Sunday, April 9, 2017

Hello,

Sorry, this blog will not be updated anymore. 
It will stay on-line for reference if anybody still has a CubeX.

For me, the CubeX experience was besides paying way too much for an out of the box, not to specs and originally poorly functional printer, overall a positive experience, mainly because I learned (had to) a lot about the FDM 3D printing technology and was fortunate to connect with many other users that helped to get that thing working. 

Many thanks to Giovanni, Hugues, Peter Gregory, Jetguy, Joe Stefano, GRM Products, J. Andre, Toranarod and everybody involved getting Kisslicer to work and all other contributors I have missed.
You guys have dedicated a lot of time to come up with answers and solutions that helped many frustrated CubeX users. - Thank you !

I finally moved on and had bought an Original Prusa i3 MK2S 3D printer at the end of last year. 
I am very happy with it. It worked and printed perfectly right out of the box, and none of the proprietary stuff that the cube had. All is open source.
The Original Prusa printer does not look like much but it is very affordable, easy to use and the prints are awesome. 
No surprise it got voted 3D printer of the year and it has now a unfortunately long lead time to order, but for me it was well worth to get the original prusa. The slicer it comes with is really good and the company stay behind it's product. 
Check out their website and blog etc. and you will see how dedicated and customer focused the company is

Thank you.
Rick 

Monday, January 2, 2017

Simplify3D settings for the CubeX Printer


I have gotten some great prints with the Simplify3D slicer software.
The software is not free, but I think well worth the price.

Just like with Kisslicer you need to have firmware 1.07 on your CubeX. That way it won't check if you have a CubeX cartridge installed or not.
The software puts out a .bfb file the the CubeX can read. Just like with Kisslicer you copy the file onto the memory stick for printing.

There are many adjustments you can do. 
One of the really cool things is that you can set different print speed, layer thickness, infill, cooling, etc... per layers. 

For example if you have a print that is wide and simple at the bottom and detailed at the top, you can have faster print speed, higher temp, etc... at the lower layers and then slow the print down at the top, add or reduce infill, fans on, etc...
Another great feature is that you can add and remove individual supports manually. - Very helpful. 

The software is setup 
Checkout there software for all the features.
https://www.simplify3d.com/

One thing I liked better with Kisslicer is that you can see where the layer start is and therefore better select the preferred seam/print start location.  Simplify3D has some different options for the layer start, but I don't see where the actual seam will be on the model when looking thru the sliced model.  ???

The settings are saved in Process files with a  ".fff" extension.
Those files can be imported and then will show up in the Profile pull down menu.

Make sure to select the proper extruder you want to use. There are several places / menu tabs where you need to select the extruder in the pull down menu.
Also make sure to set the filament diameter in the "Other" menu tab. (~1.69 mm for CubeX filament and ~ 1.75 mm for other standard filament).
Also make sure to set the proper temperature for the filament you are using.

To minimize filament remains to get dragged onto the first layer, I select "use skirt/brim" in the "Additions" menu and I also keep the same temperature for the first layer as the rest of the part. That way the printhead does not move away from the part for temp change after the first layer and will not create any unwanted stringing.

Here are some links to download the ".fff" process/profile files depending on your printer:
Note: These worked for me, no guarantee they will work on your printer.  (I have the GRM heated printbed installed, so it might need a different z-offset for you).

Select Download link and then select Download.

CubeX single:
Download for CubeX single

CubeX Duo:
Download for CubeX Duo

CubeX Trio:
Download for CubeX Trio








Bypassing filament cartridge check and/or using aftermarket 1.75mm filament with the CubeX

Here are some old news but some users still struggle with the standard filament cartridges.

You don’t need any cartridge installed if you run CubeX software 1.07 (with a little trick, see further below).    Or if you run Kisslicer or Simplify3D slicer.

Running the CubeX with no cartridge installed.
When you create a build file with CubeX software version 1.07, it by mistake creates an unencrypted gcode file with a “.bfb” extension in the directory of the model file.
You can open that file with notepad and remove usually 2nd thru 6th line in the code (all the lines in the beginning with a "^" in front of it, except the “^Firmware:v1.07” line.  
So the only line with the “^” in front of it should be the “^Firmware:v1.07”. That one needs to stay.
Removing the other ~ 5 or so lines with the “^” in front of it will allow you to print without the software checking if there is a cartridge installed.

