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 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:


    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 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:

    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 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:

    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 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:

    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.


    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:

    Acetone slurry (Acetone with some small pieces of ABS dissolved in it)
    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.

    Wednesday, July 31, 2013

    New Firmware version 1.07

    A new Firmware version is available:
    The Software version is still 1.04

    Version 1.07 contains enhancements to the machines accuracy and the way it senses the z gap setting.
    Download link:

    The Firmware update process seems to work better now.

    If you have problems uploading the .hex firmware file thru the web, here is the CubeX V1.07.hex file you can copy onto your local desktop and then upload it from there.
    CubeX V1.07.hex


    Friday, July 26, 2013

    Z-gap consistency or inconsistency

    The CubeX uses reed switches / sensors for the xyz homing. The switch activates thru a magnetic field (from a magnet). The z-sensor / switch is a black ~ 4mm diameter, 25mm long cylinder that sticks down vertical close to the jets back by the large single fan on the carriage.
    The magnet to trigger the sensor is glued on the bottom of the print platform. The z-sensor points towards the magnet. Once the magnet with its magnetic field gets close enough to the sensor when the print platform moves up, the platform stops moving (-/+ the offset that you calibrate when setting the z-gap).

    The z-sensor is positioned between the print jets and fans.
    The temperature in that area can vary with the jets on or off and the fans on or off,
    additionally the 6 fans (if you have a trio) can produce a different magnet field when they are on or off.
    So all this "noise" could have an effect on the repeatability of the z-sensor.

    Since I repositioned the z-sensor and magnet to a less "noisy" location, the z-gap has been very consistent.
    The sensor repositioning kit came with the heated printbed, but you can get the z-sensor kit by itself from GRM products.
    It installs easily without modifications to the current z-sensor setup. The current sensor just gets unplugged and the new sensor from the kit plugs into the connector instead.

    This little modification is well worth it.

    Also, make sure to check the "Print bed leveling aid" post, for easier print bed leveling.

    Just as a reference, here are pictures of the location for the X and Y homing sensors:

    In general, this is what I do before printing:
    1. Select the "Home" button. This will move the print jet behind the print bed so you can do step three.
    2. Make sure the jets don't have any (not even a tiny piece at the tip) of filament left stuck on them otherwise it can affect your z-gap measurement.
    3. Hit the "z-gap" menu button and check or adjust the z-gap with the up/down button.
    4. Then print. 
    Note: Always "Home" before setting or checking the z-gap. This has been most consistent.

    (Note: I am not affiliated with GRM products and I have to buy my stuff like everybody else, but I gladly promote companies with great products and services that make my life easier).


    Friday, July 19, 2013

    Filament Cartridge update

    Well, the Cartridge binding issues that can cause filament flow errors etc.. might be over.
    Cubify made some changes to the cartridge.

    I just got a new ABS gray cartridge (Source Graphics has gray and white ABS in stock).
    Because of the known possible cartridge binding issues I did not want to take a chance of getting a print failure due to cartridge / filament binding, so I opened up the new cartridge to run it on an external holder, not knowing there were recently some improvements made  to the cartridges.
    The inner cardboard spool is now narrower to prevent / minimize binding. The filament is now almost wound up to the top on a new full spool since the spool is narrower. (But has the same amount of filament as before - close to 650g).
    Since there is now a gap between the side of the cardboard spool and the cartridge case, you probably don't want to push filament back into the cartridge because it could go to the side of the spool and tangle.
    Externally the new cartridge looks the same, so you can't tell the difference.
    Not sure when the cartridge improvements got implemented, but I would assume any new cartridge you are getting now, has the improvements.
    Some measurements:
    The old cardboard spools were ~ 46.5 mm wide.
    Then new cardboard spools are ~ 40.5mm wide. The diameter is still the same, and the rest of the cartridge looks the same.
    So from the outside, you can't tell a difference.
    The date on the cardboard spool inside of the new cartridge is 23-05-13. 
    The Lot # of the new cartridge I got is: X12052413-1ABS-IGR (ABS Industrial Gray)
    The date on one of  the old (wider) cardboard spool inside is 3-5-13.
    The Lot # on one of the older cartridges is: X12050313-1ABS-WHT  (ABS White).
    The date of the implementation of the cartridge improvement could be different for each color or type of Cartridge.
    I put the new spool and cartridge back together and ran a 6 hour print with the new cartridge without issues. - Nice.
    Anyway, hopefully the binding issues are solved.
    October 2013  Update:
    Well, I still have some winding and binding even with the new spool design, so if one binds once, I take the spool out of the cartridge and run externally.


