Sunday, July 20, 2014

Solidoodle calibration

This early model Solidoodle V2 was purchased from a Kickstarter campaign a couple years ago. It has been attached to several different computers but has never produced exceptional quality prints.
I decided that with this latest computer set-up to spend the time to sort the parameters all the way thru to achieve the best possible results. 
When purchased the Solidoodle came with PLA filament so that set the template of use. The general defaults were used to produce OK prints.
The last time we tried to use the printer it was switched to ABS filament with very little success. Mostly because we couldn't run the temperature the material wanted. Scouring the internet I learned this early drive board has overheating protection written into the firmware that prevents it from running the temps ABS filament needs.
SO, then, to run ABS the drive board will need a cooling fan and an firmware change.
OK, then
How about refining the PLA settings ?
Easy enough ... oh sure ...
With PLA the machine prints the perimeters well but the infill and support just didn't work no matter what speed or heat setting is tried. The infill is a mess and this effects the top layer quality.
After about 20 tries of printing calibration cubes I finally hit the internet to understand what's going wrong. Turns out PLA needs a cooling fan which is absent from this machine.
So a small fan was attached to the print head by using some hardware wire. Power to the fan comes from an open 12V port on the board. Not the best fix as the fan runs continuously. This band-aid approach help print quality tremendously.
Done properly the slicing software can output different cooling speeds depending on what pat of the model the machine is printing. A different speed is used for perimeters, infill, support, bridges etc.
This Solidoodle drive board doesn't have the capability to turn the fan ON, OFF or change speed.
The board can be modified with some soldering and firmware changes.
Gosh ... what a couple days of lessons that was ...
Now I know all the major shortcomings of the early Solidoodle printers.

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