Saturday, July 2, 2016

M3D Micro: More on finding the Balance Between "Stickiness" and "Removal"

Talk about concurrent processing!!! 

As I continue to print using Tough 3D Ink with the goal of finding the optimal settings for reducing stringing, I'm also trying to find a solution that will result in a balance between stickiness and being able to remove parts without damaging them or me.
Note:  This article is based, in part, on an excellent paper sent to me by M3D support.  Unfortunately, it did not include the name of the author.  But, it was titled "A Guide to Perfect Calibration on the M3D".  Through an internet search I think the author's name might be Aidan Horton.  If you know, one way or the other, please correct or confirm via a comment.
Warning:  While I have years of experience with other 3D printers, I am completely new to the M3D Micro.  So, I may or may not have come up with THE absolutely correct solution.  I am just sharing you what I think has been a successful strategy.  So, trust your own experience if what you are reading does not sound right.   And, be sure to add a comment correcting any misinformation I am conveying.  My goal is to learn as much as I can about the M3D Micro.  So, I do NOT mind correction.  
That being said, let's continue...
I first tried different weapons for attacking stubborn objects from print tables.  Believe me, this is not my first battle with objects that cling to print tables with a vengeance.  Over the years, I have amassed an impressive array of weapons of filament destruction!

Recalcitrant Filament Weapons

This is just a partial sample of things I've tried over the years.  I thought that surely, between gap changes and my arsenal of weapons, I would find the key to unlocking the grip Tough 3D Ink insisted on holding on to the print plate.

But, let's face it.  Tough Ink is REALLY sticky when it comes to its bond with BuildTak.  For the most part, that is good.  However, I was hoping that by increasing the gap, I would find a setting that allowed me to remove the Tough 3D Ink as easily as I am able to remove regular ink.

But, alas (used for dramatic effect), it was not to be.  The only thing I achieved by increasing the gap was to reduce the integrity of the first layer.  Yes, the total piece came off a bit easier; but, at the expense losing part of the bottom layer.  Not good.

Not willing to face defeat, I turned to an old favorite with other 3D printers... blue painter's tape.

Painter's Tape over BuildTak

It turns out that the bonding qualities between Tough 3D Ink and blue painter's tape allows me to set a gap that is both perfect for a solid bottom layer and is easily removed when the print job is done.

But, as always, there is one slight catch. 

I want to use the BuildTak surface for regular PLA and the blue tape surface for the Tough 3D Ink.  Adding the blue tape requires a change in the position of the print jet to account for the added height of the blue tape.

But, I do NOT want to have to go through the hassle of completely setting the gap to zero each time I swap build surfaces.

Fortunately, M3D's printer client gives us a very neat way to switch between two different settings with minimal hassle.   For now, we have to navigate between two screens; but, perhaps in the future the functions we need can be combined on a single screen.

Assuming that we have already correctly set the Z=0 staring point for our default gap for the BuildTak surface, we can add the blue painters tape right over the BuildTak and then go to the calibration screen with the image of the cat to set the BED HEIGHT OFFSET to account for the added thickness of the blue tape.


M3D Calibration Dialog - Calibration Tab
Notice the  "Bed Height Offset" arrows that allow us to define an offset from our original Z=0 gap setting.  For this, and for now, we will need to bring up the "M3D Print Spooler" screen.  When we open up the M3D print client another application is also opened.  However, it is running in the background.  We need to open it up in the foreground.  It's called the M3D Print Spooler.  We open it in one of two ways.

Method 01:  Both M3D Icons on the visible taskbar

Both M3D Icons are visible on the Taskbar
 If you see two M3D icons, side-by-side on the taskbar, click on the one to the right.

Method 02:  Only One M3D Icon is visible on the Taskbar

If there is only one M3D icon visible on the taskbar (as in the image above) You will have to click on the "^" symbol to open up all the currently available applications running in the background.  Find the M3D icon and click on it.

When the M3D Print Spooler pops up, bring it to the front and select the "Diagnostics" tab.  We are going to use the "Home" function found on this tab.

Click on the "Home" button.

Diagnostics Tab > Home Button
This should bring the print head to the center of the build table and lower it to the Z=0 position.  Check the Gap using the normal tool you use.  In my case, that is a Tappet Gauge for precise measurement.  If the gap is too tight, go back to the Calibration tab and change the value of the "Bed Height Offset",  In my case, I have set the offset to -0.25 and applied the settings.

New Bed Height Offset Value -0.25
 Remember to click on "Apply" before going back to the Print Spooler Screen and clicking on "Home" again so that you can verify the setting resulted in the gap you would like set.  Again, check the gap with which ever method works for you.  If the gap feels good, you are finished.  If not, adjust the value of the Bed Height Offset, click on "Home" and continue the cycle until the gap feels right for you.

It may take some experimenting to find the right gap the first time, but, once you find a value that works for compensating for the added blue painter's tape all you have to do when using the tape is to set the Bed Height Offset value to that same number and you should be good to go.

If NOT using the blue painter's tape, be sure to set the Bed Height Offset back to "0".

Offset WITH Blue Painter's Tape
Offset WITHOUT Blue Painter's Tape

I will be testing this further in the next few days, since I have some projects requiring standard PLA and, of course, more testing of stringing with the Tough 3D Ink.  If I find anything that needs correcting in the process, I will note that this post has been updated in the very first line of the post.

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