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                                       progress report - chairs in the output
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41st message | this message only posted: 9 Dec 2018 20:03
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Rob Manchester
Manchester



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Hi Martin,
Thanks for your feedback on the printer. I can't say I am surprised it didn't work straight out of the box as you hoped. Feedback from others on most brands seems to imply that is normal.

Printing in layers with movement of the plate ( z-axis) between each layer isn't exactly great for track bases as you mention. Is the software not clever enough to be able to specify which chunks to print and in which order whilst avoiding banging the nozzles into previously printed stuff ?

I will be impressed when the first Templot 3D print emerges from your printer.

Rob

P.S. Just taken delivery of a large order of Exactoscale chairs....I will stick to traditional methods while you and Andy B sort out the 3D method :thumb:


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Martin Wynne
West Of The Severn, United Kingdom



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Rob Manchester wrote:Is the software not clever enough to be able to specify which chunks to print and in which order whilst avoiding banging the nozzles into previously printed stuff ?Hi Rob,

The supplied software isn't. In fact it is not even able to do the standard z-slicing at the resolution I'm looking for, without creating some strange artifacts.

Which is not to say I might not be able to write something which will do that. It's doable if you just want to clear a fixed obstruction in the head, but being able to use the other nozzle subsequently on the same model is a whole new game of chess. And if you don't do that, you might just as well remove the other nozzle entirely. Or buy a single-nozzle printer in the first place!

There are several things I'm trying. For example you might want to use your Exactoscale chairs on the Exactoscale "NewTrack" bases -- I see the bases and a few sizes of the kits are available again:

 https://exactoscale.com/track-components/track-pricing/

But of course that doesn't include a B-7.5 curved crossover, or whatever other custom formation you might want. So the Templot "exactopips" function might come in handy: :)




I have also found that printing reasonably thick timbers takes far too long, so I want to try printing chairs (or exactopips) directly onto ply or limewood or plastic timbers, placed into some sort of jig or locator printed first.

Lots of ideas to try, but I fear the as-supplied software isn't going to be much use for them and I shall have to write something myself. I have already been editing the g-code manually to get anything to work at all. The software would be fine if I needed a Toby Jug.

cheers,

Martin.

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43rd message | this message only posted: 9 Dec 2018 22:10
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Rob Manchester
Manchester



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Hi Martin,

Yes using the new technology with Exactoscale or other available products could be a good plan too.

I am a fan of thin timbering as they generally suit the kinds of layout I am likely to model where well tended ballast isn't the norm. Think goods depots, loco sheds, industrial sites and such like. I tend to favour plastikard timbers with thickness to suit - the 0.020"(0.5mm) is good but it precludes printing the bases with webbing between the timbers. It would be good to come up with a method for building trackwork formations at the workbench that could be moved into position on the baseboard but at this thickness the track isn't too robust until finally glued down. I am not a fan of leaving the templates in place on the layout.

Rob




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44th message | this message only posted: 9 Dec 2018 22:30
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Martin Wynne
West Of The Severn, United Kingdom



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Rob Manchester wrote: I tend to favour plastikard timbers with thickness to suit - the 0.020"(0.5mm) is good but it precludes printing the bases with webbing between the timbers.Hi Rob,

How about printing thin sleepers and chairs directly onto a sheet of plastikard, or a sheet of plywood, or some other sheet material? Assemble on the bench and transfer the whole thing to the baseboard.

The BIBO printer bed is limited to 8" x 6", so it would need to be done in sections and joined up in some way. A strip of plastikard or ply glued under the joint could drop into a slot in the cork underlay.

cheers,

Martin.

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45th message | this message only posted: 9 Dec 2018 23:36
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Rob Manchester
Manchester



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Hi Martin,

Yes, that could work. Would the printed bits bond to the plastikard or ply sheet ?

