Tuesday, July 5, 2016

M3D Micro: Safely Unloading Filament

We have used a number of 2nd Gen Cube 3D printers in our Youth ChalleNGe classes.  One of the most frequent causes of filament clogs that were difficult to clear was due to impatience when unloading filament.  Like the 2nd Gen Cube, the M3D Micro uses a two step process to unload filament.

Unloading is a TWO STEP process.

STEP ONE:  Filament drawn INTO the print jet
The first thing the printer begins to do is to heat up the print jet and extrude some of the filament to ensure that the filament is hot enough to be removed correctly.  You will see filament coming out of the tip of the print jet.
It is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT that no attempt is made to pull the filament out of the print jet at this point.  If pulled too hard, the filament can break, leaving some inside the print head.
 STEP TWO:  Filament pulled OUT from the print jet.
Once the filament has been heated to a safe temperature for removal, the gears reverse and begin to back the filament out of the print jet.  While we are asked to pull on the filament, care should be used to make sure we do not pull too hard.  A slight pull is enough to know when the filament is finally released from the gears of the extrusion mechanism.
One of the tricks you can teach your children or students is to mark the filament with a permanent marker just above the print head so that the direction of the filament is clearly identified.  Once we started using this technique in our classes the incidences of clogging went WAY down.

I've not had a single clog with the M3D Micro, so I don't know how difficult they are to clear.  But, easy or hard it is better to do everything we can to avoid a clog and being careful to pay attention to the two step removal process is a good start.

After the Unload 

There are holes around the reel that can be used to make sure the filament doesn't unwind and become entangled while being stored.  Simply run the end of the filament up through one of the holes and pull until the filament is secured.  Before reinstalling the filament be sure to cut off the end of the filament with clippers or scissors to ensure a straight, clean cut.

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