Improving Solidoodle Prints

September 29, 2013

When I begin to explain 3D printing to some of my colleagues, their jaw migrates to the agape position while:

  1. They are learning about a new technology that is almost magical and
  2. They are already figuring out how to use this wonder technology to solve some problem.

Case in point: a colleague asked about printing a replacement part for a RC car, but modifying and repurposing it for a completely different application. I recieved the part, discussed how we could modify it for his needs, measured, modeled and began to print.

And then small disasters struck! The piece is flat, which I thought would have given me great adhesion to the build platform, but I obviously had not tested this theory on parts with larger than a 1cm² footprint.

We have some warping problems (no, not the kind that Starship Enterprise did in the latest movie). See below.

3d Parts Prints after various tweaks

Here are the steps I took between each print, until I finally was happy with the output:

The first print became detached from the base since all of the corners started warping and tracking upwards. I believe since so little surface area was contacting the build platform, it just spun out of control when the nozzle was close at a certain point. Some old gooey filament on the side of the nozzle may have also contacted the part as well.

  1. Clean the nozzle

The second part finished, but the warping issue still persisted. To the Solidoodle forums I go!

  1. Raise the heated bed temperature to 100°C and fine-tuned the level of the platform according to Solidoodle’s website.

The third print did much better, although I was still not happy with the continuing warpage.

  1. Raise the heated bed temperature to 103°C (this was definitely scientifically chosen as a precise temperature… although this thread speaks of 100°C being a magic number). I also asked my wife for some hairspray. Apparently this stuff was engineered to make ABS parts really stick to the platform and as a side benefit also nicely styles hairdos.

The final part came out really nice. There is a minute amount of warping on one corner (less than .3mm or 1 layer). The bottom part in the photo above shows the final print.

For parts with more than a few cm² surface area contact with the bed, this is a must. I’ve read that with some tuning out of the box, this machine can really do some amazing stuff.