Further Adventures in 3D Printer Upgrades (upgrades?)

As previously promised, MegaMax’s Y-axis has been converted to screw drive along with the addition of a larger motor, DSP based driver, and 32V power supply.  The SmoothieBoard arrived and was quickly swapped in to replace the ATMega2560/RAMPS combo.  After studying and configuring the Smoothieboard I attempted a few test prints.  That’s when the problems started.

32V Power supply for Y axis motor.  No regulation necessary!

32V Power supply for Y axis motor. No regulation necessary!

















Smoothieboard is supposed to read the config.txt file from its uSD card (conveniently accessible via USB) every time it boots.  That makes changing configuration very easy and fast – all you do is edit the config.txt file, save it , and reboot the board.  Firmware is updated the same way.  With the ATMega2560 you have to find the configuration variables by searching through multiple configuration files, make the necessary changes, recompile the firmware, then flash the controller.  I said the SmoothieBoard is supposed to read the file every time it boots, but it wasn’t doing it.  I’d make changes and they would not appear in the behavior of the printer.  Hmmmm.

Layers kept shifting in the X-axis- I expected Y-axis problems, but not X!

Layers kept shifting in the X-axis- I expected Y-axis problems, but not X!












I attempted some prints and managed to get two decent ones in about a week of screwing around with it.  I tried dozens of combinations of speed, acceleration, junction deviation (smoothie-speak for jerk) and even tried different slicers.  The machine went completely nuts on two occasions and ignored the Z-axis limit switch and slammed the extruder into the print bed, gouging through the Kapton tape and into the aluminum!  I decided I needed some professional help so I got on the #smoothieware IRC channel and discovered that the developers of the board/firmware hang out there quite a lot.  After a lot of back and forth Q and A and testing someone suggested it might be the uSD card causing the problem.  I picked up a new card at Walmart, put the firmware and config files on it , booted the machine, and attempted a print.  PERFECT!

The new uSD card worked!  The small round post is 4mm diameter.

The new uSD card worked! The small round post is 4mm diameter.











I have made several prints since last night and they have all come out fine.  I still have a little tweaking to do and to test the limits of the machine’s performance, but I think the problems are behind me.

Next up:  X-axis redesign/build.  I’m replacing the two guide rails with a single linear guide.  I have also ordered and received a BullDog XL extruder to replace the hacked up QUBD unit I’ve been using.  I’ll be adding a DSP driver and 32V power supply for the X-axis motor, too.

After that, I have some ideas for a filament respooling machine and ways to fix the retraction problem in the SnakeBite extruder.

It never ends!


The never-ending 3D printer project

MegaMax has been and continues to be my main project for the last 2+ years.  I am currently working on some upgrades that will make him more Mega and even more Max.  The Y axis is being converted from belt drive to screw drive and the round guide rails are being replaced with linear guides and bearing blocks.  The X-axis will also get converted to linear guide and bearing block and change from 5mm pitch belt to 2 mm pitch belt drive.  I feel confident saying that once these modifications are complete the flaws/errors in prints will be due primarily to the nature of liquid plastic squirting through a nozzle, not positioning system errors.

I recently updated my web site with a sort of historical look at the project, including all the mistakes I’ve made along the way and the often failed attempts at correcting them.  Here is the page that shows how it all started, how it has ended up, and where it is going.  http://mark.rehorst.com/MegaMax_3D_Printer/index.html

Don’t ask me why I do this-  I have no choice.

MegaMax beginning

From this…






















MegaMax present state...

To this…

MegaMax 3D printer lives!

After a year’s work designing, building, scrapping, redesigning, building, and working through software and firmware issues, the MegaMax 3D printer is now functional.   It has some common 3D printing issues like printed objects peeling up off the glass printbed.   Tweaked settings in Slic3r, ABS “juice”, and Aquanet hairspray have all been tested with moderate success in attempts to improve adhesion to the printbed.  Finally, have_blue gave me  a block of foam out of the Stratasys printer to try out and it seems to work better than the other methods and doesn’t require heating the bed!  Further experiments to be conducted post-haste.

More info on this project can be found here: http://wiki.milwaukeemakerspace.org/projects/megamax_3d_printer

MegaMax printing on foam from Stratasys printer.

MegaMax printing on foam from Stratasys printer.

March 3D Printing Meetup


Join us on Saturday, March 9th, 2013 from 1pm to 4pm for the Milwaukee 3D Printing Meetup! We’ll be hosting it at the new Milwaukee Makerspace located at 2555 S. Lenox St. in Milwaukee.

The Meetup group is over on meetup.com, but we welcome anyone to come to the meeting and learn about 3D printing. We’ll have a few printers on-hand (as well as many printed objects) and will provide a nice introductory talk to the subject by one of our members. After that we’ll melt some plastic and create some real-world things.

This event is free and open to the public, so come on down at learn about 3D printing!

Frankie’s at it again…

Prusa i3

Looks like our old pal Frankie Flood is at it again! This time he’s building a Prusa i3 RepRap 3D Printer.

If you’re keeping track, he was building Prusa Mendels back in June, a Mendel 90 back in July, and a Rostock in September. I think he holds the record for the most 3D printers built in Milwaukee! (Or at least the most different models of 3D printers.)

