Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Solidoodle Workbench Instructions

I purchased a Solidoodle Workbench 3D printer. It comes with very little instruction and not much step by step help online. Here's my attempt at a step by step instruction set based on my trials and errors. I don't work for Solidoodle, use these instructions at your own risk.

1. Unpack it carefully
- Place it on a solid table, desk, counter or workbench. It should reside on something that doesn't wobble around when you bump it.
- Remove tape and zip ties.
- Remove yellow shipping brackets from the rails.

2. Assembly
- Clip the glass plate to the aluminum bed using the binder clips. I have used 4 clips. One on each side, placed about 2 inches counter clockwise from each corner.
- Remove the top silver tabs from the clips to reduce the chances of the extruder hitting them during calibration and homing activities.
- Use the wingnuts under the print bed to visually level the printbed.  It does not have to be perfectly level. Do not bottom out the springs by fully compressing them.
- Insert filament holder brackets into the appropriate holes on the back of the Workbench. Insert piece of supplied PVC pipe into filament rolls and place pipe onto the brackets.
- The end of the filament can be fed into the holes near the top of the rear of the Workbench case.

3. Lubricate 
- Lubricate all rails and z-axis screw drive with 3 in 1 (sewing machine) oil if they are dry.  Solidoodle recommends using lithium grease. I've tried both. I think the 3 in 1 oil provides better lubrication but may have to be applied more often.

4. Belt Tensioning
Don't skip this step. Chances are the Y-axis is out of alignment due to packing, shipping, unpacking, handling etc. Follow these Belt tensioning instructions before even turning it on. The pulleys on the workbench us a 2 mm hex key as opposed to the 1.5 mm mentioned in the instructions.

5. Power up
- Find an old computer power cord to plug into the power supply.
- Plug power cord into power supply and plug into wall.
- Plug both power supply cables into the printer. .

6. Connect to printer
- Plug printer into computer with USB cable.
- You may need to install this driver for windows. Details pertaining to driver installation are here.

7. Software
- Download and install the Repetier Host Solidoodle software.
As of 4/1/2015, Soliprint does not work with the Workbench model. 
- If you have problems with the software quitting unexpectedly, you may need to install this particular version of the arial font. 
- Other troubleshooting tips can be found on the repetier website.
- Launch Repetier-Host Solidoodle. Select Solidoodle Workbench from the Connect dropdown menu. If successful, it should say connected on the bottom left of the screen.

8. Calibration
- Go to the Manual Control tab.
- Click the Home X and Home Y buttons so the printer can find the endstops for self calibration.
- Use  the -X and -Y arrows to move the printhead toward the center of the bed.
- IMPORTANT: Push down Solitouch probe on right side of printhead so it extends below the print nozzles.
- Click Home Z. The printer will lower and then raise the print bed until it touches the probe.
- Now you should be able to move the print head and bed by clicking the arrows.
- Solitouch bed measurement is part of the printing process and will take place before each print.

9. Heat up the bed and the extruders
- Click Heat Extruder and Heat Printbed on the Manual Control tab.
  For ABS I have been using 215°C for the extruder and 100° for the bed.
  For PLA I have been using 200°C for the extruder and 70° for the bed.
 - At these temperatures and with using a light coating of Aquanet hairspray on the glass, I have had no problems with getting the first layers to stick.

10. Level the Bed
- Solitouch bed measurement is part of the printing process and will take place before each print. however starting with a reasonably leveled bed will produce more consistent results.
- Use the thumbscrews under the bed to adjust the bed height. Level is a bit of a misnomer because level with respect to Earths gravity is not as important as making sure the plain of the printbed is parallel to the plain that the printhead travels in.

