Thursday, August 8, 2013

My Prusa i3 birth

Well, first post, let's give life to this blog!

     I'll start with the beginning of my RepRap adventure. I first thought about 3D printing in may 2013 (yes I was running pretty late..) , just a day before I watch the video by Vice news about Cody R Wilson and his 3D printed gun. I used to make potato launchers in the past (see here and this video was quite interesting compared to manufacturing process and design ideas. Quickly, I come across RepRap  and his huge community, I succumb to the charm of the project and the thought of and open source organisation on the subject of mechanical and engineering improvement.

      Some weeks after, I started to chose what RepRap printer to build and I finally chose the Prusa i3 by Josef Prusa ( which wasn't as famous as it is right now. Build documentation wasn't complete so I opt for a large investigation work about FFF 3D printers and Prusa i3 building tips. I started develop a personalized B.O.M with Sanguinololu board and wooden frame structure. I ordered the major part of my items on the Reprapworld  website (electronics, mechanics and filament), others where bought on eMaker shop UK (printed parts, frames and J-Heads V) or Panucatt (Helios HBP).

     The assembly began after my end-of-term examination at the end of June.

Prusa i3 - Y frame assembly
     Useful tip: Heat your printed parts (ABS or PLA, it's the same) with an hairdryer in order to make them more flexible and not brittle when you try to screw up something or put in something in force!

Prusa i3 - Waiting for extruder mount

     After some wired issues, the Sanguinololu board turn out to be defective so I opt for a Megatronics v2 board, quite expensive but really fitted for my setup and my development perspectives. This board is designed by Bart Maijer and is available on I recommend it, this is the perfect board for our printers! Dual extrusion support, SD card, optoendstops, debug LEDs, multiple thermistors, fans, LCD, keypad and more.

Prusa i3 - Megatronics v2 board

     Ok, now let's print some plastic! I'm not so proud of my first attempts...

Prusa i3 - X lift on first prints

... but after some calibration and adjustments it was quite better:

Prusa i3 - Yoda PLA print 50% scale with clear PLA from RRW

     I resolved the lift problem using a fan on the board in order to cool stepsticks. I think heat was putting pololus on security mode and the motors were missing some steps. I also had to regulate pololu's intensity and make some plane on my Nema 17 axis to be sure the pulleys will not slide during the print.

     Usefull tip: Planes can be machined with a simple Dremel. You can control pulley position with nail varnish on the axis and the pulley. Now you are sure pulley will not slide again!

Prusa i3 - Planes and nail varnish on the X axis motor

      After that, I reach a medium quality for my prints and I managed to print this "Essential calibration test" , the "Bridge torture test" and the "Hollow calibration pyramid" ,available on Thingiverse, in order to improve it.  


     These prints are sliced with Slic3r 9.9 and 9.10b, now I use Cura, an open-source slice-engine by Ultimaker which is, for me, more reliable than Slic3r for some advanced prints. For the moment, Slic3r doesn't do the job as well as expected for dual-extrusion work (see,215749). However, Cura seems to have some issues with dual extruded support structures... (I'll write a post about that).

Prusa i3 - First acceptable prints
      From that moment I never stopped to work on the improvement of my printing speed and quality. Now I can print PLA, ABS, Nylon 618, Laywood and PVA with reliable Cura settings for my printer.

Prusa i3 - ABS, neutral PLA, Nylon and Laywood (0.1mm layer height)

     Well, it was a quick presentation of my printer, in the future, I'll write some posts about each of these "printables" material with more details, an Arduino based 3D scanner, a laser-cutted box for this printer and a Raspberry setup made to control the i3 via wifi with Octoprint (and Cura slicing). I hope you learned something! Thanks for reading!

More pictures here: Dropbox or here Flickr

Prusa i3 - Today

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