    Wednesday, July 10, 2013

    Cartridges and Filament flow errors

    Since there have been several users including myself with filament cartridge issues, and several posts about it in the CubeX user group, I thought I should post about it here with some possible temporary help to keep printing.
    This might help you to get by and use a problem cartridge.
    (Attempt at own risk).
    Each cartridge has a little chip at the bottom where the filament exits, that makes contact with the CubeX when the cartridge is installed. The chip contains information about what type of cartridge it is and possibly records the amount left in the cartridge.
    If you have a cartridge read error,  you should check that the contacts in the CubeX and on the cartridge are clean and try to re-insert it. If that does not help try the cartridge in a different cartridge slot if you have a duo or trio. I have had only one cartridge read error and it went away when I re-inserted it a few times.      Otherwise I don't have more help on that one, except power cycling the CubeX and trying again.
    If your cartridge is binding (filament won't pull out easily) and or you are getting a filament flow error you can carefully open the cartridge and run the spool externally.
    (Note:   A filament flow error might not always be due to a binding cartridge.)

    In some cases the filament is wound up crossed onto the spool and hanging the spool externally won't help either because it keeps tangling on the spool. (At least you can see what is going on with the spool hanging externally). In that case unwinding and rewinding up the filament on the spool is the only fix.
    (Note: Be careful to not damage the chip at the bottom of the cartridge, and careful with the inner cardboard spool since it is only lightly glued together.)
    Here is what I did:
    This has worked great for me with the 3 cartridges I had binding issues with. One I had to glue the spool back together, but got it useable off the external hanger.

    Take the cartridge out of the CubeX.
    Use a exactor knife to cut the label at the cartridge seam.

    To open the cartridge, start at bottom of the cartridge next to the chip. Insert a small flat screwdriver to release the clip next to the chip. Try to keep the chip in its place.
    Then do the same on the clip next to it and move all the way around to open the cartridge case.

    Carefully take the cardboard spool out. Handle the spool with care so it does not fall apart, since it is only lightly glued together.
    Once the spool is taken out of the cartridge, make sure the chip is in its place (if the chip fell out, make sure to position and orient it correctly, otherwise it won't make contact with the CubeX) and then close up the empty cartridge (with chip in place).
    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..
    The empty cartridge can now be inserted back into the CubeX.
    Inspect the spool and how the filament is wound up on it. You might have to unwind some filament, where it is bound or tangled up, and then loosely wind the filament back up on the spool.
    For the cardboard spool, you need a holder with a smooth rod so the spool can rotate on it.
    Here is a hanger you can print yourself (in PLA), but you also need a smooth 1/2" rod (should be very smooth / polished) with 8-32 threaded holes on each end and two 8-32 x 1/2" SHC screws and washers  and one large fender washer.

    STL file for spool hanger:   Spool holder .stl file
    SolidWorks file for spool hanger:  Spool holder SolidWorks file
     Or you can rig up anything similar as long as the spool has a very smooth rod to hang off and rotate on.
    Take the filament end, and make sure to get a clean cut of the filament so it will feed in properly. The filament should be still round at the end after clipping it. If not, you can use a exactor knife to slightly taper the end of the filament which might help feeding it back into the guide and filament feed motor.

    After prepping the filament end, you can then just feed the filament directly from the hanging spool into the filament guide in front of where you inserted the empty cartridge.

    Use the cartridge replace menu. (You can leave the empty cartridge in place during the process).
    Once the filament is feed thru and extruding , you are ready to go.
    If you have problems feeding the filament and the motor won't pull the filament in, go into the menu with the 240C icon. There you can heat up the jet by double clicking on the TGT temperature, it will toggle between 0 C, 195C and 230C. Use 230C.  Then you can double click on the feed speed to get the motor feeding at different speeds, 8 or 12 should work.
    Keep pushing the filament in, pull in and out, eventually it should go.
    I had a difficulties last time at a filament change, but eventually after I re-cut the end of the filament again, it feed in ok.
    After using the cartridge, I stick it in a plastic bag with the desiccant from the cartridge, till I use it again.