Archive for 3D printing host software

The mystery of the 3D print fail

Overheat screen for 3D printer - Kevin CaronIt starts out so innocently …. Doesn’t it always, especially with 3D printing!

I wanted to print something using NGen_FLEX (usually called “Ninjaflex”) rubber filament on my 8-foot-tall Cerberus 3D Gigante printer when I got a “Runaway temperature warning” (right), and the printer shut down.

I checked the graph in Simplify 3D, the combination host and slicer program I was using, and saw the temperature spiking instead of its usual gradual climb.

I shut off the 3D printer, let it cool, and tried it again. Same problem.

I printed the same file with regular PLA and had no problem.

There was only one thing to do …

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Test driving a new – old – host program on a big 3D print

Pronterface screen, 3D printing - Kevin Caron's 3D printing blogDealing with sudden, inexplicable fails got me to try some new things. I don’t know which, if any, are related to why my Cerberus 3D Gigante 3D printer just stopped cold without apparent reason, but it sent me back to play with a host program I’d only used once or twice before.

In fact, when my 3D printing guru suggested I use Pronterface instead of Repetier, which we thought might be the problem, I remembered I had a version of it. It was old, so the first thing I did was download the latest version of this venerable – well, for 3D printing! – host program.

Pronterface is apparently one of the most common interfaces used by 3D printer software. It can move and home all 3 axes independently, as well as offering a temperature graph, extrude and retract buttons, a window showing the current layer’s tool path, and a window to enter G-code. Some users complain that it’s too basic or don’t like the program’s look and feel, but it seems very clean and easy to use to me.

The big question is whether and how it works ….

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3D Printing Mystery Continues…

Troubleshooting - Kevin CaronWouldn’t it be awesome if things just worked?

Yeah, they do sometimes, but especially in these early days of 3D printing, there are so many variables and things change so quickly that it seems there are myriad things that can and do go wrong.

Lately I’ve been battling a problem with both of my deltabot 3D printers, and I still haven’t figured out what is causing it.

The result is ugly: they just stop printing. For no apparent reason. Everything is going well, and then the hotend just stops moving.

Aaaargh!

I can’t just give up – it isn’t in my nature.

So I’ve been doing what I always do when troubleshooting any problem ….

I work through a process of elimination, testing and ruling out various possibilities.

Here’s what I’ve done thus far:

  1. Confirmed that it isn’t on just one 3D printer. It seems that I’m having the same problem with both deltabots.
  2. Confirmed that it isn’t Windows 10. That’s because it’s also happening on a computer that is running Windows 7. If it were just Windows 10, that’d be one thing, but the other computer hasn’t had an update in years and ran just fine.
  3. Confirmed that it isn’t the host program. I’m having the problem with both Repetier – two different versions of it – and Simplify. I’ve checked Simplify’s log and see it says the firmware is unresponsive, which brought me to my latest hunch (below).
  4. Removed the host program from the equation altogether. I put the file directly into the Gigante (yes, I used a ladder to do it). Same problem.
  5. Confirmed that it isn’t a power problem. One of the computers is plugged directly into the wall, while the other runs through an uninterrupted power supply.
  6. Ruled out the file itself. This has happened with several files, so it isn’t the design.
  7. Made sure it isn’t a filament bulge problem. It’s happened with various filaments, including two different diameters (3 millimeter and 1.75).
  8. Noted that it has happened shortly after the print started and just before it finished. If it were related to the file length, you’d think that would be more consistent.

At this point, I’m thinking it might be the controller board. I believe both 3D printers have Smoothie boards, so that might be it.

So I’ll just keep poking around on forums, talking to people, consulting my expert, and eliminating problems, hoping that one of them is the solution that gets me back up and 3D printing again.

And if this is just a test of my patience, I hope I have already passed!

 

Changing 3D printing filament is now so much easier ….

Sometimes change is imposed upon us (make that “Often change is …”). Anyway, sometimes (often?) that change is good, and that’s the case with how I now am changing my filament on my Cerberus 3D Gigante 3D printer.

Last month, the teeth on the Gigante’s extruder motor got stripped, which required me to order a new extruder. That actually worked out well – I was between one of my own prints, Redhead, and beginning a 3D printed commissioned sculpture.

When I got the new extruder, I discovered I could just pause the print to change the filament instead of having to do it on the fly, the way I had been doing it:

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The 3 Biggest Myths About 3D Printing

Any time there is new technology – fax machines, the Internet, electric cars – claims abound it. New!

“This will change the world like nothing before it!”

“You’ll never have to [fill in the blank] again!”

“Your life will be easier and better than ever before!”

Of course, some of these claims end up being true, but often they blow the benefits out of proportion ….

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More adventures on the bleeding edge

I wish I could say that the holidays are entirely the reason for not posting recently, but that’s only been part of it.

Steve Graber putting the card into the top of the Gigante itself.Truth be known, I’ve been having fits with the Gigante. Fortunately, Steve Graber from Cerberus 3D, the company that built my 8-foot-tall deltabot printer, has been very present and very patient.

“Present” has helped because I’ve had some hardware issues. One of the struts let loose at one point, for instance. He also has replaced the carriages and platform (I’ll have another post that goes into more detail on that) and the Bowden tube that the filament feeds through, as well as completely rebuilt the hotend.

But there have been other problems, too ….

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The more I use my 3D printer, the more uses I find for it ….

When I got my first 3D printer, sculptures were definitely on my mind. I thought about how I could make things that metal just resists, despite the fact that many people think I’m a metal magician (blush, blush).

Custom sculpture pedestal by Kevin Caron

Pedestal, printing upside down

As I’ve gotten more familiar with the machines and their capabilities, though, I’ve begun to see other ways to use them.

For instance, this week I started printing a custom pedestal for a sculpture I sold at a recent art show ….

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Feed your 3D printer with host software ….

In my previous two posts, I talked about the CAD software where a design begins and the separate slicer software I use to get more control of the condition of the printed piece (some host software has the slicer built in, and that may well be the way things are headed, but for now, that separate slicing software seems to work better).

Once you have prepared your file accordingly, it’s time to feed it to your printer. I use Repetier-Host, based on the recommendation of Steve Graber, who built the Cerberus 250 and Gigante printers I own (yeah, I bought a 250 for my desktop. Kinda like having an airliner and a puddlejumper – I’ll talk more about that in a future post).

Repetier Host homepage, repetier.com

Repetier Host homepage, repetier.com

According to an interesting Makezine article, which also talks about slicing software, Repetier-Host has now replaced Printrun as the most popular host software. As happens with technology, I suspect there will be more leapfrogging as things advance. The Makezine article mentions that Microsoft is even getting into the game, so this technology is catching the attention of the big boys now.

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