• The Plug Track functions are experimental and still being developed. Some of the earlier pages of this topic are now out-of-date.

    For an updated overview of this project see this post.   For some practical modelling aspects of using Plug Track see The Book of Plug Track.

    Some pages of this and other topics include contributions from members who are creating and posting their own CAD designs for 3D printing and laser-cutting. Do not confuse them with Templot's own exported CAD files.

3D FDM Printers!

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Paul Boyd

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Location
Loughborough, UK
I somehow seem to have found myself getting seriously interested in buying a 3D printer. It'll have to be FDM as my tiny flat would not cope with the space or smellies of resin printing. As it is, I'm wondering where on earth I could put even a filament printer! Martin randomly pointed me at a video of an Anycubic Zero 2, but I like the look of this one:- Anycubic i3Mega S at £212 from Amazon UK. I thought I'd better ask here rather than clutter the Plug Track thread - has anyone any experience of this particular printer? It seems to have very good reviews although a few mention noise. That could be an issue if I have a print job running overnight, not just for me but also neighbours - the flats are relatively new build and therefore act very well as sound boxes.

Does anyone know how noisy it really is? Not in dB, but in comparison to something like a fridge, or a Vulcan bomber?

Cheers,
Paul
 
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Martin Wynne

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It seems to have very good reviews although a few mention noise. That could be an issue if I have a print job running overnight, not just for me but also neighbours - the flats are relatively new build and therefore act very well as sound boxes.
@Paul Boyd

Hi Paul,

That one was regarded as a best buy a few years ago, but if noise is a problem you might look at this one:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B091TL6V94

Which is a bit pricier, but one review says:

Quieter Printing
Creality boasts a new feature: A self-developed “silent” 32-bit motherboard with a 2560 chipset that brings down the noise floor of the printer to an astonishing 50 decibels, comparable to a quiet suburb, a conversation at home, or the noise of a large electrical transformer at 100 feet. While we can confirm that the noise of the motors is much quieter, the power supply fan, and fans in general, remain quite loud.

silent_printer.jpg


:)

That review is at: https://all3dp.com/1/creality-ender-3-v2-review-3d-printer-specs/

Other reviews are available! That web site makes it the best budget printer this year:

https://all3dp.com/1/best-3d-printer-reviews-top-3d-printers-home-3-d-printer-3d/

My BIBO printer isn't what I would call loud or annoying, and being a cased model it is obviously quieter than an open design (you could perhaps build a soundproof cover for yours, or just cover it with a big cardboard box, with a few vent holes). I can hear the BIBO running from another room in the evenings if I turn off the TV etc., but it wouldn't be enough to prevent me sleeping. The loudest motor operations are the fast travel moves, I don't think there is much to hear from another room when it is actually extruding. But you can set the travel speed to whatever you like -- if you slow it right down it would be a lot quieter but mean the print will take longer. The fans also make a bit of noise, but that's just a steady hum, on a par with the central heating pump.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Paul Boyd

Member
Thread starter
Location
Loughborough, UK
@Paul Boyd

Hi Paul,

That one was regarded as a best buy a few years ago, but if noise is a problem you might look at this one:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B091TL6V94

Which is a bit pricier, but one review says:

Quieter Printing
Creality boasts a new feature: A self-developed “silent” 32-bit motherboard with a 2560 chipset that brings down the noise floor of the printer to an astonishing 50 decibels, comparable to a quiet suburb, a conversation at home, or the noise of a large electrical transformer at 100 feet. While we can confirm that the noise of the motors is much quieter, the power supply fan, and fans in general, remain quite loud.

View attachment 2234


:)

That review is at: https://all3dp.com/1/creality-ender-3-v2-review-3d-printer-specs/

Other reviews are available! That web site makes it the best budget printer this year:

https://all3dp.com/1/best-3d-printer-reviews-top-3d-printers-home-3-d-printer-3d/

My BIBO printer isn't what I would call loud or annoying, and being a cased model it is obviously quieter than an open design (you could perhaps build a soundproof cover for yours, or just cover it with a big cardboard box, with a few vent holes). I can hear the BIBO running from another room in the evenings if I turn off the TV etc., but it wouldn't be enough to prevent me sleeping. The loudest motor operations are the fast travel moves, I don't think there is much to hear from another room when it is actually extruding. But you can set the travel speed to whatever you like -- if you slow it right down it would be a lot quieter but mean the print will take longer. The fans also make a bit of noise, but that's just a steady hum, on a par with the central heating pump.

cheers,

Martin.
Thanks Martin.

