We Are Learning 3D Printing Through Our Personal Experience…
SLA (Stereolitography) 3D printers rely on liquid resin that is being solidified with the help of UV light (Laser, LED or DLP light source), however when the finished print is ready to be removed from the build plate it still needs some more work. The first step is to clean it up with the help of stong alcohol that will remove any liquid residues from the resin, then you might need to remove some support material if you needed it. You would notice however that the 3D printed part has a bit of rubbery feel and is not yet like a strong plastic, so it needs to be cured with additional UV light to become strong. One of the most common and easy ways to do it is to bring out the 3D printed part outside so the sun can shine on it and cure it in a few minutes, however this is not the best way to do it and the sun is not always available when you need it to provide enough UV light.
We have experimented with different sources of UV light to see if we can easily cure 3D printed parts on our new XYZprinting Nobel 1.0 SLA 3D printer. We’ve started with a 3W UV LED lamp from a flashlight, but that was simply not powerful enough an even after an hour the test parts were still not cured well enough. Then we have moved to UV lamps for checking for counterfeit money, these are usually available with a 4-8W UV lamps and are pretty easy to find, but unfortunately they were still not powerful enough. So the next step was a string of UV LED lights where we got about 8W of power per meter and this meant that we needed quite a long strip to get more power out of them and we have moved to looking for alternatives. The next thing we have tried was a 36W nail polish curing UV lamp – these are available in different forms from about 9W to about 48W, but the 36W model seems to be quite common and cheap to get. It uses four 9W CCFL UV lamps and apparently provides enough UV light in order to cure most 3D printer parts in just a few minutes. It has worked really well with the clear resin prints from the Nobel 1.0 SLA 3D printer and there is enough space to fit inside relatively large objects. If you need more space you should be able to pretty easily modify the standard plastic box and make a larger size box with some aluminum foil.
If you add a Heated Build Platform (HBP) to your MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer you will need to do some modifications to your working process whenever you want to be able to print with a hot build plate. Using the MakerBot Desktop software with a Replicator 2 with HBP can be pretty easy just switching to the profile of a Replicator 2X, but there are some drawbacks. In order to be able to have more control on your prints with a Heated Build Platform on a Replicator 2 3D printer you probably would want to go for a different slicer such as the Simplify3D that we are already using. Since Simplify3D already has built-in support for Replicator 2 3D printers with installed HBP it is easier to take advantage of that along with the many other available options to control the printing process that the software offers. Enabling the HBP support and using it properly in Simplify3D however requires a bit more to make it work properly, so we are going to be looking at what steps you need to take.
First you need to enable the Replicator 2 with HBP profile in Simplify3D, to do that you need to do the following steps (we assume you have already selected a MakerBot Replicator 2 as the printer you are using in the slicer):
– Start the Simplify3D software
– Open the Tools menu and go into Firmware Configuration
– Go to the X3G tabl and under GPX Configuration select the Replicator 2 with HBP profile
– Click on Save and you are almost ready to go
Next you need to manually add some additional code to make sure your Replicator 2 3D printer will first heat the build plate before starting to print and that the temperature will be kept at the desired value until the print finishes. To do so follow the steps described below, the end result should look like on the screenshot above.
– Click on the Edit Process Settings Button
– Go to the Scripts tab and open up the Starting G-code
– Look for the following line of code: M126 S[fan_speed_pwm]
– After the above line of code you need to add the following two new lines:
M140 S[bed0_temperature] T0 ; heat build platform
M134 T0 ; stabilize build platform temperature
Then add some more extra code to make sure that the 3D printer will stop the heating of the build plate and cool it down after the printing finishes. To do so follow the steps described below, the end result should look like on the screenshot above.
– While still in the Scripts tab and open up the Ending G-code tab
– Look for the following line of code: M104 S0 T0 ; cool down extruder
– After the above line of code you need to add the following line:
M140 S0 T0 ; cool down heated build platform
After this you should be all ready to start 3D printing using the heated build platform on your MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer, the only thing left too do is set the desired temperature of the Heated Build Platform that you want to use. You can do that with the following steps:
– Click the Edit Process Settings button of your current printing process
– Go to the Temperature Tab and click on the Add Temperature Controller
– Enter a name like HBP for example or Heated Build Platform
– Make sure that under Temperature Controller you select Heated Build Platform
– Set the desired temperature of the HBP by double clicking on the available Setpoint
– We are using 50-60 degrees Celsius for PLA (if needed) and 80-100 for ABS printing, use these as a reference
The MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer does not come with a heated build plate, but you can add one – either a readily available unofficial upgrade or make a DIY one. The control board of the Replicator 2 does have the needed support to control a HBP if you install one and decide to let the printer control it based on your settings. You would of course need to replace the power adapter with a more powerful one that will be able to handle the extra power requirements of the heated build plate…
The more important question however is how do you use the HBP after you install it on the Replicator 2 with the MakerBot Desktop software (previously called MakerBot MakerWare). What you can do to make the heated build plate is to switch the software to the Makerbot Replicator 2x profile instead of the Replicator 2 that you should normally be using. You can do that from the MakerBot Desktop going to Devices – Select Type of Device – Makerbot Replicator 2x. It however comes with some drawbacks such as slightly reduced build plate size in the software, though your heated build platform may actually be smaller compared to the original space available prior to that.
You need to go through the Print Settings panel in order to get access to the settings for 3D printing and under the Temperature tab you will see the option to enable the option called Heat the Build Plate and set the Build Plate temperature to the desired value. Also since the Replicator 2 has only one extruder, you need to set the temperature for the extruder in the Right Extruder panel.
On the MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer you also need to do something in order to activate the support for the Heated Build Plate. You need to go into the following menu Info and settings – General Settings – Set to Yes to the Heated Plate option. Also in order to properly use the Preheat setting from the 3D printer you should also go into the menu Info and settings – Preheat Settings – Set the desired temperature for Preheat under Platform.