3D Printing - "It's all about design and quality output. Not how fast the printer can run."
Three D printing has become an almost nonstop obsessive activity here in my office/workshop. The low cost, low end, Cartesian style machine which is my original purchase, is being tasked with production-like activity. Operating times average 12 hours per day! The amazing result is the machine although a bit slow, has been performing just fine. It has just suffered a connector (plug and socket) burnout between the printer bed and it's electrical connector. The manufacturer is sending a replacement, but I have it working again by soldering the wires directly to the hot bed.
Pieces made number well over 200 items and the printing operation is running smoother and quieter than when started. So there has been a little wear-in on the linear bearings. There is no evidence of loss of operating tolerance (slop). Most of the run times are over two hours each. Some over four hours.
I make many repeats of the same item. It feels like a production run in slow motion. Four or five of the same item are often printed in the same run, side by side on the printing surface. Most popular are key fobs. I have consumed a package of one hundred plated steel key rings. My wife gives them away as gifts to all our friends.
Another popular item is a stacking box set for holding sewing bobbins. There are pins inside where the bobbins are held. These boxes are sold and bring some profit to cover the cost of material, with a little extra cash to spare. Not enough to call it a real business with all the overhead costs though.
My wife’s circle of sewing friends like to purchase unique and unusual craft-made things like the bobbin boxes, for themselves and for use as gifts. Especially if they are not too expensive. Being crafters themselves, they appreciate creative effort.
I have to admit I have cast an eye on a faster printer. Just in case demand increases or the current machine bites the dust a final time. Neither case seems eminent, so it is just a pipe dream at the moment. No, I don’t actually smoke a pipe. (Perhaps that phrase is not understood these days…)
My attention is drawn to a non-Cartesian or what’s called a polar or delta (3 arm) machines. They have a circular printing area on a delta shape base. They are also quite tall because of the arms. The printing head which is the prime moving part is usually much lighter and can move and change direction with less momentum and ringing than my current style Cartesian printer. It also looks cool.
Ringing is the vibration waves created (visibly) in the print when a heavy print head is forced to suddenly stop or change direction. This ringing is reduced in my current machine by keeping head travel speed slow. The lighter the print head, the faster the speed.
An example is the laser engraver. Extremely accurate and high print speeds (head movement) are possible because the print head (the moving part) is designed to be as light as possible, (No pun intended.) Many machines it is a very small and lightweight mirror.
The entire printing software and control has been moved off the Windows 10 system and onto the Linux machine. The Simplify3D software has identical versions for both operating systems and also the Apple computer. Very versatile software. Runs just the same on either of my systems. The Win 10 machine is used heavily for a lot of other applications (like 3D CAD) and although it can multitask very well, The Linux machine is much more secure and can be just left setting there running the printer all day long.
There were a few quirks with permission levels needing adjusted but that’s nothing unusual for Linux. Now Simplify3D is running virtually the same as it did in Win10. Heck, maybe better…