More Time Fixing, Less Time Printing

2015-02-21 Press ExtruderIt’s really no surprise that a new day printing with my new Solidoodle Press 3D printer has thrown up new challenges. Half way during a print I noticed that plastic had stopped coming out of the nozzle, and applying pressure to the filament from the top didn’t seem to help. Now one thing that is quite nice about the Press (as opposed to the many issues which I’ve found earlier) is that much of the nozzle can be opened with simple thumb screws. Finally, some forward thinking in terms of design! The first image above shows the cover removed, along with the front of the main body (no tools required).

I had already retracted the filament, and found that indeed my guess was correct – a blockage in the nozzle (image 2). This was a nice easy fix, removed with tweezers when the nozzle was cool. What I didn’t expect was to find the extruder gear drive completely loose (the toothed part that feeds the filament down), to the point that I could pull it off the motor with the tweezers. Obviously this is the cause of my problems. After some searching on the always useful SoliForum, I found many people experiencing the same symptoms of filament not extruding, and a nice walk-through fix from Solidoodle Support. Basically the issue (which I’m sure will be a recurring one) is that the gear is held onto the motor shaft using an extremely small screw. When this becomes loose, the motor will freely turn without engaging the gear, thus not moving the filament.

Unfortunately you need an extremely small Allen key in order to securely tighten the gear in place, threading through a 1.5mm vent on the side of the housing – which I don’t have (and doesn’t sound overly safe with all the wires there!). However by taking the gear out, I could wedge a small screw driver into the hole and pre-tighten the screw, then push it onto the D-shaped shaft of the motor in the correct orientation. It’s the best I can do for now, time will tell how long it lasts before needing to be re-tightened. Hopefully the link to the Solidoodle Support page for this fix will help anyone who comes into this issues.

– Posted by James Novak

New Year, New Print Errors

2015-01-14 Failed PrintA while ago I posted about some problems I was having with my Up! Plus 2 3D Printer slipping throughout some prints (read the post by clicking here including how I fixed the problem). Well the issue seems to be back as you can see in the first image above. The first slip was quite small, so I let the print continue, but when I checked on the print after about 4 hours I found this lovely mess with 2 more slips.

I’m going to try the same procedure as discussed previously – cleaning the debris inside the arm that may be catching in the belt (controls front-to-back movement), and applying some grease to the silver rail which the print plate slides along. Hopefully this is just a continuing maintenance issue, and not something more complicated. Time will tell…

– Posted by James Novak

UPDATE 16/01/2015: After taking a closer look at the mechanism, I noticed a small tension clip interfering with one end of the gears. It’s just an overhanging piece of the wire, but when the print plate moves to the very back position it begins to wrap around the gear and this small overhang hits an edge of the grey plastic pictured below. I have used needle-nose pliers to bend this arm down slightly so that it no longer collides. Hopefully this will help reduce any print errors as well as the clean/grease mentioned earlier.

2015-01-16 Interference

Slip ‘n’ Slide

2014-12-04 Slipping ErrorFor the past few days I’ve been battling with this error using the ‘Up! Plus 2‘ 3D printer. The first few layers seem to be slipping or shifting, sometimes only a couple of millimeters (which doesn’t normally warrant stopping the print), but sometimes can be about 10mm which makes a real mess. What’s even more puzzling is that sometimes it happens, and sometimes not.

After reading this thread on the pp3dp forum, I’m thinking it’s time to open it up and check the moving parts. I’ve sat and watched as this error happens and there is no noticeable skip or any sound to indicate something is wrong, but hopefully I can get to the bottom of it because I hate wasting material and time. Actually, thinking as I type, the slip is ALWAYS in the front-to-back direction, so maybe this is a good place to start… I’ll share anything I discover in case you also come across this problem. If you’ve got any solutions, please leave a comment 🙂

UPDATE 08/12/2014: I opened up the arm controlling the front-to-back movement of the print plate – there was a bit of debris in there from the belt, so I’ve cleaned this out and also greased the silver rail that the plate moves along. So far 4 prints and absolutely no slipping! If you notice this slipping problem I recommend a clean and some grease, only takes a few minutes and seems to make a big difference! Check out a future post for photos of these internal details.

– Posted by James Novak