In July, my brand new Solidoodle 3D printer arrived.
Last week my ABS filament arrived and I got started! The first thing I printed was a heart pendant from Thingiverse. In prepping the printer I reminded myself of a few key steps in any printer unboxing.
0. Set up in a ventilated space. Secure the power cord. Install software with manufacturer’s settings.
1. Check ALL the connections.
The X,Y, or Z stepper motors and the thermistor connectors for the extruder and bed may be loose from transit. The limit switches may be stuck. Any number of invisible gremlins might be hiding in your hardware.
2. Check the motor tracks.
With the printer off, can you gently rotate the Z axis shaft? Can you move the extruder assembly back and forth in the x and y directions easily?
3. Before any actual prints, check the extruder assembly. Turn on the extruder heat and use the extrude and retract buttons (in Print Panel tab on Repetier-Host) to check the heat and the extruder motor. *Did your printer come with a piece of filament in the extruder? Retract multiple times until you can gently remove it, then feed in your new filament and hit extrude. The motor and the ball bearing that feed the filament should move at the same rate – if they don’t, odds are you will start stripping your filament and gunking up the bearing with plastic dust.
4. DO NOT LET YOUR FILAMENT TANGLE
5. Start small. Your first few prints are for calibration.
Here is how my unboxing went, with help from Adrian:
First print did not stick – the Slic3r program I used did not set the heated bed temp. Located correct code, M140 S110 ; to set bed temp.
Ran print again. Ungodly noise emanated from motors. Killed print and lowered Z platform. Z platform jams against bottom of printer. Checked Z connection and limit switch – remembered there is no bottom limit switch, only a top switch. Working correctly. Attempted to manually twist Z motor shaft – no movement. Loosened stepper motor screws from below, manually forced platform up. Checked program – Z motor commands now working correctly. Retightened screws.
Ran print again. While homing, extruder assembly jams against right side of frame, motor will not stop. Unplugged to prevent damage. Checked X motor and limit switches. X limit switch was loose. Tightened switch, reconnected.
Ran print again. Print stopped halfway through. Error: MAXTEMP exceeded! Temperature is reset. Set temperature to continue printing. Double checked g-code – extruder set to 195, bed to 115. Confused, lowered bed temp to 75.
Ran print again. Print lifted from platform, created squiggly mess. Raised bed temp to 85.
Ran print again. Successful print!
Ran print again. Stopped halfway through. Error: MAXTEMP exceeded! Checked bed connector, plugged in correctly. Checked Repetier troubleshooting page, Solidoodle troubleshooting page, Soliforum, Solidoodle wiki, Slic3r page, other 3D printing forums. Suspect two possible problems: If hardware, the heating bed thermistor may have loose connections or in some way be overloading. Would have to disassemble Z platform to check. If software, somewhere in the repetier config.h the #define heated_bed_temp may be incorrectly low. Preferences within Repetier host were set above the g-code temp so it should not be an issue there. Still searching possible software issues.
One last problem may be in the firmware on the Arduino – a max temp setting may have been corrupted. Would have to reflash the board.
Owners of 3D printers should have:
- A multimeter for troubleshooting.
- An IR thermometer for troubleshooting.
- Tweezers for when plastic gets where it oughtn’t.
- A toothbrush to brush out dust
- Metal scrapers for removing prints from the bed.
- Sandpaper for smoothing prints.
- A thirst for adventure!