I quite like the 'jigsaw' method of layout construction that Vincent de Bode described in RailMODEL Digest ( and other places ) a good while back. Basically a flat topped or open frame supporting structure with trackwork and scenic modules interlocking together to form the overall visible scene. You can work on each scenic or track 'module' in isolation at the workbench and it is easy to disguise the baseboard joints ( which spoil many a good layout in my view ). Iain Rice was also involved in the promotion of such ideas. It also gives the possibility of having different modules for some of the scenic areas that can be interchanged to reflect a different time period which I quite like.

Rob


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46th message | this message only posted: 10 Dec 2018 01:56
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Martin Wynne
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Rob Manchester wrote: Would the printed bits bond to the plastikard or ply sheet ?Hi Rob,

I've no idea, but as we are talking about hot molten plastic, I would think they have a good chance of bonding. There are several variables to try, including type of polymer, temperature of first layer, and feed rates. If plastikard I would think molten ABS polymer would bond strongly.

If printing onto such materials the fragile glass bed plate could be discarded, and the nozzle could be driven hard against the sheet for the first layer, against the bed levelling springs. Molten plastic by such means would be injected into the grain of plywood, or the hot nozzle would melt into the surface of plastikard (he said, without trying it or having the faintest idea if any of this would work).

If it turned out that the bond is not too strong, solvent could perhaps be brushed around the printed parts afterwards (butanone for ABS, acetone for PLA).

If printing ABS onto plywood, it might be possible to prime the plywood with Pipeweld, as in the original Exactoscale docs.

Lots of stuff to try. :)

cheers,

Martin.

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47th message | this message only posted: 10 Dec 2018 15:53
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Rob Manchester
Manchester



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Thank you Martin,

Rob


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48th message | this message only posted: 10 Dec 2018 17:20
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Andrew Barrowman
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Martin Wynne wrote: Rob Manchester wrote: Are you keeping the 'brand' of your new printer a secret ? I have thought once or twice about getting one but get the feeling it could take over my leisure time and divert me away from other modelling activities. Once you and Andy get into production it may be different though......I will just watch the two of you for now.Hi Rob,

Andy warned me that I had a lot to learn about 3D printing, and he wasn't wrong. :(

I went for the BIBO dual-extruder printer:

http://ourbibo.com/

It has turned out to be a bit of a curate's egg. The case and axis drives seem to be well made, but the extruder head is a very agricultural thing. Likewise the work bed. I haven't tried the laser cutter/engraver attachment yet.

On the whole I feel a bit disappointed, especially with the dual extruder option. I was expecting more for my money.

In my ignorance I assumed that a dual-extruder machine would cause the not-in-use nozzle to be retracted clear of the work while the other one is in use. It doesn't.

Failing that, it is obviously essential that if the nozzles are fixed they must be on exactly the same level to within a thou or so. Otherwise one or other of them will bump into the work being laid down by the other.

As supplied one nozzle was about 12 thou lower than the other.

So there needs to be a screw adjustment to get them level. There isn't. The extruder shafts are held in the head block with allen grub screws, but to get access to them requires the extruder head to be dismantled, with no easy means to set them level, and little chance that they will still be so after re-assembly. I see one user has printed a support block to assist:

 https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2305856

The only sensible method I can see will be to clock over them (or use feeler gauges off the bed), and then skim the required amount off the back of the longer nozzle in the lathe. The two nozzles then to be kept as a matched pair. Which is doable, but a lot more faff than I had in mind. Changing a nozzle is no quick task -- it has to be done hot, and the heater block needs to be held with one spanner while unscrewing the nozzle with another, otherwise there is a danger of breaking the heater connections.

All that having been done, the fixed dual-nozzle design still precludes any Z-moves while laying down a model. The entire model has to built up simultaneously one layer at a time.

In our case that means hopping from one timber or chair to the next, laying a single layer on it, and then hopping to the next timber, and then the next. And finally back to the first one for the next layer. Very time inefficient, and requiring the extrusion to be frequently stopped and started, and risking leaving whiskers of polymer between the timbers. It would be so much better to finish one timber or chair at a time, before moving on to the next (assuming sufficient clearance is available under the head, which is just about the case up to 7mm track bases). 

