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.

hbp-firmware-configuration

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

hbp-code-1

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

hbp-code-2

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

hbp-temperature-set

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

protocycler

There are already quite a few designs for 3D printer filament recycling systems that allow you to reuse the material from failed prints or to create your own cheaper filament from plastic pellets. We were looking through the various systems already available and ones that are coming soon to choose the one that seems to be the most functional and useable device in our opinion. We’ve checked the most popular options including ExtrusionBot 2, Filabot, Filastruder, Nozetek Pro, ProtoCycler and Strooder and our choice was the ProtoCycler that is going to be released later this year. It is not the cheapest choice, nor it is the most expensive, but in our opinion it is the most versatile and promising all in one solution. The ProtoCycler from ReDeTec comes with hand powered built-in grinder and integrated spooling mechanism, so you do not need separate hardware for that. You get a good speed of the created filament rated at about 10 feet per minute at a low power usage and high maximum speed for melting different plastics to create filament.

Technical Specifications:
– Diameter tolerance: +/- 0.02mm
– Extrusion speed: Up to 10 ft/minute
– Electrical usage: 60 Watts
– Dimensions: 14″ x 12″ x 10″
– Grinder input: 5″ x 5″
– Hopper Capacity: Expandable
– Max Temp: All metal hot end for 400+ Celsius

The ProtoCycler was crowdfunded on IndieGoGo earlier this year successfully with over 200 backers of the project and is currently available for pre-order at $699.99 USD with estimated shipping set for Fall 2015. The people that backed the project via IndieGoGo have priority, so if you pre-order your unit now you will have to wait for their units to be shipped first.

For more information about the ReDeTec ProtoCycler filament maker…

colorfabb-woodfill-fine-pla-pha-filament-1

Time to try out another of ColorFabb’s PLA/PHA filaments, this time it is a Woodfill Fine filament that contains actual wood particles – about 70% ColorFabb PLA and 30% recycled wood fibers. The end result from printing with this filament is a 3D printed object that feels like it is made from wood and looks like one, it is also lighter than the same print using only plastic filaments. ColorFabb uses fine pinewood fibers for this filament that are mixed with their PLA/PHA filament acting as a binding agent and the combination does seem to work pretty well. The box of the filament says recommended printing temperatures are 190-210 degrees Celsius and the official website mentions 195-220, 40-100 mm/s printing speed and if a heated build platform is available to set it at 50-60 C, though it is not specifically required.

colorfabb-woodfill-fine-pla-pha-filament-2

We have tested printing with ColorFabb WoodFill Fine filament with a temperature of 190, 210, 230 and 250 degrees Celsius – outside of the recommended values to see what we are going to get as a result. The MakerBot Repilicator 2 3D printer that we are using was set to print with 0.2 mm layer height and 90 mm/s extrusion speed. Last year we have tested the Orbi-Tech LayWoo-d3 3D Printer Filament that was similar to the WoodFill from ColorFabb, but there were distinct differences between the two. At 190 degrees Celsius the ColorFabb WoodFill was having some trouble printing properly and we were getting filament jams inside the nozzle, going for 210 to 230 degrees things were fine in terms of printing and even at 250 the results were acceptable though the quality was not so good. We should note that around 210 degrees Celsius is probably the best temperature as with higher temperatures the filament is oozing too much from the nozzle and that requires a lot of cleanup work for larger models as you can see on the photo above. Also, unlike with the Orbi-Tech LayWoo-d3 where extrusion temperature affects the color of the printed object, with the ColorFabb Woodfill there is very little variation in color of the print using different extrusion temperature. The good thing however is that you can use standard printing speeds and settings with this filament just as you would with a normal PLA/PHA plastic only filament from ColorFabb.

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