My 3D printer broke

This one died

This one died, which sucks, like, a lot.

This one is being repaired right now to give me 3D printing back.

This one is being repaired right now.

My UP! Plus that I got last year broke. This sucks, I really liked my printer, I made almost all of my stuff on this printer. There is currently no backup for the UP! plus, this means that all projects that require 3D printing are delayed until further notice. No props, no Plan B improvements and no 3rd generation 3DP until I get a 3D printer working.  I will see if I can get one of my old 3D printer, the Mendel V2 (a generation 2 relic) to work, but it might take a few weeks. I will see if I still have warranty on the UP!, otherwise I will refit the entire printer with open source electronics.

Forum

The forum is running almost a month now, and there are 4 active users excluding me. A big forum might look at this and laugh, but it makes me smile. There is however an issue. However, the login is not perfect and was recently fixed because loging in was impossible (now it is possible again though). I added an active preview, but it caused some issues on smartphones and left html things in the posts. It was removed yesterday. If there are any suggestions on improving the forum, please tell me. I am convinced that it can be better.

Plan B BOM updates

I forgot the flags on the BOM. They have been added. Also a few nuts and bolt appear to be slightly too short, I will try to fix this soon. Also Important, the M8 threaded rods had some discrepancies. The bom said 185, while the drawing said 130 (it was 130mm). I now fixed this. Another warning.

Apologies if it caused any inconvenience and if you have more flaws or mistakes in the files, please contact me, either through the contact form or the (now fixed) forum.

Hydroponics

While it is still in it’s early concept stage, I want to start with my first medium scale hydroponics setup coming spring, but I don’t want a standard system. While that would be fun, it would also be slightly uninteresting, especially for this site. I want to have it fully automated, or at least as automated as I can make it. This means automatic PH, water level, temperature and EC monitoring and adjusting. I have started with some sensors needed to run a system like this. I will make a page for my hydroponics and subpages for different parts of the system. I will still be working on 3D printers and most notably the next gen powder printer, but I need side-projects and I hope this will be a good one. Also with my UP! out of the running the hydroponic parts are nice 3D printerless projects.

A capacitive fluid level sensor, a contact free, solid state way of measuring a fluid level, has already been made for the system. More will follow the coming months.

Plan B experiments

With the FDM printer out of the running, all Improvement projects are delayed. I might as well use this time to start some experiments with other powders. A few things I want to try are:

  • sugar and meringue
  • Ceramic and maltodextrine
  • Gypsum and maltodextrine

All will be bound with a water alcohol mix. The nice thing about all of these powders is that they cost less than €10/kg. Posts will be made when there is success.

This site has a FORUM?

Up until a week ago, that would have been a no, now it has one. Hello the few but more than 1 people who will read this blog.

Forum

I know of a few people who have started work on a plan B. I have had a few people who have offered to help with both Plan B and future projects. I am really happy with this help and support and hope I can help create something here. To keep the knowledge gathered from this out of my mailbox and get it on the magical place that is the internet, I have opened a forum. I hope I can gather a group of active people who will help me prevent my forum from becoming yet another forum on the internet with an update frequency of only once every 3 months.

The forum exists for a few reasons.

  1. I have my prop projects. These are somewhat more popular than my functional projects, and I know of a lot of people making these, or buying them from other people. I LOVE to see what you have made. There will be a topic for each prop, where hopefully you will be so kind to share pictures and tips of the prop you have made. (Also suggestions would be great here)
  2. To gather all the information that is acquired on 3DP printing (and perhaps other powder and 3D printing techniques?) in one clear place. All knowledge here will be bundled up into the next generation(s) of open source 3DP printers. Work is already begun on the 3rd generation and technical input would be great here.
  3. To ask questions about the site in general, specific content and future additions to the site (like the shop (still in progress)).

Find it here: http://ytec3d.com/forums/

3rd generation 3DP printers

Focus was a prove of concept for powder printing in general. It proved that 3DP printing was a viable technique for hobbyists. Plan B was a prove of concept for 3DP printing, it was built on existing and hacked technology to prove 3DP printing was really capable of producing parts. Now it is time to design something that can actually work for makers and artists. This printer will not be here next week, it will not be here next month, but I hope to have it next year.

I already gave a list of reasons why 3DP printing is still interesting. Full color, no support, reuse powder, varied materials. There is one other reason I forgot to mention. Cheap. 3DP printing powders can be made for as little as €2/kg (gypsum, sugar and maltodextrin). Binder can be made for as little as €5/liter (water and isopropyl). The only expensive part is post processing, but that can also be fairly cheap if you get the CA at the right place.