I've found a good way to do this is as follows:
  1. Twist the thumb screws clockwise as much as possible to lower the glass as close to the z-carriage as you can reasonable get. 
  2. HOME the Z-axis with the printhead near the center of the bed. Make sure the solilouch probe is in the down position before homing. 
  3. Manually lower the printbed a few millimeters. 
  4. Move the printhead so the solitouch probe is close to a thumb screw.
  5. Turn the thumbscrew counterclockwise until the bed contacts the switch on the probe.
  6. Manually move the printhead probe to the next thumbscrew and again, raise the bed with the thumbscrew until contact is made with the probe.
  7. Repeat this for the final 2 thumbscrews, then repeat it a second time for each thumbscrew.
- Soilitouch uses a programmed distance between the probe and the printhead using the M851 command. My Workbench's default value is 7.0mm. I've found that this is way too much and first layers of prints fail because the printhead ends up too close to the bed, squishing the extrudate or blocking it from flowing altogether. I've had much better luck using a value of 6.0mm which can be changed by typing M851 z6.0 in the Gcode spot on the manual control tab in Reptier-Host. Unfortunately this adjustment does not stick. It will revert back to the default so check it prior to each print job.

10. Load Filament

- Once the extruder comes up to temperature, click the Retract button a few times to remove the piece of filament left in during shipping.
- Clip off the end of the filament you are going to load if there isn't a clean break.
- Push filament in the hole while clicking the Extrude button.You may have to click a few times until the extruder catches the filament and it starts to self feed.
- Continue clicking the extrude button until the new color of filament comes out of the extruder.
- Use tweezers or a scraper to remove extruded filament from the nozzle.

11. Load STL Model
- Choose an STL model from the the Solidoodles website, Thingiverse or one of your own. My first print was this calibration cube. It's simple and only take about 20 minutes to print.
- From the Object Placement tab, click Add Object and select your STL file.
- Click the Slicer tab.
  - Click Active under Slic3r
  - Select print setting (0.1, 0.2 or 0.3)
  - Printer Setting should be Solidoodle Workbench
  - Extruder Settings should be Solidoodle 1.75
  - Click Slice with Slic3r.

12. Printing
 - I spray a light coat of Aquanet hairspray on the glass print bed to aid with sticking. Aim the hairspray away from motors and electronics. It has been reported that Elmers glue stick works well also, but I have not tried that yet.
 - Check that extruder and printbed are up to temperature.
 - Make sure Solitouch probe on the right side of the prinhead is in the down position.
 - Click Run Job.
The Workbench printhead will move to from the north east corner to the southwest corner and pause.  - Click Continue Printing
The Workbench will go through the Solitouch bed measuring. Mine measures 16 points. After measuring the last point, the bed will raise about 7mm and push the Solitouch probe up. It will then start printing your model. Sometimes the probe does not click up into place so keep an eye on it and give it a hand if needed. If the probe does not pop all the way up it may drag through the newly extruded material and ruin the print.

13. Problems during printing
Actions to take if things go wrong.

- The Emergency STOP button in Repetier-Host doesn't seem to do anything. Don't rely on it.

- PAUSE the print if you need to make a minor adjustment or temporarily interrupt the print for some reason. You can use Manual controls during a PAUSE and on resume your print will continue where it left off. You may even pause to change or reload filament.

- KILL the print if you need to start over from scratch. I usually do this if I don't like the way the first layer or two look or if there is a problem with sticking. When you kill a job the printer will finish the last command that was sent and then Home the printhead. REMEMBER when you kill a job, Repetier shuts down the heater on the bed and the extruder. You will have to turn them back on under the Manual Control and wait for them to reach their setpoints before restarting the job.

- PULL THE PLUG if you hear motors grinding, the printhead crashes into something, you see fire or the printer exhibits other self-destructive behaviors.

14. Post printing
When the print completes, the bed will lower, the printhead will return home and the extruder and printbed heater will shutoff.
 - Remove your model with the putty knife or a razor blade scraper.
 - Clean the glass off with the scraper or razor to get ready for your next print.
If everything went well you should be able to jump back to Step 9 to start the next print.

15. Optional Enclosure
To help with temperature stability and conserve some energy, consider enclosing the Workbench. Enclosures are often made with plexiglass acrylic which is transparent. Less expensive alternatives like cardboard or foamboard can also be used. Panels for the sides and front should be removable and can be fixed to the frame with magnets, tape or clips of some sort. I designed and printed a clip for this in Sketchup. For the top, I use 3 pieces of oversized overlapping foamboard resting on the frame. This allows the printhead to push them around as needed. If you want to fix the top to the frame you will have to design it as a dome so it does not interfere with the printhead.

Please add your own tips and comments from your Workbench experience.

Good Luck

No comments:

Post a Comment