A day or two later Cubify release software version 1.08 to fix their error.
If you need to download the 1.07 version, here is a link to the CubeX 1.07 download.
         
(Use the link below for 1.07).

The download file is 51MB. I had to put in on Google Drive for downloading.

Also, I use Kisslicer to create the printfile. Much better.  See settings in prior post.

If you want to use aftermarket filament,the CubeX needs  ~ 1.70mm diameter filament. The extruder design has a fixed pulley and drive gear so it only works with the exact diameter unlike some other extruder designs that have a pre-loaded pulley.
Most aftermarket filament are 1.75mm. But there are some aftermarket filament that some users found that run on the thin side and work. I heard some users have good luck with Matter hackers filament.
  
Increasing the extruder driver voltage to 1.63V (must put heatsink on driver chip) works in most cases to have enough power to drive/extrude the thicker 1.75mm filament.

http://www.cubexupgrade.com is a good place to check out. 

These instructions are from there:          Setting Extruder Driver VoltageInstructions

I set my voltage to 1.63V on each of the 3 drivers and installed heatsink on each of the 3 driver chips (CubeX Trio).


The current SW version is 1.08 (but 1.07 is better because you can get into the gcode file) and the latest firmware version is 1.07.
So I am running SW version 1.07 and FW 1.07 and would not update since version 1.08 blocks that “hack”.

Here is what I tweaked on my CubeX:
·         Relocating z-limit sensor (for consistent z-homing).
·         Installing Heated printbed. (A must for ABS printing, and improvement on larger PLA parts).
·         Running filament spools externally and feed thru upper portion of tubing.
-         Make sure to store your filament in sealed bag with extra desiccant bags).
·         Use a hack to not need cartridge chip (the cartridges and reader have many problems so ignoring the chip and running spools externally solves that)
·         Using Kisslicer as software to create print file. (Creates much better print models and support features can be easily broken off).
-        Increased extruder driver voltage to 1.63V and installed heatsink on driver chip.


-        Modified extruder to use 1.75mm filament.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

CubeX Trio - Kisslicer settings

Per request, here are the Kisslicer setting that are working well for my CubeX Trio.
I have been using the Kisslicer PRO version:
Kisslicer 1.5 Release with CubeitModV6.05
Make sure all files reside in the same folder as the .exe files.

Setting are setup for the GRM heated printbed.

After "slicing" the model, make sure to always scroll thru the model layer by layer to check for any possible errors. Sometimes more loops create a cleaner print.

If you have already Kisslicer installed, make sure to backup your original copy with ini files.
I would then create another copy of your Kisslicer folder and then dump my .ini files in that folder for testing. Make sure you are using Kisslicer 1.5 Release with CubeitModV6.05


Here are download links: 

Kisslicer ini files only:
Kisslicer .ini files only

All files except Kisslicer.exe and CubeITMod605.exe:
All files but no .exe

All files including Kisslicer and CubeItmod .exe files (download might not work)
Make sure to rename the two .exx files to .exe  (because of windows security).
Kisslicer all files

Kisslicer Manual:
Kisslicer Manual



I have also been using the Simplify3D slicer with my CubeX. It works really well.
I can post my settings next time.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

CubeX Resources

These are some good resources for the CubeX.


Seems like by now most users use Kisslicer with CubeIt to create the printfiles for the CubeX.
http://www.kisslicer.com/contact.html
Kisslicer is a must have for the CubeX. Get the PRO version. Very affordable and worth it.


There is also a very useful forum:
https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/kisslicer-refugee-camp

A newer forum:
http://www.kisslicertalk.com/

See also Cubexupgrade for Tips and Tricks using Kisslicer.
http://www.cubexupgrade.com/


Accessories and Spare Parts and Upgrades:

GRM Products sells a heated printbed, Spare parts and other accessories for the CubeX.
http://www.grmproducts.com/Home_Page.php


CUBEXUPGRADE sells hotends, upgraded electronics and other components for the CubeX.
http://www.cubexupgrade.com/

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Updated - Clogged up filament feeder tubes

(See updates highlighted in red text)

Depending on the environment and how you handle and store your cartridges/filament spools, sooner or later the filament (mainly PLA) will become brittle and brake.
(See Post: http://cubex3dprinting.blogspot.com/2013/11/taking-care-of-your-filament-cartridges.html

There is a good chance the filament will crack sooner or later somewhere in the feeding tube and it is quite a pain to get it back out. Besides that, your print probably failed also because there was no more filament coming.


