Building the C-Bot 3D printer: Part 24 : Tuning print settings for the Volcano

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(Note:  Since I authored this, I have updated  Volcano print settings blogged about here)

Now that the cooling fans are installed and I can start tuning my print settings.  I’ve been using a .4mm nozzle on my Replicator 1 for the past 3 1/4 years:  The nozzle I have installed on my E3d V6 Volcano is 1mm (currently:  I have other nozzle sizes from .6mm -> 1.2mm).  And getting this thing to print right has been… much different than I’m used to.  Mainly first layer adhesion.

I spent the bulk of this 4th of July printing off a variety of 1 and 2 cm calibration cubes getting things tuned in.  Below are my current findings on what makes the Volcano happy using my slicing software, Simplify 3D.  Note, I’ve been searching all over the web for ‘volcano print settings’, and really haven’t found anything.

  • Print surface:  Removable glass plate on heated bed.  I mix 1 part wood glue with 1 part water, use a paper towel to slather the glass.  After that dries, do it again.  PLA loves to stick to it.  I’ve gotten far better results with this than blue painters tape.
  • Filament:  “Natural” PLA, 1.75 mm, manufactured by Esun.
  • I also use a ‘filament-cleaner’:  Sponge soaked in some vegetable oil the pre-extruded filament is pulled through before it hits the Bowden drive.  I’ve had good results on my Replicator 1 using these.  Note:  Do not over-soak!  I ended up with a pool of oil on my build platform nothing would stick to :(
  • Notable Slicer Settings:
    • Layer height:  500 micron/.5mm : Half the width of the 1mm nozzle.
    • Print speed:  30mm/sec.  Just a starting point.  I’ve gotten good results with up to 45mm/sec, but around 60mm/sec (based on the below settings) print quality starts to suffer.  This sounds terribly slow considering I can get good results out of my Replicator 1 at 120mm/sec, but it’s weird to think this thing still prints faster:  A solid 1cm calibration cube takes 2 minutes.  A solid 2cm cube takes 8 minutes.
    • Extrusion Multipler : Set to .9:  Normally on my Rep1 with a .4mm nozzle I leave this at 1.0 for PLA.  But it seems the bigger the nozzle the more it wants to over-extrude, and I’ve found success with this value.
    • Extrusion Width : 1.0, the same as the nozzle width.
    • Retraction:  Had a lot of issues with the nozzle drooling all over the place, but based on these settings it’s behaving much better:
      • Retract distance: 10mm
      • Retract vertical lift : 0 : I had set this to .25, but the constant lowering/raising of the bed caused too much commotion for my taste
      • Retraction speed : 45mm/sec
      • Coast at end:  Off.  I had set this to .5mm, which worked good on calibration cubes, but on larger prints with a single shell, slight gaps started to show up.
      • Wipe Nozzle : Off.
    • Ooze Control Behavior:
      • Only retract when crossing open spaces:  True
      • Force Retraction Between Layers : True : This is important, without it, blobs would show up on the perimeter.
      • Only wipe extruder for outer-most perimeters : True : Only matters if you’re doing ‘wipe’ (which I currently have disabled).
    • First Layer Settings : These were really important to get right:
      • First Layer Height : 75% : Anything less than this would squish the filament too much, and cause it to overlap/delaminate corresponding extrusions.
      • First Layer Width : 90% : Larger values contributed to the above issue.
      • First Layer Speed: 50%
    • Temperature:
      • Extruder: 200 deg
      • Heated Bed : 60 deg : Event though this is PLA, heating up the bed really helped the first layer stick better.  Without heating the bed, the extruded filament would just sort of ‘bounce’ off the platform, curling up into the air.
    • Cooling : Turing on the filament cooling fans starting at layer 2.  Note, so much filament is coming out, I think I need more powerful fans… even with two I think it could be cooled down faster.

Based on those settings I was getting calibration cubes printed within five-hundreths of a mm tolerance, not too bad IMO.  I was also able to successfully knock out single and dual-shell cube prints with a variety of infill that feel strong enough to drive a car over.  Really looking to printing something ‘big’!

But in the meantime, the 2cm calibration cube’s aren’t looking so bad either:

calibration cube2

2cm cube, 500 micron, courtesy of the Volcano

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Building the C-Bot 3D printer: Part 23 : Filament Cooling Fans
Building the C-Bot 3D printer: Part 25 : Catastrophic failure
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