3D Printing with the Solidoodle!

I have finally gotten the Solidoodle to print! I couldn’t get the software to cooperate on Ubuntu which forced me to install Windows. Installing windows was a project in itself because I had to replace the CD drive with an SSD. As it turns out, the Windows only version of the software plays nice. I started out with just  a simple calibration cube.

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It was ok. Nothing to really write home about, but I am sure I can make the machine produce more consistent shapes with more tuning. At first, I was having issues getting the print to stick to the print bed. After fiddling around, I fixed this by cleaning the print bed, slowing the print speed, increasing the flow rate, and increasing the heat on the bed and print head. You can see the before and after pictures clearly.

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Go home Solidoodle, you’re drunk.

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This is a bracket I designed to connect to the LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT motor. It adds more connection points which makes integrating the motor into a model easier. While the print came out ok, I have learned that 3D printing and face down counter-bores do not mix. The small height difference and overhang created by the counter-bore is just too subtle to capture. In the next version of this print, I am going to change the model to remove the counter-bores. This will make the print thinner overall, but it should function within the LEGO Technic System. In addition, I am going to add a small scaling factor to compensate for thermal shrinkage since the holes seem way to tight.

Next, I made another bracket like the old one, but with the counter-bores stripped off. Below you can see the difference! I forgot to add a larger scaling factor, but I wanted to see how it would come out anyway so I let it finish printing. You can see how it is slightly nicer to not have counter-bores on the left. On the right, you can see how the face down counter-bores just melted into the model.

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I am printing a model for the Hacker Scouts. I was trying to find a way to easily connect two servos and an Arduino together to make a very simple robot. I was unable to find an off the shelf solution that was easy enough for an 8 year old to assemble.  I threw this together and went on printing it. This is a great example of how 3D printing can be used for educational purposes.

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Here is the model sitting on its side. Those cutouts in the side mount the servos which drive wheels. I lost my two continuous-rotation servos when I moved recently which is why they are not installed yet; I ordered some more from Sparkfun.

And now for the fireworks. You know when You are working on stuff and it breaks? Like badly? As it turns out my Solidoodle print head overheated – badly. I have not seen this before. I had the machine resting with the head temperature at 200C and the bed at 100C. As I was using CAD at my computer, I was smelling smoke. I looked over to see black smoke bellowing out the print-head. I saw on the software interface that the head had jumped to 230C! This sadly melted my print-head. I tried to fix it by remelting the print-head, because that is clearly the best idea. I was unable to get the print-head to melt again. All of the automatic safeties kicked in and did not let the head get that hot again. However, what I did notice is that if the print head gets too far over the target temperature, the temperature climbs rapidly. PID problem? I am guessing this might have had something to do with it. At the time, I had the head in the home position which is next to the print bed. I am thinking that the extra heat from the bed ?might? have somehow added more heat to the head which caused the runaway heating problem. During the incident, the head melted out of alignment and clogged with black ABS. Moreover, the head now leaks ABS out the side if it tries to extrude. I am going to contact Solidoodle support and see if they can get me a new part so I can keep printing again. You can see the broken print-head below.

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Below is what I was working on when the printer derped. It’s a hole checker. I am trying to figure out what size I need to make the holes for the LEGO pins to fit nicely. If you remember above, those holes ended up being way to tight. I am testing 4.0mm(way under), 4.8mm(specified LEGO size), 4.9mm, 5.0mm, 5.1mm, and 5.2mm. We are going to solve this mystery one way or another! Also notice the lack of counter-bores.







See you next time!