I was slightly put off by Creality themselves saying "Sure, it's far from perfect." on their website - that doesn't inspire confidence! Incidentally, it's £181 there. I won't rule it out yet though. Reviews suggest that the stepper motor drivers are quiet, and they would be the expensive bits to upgrade on the Anycubic. Fans are relatively cheap.

I'm still looking!

Cheers,
Paul
 
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Martin Wynne

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"Sure, it's far from perfect." on their website - that doesn't inspire confidence! Incidentally, it's £181 there.

Hi Paul,

That says "Flash Sale" so you might need to move quick. :) I suppose if they said it was perfect, there would be no reason to buy their more expensive models. Maybe "Sure, it's far from perfect." doesn't sound quite so damning in American culture?

Martin.
 
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richard_t

Member
Location
nr Spalding
Hi

I wasn't going to get an FDM printer, only a resin one. But on reflection I think there is a place for both. As it gets very cold here in a 1900-built Lincolnshire farmhouse (with original windows) I'm going to get an enclosed one. I did consider an Creality Ender 6 but that seems a hobby in itself, with all the various aftermarket parts, tweeks, etc. So I think I'm going to get a Qidi tech X-plus, which seems more "ready-to-run". Obviously a lot more expensive, but once I'd added up the cost of the other parts it's not that much different. And a lot more than the Ender 3.

Just my thoughts.

Richard
 
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Paul Boyd

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Thread starter
Location
Loughborough, UK
Oh 'eck! I have the Anycubic Mega S on the way, with an additional 1kg roll of filament, which should be with me on Friday! I had a good look at the Creality one, as well as a few others, but I felt more comfortable with the Anycubic (despite them probably coming from the same factory in Shenzhen!) I also found two separate direct comparison reviews of the two, and in both cases the Anycubic came out top.

Noise - I'm taking a chance on that. I've found several suggestions about noise reduction, and in my case noise tends to transmit from whatever the device is sitting on into the walls of the flat, so my first port of call will be some acoustic mounts if necessary. When I first moved into a new-ish build house about 12 years ago, and then my current flat, I was astonished that walls aren't plastered any more - they just have plasterboard stuck onto the breeze blocks with a gap between, a gap that sound travels around easily. Prior to that, I lived in a 1930's semi and before that an 1880 stone cottage with 18" thick solid walls!

Thanks for the help! @richard_t , I had a look at the Qidi and as nice as it seems, it's way over my price range. Thanks for the suggestion though.

Right then, I need to find out what this Cura software is all about :) Oh, and find somewhere to put the thing! For now, I'll use Creo Parametric for design, although I'm conscious that if I ever leave my current job I'll have some designs which I'll no longer be able to modify. I'll have the STL files though. I had a look for old versions of Autodesk but nothing so far. FreeCAD might be promising though, and looks vaguely familiar - I'm sure I've played with that before.

Cheers,
Paul
 
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Martin Wynne

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Hi Paul,

Cura (free) slices your STL file into layers, and generates the nozzle path for each layer. There are only about 10,000 different options and settings, so you will be away in no time. :)

One feature it does have, which other slicers don't, is an "ironing" function which smooths out the top surface to remove that usual ridged 3D-printed top surface. Its most annoying feature is the fortnight it takes to launch.

Cura can also control the printer over USB cable/Wifi/Bluetooth. It's not very convenient to have the computer tied up for maybe hours and risk a failed print due to computer issues. The usual way is to save the control file from Cura to a USB stick or SD card, and put that in the printer.

