We Are Learning 3D Printing Through Our Personal Experience…
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
We got a spool of the ColorFabb XT filament (the standard transparent one) that is based on Eastman Amphora 3D polymer as an alternative to PLA filament to try it out. ColorFabb says that their XT filament, unlike PLA, is absolutely neutral from color and completely transparent. So if your 3d print project requires some transparency the they recommend to give XT a try, the problem however is that this filament is apparently not as easy to print as standard PLA. It is more like printing with ABS and although heated build platform is not required it is recommended to have it and use it with this filament as otherwise you might get warping of the printed objects. The ColorFabb XT filament also needs higher printing temperature and the advantage it brings is that it is stronger and resists higher temperatures as compared to PLA.
The manufacturer recommended printing temperature for the ColorFabb XT filament is between 240-260 degrees Celsius, with a 40-70 mm/s extrusion speed and the use of a heated build platform that is at 60-70 degrees Celsius. Since our MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer does not come with a heated build platform we have tried printing the ColorFabb XT on a cold build platform. This has caused us to struggle a bit until we find the best settings that would allow us to print without warping and get good enough results, but we have managed to do it. The settings that worked for us were 245 degrees C for the extruder, 40 mm/s extrusion speed and using rafts for printing as well as turning off the cooling fan that cools down the extruded filament. You should note that the MakerBot Desktop software does not come with a feature that disables the cooling fan upon user request for a specific model, but thankfully the Simplify 3D software that we also use does come with such a feature available for the MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer.
On the photo above you can see a direct comparison between the ColorFabb XT filament (their transparent version) on the left versus a MakerBot Neutral PLA. The PLA seems a bit less transparent and has some yellowish tint while the ColorFabb is whiter and more transparent. When talking about transparency however there are some important tips that need to be taken into account with the ColorFabb XT filament to get the best results. To get the most transparency out of the print ColorFabb recommends to try the following: disable cooling fan for the entire print; print slowly at about 20-40 mm/s; increase flow rate, so the perimeters melt together; print at rougher layer heights, such as 0.27mm – 0.35mm. Also taking into account the infill you are going to be using depending on the type of the 3D model you are going to be printing is important when you use transparent filaments in general and not only ColorFabb XT.
Our conclusion about the ColorFabb XT filament is that it definitely has some useful advantages over traditional PLA filaments such as the increased strength and temperature resistance. We have tried soaking 3D printer parts using the ColorFabb XT in water with temperature of 80 degrees Celsius and the parts remains pretty strong and solid, unlike PLA that will get really soft at temperatures of over about 65 degrees. The drawback that a heated build platform is recommended for easy and problem free printing makes the filament less attractive for users that have 3D printers with no heated build platform. For such people we would recommend to not go for the ColorFabb XT as although you might still be able to get decent prints most of the time you would most likely have problems printing at times especially with bigger and more complex models.