Wednesday, 28 September 2016

New spool Holder

So my spool holder that came with the printer is ok but every now and then it just resists the pull of the extruder and pulls the spool off the centres I've printed for each and every different brand of filament. They are like tribbles around here and just not the answer to this problem. I'd like the extruder to not have to struggle with extracting filament from a spool. Or avoid that loud thump that makes me run into the other room to find out what blew up, when it falls off the centres.


Here's my new design er prototype experiment.

Click to enlarge

I'm going to run the spools on their edges on top of bearings, and am redesigning my helix filament guide to incorporate into the design. Everything is modular for easier iterative design potential.

Click to enlarge

I've measured the widths of several brands of filament I have here Aurarum, Blueprinted, Fillies and my new favourite The 3DPrinter. It's width will allow for all of these but I've designed a base that can be reprinted if another sizes come along from any of these, or other brands.

Click to enlarge
Here it is without the modeled spool, so you can better see whats going on. The design isn't original and loosely based on one I spotted a while ago that said it worked best when the filament was pulled from the bottom. My current spool holder is a "toilet paper over the top version" and he was wanting to run the "toilet paper under theory" which, as we all know, is wrong lol.

Click to enlarge

My spools should sit inside between the bearings a bit deeper giving better stability.....I hope, as I said, this is the first iteration of this design and in Alpha atm

The helix has been designed so you can remove the filament from it by angling it sideways so it comes out without having to withdraw it from the hole. Obviously it can be inserted the same way. You don't have to thread it threw the guide at all if you don't want to.

Click to enlarge

The printed bearing holders are finished and just pressed together with the bearings in situ. NB I had to use a vise to close it together despite being designed as a loose press fit. The designs ability to fit together will be different depending on the filament you decide to use and probably the printer settings you use. I'm using The 3DPrinter's petg here but you might find that pla works better.

Click to enlarge

Here I'm printing the spreader base that can be scaled/remodeled to suit different roll widths that might come along.

Click to enlarge

Here are the early release stl files if you want to print them or laugh at me and my design skills or even made suggestions for improvement etc

It takes standard 8mm skate bearings but check things with verier calipers just in case.

Keep coming back for updates on the design. I'll be making them for the next few days.

This is it running a completely full roll of filament to see if it interferes with it's ability to run smoothly................all good no problems at all. 


So more changes to the design of the filament guide, mainly because of how it printed. I took it apart in cad and redesigned it so the helix and main body were then able to be printed separately.

They can be glued back together with some Cyanoacrylate or whatever you prefer.

The whole thing can be considered to have pasted the design stage and for the most part thought of as done. There are some things I might change but I'm going to use this for a while before making any more changes.

The next part in my design process is to think about making it look nicer aesthetically but I usually just don't bother if it works as it is. :-)

I thought that by spreading the wheels apart and letting the spool sit lower into them it would reduce the chance of the roll falling over. This turned out to be true but it makes the extruder jerk the filament too much and isnt smooth at all................So I've redesigned the thing with the wheels closer together and the spool of filament now sits higher on them so hopefully it will turn a lot smoother.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Filament testing - The 3DPrinter filament

Recently Dion from The 3DPrinter was kind enough to send me some filament to check out. This is the store where I also got my copy of Simplify3d possibly the best slicer out there.

Click on picture to enlarge

The rolls are vacuum packed as you'd expect and the filament comes on a clear spool. Accompanying the boxes of filament was a resealable plastic bag to keep the opened rolls of filament. A great idea. 

Click on picture to enlarge

Obviously The 3DPrinter is has its head around what the consumer really needs and you can colour me impressed.

Click on picture to enlarge

Click on picture to enlarge

I'm not sure how well you can make out my clear box I keep my filament in but just off to the left is the lid and inside is every bag of silica I've ever got lol. As a guitar and ukulele player I've got at least 4 humidity sensors I keep in the cases of my instruments. Ideally a humidity of around 45% is good for acoustics and on average in my place it sits around 50-60%. I'm writing this to remind me to throw one of the humidity sensors in this box. :-)

Click on picture to enlarge

I'm putting the rolls through my temp tower test. The first one I'm testing is a roll of petg and the recommended temperature range on the box is 220-250.

