EEVblog #274 – Makerbot Tweaking & First Print

Building the Makerbot Thing-O-Matic Gen 4 Interface Controller, fixing problems with the stepper motor drive current, and a successful first print. Well, almost…

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  1. Dave,

    The flat spots on the curves indicate lash in one axis. Check your belt tension.

    It sounds like your machine may be outputting a little too much plastic. Try increasing the filament diameter setting in Print-O-Matic.

  2. I needed to characterize my stepper-controlled laser cutter using digital calipers on a couple of workpieces. I was able to determine the “kerf width” for a selected speed and laser current. The kerf width then was entered into the software to compensate. Does your 3D printer’s software have a similar setting?

    My laser cutter’s workpieces show the same flat spots. Its software has backlash compensation, but I haven’t tried it yet. Clearly belts need to stretch slightly to get the slide to move. I think that there’s little that one can do, mechanically, to compensate. This may be the limit of the equipment’s capabilities.

  3. Enjoyed the video, laughed quite a bit about the filament reel not working. PLA filament is more dimensionally stable than ABS and I take it that you was using ABS filament.


  4. I always print small test objects to tweak sizes first. In that case I’d print a ring only 2mm or so thick first and see if the size was right, tweak it until it was right, then print the whole object once I had all the sizes right. When you start printing things that have a lot of parts like screws and hex nut recesses and such it’s important to get the sizing exactly right first, especially if you’re printing a large object that might take a couple of hours to print.

    The slicing software should actually allow for the spread of the plastic, it may be that which needs adjustment. If you have the slicing software (skeinforge or SFAct or Slic3r or whatever you use) properly calibrates, you shouldn’t have to do much tweaking on sizes to get it right.

    Yeah, I don’t think anyone really prints rafts anymore.

  5. Hi Dave

    Many thanks for your work with EEV blog because simply put is amazing.
    About the “misfit” problem I have a simple sugestion and i hope it will make the difference for your makerbot projects. When you work with plastics, take your pick ABS PP PP-E PP-HD Nylon, they have a substantial dilation factor. In your case at the temperatures shown on the display you can endup with up to 2% dimensional difference (ABS goes from 50-95 e-6/K).
    I have seen this kind of proble with aluminium cast parts (up to 7% dimensional compensation is required).
    Hope that helps.
    Keep up the good work


  6. I’ve followed a few blogs who’ve bought the Makerbot now and all of them have major problems which leads me to believe that it’s an expensive heavy paperweight that drools plastic. I would be resisting all urges to throw that damn thing across the room.

  7. Keep up the good work Dave

  8. I think you need a small lathe for turning away the bottom and to adjust the inner diameters 🙂

  9. Yet another capable person struggling with a poorly designed and over-priced 3D printer. What a waste. Sigh…

  10. Love watching these.
    Please show more videos of your printing, I’m fascinated!

    It will be interesting to see how reliable your printer is once it’s properly calibrated.

  11. when all else fails RTFM

  12. Scarred for life

    To all you geeks out there:

    What matters is that *you* are making the effort; *you* are attempting it. When I grew up my parents often apologized to friends and family when the ‘boy genius’ once again tripped the mains power, made a razorsharp disco ball by cutting broken mirror glass using pliers in a bucket of water (dampened vibration; no shattering), flashed the firmware of the satellite receiver, etc. With electronics the difficulty was to make it look as good as something you could buy in a shop. I vividly remember programming a state machine to drive a small DC motor only to find out I did not know how to get a @#$$! DC motor shaft to connect to a plastic wheel (…or how to use PWM to reduce start up current …or how to decouple DC motor noise ripple on Vcc …or how to drive steppers …or *sigh*). Always had a love-hate relationship with electronics, especially analog. Ended up in IT as programming does not do parasitic capacitance, ESD or temperature variance. Still do electronics as a hobby. Needless to say it is difficult to impress parents and find people with similar interests. Making something work is not easy at best of times. Making something look good is even harder. Persist. Small steps. Evolve. Kick it. Successive elimination. Learn. Technology is 50% fingerspitzengefuhl and 50% art, not an exact science.

    ‘If it works, take it apart to find out why’

  13. To callibrate the printer, there are some great articles on the next blog.
    This is for a Prusa Mendel, but the same applies for all home build 3d printers

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