Some requirements for this new printer:

  • Be at most €1500,- for a kit and €2000,- assembled;
  • Full color compatible, for 3DP this means 5 colors;
  • Be made as much as possible from of off the shelf parts;
  • Be as user friendly as possible;
  • Faster than Plan B, as fast as FDM printing.

The most important part on this printer will be the printhead. 5 colors with more nozzles, preferably not requiring any modification. There is only one printhead at this point which meets all requirements, the CN642A. This week I got my first printhead for hacking. I will start hacking shortly. The internet will probably know when I have succeeded.

You can find a more frequently and thorough updated progress report at the forum: http://ytec3d.com/forums/topic/step-1-hacking-the-cn642a-inkjet-printhead/

The 3rd generation printhead to be (hopefully)

The 3rd generation printhead to be (hopefully)

Licenses

As some people will see now, every project page on the site has a license. At the end of each project there is this:

License

by-sa

The project described on this page is licensed under the Creative commons - Attribution  - ShareAlike license.

This means that if you want to use any information gathered from Ytec3D, you are completely free to do whatever you want with it. There are however 2 conditions.

  1. You will need to provide a link to the information gathered here and state that this is where this information (like files and knowledge) came from here;
  2. You need to post whatever you did with this information under the same license.

Do this, and you are completely free to do whatever you like. Sell it, improve it, modify it, (deprove it?). Don’t do this, and depending on what and where it is, it might be taken down. (I did it before, I’d rather not though)

 

Plan B update blog

Plan B is live, response has been mostly positive. Tuesday 19 August I posted Plan B on the internet. It had been a year in the making at that point, but I finally was happy enough with it to post it. It still needs many improvements, but I can make those in good time, and maybe there will be more people from this point onward.  I will tag some Blog posts with Plan B from here on out, for the people that want to stay updated on Plan B, but don’t care about the rest.

Just how strong are these prints anyway,

I had people asking me how strong these prints are. I have destroyed 2 prints, just to satisfy anyone curious. (I hope you are happy now)

I first loaded up the torus with 14kg. This was held without any sight of damage. Then I found someone (around 70kg) willing to stand on the part. The part broke, but only after the person applied the full weight. Then I found a misprinted vase. The person also stood on that. The same thing happened. It didn’t hold, but only after full weight was on the part.

I am quite surprised at the strength of the part, though I am a bit sad that the torus broke (I will print a new one soon). These parts are made of gypsum, glued with CA. Neither have remarkable mechanical properties.

In short. The parts are quite strong. Maybe with the current materials not FDM printed ABS strong, but drop onto concrete from few meters without damage strong. More exact data will follow as I will do some more exact testing on strength in the coming few months.

I tried to improve the speed once, it was awful,

I tried to speed up the printer to 120mm/s. While mechanically this is a piece of cake (the printer had no trouble moving at 120mm/s) the electronics didn’t like it quite as much. The result was missing steps and thick lines at some points. The problem is that the Atmega 2560 with the current firmware simply can’t keep up. It can’t change the on/off state of the nozzles fast enough. In the future, there will either have to be: Better firmware, a better microcontroller or more of them running different functions in the printer.

Finally the Arduino haters out there have some reason to hate it (like they didn’t have it before).

I personally love Arduino, despite it’s flaws. The pure simplicity of the system has made Plan B possible, only now it is probably time to get something a bit more powerful.

When will stuff be for sale

People asked if and when stuff will be for sale. For people in Europe this can be quite soon, USA and the rest of the world maybe not (I don’t know shipping cost yet). Upon request I can have a few sets manufactured in maybe a week. Getting other materials is also a mater of ordering parts or printing them. The only thing is the boost demultiplexer circuit. I have a shipment of circuit boards currently in transit. When I receive these and they work, I can make complete functional kits. I can’t give exact cost of one kit, but it will be in the neighbourhood of €1000,-.

Please bear in mind that Plan B is an experimental printer. You are buying a prototype, a first generation. It will not work instantly, it will not work constantly, you will have to tweak a lot of things and do a lot of experimenting with materials. With that you can help making it better for future generations of printers. If after that demotivating speech there is still anyone who wants one, contact me. If I receive enough serious requests I will order a shipment of parts and either open a shop or get a local 3D printer part supplier to sell them.

Planned things:

With Plan B finally live, I am finally able to relax a bit. The past few weeks I worked really hard getting everything done. I will now calmly move on with some experiments I didn’t want to do without Plan B being posted.

Upgrading the spreader to a smaller diameter and make it rotating. I think some issues with the layers breaking up are caused by the spreader having too great a diameter. This pushed too hard on the previous layers. I am going to design a smaller and rotating spreader that can be made without a lathe. If this helps I will post all files and things required.

