Hey! My name is Steve Hernandez. This blog is all about keeping track of the many projects I'm working on. By trade, I'm a computer programmer, working in the cellular communications field. I also do a lot of stuff with circuits / CNC / metal casting / welding / video games/ 3d printing / home brewing.
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
Good product support
The heated build tray was probably the deciding factor in my final choice. Machines like the Replicator 2 (http://store.makerbot.com/replicator2.html) 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.
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?