Posts Tagged ‘3d printer upgrade

makerbot-replicator-2-filament-drive-upgrade

Time for yet another upgrade for our faithful MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer, this time we are going to be upgrading the plastic filament drive mechanism of the extruder with a better all metal version from Fabberworld. The filament drive upgrade comes as a full kit containing all precisely CNC machined parts from aluminum that will replace the plastic parts, along with stainless steel screws, replacement bearing, spring and even a pulley gear for the motor. The kit is designed for Replicator 2 3D printers that have a total thickness of the plastic parts of 20mm as there are models of the printer with slimmer 15mm parts, but we have figured out an easy way to install it even on these. We are going to get back to that in a moment however. There is also a version of the upgrade available for MakerBot Replicator 2X 3D printer where you essentially get two kits – a left and right one for each of the motors of the dual extruder 3D printer.

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Probably some of you will ask why we would want to upgrade the standard plastic parts with aluminum ones, the answer is simple – plastic wears off easily, it breaks and it does not handle that well a lot of heat. The standard plastic parts are from injection molded ABS plastic that is pretty durable and resistant to high temperature, but over time it can start to wear off from abrasive filaments and to deform or even break from the constant high temperatures around it. Back on the metal upgrade kit, it not only replaces the plastic parts, but also comes with some improvements that help you get more consistent and problem free prints and these actually do seem to work well. On the top “lever” where the filament goes in there is a wider opening to allow the PTFE tube to slide in and make the filament slide in easily when you load it into the extruder, though if you are not using the Teflon filament guide tube this can actually make it a bit harder to load filament. The included MK7 pulley that replaces the standard one has a smaller gap where the filament goes through that is more suitable for the 1.75mm filament that the MakerBot Replicator 2 uses. The standard pulley that our printer came up with seems to be more suitable for 3mm filaments than the 1.75mm one that we are actually using, so after the upgrade you should also get more contact surface and force pulling the filament through the nozzle and thus in theory less problems with filament jams.

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Now, how to install the filament drive upgrade for the extruder of MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printers that come with 15mm thickness of the plastic parts. We have figured out a way to do everything as easy as with 20mm models, all you would need are two 5mm spacers to bring the motor back the needed extra space. The only thing that you would need to remove is the fan grill in front of the cooling fan of the extruder and then the two screws holding everything in place will be long enough to accommodate the 5mm spacers (you can use two 2.5mm ones or a different combination if you do not have a single 5mm ones). The cooling fan blades are small and if you do everything with a bit of extra caution around the extruder while the printer is operating you should not have trouble even with the fan grill missing. Alternatively you can look for screws with extra 5mm length and keep the full build with the fan grill, but finding only two 5mm spacers should be easier and you can probably build them with existing smaller spacers that you may have lying around.

For the price that the MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer sells one would expect to get a 3D printer that is well built and very durable with no problems while printing, but our experience has shown that after you get the device you still need to do some upgrading and tuning as you go. One of the good upgrades that you might want to do in order to have less problems on the long term with issues working with the 3D printer is the filament drive upgrade of the extruder, though it is not the only one. Do note however that some of the upgrades, including this one are not as easy to be performed by people that are new to 3D printing and are not familiar with their 3D printers as it requires to disassemble the extruder and then assemble it again with the new parts installed.

Visit the product page of the Makerbot Replicator 2 Extruder Filament Drive Upgrade…

aluminum-arm-stiffeners

Time for another upgrade to our MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer, this time we have decided to install aluminum arm stiffeners in order to help eliminate sagging of the build plate and reduce the lateral build plate vibration and movement during printing. The upgrade parts we are installing are the Aluminum Arm Stiffeners from Performance 3-d. The installation kit we got is designed to fit multiple 3D printers and it includes pretty much all things to mount it including screws and a drilling tool that is partly 3D printed. These Aluminum Arm Stiffeners are designed to be fitted as an upgrade on Makerbot Replicator 1, Replicator 2, Replicator 2X, Flashforge Creator, and Wanhao Duplicator 4, Duplicator 4X.

The arm stiffeners are relatively easy to install and it should not take a lot of time, then you need to spend some time tweaking things up before finally tightening them – try moving the build platform up and down over the Z axis to make sure that everything is fine. The results after installing the upgrade – less problems with failed or not that good looking 3D prints as with other upgrades that we have already installed, but still we do still have some issues from time to time. In general however after installing each new upgrade to our 3D printer we are getting less and less problems after that, so there is definitely an improvement, either small or big.

replicator-2-filament-guide-tube-holder-upgrade

One of the best things about 3D printers is that once you get one, you are able to start printing modifications and upgrades for your own device using the printer itself. Regardless of how good or expensive the 3D printer is there are usually some things that you can further improve or just make your life easier by printing some additional parts that might extend the device’s functionality. You don’t need to even design the parts yourself as many of them are already available for direct printing, at least for the Makerbot Replicator 2 printer (including many compatible models) that we use.

In fact we have already printed some upgrades for our Replicator 2 3D printer that we are using and are very happy with, apart from the upgrades that cannot be directly printed, but need to be bough separately or to be made using different hardware. Upgrades like a holder for the filament guide tube, or a better spool holder for non-standard spools with filament can save you from unsuccessful prints. Other upgrades such as upgrading the extruder filament feed mechanism or adding build plate holders can result in better quality prints. There are other upgrades that you can also find useful such as SD card or tool holders, camera holders for recoding the build process and so on and so on. Not to mention that you can also print upgrades that are purely for visual tuning and upgrades that can also be fun as they will allow you to personalize the 3D printer.

Check for some 3D printer upgrades already available for download on Thingiverse…


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