Category Archives: 3D Printing

Anything related to extrusion printing. Generally with plastics such as ABS, PLA, PET, and Vinyl.

Drill Press Squaring (with 3D Printed Tool)

Last week I was attempting use the Craftsman bench press to center drill Titanium bolts with HSS drill bits.

As you can see I was successful at drilling and an utter failure at drilling straight. In hindsight assuming that the table was square enough because it had been bolted and pinned in place was a mistake.

Titanium bolt with a hole drilled through the threaded side.

Continue reading Drill Press Squaring (with 3D Printed Tool)

Igus Drylin Bushings: Replacing Bearings on a 3D Printer

My Prusa i3 Mk3 printer’s LM8UU bearings were acting up. It could’ve been an issue with the installation. Or they might’ve just been junk out of the box.

Regardless, it’s time to replace them. With three Igus Drylin bushings in-hand I’ve decided to swap those in on the printer, at least temporarily.

IGUS Drylin install on the Prusa i3 Mk3 3D Printer
Continue reading Igus Drylin Bushings: Replacing Bearings on a 3D Printer

Improved Filament Spool Holder (with optional motor)

If you need a spool holder that does the job and has an optional mounting area for a DC brushless motor, here it is. I still need some refinement of the motorization option. But it’s otherwise functional.

Sure, there were quite a few other spool holders. None of the ones I browsed on Thingiverse had a license I liked. So I created my own.

Feel free to use or modify it! If anyone has suggestions post them up and I’ll accomodate them if they’re something I need.

And I also shot a video of putting it together. Along with the features that I’ve added in so far.

Prusa i3 Mk3 MMU 2.0 Banging on Start

If you haven’t seen it yet Prusa’s i3 Mk3 MMU 2.0 printer module offers up multi-material printing using five pre-loaded filaments with a single extruder. The magic happens with a fairly ingenious filament selector module hanging out above the printer proper.

And it works. The selector is adequate at selecting filaments and I’m not seeing much of an issue with it’s functionality. That’s barring wildly out-of-diameter filament widths (1.9mm+ instead of the spec 1.75mm).

However, there seem to be some teething problems with the software design. One of the issues I’ve come up with on that end is the auto detection and alignment of the MMU 2.0 carriage.

On start the MMU 2.0 seems to be detecting the right end of the carriage too soon. Then it hammers against the left side of the carriage when the MMU 2.0 moves back. It’s using resistance on the stepper motor driver and appears to be very sensitive. 

I’ve posted two videos, the first of it working properly and the second of the failing carriage detection. If you’re curious about the MMU 2.0 or are trying to check if what you’re own printer is doing is normal here you go.

Cheapest EBay Filament! Good Deal or Total Junk?

In our new series of videos on YouTube we ask an important question. Is the cheapest PLA 3D Printer filament on EBay a shrewd deal or total garbage?

Initially I’ve weighed out the filament. And over the following weeks I’ll be printing with the entire 2.2lb (1kg) spool to see if it’s worth your hard earned US dollars.

So join me in the shop to see if the lowest priced PLA 3D Printer filament is any good.

Smoothieware Update for MKS SBase v1.3

While updating my MKS SBase v1.3 to the latest smoothieware software I ran into a bit of a snag. Not a snag you’d find in the actual (recent) Smoothieboards, mind, but a snag that would only occur with the MKS SBase.

As it turns out they’re shipping with a 2014 copy of the Smoothieware firmware. Even as late as 2016! Because of this it won’t read a Fat32 formatted SDcard. Instead you’ll need to format the SDcard with Fat16 for the updated and then can re-format it with Fat32 for storage.

So that’s it! Should you have a MKS SBase board and are having an issue try Fat16 formatting.

Note that Smoothieboards are available from their maintainers. If you purchase a board from them you’ll likely not have these issues. And the hardware is a bit more likely to be in spec!

And you may want to know what this Smoothieboard thing is. Thomas Sanladerer has you covered with one of his videos, better than I would with a few paragraphs of words, on YouTube.

Max6675 Housing (3D Printed) in Translucent Green PLA

While working on a temperature controlled oven for drying out desiccant and plastics I needed a housing for the Max6675 thermocouple controller. I also didn’t want to adapt something to fit. Being in possession of a 3D printer I figured that was just the solution to the problem.

Fortunately someone over on Thingiverse (bradford) had created a design that contained the measurements. A small bit of tweaking later the project was done! Changes to the design account for larger solder joints and make room for jumper cables.

You can find my revamp of the original design along with some pictures of it in action on Thingiverse.

Translucent green PLA was used for the print itself. Layer height was set to .2mm with infill at 15%. Infill type was set to 3D Cube style. Combining those settings in Slic3r Prusa Edition created a durable part.

3D Printing: 3D Printer Build Plate Leveling

3D printers require a level build plate. We’re taking a look at how you can level your Replicator, CTC, Flashforge, or other Makerbot Replicator style printer build plate

Bill of Materials for this Build:

  • Finger Guage (or sheet of paper)
  • (Digital) Dial Gauge
  • 3D Printed Jig
  • Small Magnets (optional)
  • Hot Glue (to adhere magnets)

Some newer extruders such as the Kossel style Deltamaker cleverly level the head instead of the plate, which proves a bit simpler. They’ve got there own weaknesses, of course, but a level plate generally isn’t one. For the rest of us we have to put up with leveling springs in three or four locations needing to be tightened to spec periodically.

