Elephants, Supports, Rafts, Errors and MakerBot Apologies

by Jason King on June 24, 2014

Nautilus GearsIt’s been a busy few days here at 3D Print HQ. As the title suggests there’s been a mixed bag of things going on.

Firstly I’ve been downloading and printing a few cool things from Thingiverse.

Nothing too ambitious yet but I did print out some Nortilus Gears which were in four parts and needed fixing together.

These are basically two meshing gears which due to their ‘nortilus’ shape change the speed and torque as they turn. I did a quick Google search to see what practical use these have, but drew a blank. So, useful? No, interesting and fun? Yes indeed!

Next was the LFS Elephant which was designed specifically for 3D printing as a demonstration of how moving parts can be printed in one piece, without the need for assembly.

The LFS elephant is a nice little print and came out really well using my RoboSavvy grape purple filament. Despite a few overhangs to deal with, the MakerBot did a pretty good job. After showing it to a few people I soon had an order for one in clear PLA, which also printed really well.

Heating Failure #5

Heating FailureWell as you can see things were going pretty well up to now, but it wasn’t to last for ever.

After printing the clear PLA LFS Elephant for a friend and as the hot end was cooling down the printer started bleeping and the red LEDs came on.

Oops, this didn’t look good. The LCD also display the text:

“Heating Failure #5! I’m reading out of range temperatures, Check my connections”

The print turned out really well but the temperature sensor (thermocouple) was intermittently giving readings above 360 degrees. The real temperature was more like 90 degrees.

I have no idea what caused this and I have had many hours of successful printing since. Supposedly it means that either the thermocouple cable is broken or is loosely connected to the main circuit board. I’m not convinced of either of these because surely it would be more of a problem when the print head was moving and not only occur when it was stationary?

MakerBot Firmware Update

Thinking it may be just a software glitch (the MakerBot firmware isn’t perfect) I fired up MakerWare on my laptop and checked for a newer firmware version.

As I was currently using firmware version 7.4, I was pleased to find out there was a version 7.5 available, so I promptly installed this new version. It was a quick and painless process, but it didn’t solve my temperature probe issue.

In exactly the same situation and after a successful 1 hour print the same scenario happened again and the same error occurred. The firmware upgrade didn’t help. The error does clear after a power cycle (off and on) and printing is again still perfect.

I have no idea of the cause of this error or how to resolve it, so watch this space because you’ll no doubt be hearing more from me about this.

First Attempt at Supports and Rafts

When I first started using Tinkercad a little while ago I designed a pretty basic house, roof and porch as three separate items. I never really intended to print this out but I wanted to try the MakerWare ‘Rafts’ and ‘Supports’ options so I gave it a go.

Tinkercad HouseI knew that the porch would never stand a chance of printing without masses of support (due to it’s overhangs) and the windows and door would benefit from some support too, so I gave it a go with both options selected.

Now I didn’t really need rafts for this print, as in my experience so far warps and adhesion to the build plate wouldn’t be an issue for this print, but I used them anyway, just to see how they turned out.

The rafts were surprisingly easy to remove and supports were automatically added to doors, windows and the porch as expected. However, the window/door supports were tricky to remove and the porch was so buried in support material there was no way to remove it without breaking it. The porch never survived unfortunately, but it was a good little experiment.

I finished off the day by downloading and printing a plain iPhone 4S Case for someone, just to try it for size before attempting to customise it. The size was good, but PLA plastic being so hard it was tricky to put onto the phone and remove.

Even using something as simple as Tinkercad I am able to customise this case and I’ve already had a request for another for my friends wife, so I’ll be customizing and printing that soon.

MakerBot Apology on Twitter

LFS ElephantLast but not least, after my report last week about my Blocked Thermal Barrier Tube and MakerBots lack of response to my support request, I had a little moan about it on Twitter. That’s what Twitter’s for right?

Well, MakerBot responded immediately with a sincere apology and prioritised my support ticket. As I had already resolved the issue I no longer needed their help on this occasion, but they were very responsive and polite all the same.

I’m glad about this because I have mostly heard good things about MakerBot support, not all good, but mostly so I must have slipped though the net somehow.

Their website and YouTube videos are so good anyway that many people can resolve their own issues without the need for ‘one to one’ support. The only reason I contacted them is because they suggest you do so before tackling a blocked nozzle yourself.

Looking Ahead

Like I said earlier I’ve had a busy few days with my 3D printing adventure. As well as all the excitement detailed above, I have also been looking into a technique for creating an amazing finish on any 3D printed object. I’m really excited about this but it’ll involve buying more equipment and a whole new learning experience.

I’ll write about this in my next blog post. This is not to tease you (honest) but because I think there’s already more than enough in this post for you to absorb and I don’t know much about this technique yet.

Thanks so much for reading and if you have any questions or suggestions then feel free to Contact Me. Also a quick Comment, Like or Share is very much appreciated too.

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