Ceramics printing. In the materials, I talk about printing in ceramics powder that can be fired in a kiln. I hope to do this as soon as possible. I will order ceramics powder, Maltodextrin and a bottle of sake and I will find a place nearby that has a kiln to fire the parts. I will show the results as soon as it is here.

I have looked around looking for a printhead with more colours and more resolution. Plan B will not be able to hold these parts, but perhaps a future 3DP printer will be able to hold this. The printhead in question is: “hp cn642a” It has an unknown amount of nozzles, at least 300DPI and 4-5 printheads. I also know several suppliers who sell empty CISS (Continuous Ink Supply System) cartridges for this printhead, making the conversion step a thing of the past. At this point I have no idea how the nozzle control even works, but given the fact that there are 38 contacts on the back, I doubt that there is any microchips in there, making control fairly straight forward.

With this I can make a printer that can print in full colour. The firmware can’t handle it yet, the software can’t handle it yet, the hardware can’t handle it yet, but I will try and make it happen regardless.

 

Input from you people

I am open to input from anyone reading this. What do you want to see printed? What do you want to know about the material? What do you want to see improved? What do you want to see tested? I can’t promise I will do everything, but I will try as hard as I can to help.

Loot, Workbenches, Hydroponics and Wordclocks

What do all of these things have in common you might ask? They are all completely unrelated to Plan B, the supposed main project right now. Another blog post for the few people that actually read this (do people even read this?).

Loot

The turret I made a while ago was entered in the battery powered contest on instructables. After the slight flop of the turret, I did not expect to make any chance anymore, but guess what, I won. Second prize. This was a very pleasant surprise since I no longer expected to have any chance.

Workbench

I spent a good portion of last month making a new workbench for my projects. I had access to some large 1m x 2m desks and made some workbenches out of them. I made a backboard to hold the tools and hold some cabinets. It took over a week just to get all of my stock in the right cabinets. It is now mostly done and I am very happy with it. It was organized for maybe a week, but I never had the illusion of keeping it tidy. (spot the new Plan B (hint, to the right)).

P1040952

 

Hydroponics

I have started an experiment with hydroponic vegetables, just because I was curious. Don’t expect too much from it content wise, but I thought I’d share it.

P1040945

Wordclock

I spent this weekend retrofitting a wordclock I made years ago (It is in Dutch, in case you were wondering). At the time I was not capable of finishing it properly, so I thought I’d give it another go. The old one was made with a PIC16F877A microcontroller and I have since moved on to arduino. This meant that I would need to work around the old microcontroller socket. I made a plug and circuit board to fit the arduino to the clock. This was not a big project, but it was very pleasing to finally finish it properly.

P1040940

P1040977

P1040971

P1040984

 

 

Plan B

Now time for the Plan B related news. I have had made a new set of metal for Plan B. This way I have: 1. a picture for the shop; 2. maybe an assembly guide on the frame; 3. the ability to test the final design of the frame. I have also made some steps with the software that makes the print files. Without going to technical, the software is now capable of importing and reading the input file and gets everything ready for converting it to Plan B code. I can’t say at this point how long it will still take, but it is moving forward.

I think that is about it for this month, when there is more news, I will share.

Oh my heavens, is that a blog post?

yes, yes it is.

This post is here to say, yes the blog is going to be used. In this blog I hope to keep the few people that will accidentally click on the blog button posted on what is currently happening, preferably with pictures, though most probably not always. The blog will not be a weekly thing, it will not be a biweekly or a monthly thing. It will happen when something has happened.

First order of business… Plan B. Plan B is an open source 3DP printer, aimed to bring more possibilities to the open source community. Now that the turret has been finished and has mildly flopped, I finally have my undivided attention back at Plan B. Plan B already works, prints have been made on it, but Plan B has not been posted yet. There are 3 reasons for this.

1: Plan B still needs more work perfecting it before I want to post it. While I know that it will develop faster when more people have access to it sooner, I don’t want to post a half done design.

2: Writing the documentation is a huge task. I am very busy filling the dozen pages around Plan B. I have had too many project fizz because the initial documentation was too little or a video was posted 2 weeks after initial posting, I want to do this one properly.

3: Plan B still lacks a slicer working. While Plan B can read ordinary Gcode quite well, it prints around 20x faster using it’s own special code. Some delays happened in this slicer, mainly the slicing part, the exporting part is just fine. While I have enough files for testing, it is not yet stable enough to be released.  It is still in progress, some other backup plans have been set in motion as well as a temporary solution, but this needs some more time.

So in the mean time, enjoy this picture of a creeper printed on Plan B and as a super special reward for finding this page, a timelapse of the creeper being printed:

Creeper 1