Since two of my tubes are clogged up (filament feeding tubes, that is) with broken filament pieces and I don't want to spend more time clearing them out, I decided to make a more drastic change.

Note: Proceed at own risk. Ha-ha.
This is most likely not recommended by the manufacturer, but I just wanted to share what I do to keep me printing happily.
This direct filament feed method is only intended if you run your filament spools externally.
Due to too much frustration of binding etc.. I generally remove the filament spools from the cartridge anyway and run them from an external mount and stick the corresponding empty cartridge case into the holder so it can read the chip.

Read this post first before you open up a filament cartridge to avoid any damage to the chip:
http://cubex3dprinting.blogspot.com/2013/07/cartridges-and-filament-flow-errors.html


Here is what I changed to make filament changing and filament care a lot easier for me:

It is best if you can, to unload any filament you have loaded.
Otherwise turn off the power to the CubeX.
Then remove the feeding tube guide plate. Make sure to not drop the screws or nuts into the system.
If you have filament loaded, lift the guide plate carefully and clip the filament with side cutters right where it comes out of the feeder tube before it enters the feed motor.

After removal of Guide Plate.
Put some tape over the top edge because it is sharp and the filament can rub against it.



It is best to cover the not in use feed in holes with tape so no debris can fall in.



To load and unload filament it is best to use the "Replace" Menu button and go thru the process. Instead of feeding the new filament thru the tubing, feed it directly into the extruder motor from the top.




[Alternatively you can also exchange the filament as described below.

To load filament, go into the "240deg" menu

Then heat up the jet you want to load filament by tapping a couple times on the "TGT" (Target Temperature) temperature for the appropriate jet till it displays "230C" .
(In this example it is jet 2 (PJ2).


Then wait till the "T" temperature (Actual Temperature) to the left of the TGT temperature has reached the target temperature. (In this example the actual temperature is at 215C, so almost ready).

Tap twice on the "RPM" value so it displays "3.0" for the appropriate jet. This will turn the feed motor on, to advance the filament. I find it better to run the RPM at 3.0 and not higher. You want to feed the new filament right after the old filament.








When you insert the filament, you will feel it getting pulled in. Look at the print jet below and wait till a steady stream of filament comes out. You will see the color change from the old to the new filament.
Then hit the "+" button below the display to exit the Print Jet Control menu. This will turn the temperature and feed motor off. ]







Now while the print jet is still hot, it is a good time to give it some maintenance cleaning. It's quick and easy so I do it at least every time I change filament. (It keeps the print jet printing nice).
CAUTION: Don't touch with bare fingers. HOT HOT
I use a cloth to wipe any accumulated excess filament off the bottom jet. The crusted on filament should wipe off fairly easy while the jet it still hot.   - Caution - keep your fingers cover by the rag so you don't get burned.



Filament routing:



Routing the filament as pictured above gives it enough room to move around with the movement of the print carriage.

When I am done printing, use the "Replace" Menu button to remove the cartridge.


[Alternatively I just use wire cutters to clip the filament maybe 1" above the feeder motor. Make sure to do a straight clean cut and straighten the filament so the new filament can push straight against it when loading new filament the next time.]



Store the filament spool in a bag with additional desiccant to keep it fresh and prevent it from getting brittle and break.
Also, tape the end of the filament on the spool to the side of the spool, so it keeps the winding tight when the spool is bagged.




In a nutshell:
Use the "Replace" Menu to get the old filament out and new filament in, except feed it directly into the extruder motor from the top (where the filament feed tube used to attach).


[Or if you just clipped the old filament above the extruder motor, make sure if there is previous filament in the print head, that the filament is straight with a straight cut, so the new filament can push straight against it when loading.
Just heat up the desired print jet, have the feed motor push thru the previous leftover filament that was clipped and insert the new filament right after it.  -   Ready to print.
After the print just clip the filament about 1" above the feeder motor and store the filament spool in a bag with additional desiccant to keep it fresh].


