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  1. #1
    3D Printer Noob
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    Level? Gap? Issue, I can really use some help

    Hi guys, As i posted and commented before, I own a Cube3 that was sold to me quite cheap down here in Argentina brand new but already modified to use 3rd party filament. I have been struggling with it and even when I'm able to print, the quality is quite bad due to poor Gap - Level adjustment. I have been trying everything, but either I get elephant foot or my (nozzle cart? forgive me I do not know all the parts names) ends up touching the piece and letting it loose from the glue. Today I've noticed that the (again Nozzle cart?) is not leveled when compared to the printing bed. It appears that my left nozzle is lower than my right nozzle, that gives you the result of the (cart?) left end is even lower than the left nozzle. I'm really new on this 3d printing thing but still think that's not right. I have attached a picture of how it looks compared to the printing bed.

    So having explain that, I do have a couple of questions :

    1 - Is this normal?

    2 - Should I "align" it using the bed magnets?
    2a, If so, is there a procedure or should I simply use the "eye-meter" to do this?
    2b, if not I'm not afraid of taking it apart, but is there something I should consider looking first?

    Thanks a lot for your help, I have been reading around and learning from scratch to "kind of decent" prints thanks to this forum, but now that I've reached "kind of decent" level I want to keep improving!

    Sorry for my typos/grammar, English is not my first language



  2. #2
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    Hey R4D... this is unfortunate and normal at the same time. I even has 3D Systems replace a system for me that had this type of issue. That was before they got wise and changes a bunch of specs for the printer.

    Getting a perfectly consistent 1st layer is not always possible. There are a few factors that can change the nozzle elevation from the build plate. When you are trying to match a pair of nozzles, the problem is bigger. Running dual extruders in the Cube3 takes a little extra care, as any dual extruder setup requires. 3D Systems just wasn't very forthcoming about that, nor did they want you to mess with it. Eventually they put out a video detailing how this dual-extrusion balance can be solved. I don't fully buy into their process but for completeness, please find the '...a word from 3D Systems" post.

    One factor that can change nozzle height is filament creating into the tiny gap between the nozzle and the black cap. This can move the nozzle up a little in extreme cases. I try to keep this clean. Once way is to wipe the nozzle with a tissue after the print is complete but the hotend is still hot.
    Another factor is the position of the push-nut attached to the nozzle. You want the nozzles to seat completely inside the heater block. Typically I make sure the nozzle has as much reach as I can give it within reason. That normally means pushing the nut up ~1/32" [0.8mm]. Doing this ensures the nozzle is fully seated.

    So you now know that both nozzles are seated completely in the heater block. Do they both protrude the same? I've had vast differences between nozzles. I went and finally paired up a pair that were -very- close to equal when the machine said the bed is level. Not everyone has that choice. So let's assume we can work with what we have on-hand. The next step would be to level the build plate to these two nozzles. It is a bit of work but basically, you want to know if the auto-level and the nozzles will work with each other. Note; when the nozzle are not at the same level when printing, one will knock over the other. Therefore, I am making this test a priority over the auto-level. Now that you "know" the plate level is level with the two nozzles, try the auto-level routine. If it fails and asks for adjustments, you know in your heart of hearts that is not the case. You want those two nozzles to remain parallel to the build plate. The only thing you can try at this point is to swap the nozzles and go back to manually leveling the pair. Now try the auto-level again.

    If you cannot get this process to work then you have one possibility left and I don't like it. This is the instruction they provide: https://3dsystems.sharefile.com/shar...f7fda94ad4bd28
    I am not a fan of this as 1) it tends to crack the white plastic housing; and 2) it doesn't account for the 3 screws actually holding the print-head to the x-carriage. However, if you get to this point, you can probably make small tweaks. Just be very careful in this process not to overdo anything.

    More tips and tricks from 3D Systems here: https://3dsystems.sharefile.com/shar...804a4313541348

    Basically, once you have done the tweak per 3DS instructions -carefully- you are back to square one of this post. Follow through again with manual leveling of the two nozzles and see if the auto-level will accept your manual settings. Basically, auto-level is a routine that can adjust Z on the fly based on a mapping of the build plate. You will hear small z-adjustments when traveling in X and/or Y which is maintaining a constant gap. These artifacts will become visible in a print. But that is a whole other level of tweaking the Cube3. Find "Z-ticks" for more information.