The version of Cura bundled with the printer may not be the latest, it would be worth downloading the latest version now:

https://ultimaker.com/software/ultimaker-cura

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Martin Wynne

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it would be worth downloading the latest version now:

Or maybe not -- just noticed this on the Cura screen:

"Please, be aware that after version 4.10 Ultimaker Cura will only be supported on operating systems actively maintained by their software manufacturer or community. This means Windows 7 and MacOS 10.13 will no longer be supported. Technically this means Ultimaker will stop testing and developing for such operating systems."

Martin.
 
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Paul Boyd

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Loughborough, UK
Hi Paul,

Cura (free) slices your STL file into layers, and generates the nozzle path for each layer. There are only about 10,000 different options and settings, so you will be away in no time. :)

One feature it does have, which other slicers don't, is an "ironing" function which smooths out the top surface to remove that usual ridged 3D-printed top surface. It's most annoying feature is the fortnight it takes to launch.

Cura can also control the printer over USB cable/Wifi/Bluetooth. It's not very convenient to have the computer tied up for maybe hours and risk a failed print due to computer issues. The usual way is to save the control file from Cura to a USB stick or SD card, and put that in the printer.

The version of Cura bundled with the printer may not be the latest, it would be worth downloading the latest version now:

https://ultimaker.com/software/ultimaker-cura

cheers,

Martin.
Hi Martin

That's almost as many options and settings as the 3D chairs and timbers ;) The Anycubic user guide goes into some detail about the use of Cura which I hope will be a good start. I couldn't even find a user guide for the Ender - I got the impression it was very much a hobby in its own right, whereas I expect tools to just work! I will download the latest version of Cura - thanks for the link, I hadn't got as far as looking for it as I had to sit down with a damp cloth on my forehead after digesting so much stuff about printers :ROFLMAO: I'm quite happy to keep my OS up to date.

The issue with computers used to be that Windows would say "I'm restarting now" which used to drive me up the wall. At least with Win10 we get a warning, although with the Home version there's no guarantee that leaving it on overnight would actually be successful if it decides to restart during what it decides are inactive hours. That, and simply the fact that wherever I put the printer is unlikely to be anywhere near the computer means that a USB stick is probably the most practical. It also means that in theory I could use the printer in my overflow workshop - i.e., at work!

Cheers,
Paul
 
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Paul Boyd

Member
Thread starter
Location
Loughborough, UK
@Martin Wynne

Hi Martin

I'm sure I'll need some owls! From opening the box to printing was about half an hour, assembling and running with just what was in the box apart from using the extra roll of filament I'd bought rather than the sample supplied, at your suggestion. I'd already downloaded and printed the User Manual. The owls are just one of the samples on the supplied SD card, and took 1h20m to print.

Noise - first priority is definitely some anti-vibration mounts to stop the vibrations getting into the structure of the flat. During that 1h20 I wandered about my flat and although acoustic noise wasn't bad in other rooms, I could hear and feel the vibrations in the walls. The fans will be next but they at least won't disturb my downstairs neighbour, but I must admit that it was a relief when the printer had cooled down sufficiently to be turned off.

Overall though, I'm very impressed. I still haven't found a home for it though... So that's going from "I doubt I'll ever have a 3D printer" to a pair of owls in less than a week!

Cheers,
Paul
2021-09-17_19-17-14_IMG_0155.jpg
 
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Martin Wynne

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@Paul Boyd

That's great! You got going a lot faster than I did with the BIBO -- it took me 1hr20min just to assemble the top cover!

Noise -- with 2 owls on the go it would have been jumping to and fro between them at travel speed. You could probably reduce the noise a lot by setting a slower travel speed in Cura. It will increase the print time, Cura will tell you by how much.

Vibration -- you can reduce that by changing the Acceleration and Jerk settings, see:

https://3dprinterly.com/how-to-get-the-perfect-jerk-acceleration-setting/

That will also increase the print time, but probably not by much. Did I mention the 10,000 settings in Cura?

cura_accel_jerk.png


How big are those owls? Have you got any filament left? :)

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Paul Boyd

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Thread starter
Location
Loughborough, UK
@Paul Boyd

That's great! You got going a lot faster than I did with the BIBO -- it took me 1hr20min just to assemble the top cover!