Make sure you have your spool and cartridge case marked, so you know what goes together.
Also, tape the end of the filament on the spool to the side of the spool, so it keeps the winding tight when the spool is bagged.

This method is for sure not as clean looking, but for me it is the least hassle and minimizes potential problems.

To me it has these advantages:
  • Running the filament spool externally minimizes the binding issues or they can be detected early. I still have some cartridges where the filament was crossed over within the spool, so I had to rewind them (not fun) but the open spool is much less likely to bind because it is not restricted by the cartridge and how the filament comes out of the cartridge.
  • It's easier to keep the whole filament bagged and sealed (except of course when you are printing) so it is less likely to get brittle and break.
  • I can keep an eye on the filament spool and how much is left.
  • Less filament waste when changing filament.
  • The filament is a lot easier to insert. (Before you had to fiddle with it a lot to get it finally to feed thru).
  • The filament change is a lot quicker.
  • If you use filament that is already somewhat brittle it is less likely to break using the direct feed method because it does not get flexed or straightened out which happens if it would have to go thru the feeder tube.  
  • It's not a permanent change and I can always convert back to the standard configuration.


Also, having hinges on the lid is sooooo nice.  

















Saturday, May 24, 2014

Taking care of your filament / cartridges

I had several PLA cartridges / spools where the filament got brittle and just snapped due to moisture absorption.

The cartridges have a small desiccant pack within the cartridge, but most spools I had to take out of the cartridge because of winding and binding issues, so they are more exposed to the environment.

So it is best if complete cartridges or separate spools stay sealed with a desiccant as much as possible.
Any complete cartridges or separate spools that are not in current use, I put in a small kitchen trash bag with a desiccant pack.
Make sure to get most air out of the bag and close the bag so it is sealed.

Even new complete Cartridges should be stored and sealed in a bag with a larger additional desiccant. (I had filament braking issues also on complete cartridges). The desiccant in the cartridge is tiny and the cartridge itself is not very sealed by itself. And if you have used the cartridge, you have a bunch of filament out of the cartridge that you want to protect from moisture absorption.
Make sure to install the locking screw into the cartridge before taking out of the CubeX and remove the locking screw again once installed back into the CubeX.


Complete Cartridge


Spool only



With open Spools, after a print, I take the spool of the holder and stick it into a plastic bag with a pouch of desiccant. There is still filament exposed between the spool and print head, so if I know I won't print with that spool for awhile, it is best to pull the whole filament out of the printer like you would do if you change cartridges, so you can keep the whole filament with spool or cartridge sealed up.





I had a spool where the filament had become brittle, but after storing in a bag with a few desiccant pouches it seemed less brittle and was useable again.

Here is where I got the desiccant pouches. The 10 gm are good size pouches.


Note: The moisture absorption issue applies mainly to PLA, but I treat PLA and ABS the same and keep them both sealed as much as possible.

Also, when removing the spool from a cartridge, make sure to write onto the spool, which cartridge it belongs to, so you don't get them mixed up if you have multiple cartridges of same color etc..

Also, tape the end of the filament on the spool to the side of the spool, so it keeps the winding tight when the spool is bagged.







Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Update for Heated Printbed users (and standard CubeX print platform)

If you are using the GRM Heated Printbed on your CubeX, there are two recommended changes you can easily do. (#1 can be applied to the standard printbed also)

1.  Regarding the z-sensor relocation kit:
I applied some extra drops of 5 min epoxy glue onto the side of the magnet and where it mounts to, to secure it better and prevent any movements.
I also put a zip-tie around the new z-sensor clip and the rail where it mounts onto, to also secure it better in place and prevent any sensor movements.
With the magnet and sensor securely in place, I very rarely have to re-adjust the z-gap. I have not for quite awhile. I don't even check it anymore.
I home the printer, heat up the printbed, make sure the filament is loaded, then "Home" again, select the printfile and print.

