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Mods and upgrades to make a production line worthy machine.

Discussion in 'Mods and Upgrades' started by Rat_Patrol, Jul 18, 2018.

  1. Rat_Patrol

    Rat_Patrol Member

    Dec 14, 2016
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    I began a small startup company a few years ago, all of it centered around an invention of mine. At the beginning of that journey, I bought the R1+ as my prototyping machine. It now runs production batches of my invention for sale.

    Through the years, I went through great frustration of break-downs, poor quality (or less quality than I'd hoped), issues with printing ABS (I needed ABS specifically for its combination of qualities that no other common filament could match), etc. Running the machine 24/7 over a couple years, dealing with OEM shortfalls, and otherwise worthy upgrades were learned the hard way. I've disassembled and rebuilt this machine more times than I can count in many configurations, spending far more money tuning and modifying it than I paid for it new.

    I figured I would share what I consider the worthwhile upgrades (basically, what mods are still on the machine) just for the benefit of everybody that is interested.

    What I did that is still in use:
    • Switched to generic RAMPS board. This was just so I could stash cheap replacements on hand.
    • Switched to SSR (solid state relay) driving the OEM bed heater with a 24v power supply. If you want to print ABS, this is basically mandatory.
    • Swapped out all linear bearings with Misumi bearings and TRUE 8mm rods of high quality. BIG difference right there. That got a bit pricey, but took all the slop out of the machine.
    • Switched to E3D V6 hot end and Titan extruder, using E3D's .9 degree slim stepper motor. This helped a lot with clogged nozzles from low wax ABS (Maker Geeks brand for example) and lightened up the extruder a LOT (less mass moving around is better). Also, when you run out of filament, just insert new filament into the Bowden tube and it pushes it through. No more taking the extruder apart like the OEM Robo style extruder. An Aero extruder from E3D would also work just fine here.
    • NOTE: For printing with ABS when using the v6 hotend, use the stock 30mm heat sink fan, and do NOT do the 40mm fan upgrade. The existing 40mm adapter has too high resistance for 40mm fan output and spits air back out the intake side onto the bed and parts, causing cooling/warping issues. This would be a non-issue for PLA or other parts where you need parts fans. I actually don't even have a parts fan on the machine at the moment, as I print with ABS exclusively.
    • To deal with the endless eventual chipping of the bed, a sheet of PEI. I cut the corner out where the nozzle homes to give it a more consistent homing surface (glass bed).
    • MESH leveling, and comment out Z Safe Homing so it homes at X0 Y0. There is NEVER a reason for the nozzle to touch the bed.
    • Create a Z height calibration print and corresponding feeler gauge. Doesn't matter what you have it print, it barely starts the print anyway. Disable temperature controllers (so it will move the nozzle around cold) and run the cal print code. Stop it once it starts "printing" (MESH firmware will prevent cold extrusion, don't worry about that). Put your feeler gauge under the nozzle and adjust Z height until it touches. Use that to adjust your Z offset accordingly.
    • External controller. This really is almost mandatory.
    • "Heat Chamber" using a bath towel. Pure cotton doesn't catch fire until about 407 degrees C, danger zone at 200+ degrees C. On your own risk and all, but its cheap and it works. I made a window in mine from a small piece of plexiglass.
    • Filament dry box. Using a Sterilite gasket-ed storage tote, bowden tube, bowden tube adapters, the filament stays in the dry box (filled with all the moisture absorber packs that come with the filament) and never has a chance to get dusty or absorb moisture. Because the Titan extruder has a piece of bowden tube sticking up, the bowden tube off the dry box mates up with the little piece out of the extruder. While it isn't air tight, its basically closed off. I also use filament cleaners/oilers inside the dry box for good measure.
    • Modified X axis stepper motor side "carriage" piece. My OEM piece broke, printed this one. Since I no longer need homing on that side (it homes on the other side), I went straight to the "carriage" with a lead screw nut adapter. Just took a bit of modeling on Fusion to make the changes. Make sure that you sand out the bores in any piece that will have bearings. You want a tight/press fit, but DO NOT have it too tight or the piece will split. This also holds true for the extruder carriage you need to print for the Titan or Aero extruder system.

    After all these mods, this printer has excellent repeat-ability and reliability.

    Pics incoming.
    #1 Rat_Patrol, Jul 18, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2018
    Geof likes this.
  2. Rat_Patrol

    Rat_Patrol Member

    Dec 14, 2016
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    Overview of Machine


    Modified X axis piece. You can see how there is no homing switch on this side anymore as it isn't needed now.

    KIMG0127.JPG KIMG0128.JPG

    You can see the other side of the X axis is normal. The yellow piece is due to switching Z rods as the OEM ones were bent. I went to a different lead pitch which is why I printed that piece.

    Closeup of the extruder carriage and assembly. Obviously, I went with a 10x15 cable chain.

    Close up on the dry box. No dust and low moisture means better prints and less issues. Each bowden tube goes back into another hole in the dry box when I'm not using that filament.

    Just a pic of where the bowden tube from the dry box meets up with the tube sticking out of the Titan extruder. Its all cut square, so its a good clean contact with extremely minimal chance for dust and moisture intrusion.

    The other mod that I have parts for, but haven't installed yet is the filament runout sensor. Haven't decided where to put the sensor yet, so its not on there. Would prefer it in the dry box, but then I would need 6 sensors and a quick connect harness!

    Feel free to ask any questions you may have!
  3. Geof

    Geof Volunteer Moderator
    Staff Member

    Nov 9, 2015
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    well done and thanks for sharing! Its amazing how a specific material can cause so many headaches :D (trust me I know the pain :D)

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