First Prints

Being excited about simply having a 3D printer at my disposal, my first few prints were not particularly scientific or methodical in choice. I printed off a bunch of things I thought were relatively simple in shape, as well as a few requests from friends and family. The results were.. less than ideal. I had at least fixed the shuddering issue: my friend informed me that I was trying to print _way_ too fast. I changed the feedrate from something like 100 down to only 20, and the travel feedrate to 40. I fiddled with the extruder temperature quite a bit, ranging from 220C to 240C. My best results were around 235C for the red, and 228C for the green. Apparently it’s quite common for different colours to have different preferences for temperature, but unfortunately the manufacturers don’t give any suggestions along those lines. It’s all a matter of trial and error.

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This meeple was printed at 2x scale, and showed many holes and weird offsets.

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The barrel-monkey cookie cutter turned out probably the best, considering it was at least functional. However, it showed similar holes in the base of it.

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Lucy the cat had a nice smooth texture on one side, but had very thin and wispy lines on her chest, leaving a gaping hole (I printed her with no infill).

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The cat from my first print was slightly less messy, but still had the same holes issues.

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My Dad requested this trilego piece in particular because he was interested in the idea of custom-shaped things that are compatible with Legos. Unfortunately, due to the weird offsets, this piece was not at all compatible with Legos.

I went to a few different forums to see if there was anyone out there who could shed some light on my problems. I got the best responses on the MakerBot google group and the Reprap forums.

Theories included:

  • I needed to level my build plate – this is also known as tramming. If the first layer is messed up, it can affect the rest of the model badly. It can also cause some issues with the plastic sticking to the build plate.
  • Trapesoidal prints indicate that the X-axis is not square to the frame (I’m not sure this was the case at all)
  • The extruder wasn’t extruding regularly. To test this, I needed to use ReplicatorG to extrude a known amount of filament (e.g. 50mm) and measure it. To solve it, there are various software and hardware solutions.
  • The drive pulleys / belts could be loose.
  • Lack of heated build plate might be an issue.

Leveling the build plate seemed simplest to do, so that’s where I started. Unfortunately, this ended up being very stressful..