    One last word as this has happened to me, due to my own doings... Is the black heater block cover nice and tight on your print head? I had a broken flange inside my print-head and it wiggled freely with respect to the white body. This could become the 'seat' rather than the heater-block and allow a wild variation in nozzle elevation. There is a fix for this kind of breakage but for now, it is something to check. I broke mine with a failed nozzle design that kept popping the cap off when things got warm enough.

    Please let us know if this epic detail helps and how much effort you had to put into this to get it to work reliably. I went through this very same process on the CubePro. That was a lot of work!

    - - - - - - - - - -

    ...and also know that, as I am still pushing the B2B cartridge upgrades, one of the advantages of the reworked cartridges is to keep a dedicated pair of nozzles with the machine. That way, when you swap cartridges, no more re-gapping or worry about both nozzles being level to each other. This has really helped in usability on my machines.

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  4. #3
    3D Printer Noob
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    Hi, first of all I want to say that I'm amazed about how much detail and information you provided. What you and a couple more guys do in this forum is definitely what keeps this 3DS systems alive and working, otherwise they would have been in a junkyard long ago. So if you guys ever decide to take vacations far south of the continent, let me know, I think I owe you some serious amount of beers by now. For now, all I can give you is a big Thank you!.

    I bought the printer to help my wife with her Cake decorating business (@angeladecamillis on instagram if you want to check out), so I'm mainly printing cake toppers and cookie/fondant cutters. For now I have only printed things I have found on Thingiverse/similar websites. I'm starting to learn about design now. Hardware, connections and configurations are familiar to me since I have been working in IT for 15 years, but design/art is definitely not my field.

    Having a day job and two small kids, it will take some time for me to do all what you've mentioned on your reply, but I will definitely will and post the outcomes on this same posts so someone else can benefit from it on the future.

    Also wanted to comment, that since most of the object I print are for a one time use (toppers), and/or internal use tools (do not care how a cookie cutter looks, just that it does the job), I'm not looking for a glass finish or a perfect first row, but what is being printed now is quite for from that, attached you can see a picture of something I'm printing as I write, so you know how desperate the need for correction is (try not to laugh to much).

    Again thank you for your support, you guys are the only reason why I have not surrendered!

    Thanks @TommyDee

    Captura2.PNG

    Captura3.PNG
    Last edited by R4D; 08-10-2019 at 08:26 PM. Reason: corrected images

  5. #4
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    Thank you very much for your appreciation. That is the reason this forum has grown on me. A place to 'remember' what I'd already forgotten.

    CubePrint puts a little extra heat in the first layers just so it will stick to the build plate. You will often see this in the first two layers. The filament will look a little 'glossier'.

    If you read ahead in that 3DS document, you will note that they do not recommend the second nozzle being in place if you only run one color.
    Making things dual-color and decorative does require additional tweaking, obviously. The bleed alone is often sufficient to make the print difficult. In that case, retraction settings are the most critical. I've seen Cube3 do very well with retractions, even with upgraded cartridges, using 70 micron print settings.

    For all my ReCube Wand prints, I have dedicated and tweaked print files that I use. They are optimized for a specific filament and a specific machine and do not deviate from this.

    Are you still working with a PEI surface? How is that working with your choice of filament? One thing that I cannot tolerate is curling. I got both PLA and ABS to work very well with Lokbuild and glue. I know Lokbuild is not the easiest for you to obtain, but have you tried a glue on the PEI? I use CubeGlue exclusively but I wonder if you have better luck with some of the school glues, glue sticks, or equivalent. I really do count on adhesion as a primary go/no-go for any print or material. The only other tip that may help is to warm up the build plate before starting a new print (!not hot as this will ruin the magnets). That has really improved my 1st layer quality. And I still use a massive gap of 50 microns more than the gap gauge. 3DS waffled into the realm of "sticking it to the plate..." by even less gap than original. That to me was a cop-out. And it does indeed generate a significant elephant foot that can only be trimmed away.

    As to all the work defined above getting dual nozzles leveled, it is definitely something you can hold off until absolutely needed. I don't do many two-color prints and when I do I dread it even on the CubePro. One spec of red in a white field just ruins the print. But we endure ;p

    ..and I hear you on the artsy bend. I can cobble together anything functional, but pretty... not so much

    All the best on the cake decoration business R4D!