(The Prusa i3 is the most recent iteration of a RepRap designed by Josef Prusa. It’s open source, which means you can download the design files, and build your own, and even make changes to it. Josef is also working on a new hotend which looks pretty sweet!)

3D Print What Now!?

3D Lids

Have we mentioned that living in the future is awesome?

You may have seen MattN’s post about printing art object on our MakerBot Replicator, and hey, a lot of our members love art, and art enriches our lives, but we don’t want you to think that 3D printing is just limited to making pretty objects.

Let’s say you need a lid for your jar… perhaps some special purpose lid, to turn your jar into a bank, or a strainer, or a shaker, or a fruit fly trap… Well, you can do all those things. Here’s a great post about jar lids. I know, you’re thinking that jar lids aren’t very exciting… but that’s because you probably haven’t downloaded and printed a jar lid. It’s the future, and it’s here today!

But seriously, sometimes I think we get so caught up in our tools, that we forget that we can do amazing and everyday things with them. Like make crazy lids for jars.

And the best part is, you’re not limited to what others have done… With a little bit of work, you can be designing your own jar lids that will make you the envy of your next canning party.

MKE 3D Printing Meetup – August 2012


Remember that 3D Printing Meetup we had? You probably read all about it. Well, people liked it, so we’re doing it again.

If you’ve got a MakerBot, RepRap, Mendel90, Solidoodle, Bukobot, Quantum ORD Bot, or some other oddly named CNC machine that spits out melted plastic, pack it up and join us… if you don’t know what the heck those names mean, but you’ve heard the phrase “3D printing” you can join us too, and we’ll answer all your questions.

We’ll be meeting on Sunday, August 12th, 2012 at 1:00pm. We won’t be at our space because we’ve partnered with our friends at Bucketworks for this one! Details are below.

706 South 5th Street
Milwaukee WI

Note: This event is FREE and open to the public! Everyone is invited.

3D Printing Meetup ReCap

Milwaukee 3D Printing Meetup

It was just a few weeks ago we mentioned the Milwaukee 3D Printing Meetup we were planning, and being the first meeting, we weren’t quite sure how it would go. Luckily, we’ve seen over the last few months that more and more members have built (or are building) their own printers, and we’ve got some “friends of the Makerspace” in the area who have also built printers. All of that coupled with the great visit from MakerBot last week made us pretty hopeful this would be a grand event.

We met in the lab at UWM and they’ve already got a few printers there. The monster is a ZCorp Z402 (like they have at Freeside Atlanta) and there’s a few Prusa and MendelMax models as well, and they’re making more parts all the time. Here are the numbers I scribbled down:

Our friend Michael didn’t bring his Stratsys FDM 1600 as he said it would need a small truck to transport it, and he likes to let it warm up for two hours. He did however bring a certain part he printed, and the quality looked amazing.

3D Printers

I heard more than one person say that the event felt like what we’ve heard the old Homebrew Computer Club was like. A bunch of people really excited about new technology, and willing to build it themselves. No one really has it all figured out yet, but we’re having fun trying.

I’d like to give a big thanks to Frankie Flood for hosting the event at UWM. The lab they have there is like a Maker’s Playground or something… very inspiring.

As for the meeting itself, it was totally informal. No slides, no presentations. We just introduced ourselves, and then we all talked and looked at all the printers, and printed some things. Since 3D Printers are still a fairly new thing, I think everyone who brought one was just happy to geek out about it with others who were just as enthusiastic. I’d also guess that almost everyone walked away learning a least a few tips & tricks.

So will we do it again? I’m sure we will. There’s no set date or time yet, but we’ll let you know. And if you missed it, I’d recommend you try to make it to Sector67 in Madison on July 21st, 2012 for 3D Printing Camp.

3D Printing Meetup

Milwaukee 3D Printing Meetup

3D Printing is getting more and more popular, and we’ve got a bunch of members who have built printers, or are building printers, or just know a heck of a lot about 3D Printing, so we figured we should meet up and discuss the topic.

So if you’ve ever wondered what in the world a MakerBot was, or heard of RepRap or Printrbot, or just wanted to see an actual 3D Printer laying down molten plastic to make a real-world object, well… we’ve got just the ticket.

Join us for the first Milwaukee 3D Printing Meetup! We’ll be meeting on Sunday, July 1st, 2012 at 1:00pm. We won’t be at our space because we’ve partnered with our friends at UWM for this one! Details are below.

UWM’s Kenilworth Square East Building
1925 E. Kenilworth Place
3rd Floor; Room 368
Milwaukee, WI

If you’ve got a 3D Printer, feel free to bring it! If you don’t have one, check out the different ones at the meetup. Bring some questions, and we’ll provide the answers. And of course we’ll show off things you can print and we’ll melt some plastic. :)

Note: This event is FREE and open to the public! Everyone is invited.

3D Printer (x 3)

3D Printers

Last night after the weekly Tuesday night meeting we had a quick show ‘n tell featuring three different 3D printers.

From left to right: a MakerGear Prusa Mendel, a MakerGear Mosaic, and a Printrbot.

We’ve also got a member building a 3D printer of his own design, and at least one member with an old-school MakerBot CupCake.

Speaking of MakerBot, we’re expecting a visit from the MakerBot folks near the end of June. They’ll demo the MakerBot Replicator for us and get all geeky about melted plastic, which is what 3D Printing Nerds do. (We’ll post an update when we have all the details.)