Settings and information for these tower tests can be found here:

Click on picture to enlarge

On my printer the older brother to this one, with a few modifications like Titan extruder and v6 hotend from E3d and pei bed along with a resigned Z Motor mount and its opposite which allows me to tighten the drive belt without the hassle of the original system.

The reason I gave you this information is because while your results could be similar, your circumstances, your knowledge and 3d printer could be wildly different as well.

Click on picture to enlarge

The rough looking areas are where the temperatures are very high as they go from 260 down to 215 degrees.

Click on picture to enlarge

Using my magnifying light to highlight the print so if it looks a little warped then its just the lens

Click on picture to enlarge

Side by side with Blueprinted's petg a filament I really like and the The 3DPrinter comes out just in front its very close though and prints beautifully at the same temperature of 225 degrees on my machine.

Click on picture to enlarge

The print range for me and my machine is probably best at between 230 - 215, and at 225 it is bound to bond between layers better and look the nicest. Add to that the fact that I've already got a lot of settings saved for this temperature is purely coincidental lol

Click on picture to enlarge

Oooooh Shiny! 

Click on picture to enlarge

Click on picture to enlarge

Click on picture to enlarge

Click on picture to enlarge

I have my my extrusion multiplier set to 0.9 my extruder width set to 0.35 and am getting good wall thicknesses at around 0.43/0.42

Click on picture to enlarge

Click on picture to enlarge say I'm both impressed and extremely happy with The 3DPrinter would be an understatement, and highly recommend their petg.

I'm still testing the white pla but it's looking really nice so far, so more to come as I get results.



Ok the white pla from The 3DPrinter has a print range of 190 to 220 suggested on the box and from my initial tests looks like it doesn't mind this wide range of temps at all.

The white printed quite nicely and while its hard to judge with just this temp tower test, it looks like 205c is its happy place on my system.

The colour difference in these photos is down to one (on the left) being just one extrusion thickness wide so about 0.4 to 0.46 depending on where you measure it. So naturally is allowing light to pass through giving it its bright translucent appearance. Taking the photo on my laptop with the screen as a back light is also playing a big role.

Just like the petg I'm very happy with this filament. It prints well and lays down layers just like the petg. I'll have a better idea of the ideal temperature after I do some real printing on something closer to a normal print run. 

The only problem I'm having at all, is with my printer as its still giving me some z banding and for the life of me I can nail down the culprit. It not a big problem really it's probably just the ocd side of me :-) and white tends to show it more than other colours.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

New 3d printer build Random Ramblings


I've been following Tech2c's Corexy 3d printer build and have been wanting another printer so I'm going to "Very Slowly" build his design with a few minor tweaks along the way.

The size will be at minimum 220 x 220 x 230+ mm

It uses 2020 Aluminium for the frame and I made some end caps for them in Fusion 360 it fits really well with a tap from a hammer. :-)

You can download it here
2020 End Cap stl

If you can't see the interactive Fusion360 model below, its probably because you're not using a WebGL-enabled browser. Try using one, it's worth it!

I pride myself with an attitude of "If someone else can do it, then so can I" but I am realistic enough to know my weak areas and electronics are a real Achilles heal for me, so in of all this it's this area that scares me :-) I'll get through it though.

I've added some gt 20 teeth idlers instead of twisting the belt to my order.

I'm thinking of using a Smoothieboard as well. This is expensive so Its not a certainty.

For bed leveling I was thinking of using the BLTouch 

(BLTouch on Indigogo) as my setup uses a boroscilicate glass sheet with pei on it and I have my doubts that a proximity sensor will work on it

......but I just stumbled onto this and its coming out a winner as it will fit to my V6 and the wiring seems simple enough.

I'm even thinking of adding it to my current printer as well.