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  7. #5
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    Hi there! I have been playing around, something is definitely wrong with my second nozzle when I try to calibrate nozzle N 1 does work perfectly fine. Now when I press the invisible button to calibrate N2 it calculates an exaggerate high number (around -8mm) and when I try to push it up the last decimal digit changes form and does not allow me to lift it or lower it. As you recommended I just took it off until I need it, but anyway seems like an odd thing I have not seen around the forum, so you'll find the picture following.

    See picture of the odd number

    Attachment 3352

    On the surface side, I have been using the stock one, I can get LokBuild locally but it will be really pricey, so I have ordered one on amazon uk (it will take around 60 days to arrive, but will cost me 30% of what it does cost here even with the shipping, and with the local vendors, I will never be sure it is not an overpriced Chinese copy), Until now I have been using CubeGlue, but since I ran out of it, I started experimenting, and as you mentioned, there is a school glue here called Voligoma that seems to be exactly the same compound, cause I get the same results than with the cube glue, not that those where good results , I hope they will improve once I get the LokBuild. I'm guessing that the curling might have to do with the amount of glue I use on the surface, plus, the first rows being so awful that nothing can actually hold together. While I write this I'm finishing leveling the first nozzle and ready to start a new print to test.

    On the material not that many options around, I only have PLA cartridges so PLA it is, and the PLA available around does not seem to be the best quality. I will keep testing with this until I'm able to get my hands on something different. Any brand that you might recommend? I often travel to the US on business trips and was thinking on getting some PLA next time.


    Here is a picture of the Voligoma and the Cube glue together.

    Attachment 3353

    thanks again!

  8. #6
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    ... quick note; cal 1 and cal 2 are not nozzle numbers. They are simply 2 numbers it uses internally. Cal 1 is the default it uses for initial auto-gap setting. I leave this at a very generous gap as I always manually gap. Cal 2 is an 'I don't know' function and I let it be; but you must perform cal 2 for cal 1 to remain in memory.

    Yes, the stock surface is also the issue. Good you got some LokBuild on the way. The big difference is this; glue does not hold well to the stock surface. It needs to be roughened up a lot with that stock sandpaper but use a sanding block to keep things level. That may help some. Problem is that the glue sticks to the part, but not the surface. LokBuild will fix that as the glue loves that surface even more. We had once discussed the glue and came up with the idea that it was basically what school glue is. I haven't been able to duplicate that though. And glue is not cheap enough to try everything. So on this I certainly defer to your experience.

    I have adopted 3D Solutech as a goto PLA. It behaves differently from stock 3DS PLA but I like the color, texture, and crisp prints it creates. Price is right and materials appear to be consistent from roll to roll.

    - - - - - - - - - -

    ...when all else fails, read the manual ;p

    http://cubify.s3.amazonaws.com/Print...user_guide.pdf

    - Page 95-96 (pdf pg 99-100)

    The CAL 1 is where I leave better than 4mm gap to make up for a glass plate with magnets glued to it. This makes the plate 3mm thicker so I need to make sure the printer never automatically closes in on the nozzle to actual normal gap thickness. CAL 1 is the one place I can control that. But it also assumes this is your 'approximate' calibrated gap used by the Auto-Gap routine. Leaving a large gap here will cause Auto Gap to also consider an ~4mm gap 'normal'. Basically, Auto Gap tries to fine tune the CAL 1 setting to equate to approximate default gap. I suspect you must initiate CAL 2 so the system knows what value to use as an offset in order for the Auto Gap routine to know how far to drop the plate on its calibration run. It will use the CAL 1 value to apply the difference to. Still curious as to how this routine works along with Auto Level.

    There are some seriously advanced features implemented seamlessly into the Cube3. However, I do have one gripe; I can't zero out Auto Level easily! Basically, I really want to be able to disable Auto Level to try and get the pads perfectly level to the hotend and build plate axes. This removes one artifact in prints that is worth chasing if you print large smooth walls. This is because Auto Level does one thing; changes the Z increment by "1" (one whatever, who knows) along an X-Y grid according to a compensation factor. Short of a factory reset, I see no way to have that compensation factor go back to zero except to, pun intended, zero in on it. That means you have to determine when Z-compensation is no longer required across the expanse of the plate. This operation can take as much as 4 hours due to all the operations required repeatedly to zero in on when the Z-motion stops being used by the system. When you're there, you did it; you have perfect mechanical parallelism between the bed and the motion. I could think of a couple of useful print files to help speed this up a little and include the total available reach for calibration.

 

 

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