2.  Applies to standard and heated printbed:
After you leveled your printbed, add a M5 nut (non locking nut) to the bottom of each right and left leveling adjustment screws and tighten it against the mount. This will tighten the adjustment screw into the mount and make it more stable. I did not really have an issue with the printbed platform moving, but I noticed that I can rock it a little bit when pushed against it, so tightening the will prevent the screw to wiggle/move in the threaded mount.
Make sure to use a standard non locking M5 nut so when you tighten the nut it does not turn the adjustment screw and affect your leveling adjustment.

 
 
The standard CubeX print platform comes with a locknut, but the locknut might turn your adjustment screw when tightening the nut, so it is easier to use just a regular nut.
 
 
 
3.  Adjusting the printbed heater cycle time.  The initial default heater cycle time is quite long and can cause the printbed height to vary slightly due to the temperature change cycle. This can result into slightly uneven print layers which looks like "ribbing" on the printed part.
This is easily corrected by increasing the heater cycle time.
 
If you just very recently bought a heated printbed, the default might be already corrected to "3".
 
Here is how to adjust the heater cycle time:
 
  • Turn on the heater.
  • Push and hold the "Set" button till the display changes.
  • Then push the "Set" button again several times slowly (it cycles thru the different settings).
  • Cycle thru till the display shows "t 20". (That is the cycle time set to 20).
  • Select the down button to change it to 3.
  • It will save the new setting automatically and return to the normal display after 10 seconds not pushing any buttons.

  • NOTE: Do not change the cycle time lower than "3". With this setting the print layers come out even and a lower setting would just put more unnecessary cycle time on the relay.
    Also no need to adjust or tinker with any other settings on the heater controller.





     
     

    Monday, November 11, 2013

    Tuesday, November 5, 2013

    New Software version 1.08

    With this version you cannot bypass the print cartridge check !
    Only version 1.07 created the modifiable .bfb file.


    2.0 Release HighlightsMaterial Profiles V8
    o Further improvements to seam lines
    - ABS 0.1mm and 0.25mm are near seamless in most cases.Note: 0.25mm Fast Draft has not been modified
    - PLA seam has been further improved o Improved down facing surfaces when printing geometries without a raft for both ABS and PLA material, at all layer heights.
    o Improved part quality for ABS 0.25mm
    o Optimizations have been made for "quick layers".

    CubeX Software has taken a leap forward by providing a detailed Help tool. The following are examples of what type of Help Tools have been added:
    o Help is now provided for various CubeX User Interface Questions.
    o There is a "How To" section for installing Software & Firmware.
    o There is a "Maintenance" section for setting ZGap, Checking Platform Level, Setting Print Jet Wiper, Stabilizing the Print Bed and how to appropriately Apply Magic Glue.
    o Tool Tips have been added to the Build Settings, Printer Configuration & Build Windows to help describe various features.
    o Additionally, Users have the ability to Press F1 to trigger topic specific Help Tools when highlighting various operations in the CubeX user interface.

    See full release notes:
    Release notes 1.08


    Note: If you get a message "you do not have privileges to install etc....." during the install, try the install again by right clicking on the setup.exe file and select "Run as administrator".

     Installation Instructions:
    - Uninstall previous installation of CubeX Software.
    - Extract the cubex_software_win.zip folder
    - Double click on setup.exe to begin installation
    - The installer will direct thru the install process
    - after installation complete, a CubeX Shortcut will be placed on the Desktop

    Link to download new software version:
    http://cubify.com/resource.aspx?link_id=14



    -

    Wednesday, October 16, 2013

    New Software version 1.07


    Enhancements & Fixes:
    - Updated Material Profiles - version 7 - Enhancements to part quality for ABS and PLA
    - Fix bug where Print Jet 1 was always used for drawing the internal hatch structure in features that should be using Print Jet 2 or Print Jet 3.
    - There have been instances where the "Build" button on the "Build" dialogue is not available.  The
    "Build" dialogue is now resizeable so that the "Build" button is accessible.


    Note: If you get an message "you do not have privileges to install etc....." during the install, try the install again by right clicking on the setup.exe file and select "Run as administrator".

