Just Received Printer

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Just Received Printer

Post by William » Fri Oct 15, 2010 6:23 am

I just received my Up! a day ago.

Background: I built a cupcake CNC with my daughter back in May. We ended up cooking the nozzle on that pretty easily, and didn't print anything more than a slug model. We purchased replacement extruder, but hadn't gotten anything to print on that.

Then we bought the frostruder, and that was kind of fun, but very finicky.

And lastly, we got the MK5 extruder. I got half way through printing a whistle on that, and then it conked out. Lots of posts to MakerBot indicate it's probably a power supply problem.

Motivation: Although we are into the whole DIY thing, we're not so much into it that we want to spend hundreds of hours diagnosing fairly fundamental product issues. So, we were looking for something a bit more substantial that would just work, not cost $15,000, and allow us to get on with the business of actually modeling and printing stuff out.

Decision: I saw the couple of reviews on the Up! and I was sold. I did my wire, crossed my fingers, and waited.

Early pains: Putting it together was easy enough. It's nothing like the DIY job that the MakerBot is. You screw in a couple pieces of plastic, the extruder, the platform, snap in a ribbon cable, plug in the power supplies, and that's about it as far as assembly.

Challenges: I have a nice acer laptop that I typically use to connect to USB devices. It's running Windows 7 (64-bit)!! Bit stopper there. Luckily, I had purchased a couple of Asus EeeBox PCs on woot a while back, so I just grabbed one of those. It has Windows 7 (32-bit). So, then the software installed, and more importantly the drivers were recognized. They really do need to fix this particular item. It has been pointed out before. I knew this going in, but if I didn't so happen to have a 32-bit machine around, I would not be an early adopter, and that would be a shame.

It took me a while to get through the manual on how to properly configure to print. Early in the instructions it just says "click the Extrude button and press the plastic and it will start to extrude". Well, you actually need to do the "initialize" step first, otherwise, you'll be staring at a system error and have no clue what's going on.

After that, I had downloaded the calibration model.

Then I went through the rest of the steps to set the proper platform height. That was not too painful. Some eye balling, some slipping paper underneath the nozzle to get a height that looked about right.

Now I am printing!!

The platform raised to the proper place, and it started printing the raft for the 8 little calibration pieces.

I almost got a tear in my eye, simply from watching print the rafts without any hassles. Very fine control of the extruded plastic. No dangling strings, no smudging the nozzle through the already printed material.

The machine is fairly quiet as it goes about its business. If you have a cupcake, you know how loud that can be. The loudest part of the printer is the internal fan. At one point, it started rattling metal against metal, but has since stopped.

As I'm watching it print, I'm actually marveling at the denius of the little filament feed mechanism. It's simple and effective. The plastic tube the filament feeds through presses down on a micro switch, which will rotate a tiny motor for half a second, feeding out some more filament. As this filament gets used up, the tube comes in contact with the switch again, and feeds out more filamanent. I don't have any auto feeding on my MakerBot, so I would have to baby sit the filament feeding.

It's got about 50 minutes to go on this print, but I'm already happy.

The experience coming from a MakerBot (for me) was like leaving the dentist's chair. While you're in the chair, your body is all tense, you don't realize how much until you leave. Same here, the MakerBot was making me very tense. Leaving it, and using the Up! I feel very relaxed, and energized to actually learn various 3D modeling programs, which is why I got into 3D printing in the first place. That's really not to say anything bad about MakerBot. It just puts it into a certain perspective for me. I thought I was a DIY kind of guy, and I am of a certain ilk. I am not the guy who wants to tinker for endless hours trying various settings, plastruders, materials, and the like. I'm the kind of guy who wants to use a tool, nott spend too much on it, and get some good experiences in this new world of 3D printing. I don't want to spend $15,000 to just play around.

To that end, this Up! printer is giving me complete satisfaction, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who's in the same boat as I am.

I remember reading an early thread here where a guy was demanding that people prove their identities before he called fraud and foul on the whole venture. I think he wandered off. What I was thinking at that time was "if you don't believe it, don't buy it, move on". I'm glad I took the plunge.

Final Perspective: I was in on the early days of selling Macs and other things. I saw the intro of the first Canon and HP laser printers. Those machines cost $10,000 initially. They completely transformed the print industry. The Up! and MakerBot, are similarly transformative I think. I would call the Up! a second generation machine (Ignoring the more professional level machines). You can't create one yourself using a laser cutter and a bunch of bolts, but I don't think it's necessary for it to be of value.

So, if you've been sitting on the sidelines wondering whether to get one or not, I'd say jump on it, it's quite satisfying, at least for me so far. I might even take it to work and leave on my desk printing all day just as a conversation piece.

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Re: Just Received Printer

Post by Chris.e » Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:24 am

Welcome to the forum William, and to be a UP! user :)
For me the decision was between getting an UP! or getting a makerbot. But I have too many unfinished projects laying around and I couldn't afford the time in the cupcake build.
It´s interesting to see how fast I have become used to having a 3d printer, it´s slowly going from "really abstract and crazy machine" to a tool in my toolbox :) Anyway, I hope you´ll stay in the forums and share your experiences and questions.

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Re: Just Received Printer

Post by Tiertime-Edward » Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:59 am

Hi William,

We were really moved by your words and feelings. PP3DP team will do our best to upgrade our UP! printer and serve our users.


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Re: Just Received Printer

Post by William » Fri Oct 15, 2010 8:17 am

As I use the printer, I have many thoughts on how it can be improved. There was a forum section where suggestions were being taken on the software. Where is the best place to make suggestions on the hardware?

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Re: Just Received Printer

Post by Tiertime-Edward » Fri Oct 15, 2010 8:36 am

Just in our forum is OK, in UPers section. Thanks!