So for the present I have removed one nozzle and will regard this as a single-nozzle printer for now while I develop some code.

All this meant it took me a couple of evenings to get everything assembled and ready to work as I wanted. If anyone is looking for a plug-and-play 3D printer, this is not it. For that you need to look at models such as the Dremel Digilab range (and pay more).

All that having been said, I'm confident that I will eventually get some successful results from the BIBO, using code from Templot.

cheers,

Martin.
Hi Martin,

That's not good. Sounds like you are paying a lot of money for the supplier to build the printer in a nice case. I suspect the double extruder arrangement would only work if you were printing something with a small X dimension. I suppose you could try orienting a piece of track along the Y axis to see if that might work.

I've considered using two printers with different nozzles. One to print the timbers and the other to print the chairs, but that would require some reliable indexing fixture. I think it might be possible to transfer the glass plate with the timbers still attached to the "fine" nozzle printer, but it would have to be done quickly before the glass cooled down too much.

Cheers,
Andy

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Martin Wynne
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Andrew Barrowman wrote:I suspect the double extruder arrangement would only work if you were printing something with a small X dimension. I suppose you could try orienting a piece of track along the Y axis to see if that might work.Hi Andy,

The nozzles are at 33mm centres. So that would work in 4mm scale only for plain track, and only for 00 gauge (32mm sleepers) and not for EM or P4 (34mm sleepers). It also limits the length of the track panel to 6" long in the Y dimension. It would however mean that two identical track panels could be printed at the same time, if the whole thing is to be printed with one nozzle size.

I have come to the conclusion that the nozzle size is not as important as it might seem, if the g-code is calculated accordingly. For example a narrow slot can be printed with any nozzle size:



The nozzle size obviously affects external corners and the width of ribs, but I have found that a 0.4mm nozzle can create surprisingly sharp edges (0.2mm radius).

This of course is the opposite of my experience with CNC 3D milling, where sharp corners are easy and narrow slots are difficult.

However, if we try extruding in 3 directions rather than in 2D layers, a different dimension comes into play -- the diameter of the tip of the nozzle itself rather than the size of the hole in it, and the taper angle on the side of the nozzle. I can see some lathe work on the horizon. :)

cheers,

Martin.

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50th message | this message only posted: 11 Dec 2018 07:01
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Martin Wynne
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Hi Andy,

A thought occurs (just the one?). :)

If the bed is tipped to match the angle across the nozzle tips, and the g-code is edited to add a Z-component to every X move, it would be possible to print from both nozzles even when they are not level:



Angle exaggerated above. If the actual angle is say 0.5mm across 33mm, that's only 3mm across the width of the bed and possibly within range of the bed levelling springs. That would be a lot easier to set up with feeler gauges than fiddling about trying to get the nozzles exactly level.


Changing the subject, I think (if I'm not missing something blindingly obvious) that I was wrong and it would be possible to build the timbers and chairs one at a time, rather than in layers across the full model, even using fixed dual nozzles, provided:

a. all the timbers are first laid down unchaired one at a time working from left to right in the diagram above, using the left nozzle (say 0.6mm), with the right nozzle always in fresh air, and

b. the chairs are then built on top of the timbers one at a time working back in the opposite direction from right to left, using the right nozzle (say 0.2mm), with the left nozzle then above the empty timbers. If it remains hot it wouldn't do too much damage as it passes back over them while the first layer is being laid on each chair.

cheers,

Martin.

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51st message | this message only posted: 11 Dec 2018 16:42
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Andrew Barrowman
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Hi Martin,

Reflecting while chomping my breakfast cereal it struck me that your initial idea of tuning the nozzles to lie on the same plane (shim washers might work too) is probably the best place to start. If they are on the same plane within a thou or two it's not really any different from what happens with a single nozzle when it traverses a previously printed layer.