Noise -- with 2 owls on the go it would have been jumping to and fro between them at travel speed. You could probably reduce the noise a lot by setting a slower travel speed in Cura. It will increase the print time, Cura will tell you by how much.

Vibration -- you can reduce that by changing the Acceleration and Jerk settings, see:

https://3dprinterly.com/how-to-get-the-perfect-jerk-acceleration-setting/

That will also increase the print time, but probably not by much.

How big are those owls? Have you got any filament left? :)

cheers,

Martin.
They’re only about 45mm tall! For this, I just loaded the gcode off the memory card and hit the print button, i know I’ve got an awful lot of learning, and wasted filament, ahead of me. The real test will be when I print one of own designs!

Yes, the worst vibrations were when the head was zipping out. Now you’ve told me about those settings can have a play.

Cheers,
Paul
 
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Paul Boyd

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Thread starter
Location
Loughborough, UK
Just thought I'd update to where I'd got to with 3D printing! After the infamous owls, I was looking on the MERG site for something unrelated to printing and came across some geared servo drives to increase the standard 90° movement to 180°. I'm aware that most servos can do 180°, but most controllers seem not to! The application is two of the four level crossing gates at Penrhyn. Anyway, I downloaded the STL files and laid them out in Cura, and promptly got a warning about too narrow features (gear teeth). Given that I'm still learning and understanding, I chose to ignore that and experiment with slicing - the printed results are shown below. I'm not sure that the gears will work (but I was warned) Unfortunately it's not clear on the MERG website whose design this is, so apologies for not crediting the designer. I printed two sets, and although Cura suggested 49 or 53 minutes depending on the settings, in reality each took a bit over an hour.
IMG_0160.JPEG
I've also discovered that the Anycubic printer can take nozzles down to 0.2mm instead of the standard 0.4mm (and up to something silly!) and combined with layers down to 0.05mm some of the results I've seen online are quite remarkable for the technology, albeit at the expense of extended print times. That might give better results for the gears, or anything else where detail might be needed. I've seen references to several people standardising on a 0.2mm nozzle with 0.1mm layers, but I'll see how it goes.

Noise is a bit of an issue, particularly because of the flimsy nature of the 2000-ish build flat I live in. This morning, some Oehlbach vibration dampers arrived and of course I'll need to print some housings for them from a file found on Thingiverse. That will I think stop direct noise transmission through the walls and floor. Cura reckons about 10+ hours to print four housings, so I might instead just stick the printer on a sheet of MDF and stick the pads under that! I've ticked the acceleration box in Cura (can't remember exactly what it was called) and that did seem to make a little difference. The next noise target will be the fans, and finally the stepper motors. I need to be confident that I can run this printer in the silence of night without disturbing either myself or my downstairs neighbour. I'm aware that the Ender equivalent is quieter out of the box, but I still feel that the Anycubic is a better base for upgrading. Just my opinion though!

IMG_0162.JPEG

My current project is to get to grips with FreeCAD, which so far feels very much like Creo Parametric which I use for work so I'm reasonably familiar with the principles, but certainly far from an expert! FreeCAD means my designs are not dependant on my current job. Although I'm able to use Creo at home via the license server at work, with permission, I need to use the PC supplied by my employer for WFH during lockdown.

I still don't have a home for the printer, so suffice to say that it's just as well I very rarely watch television - any more than 2-3 hours a week I consider excessive, and up until about 6/7 months ago I didn't have a television at all!

IMG_0157.JPEG

Anyway, after an initial feeling of "what on earth have I done?", I'm now quite excited at the possibilities! I still haven't connected the printer to my PC though!

Cheers,
Paul
 
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Martin Wynne

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I've also discovered that the Anycubic printer can take nozzles down to 0.2mm instead of the standard 0.4mm (and up to something silly!) and combined with layers down to 0.05mm some of the results I've seen online are quite remarkable for the technology, albeit at the expense of extended print times. That might give better results for the gears, or anything else where detail might be needed. I've seen references to several people standardising on a 0.2mm nozzle with 0.1mm layers, but I'll see how it goes.
@Paul Boyd

Hi Paul,

Well done on getting started so quickly. :)

About nozzle sizes. It took me a long time to realise that the nozzle size is largely irrelevant, and nowhere did I find it mentioned as such on the web sites. But it's obvious when you think about it -- the width of the bead of polymer emerging from the nozzle is governed by

1. the volume rate at which polymer is injected into the nozzle, and

2. the height of the nozzle above the previous layer, and

3. the speed at which the nozzle moves across the work.

