just disappointed.

In order to get even these results a few things have happened:

  1. Most importantly I’ve been counting on the fact that 10 months means a lot of time for Solidoodle to update their Soliprint software, which they have. Some of my issues in the past seemed to be where the print nozzle would move erratically, crossing over areas it had printed without lifting the nozzle and therefore colliding with the print. On first impressions, this seems to have been improved. The user interface has also been updated and made easier to navigate (although you will still need to jump into the detailed Slic3r settings in order to tweak things like print speed and layer thickness). The current version is 1.3.0, and I’m pretty sure my last one was 1.1.3 – so there have been 9 software updates in this time.
  2. I’ve done a full clean of the print nozzle after noticing some issues extruding material. To do this I’ve taken apart the print head (as shown in a previous post), unscrewed the 2 pieces of the nozzle from the main block, and heated them over a candle to remove the bulk of material with tweezers. I’ve then soaked them in acetone for an hour or so, and cleaned out any remaining plastic. I have a feeling that part of the nozzle is taking longer to heat up than the very tip, so even when the printer says it’s ready, the filament is actually not liquefied at all and causing a clog. I have spent hours figuring this out, and now make sure I completely withdraw the filament after printing to minimise this problem.
  3. I have changed out my ABS in the Solidoodle Press to one I know works very well from use in an Up! Plus 2. This may also minimise clogging, I’m sure the stock that came with the machine will be as rubbish as the printer itself!
  4. I have glued the small screw in the extruder gear so that it can’t loosen – this may also cause some slipping of the filament.
  5. I’m raising the extrude temperature to 250 degrees Celsius, not the default 230 degrees which is a bit on the low side for ABS.

While all of this is good, it still doesn’t get me a useful 3D print. I will soldier on for a couple more hours, but am very close to giving up on this machine as a 3D printer. I have a few ideas to take some of my experiments with Arduino’s and game controllers and hack this into some sort of 2D plotter or something.

Maybe through this second life the Press will find function?

– Posted by James Novak

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5 thoughts on “Solidoodle Resurrected 10 Months Later…

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