     Installation Instructions:
    - Uninstall previous installation of CubeX Software.
    - Extract the cubex_software_win.zip folder
    - Double click on setup.exe to begin installation
    - The installer will direct thru the install process
    - after installation complete, a CubeX Shortcut will be placed on the Desktop

    Link to download new software version:
    http://cubify.com/resource.aspx?link_id=14


    Friday, October 4, 2013

    Another new Software version: 1.06

    Software version 1.06 just got released, shortly after the 1.05 release.  - SEE NOTE below !

    NOTE:  Maybe you want to wait downloading this version there might be a bug that can cause a filament flow error.
    I am getting a bad printfile when using jet 2 or jet 3.


    See Release notes for changes.
    Release notes:
    Software 1.06 Release notes PDF

    CubeX Maintainance document:
    CubeX Maintainance check PDF


    (Note: If you get an message "you do not have privileges to install etc....." during the install, try the install again by right clicking on the setup.exe file and select "Run as administrator".

     Installation Instructions:
    - Uninstall previous installation of CubeX Software.
    - Extract the cubex_software_win.zip folder
    - Double click on setup.exe to begin installation
    - The installer will direct thru the install process
    - after installation complete, a CubeX Shortcut will be placed on the Desktop

    Link to download new software version:
    http://cubify.com/resource.aspx?link_id=14

    Saturday, September 28, 2013

    New CubeX software version 1.05

    New CubeX software version 1.05 just got released.
    (Current Firmware version is still 1.07)

    Enhancements & Fixes:
    - Updated Material Profiles - version 5 - Enhancements to part quality for ABS and PLA.
    - Updated Support Paramters - Enhancements to the supports that are used for the 0.25 mm layer   thickness mode for ABS and PLA.
    - Fine Features & Points are inproved for PLA.
    - ABS Raft on PLA Parts has been improved.


    (Note: If you get an message "you do not have privileges to install etc....." during the install, try the install again by right clicking on the setup.exe file and select "Run as administrator".

     Installation Instructions:
    - Uninstall previous installation of CubeX Software.
    - Extract the cubex_software_win.zip folder
    - Double click on setup.exe to begin installation
    - The installer will direct thru the install process
    - after installation complete, a CubeX Shortcut will be placed on the Desktop

    Link to download new software version:
    http://cubify.com/resource.aspx?link_id=14

    Monday, September 2, 2013

    PLA vs. ABS printing

    There are pros and cons for either PLA or ABS material printing. Here are my experiences so far.
    (Please feel free to provide feedback so I can include other's experiences and knowledge).

    Side note:   Since I have still have had some cartridge filament binding issues, I currently run all my filament spools outside the cartridge on an external holder to avoid a ruined print, and can keep an eye on the spool and filament. (see other post for more info).
    That's how the other 3D printers have it anyway.

    In general, printing flaws shows up most with black filament, just like you can see dirt more on a black car.


    PLA Pros:
    Prints in general come out cleaner and smoother. (except some 0.10 resolution come out worse than 0.25 resolution because printjet gets pulled away in between layers leaving a lot of "fuss" on the part.)
    The material is overall harder, but therefore can crack or break easier if flexed too much.
    Printed part dimensional tolerances are more accurate.
    Can be drilled and tapped.

    PLA Cons:
    More difficult to "clean up" after print.
    Can be sanded or filed, but looses surface color finish and gets whitish were cut or sanded. (sanding or cutting marks are least visible on white PLA).
    Parts get soft and can warp if exposed to hot temperatures.

    ABS Pros:
    Easy to clean up and rework after printing.
    Can be easily sanded, filed.
    Can be drilled or tapped.
    Dull or shiny surface finishes can be achieved with acetone and a rag.
    Higher temperature resistance.
    Support features are easier to remove.

    ABS Cons:
    Print limitations because of higher material shrinkage and warping if you don't have a heated print bed.
    Some part tolerances or features might not come out as accurate or sharp as with PLA.


    These are the tools I use for part clean up after printing:

    Tools for PLA parts:
    • Exactor knife
    • Flush cutters
    • Sand paper (seldom used on PLA)
    Tools for ABS parts:
    • Exactor knife
    • Flush cutters
    • Sand paper
    • Acetone with rag (read safety labels for acetone)



    Here are some print examples:  (click on the pictures to enlarge).