With Slic3r there is the option of lifting the extruder when the filament is retracted but I don't even bother to do that. I've tried it but other than extending the print time it didn't seem to make any difference, so you might just try tweaking the nozzles and see what happens.

Regarding printing timbers in one go, to prevent the model turning into a molten blob I think each layer has to cool enough before you can add another layer. I've no idea exactly how much but I do know I had to add a fan to cool the model on my printer to get it to print reasonable chairs. Your printer probably has one already. (It will definitely have extruder fans but that's different.)

Cheers,
Andy

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Martin Wynne
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Andrew Barrowman wrote: Regarding printing timbers in one go, to prevent the model turning into a molten blob I think each layer has to cool enough before you can add another layer. I've no idea exactly how much but I do know I had to add a fan to cool the model on my printer to get it to print reasonable chairs. Your printer probably has one already. (It will definitely have extruder fans but that's different.)Thanks Andy.

There are 4 fans on the extruder head. One on each extruder gear block, and one front and back blowing across the nozzles. Are they the ones you mean? I assumed they are there to stabilise the nozzle temperature, but they would also have the effect of cooling the model.

The extruder fans run continuously, regardless of whether the extruder is in use. The nozzle fans stop and start, or run at variable speed, during the print -- GCODE:  M106 [S{Fan speed (0..255)}]

Fine tuning the nozzles is tricky because they are difficult to remove and replace in exactly the same position -- I think there must be traces of polymer in the screw thread in the heater block. On the whole I think I might prefer to make any compensation after they are bolted tight.

If the intention is to use only flat layers, a simple method would be to attach some abrasive paper to the bed (levelled) and push the head to and fro across it with the (brass) nozzles in firm contact. The size of the nozzle tip diameter (as opposed to the size of the hole in it) should have no effect, or very little effect, if there is never any part of the model above the nozzle level.

cheers,

Martin.   

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53rd message | this message only posted: 11 Dec 2018 20:47
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Andrew Barrowman
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Hi Martin,

Yes, that's the fans. They are for cooling the filament after it has been applied. The amount of cooling depends on the feature size. Sometimes they are not used at all.

Mind how you go with shaving the nozzles. The small diameter part is very short. I made one once but I don't remember how short.

Andy
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Stephen Freeman
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Hi,
I have taken the plunge and ordered a cheap DIY one (spec looks good enough to me, wide range of materials and decent nozzle size and temperature range etc. We shall see what it is capable of in a few days time.
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Andrew Barrowman
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Hi Martin,

You might not need to modify the nozzles. If your printer is like mine you should be able to rotate the threaded tube to adjust the height. I could be wrong but I seem to remember the tube is prevented from rotating by a grub screw.

Andy
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Martin Wynne
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Andrew Barrowman wrote: I could be wrong but I seem to remember the tube is prevented from rotating by a grub screw.Hi Andy,

It is. But the grub screws are inaccessible without dismantling the extruder head. After re-assembly, the alignment is not guaranteed.

cheers,

Martin.

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Martin Wynne wrote: Andrew Barrowman wrote: I could be wrong but I seem to remember the tube is prevented from rotating by a grub screw.Hi Andy,

It is. But the grub screws are inaccessible without dismantling the extruder head. After re-assembly, the alignment is not guaranteed.

cheers,

Martin.
Hi Martin,

You could ditch the grub screws and run a lock-nut up the tube? (That would be possible on my printer.)

Cheers,
Andy



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Should be a M6-1.0
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Martin Wynne
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Thanks Andy.

Correction - the extruder tube is a plain shaft. Only the business end is threaded (M6) to carry the through-tapped heater block. The nozzle screws into the heater block and locks against the end of the tube.

However, first the good news -- I have now modified the extruder head so that (after removing the front fan assembly) I can access the grub screw by passing an Allen key through the blades of the extruder fan. This means that I can adjust the relative nozzle levels with the extruder head in situ.

The result is that I have now installed and levelled two new nozzles, 0.6mm and 0.2mm (instead of both original 0.4mm), and both are feeding polymer successfully.

