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January 11, 2016 02:57

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3D Printer Journey Part 1: Assembling RepRapPro Ormerod 1

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This blog is to explain our journey through assembling the 3D printer as it is a part of this project we are working on, and the 3D printer plays a major role in this particular one. Our goal is to create an online interface whereby a user can access the printer from anywhere via the internet. The users can then transfer their design to the printer itself, where the machine will print their designs whilst they are given the ability to monitor the whole process through the camera that will be set up.

For the first part of this project, we were required to assemble the 3D printer that we were provided; the RepRapPro Ormerod 1. We initially had allocated a period of 2 weeks for the physical assembly of the printer, not taking into account the testing, commissioning, calibration, etc, but after carrying out the assembly we found that we had underestimated the time it would require to complete.

Upon assembling the printer we had come across a number of obstacles, for instance the printed parts provided are actually very fragile, so when forcing in some parts such as the metal rods, some parts had cracked a little but we managed to fix this with some extra parts that we had. Along with that we also had problems with the ordering of the assembly, since we had followed the order according to the documentation here; we discovered that the ordering is not the best one. For some instances we had to disassemble a section we had already finished, just so that it could be attached to another.

Once all three axes, X, Y and Z and the hot bed were all connected to one another, the next step that we did was wiring, which meant connecting all the motors, the sensor, the switch, the hot bed and the thermistor to the Duet board. Commissioning was the next phase, making the first connection of the Duet board to our laptop then updating the firmware of the board and the settings of the SD card. With that completed the testing commenced, from testing if the switch was working, to the hot end and the hot bed to check if they were heating up correctly.

The printer had also been set up to be available for access through the web interface, in doing this we had come across another setback. Although following the instructions carefully, we found that it did not work accordingly whenever we would to test it out through our browser; we would be fed back with the response of the webpage not being available. In the end with help, the IP address set in the SD card was fixed; resulting in the web interface working perfectly fine after that.

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Confirming that there were no more problems in this stage, we moved onto calibration, the last stage before we could start printing. This stage consisted of calibrating the extruder, levelling the bed and setting the Z probe. Calibrating the extruder, we had the problem of the filament that we were feeding it continuously cracking, in order to fix this we had chosen to use a different filament that was given to us by the lab technician. Finding that the one he provided us tended to crack a whole lot less. As for levelling the bed, this took the most amount of time to complete. When fixing the level of the bed it included the need of having to remove an additional nut in the front of the bed, just to ensure the entire bed was levelled. 

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Finally for setting the Z probe, this was a task of trial and error. It took a few tries since whenever Z axis was homed, the distance between the nozzle and the bed was not as desired. After some getting used to and a few more trials, we were able to acquire the most suitable values before changing the settings in the SD card accordingly after that.  This would usually complete the whole process before the printing could be done, but during our first printing, we observed that the extruder leaned to the left a little too much resulting it in scraping the printed design on the bed. 

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Hence in order to fix this problem, we had fixed on a few layers of paper onto the side of the X axis to make up for the space and lift up the extruder a bit more; we did this a few times in face until the extruder was raised up enough. Because of this problem, the setting of the Z probe and the levelling of the bed had to be redone after that, finalising all those settings one last time until we could finally start printing out using the 3D printer.

The first design that was printed out was the calibration already set inside the SD card, as shown in the picture below.

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We also printed another few more objects, a whistle and a snowman decoration, both of which can be seen in the following picture. 

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All of these steps were done by following the documentation which can be found in the link here.

As this is just an introduction blog to our project, the following phase we will be doing now is to connect a camera to a Raspberry Pi to allow users to watch the printing process, and as well as finalising the set up of the web interface so that users can send their designs to be printed.

To read the continuation to the second part of this project click here.

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January 11, 2016 02:57

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