    This Garmin Bike mount was printed in PLA and ABS, both seem functional print quality equivalent.
    I tried printing the part in 0.10 PLA, but came out crappy and was aborted early.
    In general, 0.25 resolution works best for PLA.
     
     

    Here is a PLA print resolution comparison where the 0.25 produces a better print quality than 0.10.
    This model is only 2" tall.




    The same model was printed with ABS in 0.10 resolution.
    The print quality of the 0.10 ABS model coming right of the printer, looked somewhere between the 0.10 and 0.25 PLA print.
    The difference is that with PLA print, there is not much improving you can do to the printed part besides cutting off the fuss and strays. the print lines will still show. That is no problem in functional parts, but might not look as good on "visual" models.
    As you can see on the Batman head below.


    Here is another model printed with PLA and ABS both in 0.25 resolution.
    The 0.25 PLA print came out nice without much cleanup needed.
    The 0.25 ABS print came out equally nice, but could be even more improved with an acetone wipe.






     
     
     
    For the next example, PLA was a better material choice. The part being fairly long (7") and less than 2mm thick, did not work so well for ABS. I am not sure if a "thick" fill would have made a difference, since the software does not handle thin walls so well and leaves them hollow.




    And another print comparison.
    This Tarbosaurus skull came off the printer cleaner in PLA, but the end result after clean up can be quite more realistic looking with the ABS part since it can be easily sanded and an acetone rub to blend (melt) in the print lines so they are not visible,






     
     
    0.10 Resolution seems to work better with ABS than PLA. (stick with 0.25 for PLA).
    Here are some nice prints with ABS 0.10 resolution. These came off the printer very clean.
     
     
    ABS White  0.10 resolution



     
     
     
     



     
     
     
     


    Sometimes no matter what you do, the print won't come out as expected, which can be just the limit of the CubeX software created build file or model geometry.
    Always try to position the model to minimize overhangs.

    All my print comparisons were printed with heated print bed.
    Some parts with a very small foot print might come out ok with ABS on standard print bed.

    I am planning to do the next post on support structures and print orientations.



    Saturday, August 31, 2013

    CubeX Top Cover Hinge

    This is a must have for the CubeX.
    It's nice that the top cover for the CubeX is removable for easy access, but then you always have to put the cover somewhere.
    I just installed a cover hinge set I bought from GRM Products. It is so nice to have. Now I just open the lid and it stays up, till you pull the lever in to close the lid. Very simple. The CubeX should have come with a hinged top cover.

    The installation per instructions is straight forward.
    You do need to drill and tap holes into the back housing cover of the CubeX to mount the hinges to the CubeX.
    The Hinge kit came with all the parts and screws.
    For installation, you need a drill, a #19 drill bit (0.166") and a 5mm x 0.8 tap. The allen driver that came with the CubeX fits the screws for the hinge.

    I was a little worried to just screw into the plastic back cover to hold the hinges and did not want to strip the thread, but the screws just need to be snug to easily hold the hinges and cover in place.

    This is so nice to have now.      -  I like !

    Here is where I bought it.
    http://shop.grmproducts.com/BFB-Cover-Hinge-Set-CVRHNG.htm?categoryId=5


     
     


    Wednesday, August 7, 2013

    Heated Printbed "Part 2"


    I have had the heated printbed now for 2 month, printing ABS and PLA parts.
    No more part warping. It is working great.
    Since there are more and more CubeX users installing the heated printbed, I thought I post my experiences and what I have learned.

    Here is some of my standard equipment:

    Alcohol
    Acetone slurry (Acetone with some small pieces of ABS dissolved in it)
    Spatula
    Rag
    Exactor knife

    I use kapton tape on the print platform. I use a 5" wide 1mil thick kapton tape. (This spool will last a long time).   Kapton tape link
    Some use blue painters tape, but Kapton works for me better because it gives a smoother part bottom surface.

    First I clean off the printbed with alcohol so the kapton tape adheres well.
    Then start applying the tape from the back side of the printbed and use a credit card to apply the tape to the printbed. It takes a little practice to get it on without bubbles, but does not take long.
    Then cut the tape with the exactor knife at the end of the printbed. The tape can be used for several prints. If it has tears in some areas from removal of a prior part, I just place the next print around it or re-apply new tape.
    (When removing the tape, start at the back side and then pull the tape off the printbed towards the front, and hold the front of the printbed down a little so the printbed does not get pulled up in the front during tape removal).