As with any procedure you can severely damage yourself or your equipment. By reading this article you acknowledge that the author, this publication, and any other entity have no responsibility for damage or injury. Take all necessary safety precautions and make sure that any procedure will not cause damage or injury before going through with it.

So what’s an easy way to level the build plate? You can fiddle around with a finger gauge and manually level it repeatedly to .102mm or .004 inches (about the thickness of a sheet of paper) on all the points hoping that it’s dragging just right every time and you’re not getting a variance.

Pittsburg branded digital gauge from Harbor Freight
Pittsburgh digital depth gauge from Harbor Freight

Or you can pony up 15$(USD) or so and get a digital depth gauge (ours was from Harbor Freight, pictured right). There are also tire tread depth gauges with the proper resolution for the job available in the 5$ range. We went with the classier dial style digital gauge jig as seen in the pictures. Link to the required jig on Thingiverse: (STL Files at Thingiverse)

You may want magnets as well. Gluing them in place on the print-out provides a bit more staying power to your jig. Less moving about while you’re setting the screws on your plate is definitely a plus but the design will clip on if you have trouble finding magnets.

Digital meter installed in a red PLA jig

Digital depth guage installed in 3D printed jig with magnets

In addition to magnets re-sizing the inner diameter of the print out’s pass-through hole to the gauge might be necessary if there’s a variation to it on your meter. A bit of tape or smudge of dried adhesive on the inside of the opening can achieve the same goal if you’re not keen to pre-measure everything and alter the 3D drawings.

How does it all work? You’re still going to need your finger gauge (or paper) to level a single corner properly. Being careful not to hit the bed with your print head position the print head properly near one of the leveling screws and get it to the correct distance from the print bed. We accomplished this by moving the print head out of the way, manually moving the Z axis all the way to the top, then moving the print head near the screw with the built in jog function.

How to check the depth of clearance on a printhead with a feeler guage

A finger guage balances under the print head to check the depth of clearance

While the build plate is positioned correctly next to the screw go ahead and level the build plate. On most printers this is accomplished by tightening or loosening the screw until your finger gauge (or paper) drags appropriately. Your 3D printer may differ.

Once that screw is tightened to the proper tension go ahead and move your print head(s) off to the side using the jog feature of the printer. With the printhead moved to the side place your jig on the printers carriage rods as pictured.

A 3D printer jig showing zero positioned over a leveling point on a CTC 3D printer
3D printer leveling jig positioned properly on a single level point

Zero the digital depth gauge by pressing “Zero” (or your equivalent) once it is mounted securely in place. With the gauge reading zero move your Y and Z axis around until the meter is roughly next to each one of the tensioning screws. Then add or remove tension with the screw until the gauge reads zero for each of the positions.

You’ll want to repeat your check until all four points read near zero. It generally takes a few passes.

That should be it! If that all worked for your 3D printer you should now have a leveled build plate.

Cleaning your 3D Printer’s Feed Drive Gear

While 3D printing there are few things worse than getting half way through a print and realizing that the filament is getting stuck in the drive gear.  Which happens when you’re running cold filament on a hard metal gear with relatively sharp teeth.

Which leads to the need to clean out the drive gear!  Keeping the drive gear clean can help the filament keep flowing in the right direction and at the right speed leaving you with less errors on your prints and better layer adhesion.

The feed mechanism on the Replicator style 3D printers from Makerbot and the various open-source manufacturers consist of a drive gear applying pressure the the filament and a roller to help press the filament against the gear.  We’re going to take a look at what parts are involved on the CTC printer and how to remove and clean them.

Brass cleaning brush
Brass cleaning brush used on a 3D printers feed drive to clean plastic out.

First I unloaded the filament and waited until the printer was cool.  Not waiting for the printer to cool down before removing the various hot-end and cooling parts can result in being injured; so I’m not going to do that.

Warning: Do not force any parts together or apart.  The process notes here are based on a specific model of 3D printer and may not apply to yours.  Make sure you take all necessary precautions and refer to your manufacturer with any questions.

Once the printer is back at room temperature I needed to remove the fan through-bolts (two in the case of the CTC pictured).  I was then able to unscrew the two screws holding together our filament feed guide components.  Being careful not to loose any of them during the process.

With the feed guide removed the remaining part on this printer is a feed gear.  In the case of the CTC it’s held on by a set screw that needs to be loosened to remove the gear.  When I loosen up the set screw it comes forward and off the motor.


And it’s full of ABS gunking up it’s gear!

CTC Replicator Drive gear post cleanup
New clean CTC printer feed drive

What I’m going to do to clear that out is get a set of brushes.  Since the gear in question is a hardened metal I’ll use a soft plastic brush and a harder brass brush.  I’ll then pick out any remaining bits of plastic with a small screwdriver.

Once that’s done the feed assembly gets rebuilt in the reverse order I took it apart and it’s back to extruding 3D prints!