Sunday, July 28, 2013

New 3D FDM FFF Printer - MendalMax 2.0

I've had my trusty MakerBot Thing-O-Matic for a few years now, and it's been my trusty workhorse. I've made various improvements to it such add a platform heat spread, LM8UU bearings on the X/Y/Z axis's, and changing to a custom accelerated firmware to print at 75mm/sec. However, there comes a time when upgrades are no longer possible or feasible.

My 'ole trusty Thing-O-Matic
I suppose the main limitation of the T.O.M. is the build tray size of 100mm cubed. That's roughly a 4" cube for all you Americans out there. Many of my designs and newer designs I've found on the web, require a larger build tray than 100mm cubed.

After paying off my crippling credit card debt and finding myself flush with some extra cash, I decided to splurge on a new Machine. Now, I've been looking at machines online for months, trying to decide what would be a good upgrade. 

I had a few requirements:
  • Large Build Tray
  • Heated Platform Bed
  • Reasonable cost
  • Good product support
The heated build tray was probably the deciding factor in my final choice. Machines like the Replicator 2 ( have excellent customer support as well as multiple print heads, but in the end, the ability to print plastics other than PLA was more important.

My final choice came down to the MendelMax 2.0 . It has excellent specifications, a heated build platform, and a large build volume.

I ordered one and it arrived far faster than I expected:

Mendel Max 2.0 in kit form.

After about 8 hours of assembly over the course of 2 days, the machine was assembled and calibrated.

The Assembled Mendel Max 2.0
Here's the machine sitting on my kitchen table, waiting to find a spot large enough somewhere else in my house.

My first 'Real' Print.
 After printing the end-stops and fan mount, I decided on a Buddha.

I'm sure over the next few years, this machine will help me build miracles. :-)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Pip-Boy 3000

Basically, I'm just a big kid, I love to play video games, and one of my all-time favorite games is Fallout 3 . When I saw a model for a Pip-Boy 3000 on Thingiverse , I knew I had to make one. This excellent model is provided courtesy of dragonator .

I printed most of the model in White ABS, here you can see both the white and the natural ABS.

I finished the Pip-Boy in "Hammered Metal" spray paint. It couldn't have turned out better!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

ABS plastic swell and print quality differences

      Something has been bothering me for a while. At first I thought it was all in my head, then I ran a few tests. Basically, I've been noticing differences in the print quality and characteristics of different color plastics. When I first got my 3d printer, I stuck with mostly blue and green, with the occasional red ABS filaments. I print primarily 3mm ABS, with the occasional PLA print. I've tried at least 8 or 9 different colors, and from what i can tell, each color has a different "swell" factor while extruding. Green, Blue, and Natural have minimal swell, while White ABS has a horrible swell. I've taken the time to measure the input filament diameter (in most cases it's around 2.9xxx mm). 

      White is the worst offender. Shown below is a simple knob printed on my Makerbot T.O.M.. In each case, identical print parameters and speeds were used. As shown, the Natural color ABS plastic looks almost perfect, while the White ABS looks horribly overfilled. Because the input filament diameter was identical (2.92 mm) and the identical GCode file was used, the only logical conclusion that I can reach is that the White ABS must somehow be expanding more than the Natural color during printing. I'm wondering if the dye or pigment used is causing this somehow.

      Out of all filaments that I've used, the Natural ABS plastic has the best printing characteristics. Red and Green are a close second, Red's not bad, White is a monstrosity. Anyone else have issue such as this?

Identical prints?