Friday, November 14, 2014


I finally got a 3D printer. Well technically it's not mine, it belongs to my lab. But I have access to it! We decided to purchase one to make custom parts for our hexacopter. We could order a whole bunch of 3D printed parts online for what the printer cost us, but having one in-house allows us to prototype much faster and correct any problems with the designs quickly. Plus it's just fun!

results of Make magazine review

I spent a lot of time selecting which 3D printer to purchase. I finally settled on the Ultimaker 2. It got excellent reviews, print quality appeared excellent, and the machines seemed to have a reputation for working well out of the box without too much fiddling around.

After unboxing I went through the setup process which basically just involves cutting some zip ties, snapping on a few pieces, loading the filament, and leveling the build plate. Most of the setup was pretty easy but leveling the build plate took a few tries. The process is straightforward: raise the plate to about 1 mm from nozzle, put a piece of paper between plate and nozzle, and adjust the leveling screws until you feel a little friction in the paper. The problem was my machine came with the build plate screws almost maxed out to their highest position so that I did not have enough adjustment to raise the plate to the nozzle. Once I realized what was wrong, I cranked the screws to bring the build plate down several millimeters and then repeated the process.

leveling screw

As soon as the build plate was leveled I tried a test print.  The Ultimaker 2 prints directly from an SD card. The card comes preloaded with several models. After telling the printer I was printing in PLA, I selected the UltimakerRobot file and hit print.  About 45 minutes later the print was finished.

first print!

The first print came out pretty nice. The base printed with a major hole which I think is due to a gap in between the old test filament in the machine and the new filament I loaded. No big deal, I should have removed the old filament first. Some of the overhangs are a little messy.  And there are tiny gaps in the layers which may be from slight under extrusion (not enough plastic coming out of nozzle). I'll adjust some settings and try again, but it looks like I'm not too far off from getting some excellent prints.

hole is my fault, not printer error

So far I'm pretty impressed with this machine. I can't wait to get this thing dialed in and start printing some useful stuff. I want to document all of the prints that come out of this machine so I can keep track of the settings and help other people get their UM2's dialed in. I don't want to bog down this blog with boring printer settings so I have started a new blog just for that purpose at Check it out.

No comments:

Post a Comment