Last spring, I brought in a Stratasys FDM 2000 3D printer for the Makerspace to use for a few months before delivering it to our good friend Frankie Flood for use in UWM’s Digital Craft Research Lab. Many people had items printed on it and wished we could keep it at the space, so I promised that the next Stratasys I acquired would indeed have a home here. Fortunately, that didn’t take long, but unfortunately, the machine wasn’t fully working and needed a new support nozzle solenoid and had persistent jamming in the support extruder. It functioned well enough with just the model material that we were able to run it successfully at Makerfest, but it needed much more work to run properly.
Thanks to another FDM owner, the solenoid was quickly replaced, but the jamming remained. I assumed that it was something in the extruder tube itself, and set about a long process of clearing it of all obstruction. Unfortunately, this provided no benefit whatsoever (but I at least got the satisfaction of a successful head teardown/rebuild and understand the internals better than before).
Even after carefully drilling out all traces of plastic from the nozzle with tiny drills and a pin vise, it would still clog and jam. Replacing it with another 0.012″ nozzle cured all jamming issues.
As proof, here is a grainy, Loch Ness Monster-esque photo of a print done with support material. Since printing Duchamp chess sets are all the rage, this seemed like a perfect inaugural print. Much more tweaking remains – the XYZ offset of the support nozzle needs to be dialed in, there’s a bit of slack in the cable drive system that I think may be causing ripples in the part surfaces, and I’m not convinced that the ‘moonstone gray’ model material is running as well as other colors. Regardless, full operation is within grasp – ladies and gentlemen, prepare your STL files!