Since all the above data is available from your settings, you can calculate the bead size without regard to the nozzle size.

Unless extruding into fresh air, the nozzle size doesn't come into it, and controls only the velocity of the polymer as it emerges from the nozzle.

For example, this attempt to create code 75 bullhead rail in PLA+ was made using a 0.6mm nozzle, even though the rail web thickness is only 0.4mm:

2_111752_390000000.jpg


The actual results also depend to some extent on the nozzle temperature, because this affects the fluidity of the molten polymer.

The volume rate at which polymer is injected into the nozzle is calculated from the filament feed rate (E numbers in the G code) and the known diameter of the filament. The filament volume per mm is calculated from the square of the diameter, so a small change in diameter makes a big change in the volume rate. One of the reasons the better-quality filaments produce better models is the closer tolerance on filament diameter.

I have found that you can get more accurate results by lying to Cura about the nozzle diameter -- if you have a 0.4mm nozzle fitted, set it as 0.35mm or 0.30mm. The print time will be longer and slower, but the results will be more accurate to size.

p.s. on the BIBO at least, changing nozzles has to be done hot! , otherwise the set polymer in it locks it solid. If you can do it without burning your fingers you are better than me. :) That's one reason to leave a large nozzle fitted and do the rest on the settings.

I've ticked the acceleration box in Cura

I don't think just ticking the box will make very much difference, to make a big difference you probably need to change the settings.

To reduce vibration I think the Jerk settings will make a bigger difference than Acceleration. Jerk is the instantaneous speed at which the steppers start off from rest, or reverse direction, before accelerating to running speed. On some printers I think Jerk is called Minimum Speed:


index.php


cheers,

Martin.
 
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Paul Boyd

Member
Thread starter
Location
Loughborough, UK
@Paul Boyd

Hi Paul,

Well done on getting started so quickly. :)

About nozzle sizes. It took me a long time to realise that the nozzle size is largely irrelevant, and nowhere did I find it mentioned as such on the web sites. But it's obvious when you think about it -- the width of the bead of polymer emerging from the nozzle is governed by

1. the volume rate at which polymer is injected into the nozzle, and

2. the height of the nozzle above the previous layer, and

3. the speed at which the nozzle moves across the work.

Since all the above data is available from your settings, you can calculate the bead size without regard to the nozzle size.

Unless extruding into fresh air, the nozzle size doesn't come into it, and controls only the velocity of the polymer as it emerges from the nozzle.

For example, this attempt to create code 75 bullhead rail in PLA+ was made using a 0.6mm nozzle, even though the rail web thickness is only 0.4mm:

2_111752_390000000.jpg


The actual results also depend to some extent on the nozzle temperature, because this affects the fluidity of the molten polymer.

The volume rate at which polymer is injected into the nozzle is calculated from the filament feed rate (E numbers in the G code) and the known diameter of the filament. The filament volume per mm is calculated from the square of the diameter, so a small change in diameter makes a big change in the volume rate. One of the reasons the better-quality filaments produce better models is the closer tolerance on filament diameter.

I have found that you can get more accurate results by lying to Cura about the nozzle diameter -- if you have a 0.4mm nozzle fitted, set it as 0.35mm or 0.30mm. The print time will be longer and slower, but the results will be more accurate to size.

p.s. on the BIBO at least, changing nozzles has to be done hot! , otherwise the set polymer in it locks it solid. If you can do it without burning your fingers you are better than me. :) That's one reason to leave a large nozzle fitted and do the rest on the settings.



I don't think just ticking the box will make very much difference, to make a big difference you probably need to change the settings.