I hope to have the bed mounted on a three point system instead of a 4 point system.
Check out this guys build 3dprintedlife

I'd love to add linear rails and ball screws but I don't think this one will get the benefit of them as its still a prototype kind of build. Both of these are very expensive for decent ones. The ball screw in this example is only 200mm long so you can imagine the cost of one at 350/400mm long

I'll be coming back here to add in any details I think of when time permits. Right now I have a print to remove from a bed and set up another.


Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Different filament colours

Trying to reprint the Skeleton Ukulele is becoming a real nightmare.

An email to Aurarum to determine colour consistency

Dear Luke

Unfortunately it is most unlikely that the stock we have today is the same batch that you received on your last order. We manufacture large volumes of a wide variety of filaments and as such, our stock is constantly rotating. That said, we follow strict formulas for the mixture of our plastics and as such, you can be quite confident that the glow blue PLA you purchase today will be practically identical to the stock you purchased last.

Also, it would be helpful if you actually told me the batch you have, so that we can check if we still have some of the same batch in stock (it is the numerical number next to the "Aurarum Pty Ltd" part of the label.

Trevor Dawes.
Customer service


I reordered the filament and was worried about the colour match as I'd run into this issue before. The only good thing is, Aurarum has batch numbers on their rolls unlike others like Blueprinted who don't. I'm not convinced they don't both share the same factory as the last roll of Glow in the glow in the dark blue looks remarkably similar to the stuff from Blueprinted, a duller grey white colour as opposed to the brighter white I've received before.

The worry is, that my last roll was batch number 19, and the batch I received was 37. So in the relatively short time I got the last roll, 18 batches were run off the production line, this must mean a batch is probably only 1 or 2 rolls?


My Reply,

Thanks Trevor the batch number is 19.
The roll I have left now is around 2/3 rds of a roll and to finish the print I have in mind, it will take 1 more roll, but if it's a different colour then I'll need 2 rolls which doubles the cost.

A stronger version of my skeleton ukulele is needed so I've redesigned it and now need to reprint the body.

Build log:-

I wonder if you could send me a 2 metre sample to test print before I commit if its a different batch number?
Otherwise I'd rather wait until I can afford to get 2 rolls at the same time from the same batch before getting this one.
Just hang onto this order and in about a week or so I'll be able to afford the second roll.


What Happened next,

A hurried call from Trevor a few days later asking if they should send the filament completely ignoring my request for a sample and holding my order so I could be assured of two rolls that are the same colour. I'd ordered some other materials from them and I think they were pushing to ship them all together.

Money is a real issue for someone on a pension and at $40.00 a roll getting 2 rolls at the same time is something you save for.

This is what arrived after him telling me that the colours don't vary and their formula is the same every time.

Even in this phone camera photo you can tell it's not the same colour and I was hoping to print the new uke with the one roll and what I had left over form before I didn't want to buy two rolls at all. Wary of the colour issues between production runs I knew I'd probably have to get 2 new rolls.

My reply to which no reply has been received,

Your formula might be accurate but your base materials have obviously changed, 
you can clearly see the colour difference even in this lousy phone photo.
The Batch number for this latest one is 37

Imagine a third of my print looking clearly different?

This was on my last email

"I wonder if you could send me a 2 metre sample to test print before I commit if its a different batch number?
Otherwise I'd rather wait until I can afford to get 2 rolls at the same time from the same batch before getting this one.
Just hang onto this order and in about a week or so I'll be able to afford the second roll."

....but instead I get a call asking me to decide what to do, a few days later, no reference to a sample just pressure to make a decision I didn't want to make until I knew if the roll was going to be from the same batch.

Now what am I going to do?
Will you keep a roll of Glow in the dark blue pla batch number 37 aside for 19 days until I can afford to get it?

I was and still am keen to find a Aussie supplier and loyally stick to them, but these are the kinds of reasons I cannot reward otherwise pretty good service and have to shop around. I need understanding of what I'm trying to achieve and a tiny bit of help getting the correct materials to do so.

