Week 5 Update

Sorry to be late with this weekly update but it was a crazy end of the week. I will try to follow up every week with a summary of what is going on. As the number of people printing goes up - which it already is very quickly - it will be even more important for users to stay up to date with what is going on. I will again try to use the same format as before.


Important updates

- Everything is working pretty well so there are no critical updates. Getting jobs correctly assigned to Ultimaker printers by selecting correct materials remains one of the most important issues.


Printer updates

- The MakerBots continue to print pretty well. The biggest and really only issues I see on the MakerBot is users are trying to print things that are simply too small so the print quality generally becomes pretty poor. My nominal guidance is any feature of your part that is < 0.25" (about 5 mm) is approaching too small. Usually the printer will try, but the quality is often pretty poor. Ultimakers and the Methods generally do better (maybe down to 1 mm or so) but every printer has limitations.

- When jobs get "stuck" in the Ultimaker queue is when I believe the network starts to slow down. We will look at a couple of ways to fix this, but the overall best approach is to do the following: (1) arrange your build plate, (2) select your material; if you do not really have to have a certain material, then select a material from a printer that is not currently printing, (3) send your job, and (4) follow your print request through the menu until it gets to a printer (remember you did not select a printer, what you selected was a material and you allowed the Host (Jarvis currently) to pick which printer had that material.

- There have been issues with Formlabs printers which is pretty rare. Many users are gravitating to the Formlabs printers even though we have not discussed them in class. For the AM class, we will cover these soon and you will become experts. The Formlabs printers are great but we are now approaching some conditions where they are complex. If you are not in my AM class, you really need to discuss with me, Marc, or one of my students some of the complexities with these printers. We are now getting some new "error message" on the Formlabs printers. If you get any error message or alert on a Formlabs printers, you must discuss this with me or Marc prior to printing. Also some materials in the Formlabs printers such as BioMed Clear which you will see loaded are EXTREMELY restricted use. No one that I specifically do not allow should print with this material - it is about 3x the cost of normal resin and we have very limited supply.

- Thanks to MIDN 1/C Holly Koerwer, the LulzBots are close to being ready. You really need to be an experienced user to use these printers, but they are extremely capable and can print a wide variety of material. You must discuss with me before using any of these printers.

- The new metal DesktopMetal printer is not too far away and we are making progress. I expect to print our first part this semester and we will make some videos of this process. For now though, no one should make definitive plans to print with it.

- The Intamsys printer is next on the list and we know it works. We just have not done anything with it yet. If you are on a Capstone team (or independent research) and you know you need high end plastics like ULTEM, PEEK, or PEKK, you can can discuss with me and we can set you up, but be prepared... there will be some work for you to do to get this running.


IT updates

- I updated all software today on the 3 main PCs (SEADEVIL, Pinky and the Brain). Everything should be fine.

- We did have to update firmware on all Formlabs printers which may have been some of the problems.


Policy updates

- No new policy updates but I do have a few general comments. Activity in the MakerSpace is increasing (which is a good thing) and this requires all users to comply with COVID guidance (which everyone is) and to also clean up after yourself (which mostly is). Please help keep the MakerSpace clean and functional.


Coming soon...

- The Ultimaker workflow will change this week. We will likely remove all Breakaway material as support material and replace with PVA. PVA is both great and horrible. It is fantastic from a part perspective and support removal will become extremely easier, but PVA is VERY prone to jams and other issues. I encourage users to try using PVA but PLEASE PLEASE come to the MakerSpace in person and watch the start of your print. PVA failures usually occur during the loading process and they can be VERY difficult to overcome, but once we get all printers tuned, things usually work very well.

- We will also change the way the Ultimakers are loaded and will shift to 1 roll of filament per type thereby increasing the number of materials available at any given time. Each printer will continue to have PLA in bay 1, probably ABS in bay 2, and other materials in bays 3 through 5. PVA will be in bay 6.


Keep up the good work. We will continue to expand the capability as users' become more proficient. If you plan to use 3D printing this AY, you should be in the MakerSpace already and should have done or should be about to do your first practice prints. Do not wait until the Spring to figure out how to print and do not think that your first print is going to be your final print. Almost every project needs to start with a very basic part to get the printing workflow down.


Happy Printing!


R/CAPT Baker

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Online since June 2019.  Last major edit:  22 Aug 2021