    The 5" wide tape fits most of my prints. If there is any larger print, I place the tape side by side.


    You can search the web for different ways to apply the kapton tape.

    For example, you can apply some windex onto the printbed and then put the kapton tape on top and position it, then squeegee out the excess windex and heat up the bed to dry it out.
    Note: Don't spray windex all over the system etc., wipe excess off with rag.


    Here is my printing routine:
    • Assuming there is already kapton tape on the printbed, for PLA part printing, use a rag with alcohol to clean the top printbed surface. For smaller ABS part printing, clean top printbed surface also with alcohol. For larger ABS part printing, wipe the top printbed surface with acetone slurry, which will improve ABS part adhesion. The acetone slurry will leave a "foggy" looking film on the kapton tape. 
    • Note: Do not use the acetone slurry for PLA printing. Clean off acetone slurry with alcohol before PLA part printing.
    • Turn on the printer and the heated printbed power.
    • Hit the "Home" menu button. This will raise the printbed and therefore open the heated printbed shut off switch. (The heated printbed should be on now).
    • Select the desired temperature. (Default for ABS is 110deg, PLA 70deg.).
    • While the printbed is heating up (2 to 5 min) I prepare the printfile and copy it onto the memory stick.
    • Now I check and clean off any filament debris of any print jets. This can be done from the left side access in the CubeX when in "Home" position.
    • Then I select the "z-gap" menu button and check / adjust the z-gap if needed.
      • (With the z-sensor relocation kit (included in heated bed kit), the z-gap has been more consistent).
    • Then select the "Print" menu button and the file I want to print.
    • I still always watch the first few layers being printed and make sure all is going well.

    Heated bed temperature settings:
    PLA Printing:
    In general, 70deg is good.
    But sometimes I turn it down a little. Here is an example where a too high temperature caused a problem on a PLA part.
    With the print bed at 70deg. the legs at the bottom of the PLA part stayed too warm and the part flexed a little, causing the part on top to get messed up.

    Reprinting the part with the print bed at 60deg, solved the issue.
     

    ABS printing:
    In general 110deg is good.
    Very large parts with large flat bottoms, I have printed at 120deg to make sure it adheres well and won't lift.

    If the ambient temperature is cool and I am printing a larger ABS part, I also drape a towel over the CubeX to cover the left and front open sides to keep the heat in the print area to avoid cracks or splits in the part at higher print layers. Also crank the heated bed up to 120C.
     
    Several smaller ABS parts I have printed at 100deg so they are easier to remove after the print.

    So with different settings you can adjust to a certain degree how well the part will bond to the print bed surface.

    It is best to let the print bed cool down after a print, before trying to remove the part. The part will come off easier then and also less chance of marring the part because it is cooled down and harder.

    PLA parts seem to be easier to remove after printing than ABS parts. When I create the build file, I often add a "helper pad" underneath a corner of the part, which gives me an area to get the spatula underneath the part for easier removal without marring the part. The helper pad can then be easily be cut off afterwards.
     Helper disks zip file

    It is nice not having to use the sticky glue anymore and messing with that and not having to take the print platform in and out.

    Using the alcohol and acetone slurry with a rag is clean since it mostly evaporates.




    General CubeX stuff:
    For more advanced users, you can also adjust the print jet temperature.
    The first layer is usually printed with a higher print jet temperature to maximize filament adhesion to the print bed, then the print jet moves away, cools down a little and then continues the print at a little lower temperature.



    It seems like you can also change the filament feed speed, but it changes during the print, depending on the features, so it seems to jump back to the programmed value.

    I have not yet played much with tweaking the print temperature values, so I don't have any advise yet, besides "try at your own risk".
    I will have to do some web search to find out more about tweaking the print jet temperature for specific prints.
    Currently, when the build file is created, it determines the "best" temperatures for each individual part, which can vary depending on the part and material.




    I am printing right now this Theropod Dino skull in PLA and then again in ABS to compare how they come out.
    Planning to do a Post about ABS vs. PLA, pros and cons about each, and my experiences.