Content ported to https://github.com/DoESLiverpool/wiki/wiki/MakerbotCupCake
Makerbot CupCake 3D Printer
Log any weird prints or maintenance in the MakerbotCupCake/Log
Setting Up The Printer to Print
The first thing to do, is get the printer powered up. The nozzle and the heated bed will take 10 - 15 mins to heat up, so it's good to get it powered up and connected to your computer via the USB cable.
We currently have a small issue with power to the extruder motor, so this is currently a bit more complicated than we would like, but you have to switch the printer on on 3 locations...
- The main computer style PSU.
- A small slider switch on the main motherboard
- The auxiliary PSU for the extruder motor.
Configuring the Software
One you have the printer powered up and connected, you'll have to tweak some of the settings for Skeinforge (the part of ReplicatorG which generates the GCode to drive the printer) to tailor it to our specific printer. These are the things you should check:-
You might need to get the USB to Serial port drivers (and installation instructions) from http://www.ftdichip.com/Drivers/VCP.htm
From the ReplicatorG Machine menu, select Machine Type (Driver) -> Cupcake w/ automated build platform
From the ReplicatorG GCode menu, make sure that GCode Generator -> Skeinforge (35) is selected. (The newer 47 does not work with our printer).
Get the correct Skeinforge profile settings. The "current best" version is stored in github at https://github.com/DoESLiverpool/DoES-CupCake-Settings. You should clone this to your Skeinforge profiles directory - on Linux this is ~/.replicatorg/sf_35_profiles/. (Some additional steps to GetThisWorkingOn a Mac). Then when you open ReplicatorG you should have a DoES-CupCake-Settings profile if you go into the GCode -> Edit Slicing Profiles menu. Choose the correct profile and click Edit, then make sure you've got the correct Profile Selection for the plastic being used.
Now you should be correctly connected to the printer, we need to setup the base parameters. Open up the control panel ether by clicking on the icon in the menu bar, or by selecting Machine -> Control Panel. From the control panel you setup the following parameters:-
- In the bottom right section, set the nozzle/extruder temperature to 220, and the bed temperature to 130.
Using the arrows in the top left section, position the nozzle in the centre of the bed and lower it to about 1.5mm from the bed. Be careful to use the increment drop-down to make sure you don't crash the nozzle into the bed. Once you have it set, don't forget to click Make Current Position Zero
- Check that your GCode (or slicing) generator is set to the correct plastic type (probably either ABS or PLA) - in the GCode menu, by editing the slicing profile you are using
- Generate the GCode for the model. If it has a large base (and so will adhere to the platform well), or if it doesn't have any large overhangs then untick the "Use raft/support" as that will give you nicer prints requiring less finishing. Also untick the "Use Print-O-Matic" option as we don't have that sort of extruder
Generating 3D Models
- Google Sketchup can be used, but you need a plugin to generate the STL files. (If you try this out, then add some documentation for others to follow)
Tinkercad is an online tool to create 3D designs. When you click on "Print 3D" there's then an option to download the STL file. That's what you need for ReplicatorG
It is possible to generate 3D forms for .stl export using the http://processing.org programming environment. John O'Shea is experimenting with this and will upload some info once he gets it working!
- If you're printing something without a raft, start off with the nozzle almost touching the platform - you should be able to easily slide a piece of paper under it without it catching, but not much more. Otherwise the bottom layer won't adhere as closely to the platform and won't be as precisely laid out
- However, if you are printing with a raft, I'd move the nozzle up so there's maybe 0.5mm clearance, so that it doesn't foul the slightly thicker raft when it's first laying it down
- Check the z-axis bearings from time to time, to make sure none of them have worked their way loose and dropped out of the mounting. Fixing it is just a case of locating them in the holes in the wood again, and tightening up the nuts underneath them. At some point we should get some threadlock just to stop the nuts from working their way loose
- If the corner of the print is warping, try running the heated bed 5 or 10 degrees hotter, or move the print (or the bed) so that it get printed nearer to the corner where the wires attach, as that seems to run warmer than the opposing corner
- If the print stops sticking to the build platform, it could be because it's become dirty. If you wipe it with some acetone that will clean it up
The MakerbotCupCake doesn't get much use since we got the RepRap, as the prints are so much better off that. However, the Cupcake is a much more portable design and having two decent 3D printers would be nicer than just one
So, we've been wondering how to get the Cupcake up to a reasonable spec. There seem to be two main issues:
- The DC motor extruder isn't very precise - a stepper-based extruder would be much better (plus the existing DC-motor can't run in reverse at the moment, making it worse than usual)
- Upgrading the firmware to one which supports microstepping would give more accurage x/y/z movement (and have the side-effect of making it much quieter to run)
Progress at 9/3/2013
The Sailfish firmware seems the most appropriate option - https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups=#!topic/makerbot/MISZe84b1pU[1-25-false]. However, the Cupcake has Gen3 electronics, which won't work with that (or with a stepper-based extruder). To fix that, we'd need a 3G 5D shield, which unfortunately I haven't found anywhere selling them yet (though it's open-source, and seems fairly simple, so we could probably make our own if need be). Similarly the Stepstruder (Mk6 or Mk7 should work) are tricky to source, but http://wiki.london.hackspace.org.uk/view/Project:Cupcake-o-Matic indicates that we should be able to mount a Wades extruder (or similar Reprap extruder) onto it instead (e.g. the Greg's hinged extruder with this mounting part). Actually, looking at http://makerbot.wikidot.com/toolheads it seems the Mk5 extruder might be "NEMA 17 compatible", and so upgrading to a Mk6 might just involve replacing the motor with a NEMA 17 stepper http://www.coolcomponents.co.uk/catalog/stepper-motor-with-cable-p-469.html.
So the main thing to do first is to source a 3G 5D shield, and then work out the extruder options from there. There's also the 3G 5D mini, which seems an easier build (because it doesn't include the end-stop options as it doesn't obscure them)
Obviously, from time to time our filament will run out - either that, or you might want a particular colour. If you want to purchase filament, you can do so from http://3dfilaprint.com/.