support material and main material

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support material and main material

Postby lennym » Thu Dec 06, 2012 7:15 am

Hi guys,

I've been playing with my new 7x12 and am trying to come up with a list of things i need to make it into a 3d printer:

So an extra power supply (12v, 20a) seems to be a must. Btw - why does it require so much current ? is it the heat bed ?
Another thing is the extruder motor and the hot end, and here comes my question:

Do i need one hot end ? or two , one for my primary material (i'm inclined towards pla, as the printer is in the apartment and i don't want to be breathing
all these abs fumes). and one for support material.

I didn't see any discussions on this topic so maybe someone could shed some light on this mystery ? At the end of the day, i have seen large lab 3d printers
use 2 spools of material : support and normal. Do the small 3d printers use only one type of material for both purposes. In this case I presume that it is up to
me to carefully break away the support (which will probably be printer sparser).
Does it mean that for zen-toolworks supported printers, no soluble support material can be used ?

I know i've been primarily thinking out loud, would be happy to get some feedback, thoughts or any discussion on this topic...

All the best.
Lenny
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Re: support material and main material

Postby ianmurchison » Thu Dec 06, 2012 10:11 am

My understanding is that the slicer program you use, will use PLA as not only the part, but the support as well. It'll build a very light, easily breakable/removable PLA support that once printed, you can just snap off.

So it doesn't work the same as the high end printers, however it works the same as other consumer printers like Makerbot.
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Re: support material and main material

Postby roller » Thu Dec 06, 2012 2:00 pm

Many of the cheaper printers (sub $10000) use a single print material, usually PLA or ABS. Support is printed in that same material as you guessed. The slicer program which generates the gcode determines (based upon you settings) where support is needed. Support material is only a single layer wide so is more fragile than the print and snaps away easier but not necessarily cleanly.

Work is being done to improve the support material behavior so it snaps away easier. If you look at the Up printers by PP3DP they print in only ABS yet the support peels away easily often leaving no further cleanup. How they manage this magic is not yet understood by the reprap community but it is being worked on and one day hopefully we will get it in the free software.

There are a few secrets to getting a good print with minimal cleanup. Usually you arrange your print so it will have the least overhangs and need the least support but sometimes you will sacrifice this ideal to get all the support to be printed on a side where it's out of sight (inside a part for example), a good finish isn't required or where your print is strongest so it can withstand the snapping away of support.

Printing in ABS produces betting support removal than PLA generally but the main thing is to get your temps right. Running hot tends to significantly increase the bonding to the support material and makes it stronger and harder to remove.

A lot of people are playing with dual extruders using PVA filament for the support which is water soluble so can be soaked/vibrated away. The problem is PVA seems to be a pain to get it to print right and seems to only adhere to PLA whereas ABS barely sticks at all. Also PVA has a really high water affinity so once its in the air for a while it becomes usless - the same happens with PLA and ABS but its a slower process (ABS the slowest).

Slic3r, one of the best slicing programs at the moment, supports dual extruders and you can tell it one is for support and the other for your main print... then all the work is done for you once you have toiled over getting the alignment right and calculated your separation.

If you want to know more let me know - I've been building 3D printers for over 18 months, have printed many tens of kilos of filament and have a Zen Frankenstein 3D printer, a Prusa Mendel, a Mendel90 (actually predates the Mendel90 of my own design but similar) and an Up Plus (so I can confirm the support removal is just amazing). If you have any other question just fire away and I'll help with what I can. Also the #reprap channel on IRC will provide lots of help and is where the reprap brainstrust spend their spare time.
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Re: support material and main material

Postby lennym » Thu Dec 06, 2012 2:14 pm

Thanks for the info guys,
It is useful.

Roller - did you ever make zen (your Frankenstein) work with two materials ? is it possible at all ?
could you post a picture of your setup and the way you have organized all the controllers and the PSUs.

BTW - what power supply are you using on a typical 3d printer you're making ?

thanks
Lenny
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Re: support material and main material

Postby roller » Thu Dec 06, 2012 2:31 pm

I have the mounting hole for the second extruder but at the moment I am testing the Zen extruder to offer up some mods for improved performance, particularly with PLA.

I run breakout blocks mounted on the back of the gantry and the controller just sits on the table. I'll try to get some snaps up over the weekend but because I'm hacking at the moment, no effort has been made to neaten it up.

I use computer PSUs and 12V PSUs off ebay. I use the former because it's legal but prefer the latter - in Australia we can't wire up mains voltage equipment without an appropriate certificate so wiring up the mains plug to a PSU is illegal (I have to get am electrician to do it - annoying) whereas computer PSUs are only low voltage DC and all the high voltage wiring is sealed up inside so we can meddle with those to our hearts content provided we don't open the casing.
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