To reduce vibration I think the Jerk settings will make a bigger difference than Acceleration. Jerk is the instantaneous speed at which the steppers start off from rest, or reverse direction, before accelerating to running speed. On some printers I think Jerk is called Minimum Speed:


index.php


cheers,

Martin.
Hi Martin

Thanks for your comments. I've been pondering how the feed rate is determined, after experience of MIG welding and never seeming to be able to get the wire speed correct but certainly for now I'm quite happy to let Cura do the maths for me. Your suggestion to fib to Cura about the nozzle size is interesting, and makes sense - I'll certainly give it a go. I've ordered a 0.2mm nozzle though and it'll be interesting to compare results with different nozzle sizes and Cura settings. So many settings to play with!

I've just had a look at the settings I last used in Cura, and I had turned on Jerk Control. I didn't play with any settings, but I'm pretty sure with a very unscientific check (holding the table leg whilst it was printing!) that Cura's default settings are a good starting point.

Likewise with the Anycubic, the nozzle needs to be changed hot. I'm not worried about that - I change hot soldering iron bits at work whilst everything's hot, although that's probably a bit easier than having a nozzle pointing downwards ready to drop onto hands. I still have my welder's gloves though, ready to catch it!

Cheers,
Paul
 
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AndyB

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About nozzle sizes. It took me a long time to realise that the nozzle size is largely irrelevant, and nowhere did I find it mentioned as such on the web sites.

Hi Martin,

The nozzle size does limit the resolution of fine details (like BH chairs in 00 for example).

I was able to produce track and turnouts that were a reasonable representation of the real thing (without extreme magnification of course) but only with 0.2 mm nozzles. The snag is they do take a long time to print. ISTR posting a lot of stuff about that but I've sort of lost track of it.

At the moment I'm (very slowly) working on my SLA, non-diecast, any old angle, crossing. Should be exciting if I ever get it finished :)

Cheers,
Andy
 
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Martin Wynne

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ISTR posting a lot of stuff about that but I've sort of lost track of it.
@AndyB

Hi Andy,

Your original topic (2015) is at:

https://85a.uk/templot/archive/topics/topic_2734.php

You can print fine detail with a large nozzle, sort of. If you extrude only enough polymer to make a 0.2mm bead, that's all you will get, regardless of the nozzle diameter. But it takes a lot of calculation of the settings, and you can't be totally sure the bead will be concentric with the nozzle opening, although it's close. Much quicker to print because you can go down to 0.2mm bead only where you need it, you don't have to print the entire part with a 0.2mm nozzle.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Martin Wynne

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That only works if your printer has dual nozzles (like the one you have). Sorry for daring to contradict you. I won't do it again.
@AndyB

Hi Andy,

Please feel free to contradict me as often as you like. :)

I use only one nozzle on the BIBO now. The dual extruder function was a big disappointment and can only work if you get the two nozzles exactly level with each other. For which no means of adjustment is provided, without taking the entire extruder head to bits. So changing either of the nozzles is a day's work. I've removed the second nozzle and I'm keeping the seconder extruder in reserve in case of any problems with the first one.

It's currently fitted with a 0.6mm nozzle which means I can make non-detailed things, such as the filing jigs, much faster.

But it can also do finer detail work if I fiddle about with the settings and G code. For example, this attempt to create code 75 bullhead rail in PLA PLUS was made all using the 0.6mm nozzle:

2_111752_390000002.jpg


2_111752_390000000.jpg


The rail foot was made using a single wall 0.9mm wide by over-extruding from the 0.6mm nozzle. The rail web only 0.4mm wide was made by under-extruding from the same 0.6mm nozzle as a single wall. For the rail head and important top corner radius I fiddled about with multiple passes from the same 0.6mm nozzle with various different rates of under-extrusion. It took a lot of trial and error to get the results above, but it was all quite repeatable once set up. I could even get down to near-scale 0.3mm web, again using the 0.6mm nozzle, but the result was too fragile. The rail can be printed straight or curved to any radius, but is quite flexible if needed. The major drawback is the limited rail length of 200mm on the BIBO build plate, so can do only prototypes of 45ft rails in 4mm scale. When I've got the Plug Track done I want to get back to it, for battery/radio control, but more practically in 7mm scale.

For anyone using a standard 0.4mm nozzle, I think you could get down to 0.2mm details using the same under-extrusion method.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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