Fermenting Solutions Issue 2: Leveling the Bed

Published: Sun, 03/06/16

March 7, 2016 View in browser
Welcome back to Fermenting Solutions!  If you missed the first issue, you can check out the archive.

The current issue's dilemma started in the weeks leading up to Valentine's day. A few months before, I purchased a new 3d printer that I had progressively been putting through more and more difficult challenges. I had some hot pink filament and came across the perfect project for it:
When I purchased a printrbot simple metal, I bought the entry level model with the intention of upgrading it over time as i needed the additional functionality. This would allow me to objectively evaluate whether the upgrade made the advertised improvements and learn about the printer in the process, so that in the future I could develop my own modifications.

The heart gears seemed like a good challenge to tackle since it would have been the first geared project I printed on this printer and I felt I had things pretty well dialed in.

Big problem right from the start... The person who designed the gears had a much larger print bed than me, so there was no way for me to print them without modifications.
I used Cura to scale the model down so it would just fit on my print bed and kicked off the print. A few hours went by, things looked alright and I tried to fit everything together. Some sliced up fingers and busted knuckles later, and I had something that resembled a heart, but some pieces didn't quite fit and it wouldn't move. The scaling wasn't going to work and the pins that held everything together were either getting mashed out of shape or not sticking properly.

In my mind, the case had been made to upgrade the X-axis dimensions of my printer.
Printrbot makes an upgrade kit for this and Brook Drumm made it look super easy to install. It was even on sale! Since I was going to need to rip much of the printer apart for this upgrade, I decided to get the heated bed option at the same time. Using blue painters tape to get my prints to adhere was an annoying fact of life and I was hoping the heated bed would lessen the need for doing that.

After ordering, I spent the next few days researching the install online. I found that many people were having issues.. Complaints about poor instructions, bad design of some of the components and poor build quality of others.

All the parts came in on a Friday which was perfect, giving me Saturday to work through the install and recalibration. I started early knowing that it was likely going to take me more than the specified 30 minutes even though I had read through the process enough times to have much of it memorized.
Reading through the comments on the installation instructions gave me concern because it seemed like several people had damaged their printers in the process or just could not get things to work. I took the time to really try to understand where things had gone wrong for them so that I could avoid suffering the same fate.

All in all, the upgrade went smoothly. I think the GT2 belt could have been a bit longer. I had to undo the cable ties in order to get enough slack so that I could get everything hooked back up again. I turned the printer on after about an hour in and everything worked. Now it was time to recalibrate the auto bed leveler. I had never done this before, but it was necessary because the printer had changed so fundamentally with the new upgrades that a test print that I had used to get things setup initially failed horrifically now.
After following the instructions for properly configuring the auto leveling probe, there were still print quality issues and I used this guide to determine what types of adjustments to make. I did this by printing a 3mm tall box over and over again for the next 4 hours, meticulously examining each one and making a slight adjustment before doing it all over again. I did this until I was satisfied with the print quality both with and without the heated bed turned on. This type of persistence is really necessary to get the best prints from any 3d printer, so anyone looking to purchase one should be prepared for this.

Seriously! If anyone has ideas for what to do with a ton of these small boxes, I'm all ears.
So now I can print 10" X 6" X 6", but I still use painters tape to prevent damage to my heated bed and get adhesion when I turn the bed off.

I heard about GeckoTek from a co-worker who had backed their KickStarter. He told me about this magical build plate that had great adhesion, but also allowed you to easily pop the parts off when they were done. GeckoTek makes a plate for the printrbot... but only for the base model. They'll make you a custom one to your exact dimensions, but I ended up just buying the generic 10" X 8" plate and attaching it with binder clips.

The printrbot is a bit unstable now when printing on the far X edges of the bed with a full roll of filament, so I'm working on printing some stabilizing feet now. After I get that set, I'm ready to try some geared hearts again... I'll provide a future update on how that project goes.
With all the talk about coffee beers last week, I just couldn't resist trying this one when I saw it. Spring House is known for making great beers with added flavorings and their coffee stout doesn't disappoint. This one entices you with a strong coffee aroma that balances perfect with the roasted malts resulting in a smooth coffee flavor with just a hint of sweetness. Hop heads stay away, you won't find what you're looking for here, but this would be delicious poured over ice cream if you're so inclined.
That's it for this week. I've got a couple hundred 3mm tall cubes to print before I can maybe print a geared heart.

Questions?? Want a deeper dive on something discussed here? Drop me a line to continue the conversation:

[email protected]

Next week I'm planning on some gardening discussion.

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