Now celebrating with a boiled egg. :)

The bad news -- two burnt fingers. :(

cheers,

Martin.

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Rob Manchester
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Martin Wynne wrote:
The bad news -- two burnt fingers. :(

cheers,

Martin.
From testing the new nozzles or picking the egg out of the pan ? :D

Bet you are glad you got a printer that needed some tinkering.....

Rob

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Martin Wynne
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Rob Manchester wrote:From testing the new nozzles or picking the egg out of the pan ? :D

Bet you are glad you got a printer that needed some tinkering.....
Hi Rob,

Boiling an egg I can do. 3D printers, don't ask. :)

I'll leave the being glad until I have actually printed something with the new nozzles.

How long I wonder before we can buy a home 3D printer with Epson or Canon on the label instead of Shaoxing Bibo Automatic Equipment Co. Ltd.? To be fair, they do promise to send a spare nozzle and thermistor as compensation if they don't reply to an email within 12 hours. I don't recall such a response from Epson or Canon. But there is an obvious clue there -- they expect you to have the thing in bits most days before breakfast.

cheers,

Martin.

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Rob Manchester
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Martin Wynne wrote: Boiling an egg I can do. 3D printers, don't ask. :)

I'll leave the being glad until I have actually printed something with the new nozzles.

How long I wonder before we can buy a home 3D printer with Epson or Canon on the label instead of Shaoxing Bibo Automatic Equipment Co. Ltd.? To be fair, they do promise to send a spare nozzle and thermistor as compensation if they don't reply to an email within 12 hours. I don't recall such a response from Epson or Canon. But there is an obvious clue there -- they expect you to have the thing in bits most days before breakfast.

cheers,

Martin.
Hi Martin,
 3D printers won't become mainstream tech and available from Argos and John Lewis with Epson or Canon badges on them until the user knowledge level is considerably reduced. Mainstream products for a consumer audience have to be virtually plug&play and have ink that can be just slotted in when required. They need to be understandable by anyone ( although Apple have managed for years :?)

It seems difficult to analyze the actual cost of 3D printed items. Andrew(IIRC) has explained in another topic the cost model used by Shapeways for pricing parts but there doesn't seem to be consistency to me. Home printing cost calculations need to factor in the purchase price of the printer ( it will unlikely be worth selling 3 years down the line ) and even maybe take account of the time spent leveling the hotplate and making adjustments to nozzles and the like - as you are finding out. But hey, you didn't really think you would have track bases with chairs ready to thread with rail in the first week ?

Hope you are taking pics of all the work you are doing on this. you may even be able to teach the guys at Peco how to make 3D models even if you are a bit too late for a wider 4mm scale track gauge:D

Rob


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Rob Manchester wrote:3D printers won't become mainstream tech and available from Argos and John Lewis with Epson or Canon badges on them until the user knowledge level is considerably reduced. Mainstream products for a consumer audience have to be virtually plug&play and have ink that can be just slotted in when required.Hi Rob,

The Dremel range seems to be aiming at that level -- the filament spools have an RFID chip in them which automatically sets all the relevant printer parameters for the type of polymer loaded:

 https://digilab.dremel.com/products/3d20

 https://digilab.dremel.com/products/3d45

But hey, you didn't really think you would have track bases with chairs ready to thread with rail in the first week?
No, I was mindful that Andy's topic on his experiments has been running for more than 3 years. :?

To be clear, unlike Andy I'm not actually wanting track bases for myself. My railway interest is to add functions to Templot which can be used to do that.

My own hobby interest, and the reason I decided to spend the money, is to create 3D versions of OS 25K Explorer maps. The BIBO workbed can accommodate 4x3 km grid squares, so a reasonable map area could be built up with a dozen or so such panels:

 https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/blog/2015/06/building-a-3d-map-of-london/

cheers,

Martin.

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Three years! My goodness. How time flies.

Martin and Stephen,

If not already obtained, get a can of hair spray (the cheaper the better). A light dusting on the glass bed really helps to keep the model stuck down.