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Re: Just Received Printer

Post by trebuchet03 » Fri Oct 15, 2010 8:01 pm

I'm the kind of guy who wants to use a tool, not spend too much on it, and get some good experiences in this new world of 3D printing.
Well said... Tools are not projects. If a tool is or becomes a project, the assumption it was a tool was wrong OR it's a very crappy tool :p
Engineer - Mechanical, Mechatronic, Reliability, Etcetera
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Re: Just Received Printer

Post by josejuako » Fri Oct 15, 2010 11:48 pm

A very nice history and you begin in and other , I like more your decision , this is the end place for the cheap 3D print.
Congratulations .


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Re: Just Received Printer

Post by William » Sat Oct 16, 2010 6:36 am

Yesterday, I successfully downloaded and printed a buckle from thingiverse. I then tried a couple of whistles. The whistle with the ball on the inside printed nicely enough, but there's really no way to get the support material out of the way.

Now my daughter gets into the act. She selected a nice little teddy bear to print. It had problems with its ears, but I guess that's an opportunity for us to learn how to improve .stl models before printing.

After I showed my wife what we can print, she now thinks this is a very good thing. She immediately thought, "Oh, I can do some design on the computer and print it out!" Yep, seems obvious doesn't it. She then started launching into things she could do for toy stores, and various other scenarios.

I don't begrudge the MakerBot. I figured out that it is simply a 3D robot platform, and you can use it to experiment with different things. In that context, I should not have purchased one in the first place, but the Up! printer did not exist at the time.

I have made one modification to my printer. I added the blue 'painter's tape'. Simple application of a single layer of this tape, and suddenly my models release from the platform without having to fuss as all. Similarly, the hot plastic of the raft seems to stick to the blue tape better than the green paint. So, no warping.

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Re: Just Received Printer

Post by William » Mon Oct 18, 2010 2:06 pm

Since I've had the printer less than a week, I still consider myself to be a newby.

Some continuing experiences.

I've now printed about 15 parts from thingiverse. They've randged from that cute little slug (did not print at all), to the vertical wind turbine. I've printed small flat things, and larger things, like the stanford bunny. Mainly just trying to put the thing through its paces, learning strengths and weaknesses.

One of the early challenges was trying to get things to stick to the platform. Many have the same issue, and not just on this printer. The first thing I did to remedy my non-sticking, was to put the blue painter's tape on the platform. This really helped in two ways. First, it made it far easier to remove my models from the platform. Second, they really do stick to the tape better than the green paint. Also, I was dreading having to repaint the platform after a few uses. I have not had to repaint even once, and in fact I stripped the paint off the platform as the tape is now my preferred method. I would recommend the Up! people ship the printer with a roll of blue tape rather than the green paint.

I continued to have the curling problems on large prints, and looking at my printer I noticed that the horizontal carrier of the printer goes up at a slight angle as it moves from left to right. Being curious, and equipped with the hex wrench, I took the printer apart.

Sure enough, the vertical rail is NOT at a 90% angle relative to the horizontal rail. This causes a rise of a couple of mm as the motor rides from left to right. As the horizontal rail is attached to the sheet metal case in 9 places, there's no practical ways of adjusting for this rise. I tried manually adjusting the cantilevered build platform arm to match the angle of rise, so my build platform is pretty much at the same angle as the horizontal beam. It's pretty much the same thing as trying to shim the heater platform with Kapton tape or springs. If I were building the printer, I might use a slightly different attachment mechanism on the horizontal. Instead of attaching in 9 places, I would attach in the middle with a fixed screw, then have an arced slot at either end so that the steel rail can be micro adjusted up or down so that it can be matched at exactly 90 degrees relative to the vertical. Other than that, I would supply the build platform with the screws, or other attachment mechanism that makes it relatively easy to adjust the angles.

One wish that came out of this was a desire to have a digitizing print head. This would be a cheap scanner attachment. A simple probe tip, and you could put simple models on the platform to be scanned. This could also be used to scan the platform itself, and possibly compensate in software for variance in the heights.

While I had the printer open, I checked out the electronics and other mechanicals. Fairly straight forward. Looking at the brains of the operation, I would guess at some form of Arm processor (the name is scratched off, and my serial number is painted on). Nice optical limit switches, etc.

My platform is now as level as I can make it. My prints are nicer, but not perfect. There are a couple of things that could make it better. The build platform needs to have better heat spread. Nichrome, or some other strategy which spreads across the entirety of the platform would be nice. Having a simple boxed enclosure (a separate add on product) would make for a nice warm contained environment. I could imagine a box, with an activated carbon filter and fan. It could keep the air relatively warm all around, and allow you to control the temperature so it doesn't get too hot, and remove some of the smoke coming off the thing.

Lastly, I've figured out one of the beauties of this system. It has a fairly small vocabulary to learn. There's only one configuration page, and there are about 15 items to learn on that one page. My skeinforge experience was nothing like this. That had a very large vocabulary. Even if you are already a 3D modeler, and you can generate .stl in your sleep, you also had to deal with the raft settings, ooze bane, and a myriad other things that are particular to your printer.

Since Up! controls the printer, they know all these values, so they can be hard coded, and do not have to enter the vocabulary. They can be introduced later as 'advanced' features, once people really want to start dabbling in such things. For now, the only two things I want to control are printing with and without a raft, and the temperature of the build platform. Other than that, I don't want to know about most of the other little items in a thing such as Skeinforge, I just want to press 'Print'.

At this point, after 4 days of almost continuous printing, I'm running out of filament. Time to order some more. I'd order another print head as a backup if I could. I might order some filament from makergear, now that I know the size.

And that's my experience to date.

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