We Are Learning 3D Printing Through Our Personal Experience…
Today our upgrades for the MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer that we are using made by BC Technological Solutions have arrived and we are already eager to start installing them. We’ve had to wait a bit for these to arrive when we have ordered them earlier this year, but it was well worth the wait – the shipping should be faster at the moment once you make an order. We have ordered both the Aluminum Arm Upgrade and the Removable Heated Build Plate Upgrade that the company makes for Replicator 2 and Replicator 2X owners and although a bit expensive, these are probably the best you can get if you need to stiffen the build plate and add heated build plate to your device.
We have already installed Aluminum Arm Stiffeners from Performance 3-D on our Replicator 2 3D printer and they are working quite well. The Aluminum Arm Upgrade from BC Technological Solutions however is much more advanced product as it is not in the form of an addon to your existing plastic arms, but completely replaces them. Another important advantage is that with the new metal arms for the build plate are designed in a way to accommodate linear bearings for the Z axis of the 3D printer. We have already made the Upgrade to Linear Bearings on our MakerBot Replicator 2 earlier this year for the X and Y axes. While doing the upgrade however we have discovered that with the stock plastic arms there are no suitable linear bearings that we can use for the Z axis, one of the reasons we actually decided to get the arms upgrade from the BC Technological Solutions.
By design the Replicator 2 3D printer from MakerBot is not designed to be used with ABS filaments as it does not come with a heated build platform and while we do not miss this feature much as we do not often need to resort to ABS printing. The problem is that there are already quite a few interesting experimental filaments that also require a heated build platform, so we have decided to add that functionality as well. Looking over various options raging from cheap DIY solutions to the more serious upgrades kits available we again ended up going for the Removable Heated Build Plate Upgrade from BC Technological Solutions as the best choice that not only adds heated build platform, but also includes some useful features such as the removable build plate attached with magnets. The only drawback with this upgrade is that it does nto include all the required things for installation on a Replicator 2 – you still need to order a 24V, 9.2A power adapter separately as the standard power adapter of the printer is not able to handle the increased power usage when using the heater. So you need to take into account the additional cost for a power adapter such as the 220W Meanwell GS220A24-R7B adapter that we have also ordered separately and are currently waiting it to arrive any moment now to start installing the upgrades.
With 3D printers it is not rare that you get failed prints due to filament jamming in the extruter of the device, especially when you are printing larger and more complex objects it can be really annoying if because of a jam you need to start over and you were almost finished. The good thing is that you may be able to still finish your print and have a useable part with none to some minimal issue that you might be able to still fix after the part is printed. What you need to do is to closely monitor your 3D printer while printing and especially listen to it while printing and if you hear the traditional sound of clogged extuder repeating a few times then you should react very fast and pause the printing process. On our MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer we need to hit the left button to go to the Menu and select Pause, then quickly go to the Change Filament, other 3D printers should have similar way of doing the same thing. Then you need to quickly pull out the filament from the extruder while it is still very hot and you can break or cut a small piece from the front and reinsert it quickly. We are doing it so fast already that there is no need to use the Load function for the filament, we just push it a bit to clear our the printing nozzle and then Resume printing.
Make sure you go to the Change Filament menu as it will reposition the build plate away from the nozzle as only pausing the printing process will not do that. If you try to push the filament only with a paused printing you can damage your print if too much filament comes out of the nozzle when you push it back on. Also if you do are not able to quickly do the procedure you might want to run the Load script of the Replicator 2 or your respective printer as it will first heat up the extuder to the desired temperature. This is good for the first few times you are doing this in order to avoid the extruder cooling too much to be able to properly melt the filament you are pushing through it. The more experience you get using your 3D printer the more you will be able to master it and do things such as clearing filament jams when they appear and resume printing or readjusting the level of the build plate as you are printing in order to have best results. So keep experimenting and playing with the features of your 3D printer, we are already quite good at using our MakerBot Replicator 2 and are able to get rid of most issues without having failed prints. Of course also doing some upgrades and modifications to your 3D printer can also help in greatly increasing the device’s reliability and reducing the issues, but you should be careful with these if you are not very handy with the DIY stuff that you often need to perform. We’ve already shared out experience with various modifications and tips and tricks that we have learned from using our MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer, so do make sure you check these out as they may also be applicable to many other devices or at least some of them should be.
If you remember a while ago we’ve had a weird issue with the filament guide tube on our MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer. Since then we’ve replaced the teflon filament guide tube with a new one and the device was working normally again, but we also started experimenting with different ideas about optimizing the spool holder position in order to eliminate completely the guide tube as a means to avoid possible issue in the future. The general idea was to develop an overhead spool holder that would attach to the top of the 3D printer and sit on one of the sides of the 3D printer. While working on this idea designing a simple and effective solution we’ve come to another interesting and much easier solution that tends to work surprisingly well in out experience and we’ve decided to share our findings with you to help you get less issues if you are using a Replicator 2. It requires you to reposition the filament spool holder and to print two small parts that will be used to guide the filament to the extruder. All in all you can do this simple modification is no time at all.
First you need to remove the filament spool holder from the standard position at the back of the printer. You need to attach it to the back plastic panel of the 3D printer, surprisingly it was a perfect fit and the result is really good as it brings the filament spool at a perfect height that would allow you to avoid using a filament guide tube. Furthermore you can use two spool holders, one on each side of the back of the printer making it easier to switch the filament as well as making it compatible with the Replicator 2X if you are not using the top cover. This does not require any modification to the printer itself whatsoever and works really well for the moment based on our own experience using the modification.
Next you need to print two of these filament guide adapters that we’ve posted on Thingiverse and attach them to the cables that go to the extruder of the printer. They are with a clip on design, so they are easy to attache and not so easy to detach from the sleeved cables and then you just need to pass the filament through the two holes of the printed guides and insert it in the extruder. As we’ve said already it is really easy and works very well. After we’ve done this modification/upgrade to our MakerBot Replicator 2 we’ve seen a decrease of the problems with failed prints associated to filament jams when compared to the standard design with the spool down at the back and using the PTFE guide tube for the filament.
If you do try this please report how it works for you and if you are seeing any difference on your end. This modification is originally designed for MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printers, but it will most likely work on other models that are similar in design to the Replicator 2.