Initially you might try printing on blue masking tape with the bed heater off. Just give the surface of the tape a light rub with very fine sandpaper between prints.

At least that's what I've been doing, mainly with PLA filament. I've never tried printing with ABS - I run my printer in the house and I understand the fumes from ABS are a bit unpleasant.

Happy printing!

Andy
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Martin Wynne wrote: Hi Rob,

The Dremel range seems to be aiming at that level -- the filament spools have an RFID chip in them which automatically sets all the relevant printer parameters for the type of polymer loaded:

My own hobby interest, and the reason I decided to spend the money, is to create 3D versions of OS 25K Explorer maps. The BIBO workbed can accommodate 4x3 km grid squares, so a reasonable map area could be built up with a dozen or so such panels:

 https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/blog/2015/06/building-a-3d-map-of-london/

cheers,

Martin.
Hi Martin,

The Dremel filament RFID chip idea reminds me of inkjet printers that have them. The non-OEM ink cartridge sellers either reverse engineered their own or had you lever the old chip off and attach it to the new cartridge. The Dremel website kindly explains that the warranty is invalid if you use any other kind of filament.

The 3D mapping looks good. I was going to ask what you do about low lying areas but as we only go as low as Holme Fen near Cambridge at 9 foot below sea level it isn't likely to be a problem. I presume hilly areas will just have a printed surface rather than being solid down to sea level ?

Rob

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Andrew Barrowman wrote: If not already obtained, get a can of hair spray (the cheaper the better). A light dusting on the glass bed really helps to keep the model stuck down.Hi Andy,

The BIBO came with a "lipstick" of Pritt-type (actually chinese equivalent) adhesive stick:

 https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pritt-Stick-Original-Glue-Childproof/dp/B004QFI99Y

It seems to work fine. Just a light rub over the work area and the PLA sticks firm (a bit too firm).

The great advantage is that it is water soluble. Run the glass plate under the tap and it's clean ready for next time. I'm not sure if hairspray cleans up that easily?

cheers,

Martin.

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Rob Manchester wrote:The 3D mapping looks good. I was going to ask what you do about low lying areas but as we only go as low as Holme Fen near Cambridge at 9 foot below sea level it isn't likely to be a problem. I presume hilly areas will just have a printed surface rather than being solid down to sea level ?Hi Rob,

I don't "do" anything yet. As you pointed out, I've had the printer for only a week. :)

I'm planning that the fill under the hills will be the usual 10% or whatever 3D grid fill structure. Or with dual nozzles it could be a water-sol support, to be washed out and replaced with something more long-term solid (Polyfilla?).

50K terrain contours are available free from OS:

 https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/business-and-government/products/terrain-50.html

So 25K is probably the largest I can go without the result looking "steppy". I would like to go larger, but the much preferable 5K terrain data is a paid-for product.

It would be great to go right up to the 25" maps, or at least the 6", (as on NLS) but it would be a lot of work. The 25" maps don't normally have contours. Some, but not all, of the 6" maps have contours, but shown chain-dotted so would need to be manually traced. The osmaps "Standard" 10K map has solid contours, but shown very faint. Decisions, decisions.

But at present this is all NOD stuff. For the present I need to get the printer going, and get on with the task of coding all the special switch and crossing chairs for Templot.

cheers,

Martin.

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Martin Wynne wrote: Andrew Barrowman wrote: If not already obtained, get a can of hair spray (the cheaper the better). A light dusting on the glass bed really helps to keep the model stuck down.Hi Andy,

The BIBO came with a "lipstick" of Pritt-type (actually chinese equivalent) adhesive stick:

 https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pritt-Stick-Original-Glue-Childproof/dp/B004QFI99Y

It seems to work fine. Just a light rub over the work area and the PLA sticks firm (a bit too firm).

The great advantage is that it is water soluble. Run the glass plate under the tap and it's clean ready for next time. I'm not sure if hairspray cleans up that easily?

cheers,

Martin.
Thanks Martin,

I'll need to give that a shot.