I'm not sure if shipping was the reason for the phone call and I obviously made the wrong decision but it was based on your story that the formula and filament changes little. This is clearly wrong, if need be, I will pay for extra shipping. I'd rather get what I need, than save on shipping, just to ship it along with something else!

The last time this happened from another supplier the guy tried telling me the colour difference was from uv light changing things and other ludicrous crap.

I worked managing a plastics company for years, believe me I know that all the variations in colour changes are mainly due to basic material differences in each batch not UV or any other lame excuse.

I showed you what I'm making.
It takes, at minimum one roll of filament to print just the body. Now I'm having to reprint the body solid, with high infill from its original hollow design.

It will definitely take more filament to print the whole thing. Will it need another roll to complete it? I don't know, but I still have the neck and bridge to print as well, so I needed to know if the colours would be the same.

I want to desperately help Aussie companies but they need to lift their game and understand what it is we are trying to do.
Something I'm pretty sure I tried to convey with my earlier email with photos. I wasn't just trying to brag, I was hoping for some understanding and some assistance.

So I repeat.

Will you keep a roll of Glow in the dark blue pla batch number 37 aside for 17 days until I can afford to get it?


Do I return the roll of filament at around $14.00 cost to me and cut my losses and just get the 2 rolls later (from whoever has it in stock at the time) which also pushes back when I can restart the printing of this Skeleton Ukulele.

Luke Pettit
3d Artist, Scripter, 3d printing enthusiast, Luthier


No reply as yet, so I think I'll box the filament back up and return it then save for 2 rolls but this is costing me more money than its worth.

Loyalty my arse, I'm an idiot for thinking anyone in business is anything other than too busy to worry about customer service. I'll just ignore what these people tell me in the future and buy from whoever has it in stock. 

Unfortunately just ordering two rolls won't guarantee me the two rolls will be the same colour either. Sigh!

Monday, 19 September 2016

Temperature testing filament - The Results

The print starting at 260c

Way too hot

I'm recording the temperature difference so I can redo my PID Settings 

You can see here the target is 245 and it is varying between 237.5 and 246.6 Ideally the difference should be about +- 2 degrees. I'm getting 8 degrees below and 1 to 2 degrees above.

Here is the finished print along side my other tester I did on another material. I'm just using it to measure the temperature graduations.

The recommended print temperatures for this PETG is 225 Hot End and  90 Bed

You can see where the material gets nice and shiny in the recommended temp range

The bottom of the print broke trying to get it off the bed. The combination of 260/90 made it stick like concrete and getting it off was a real pain. The Dark mark on the front is just a blue marker so I know where the front was so I can measure the wall thickness to re calculate my flow rate. It was too high at 1.0 and needed to be set to 0.9 (Extrusion Multiplier in Simplify3d).

Pulling it apart to determine the layer adhesion, hard to come to a conclusion doing this by hand but like popping bubble wrap.......satisfying ;-)

Close up of the second test print. You can see the rough surface from the high temperatures.

Temperature settings 260 to 215 in 5 degree increments 
No top
No Bottom
1 outline
No infill
No support
0.2 layer height
50mm/s print speed. As its doing outlines all the way you need to check the outline speed.
E3D V6 head with titan extruder 

I'm going to pretty much stick to 225 degrees but if I can't get my pid setting to play the game I'll up the temp by 2 degrees to help offset the 8 degree difference. I'm going to lower my bed temp to
80 degrees though 90 is just not necessary on pei.

At the higher end of the temperature range the filament is more likely to bond between layer so I'm now setting the temp to 229 and since the pid controller only manages a 6 degree below target and about 2 degree above target it seems be printing really nicely.

It only takes 30 seconds to cycle between the 2 extremes so it shouldn't be a problem at all really.

The wall thickness was about 4.5 - 5.0 on the calipers so I lowered the flow rate to 0.9 in the hope it will be about 4.2 - 4.4

..........and it was on the second print.

edit again:-
I've since re done my pid settings and the print temp is now stable with only a 0.5+- degree variation so I'm using 225 on this brand of petg. :-D