(I use meths to remove the hairspray. Sometimes I don't add anything to the glass bed. I just get it squeaky clean with glass cleaner.)

Cheers,
Andy

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The one I have ordered is a DIY job hence the low price tag but I shall report back in due course.
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Stephen Freeman wrote: The one I have ordered is a DIY job hence the low price tag but I shall report back in due course.Thanks Stephen.

Is this for track bases/chairs or general modelling? I'm thinking that for chaired track construction (no soldering nearby) it would be possible to have 3D printed track gauges. The PLA polymer seems to be immune to most track building solvents.

p.s. don't forget the nozzle is hot. :)

cheers,

Martin.

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Hi,

No my interest is only chairs at the moment, I have a different solution for gauges.
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Rob Manchester wrote:Hope you are taking pics of all the work you are doing on this.Hi Rob,

I will try to report the good bits and hide the bad bits. :)

Here are the first prints with the 0.6mm nozzle for the timbers (this is 0 gauge). I want to get the timbers looking reasonable before I try printing chairs on them.

I set the timbers 2.75" thick (1.6mm), which is about half most 0 gauge flexi-track, but anything thicker will take a fortnight to print.



On the left was printed using 0.15mm layers. The ribs are too flimsy and distorted in removing it from the workbed.

On the right I changed to 0.2mm layers for faster printing, and I beefed up the ribs (which slowed it back down).

The results are very accurate for size (59.5 x 5.8 x 1.6 mm), and with surprisingly sharp edges (at least to me). The biggest problem is the knobbly top surface:



It's not a bad as that close-up, and would probably be mostly hidden under paint. But I would like to get it better if I can. Two ideas to try:

1. drop the nozzle temperature a fraction, and then run it back over the surface in a random zig-zag pattern (without extruding) to smooth out the surface and maybe add a bit of (overscale) wood-grain.

2. use the 0.2mm nozzle to add a thin 0.05mm skin over the top. That would be a bit more time consuming, but it would be only the one layer.

These samples each took about 20 minutes to print, i.e. 5 minutes per timber. The volume of each timber is 552mm^3. The printer spec claims to have a max capacity of 12mm^3 per second. So flat-out a timber would take 552/12 = 46 seconds. A realistic target is probably about 2 or 3 times that, say 2 minutes per timber. So I should be able to double the speed from current 5 minutes when I know what I'm doing.

These were done as-sliced, i.e. hopping from timber to timber for each layer. It's painful to watch. Next I want to try printing each timber one at a time. A problem with that is what to do about the ribs, I may need to change the diagonal design.

The printer came with spool of translucent white PLA filament, which made it impossible to see the details. I have obtained some coloured filament, and at the same time I'm trying the PLA PLUS polymer. This has some (unspecified) additive to make it tougher and more flexible. It certainly seems stronger than the white PLA, and I thought the extra flexibility might be a benefit when threading rail through the chairs.

Andy -- it also has the advantage that it sticks quite firmly to the glass plate (at 50degC) without needing any adhesive. The ordinary PLA didn't do that. The extrusion temperature is a bit higher, I used 215degC for these samples.

When I have got it all working reasonably well with PLA I want to try ABS, so that moulded plastic chairs could be attached with solvent if needed for special formations.

So many different options and settings to try. :)

cheers,

Martin.

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Thanks Martin,

Good to see some printed samples. The idea of a thinner top layer could be interesting to try. I have often looked at 3D printed items for sale and wondered about the rough surface finish they exhibit. Presumably the flow rate through the nozzle, the steps between adjacent passes and the temperature of the filament are all variable and maybe it is just a case of finding an optimum set of values for better surfaces ?

Maybe I have missed this somewhere along the line but what are the reasons not to print in ABS ? Compatibility with C&L/Exactoscale products would certainly be an advantage although not of course required if you were printing plain track panels with chairs already in place.

Rob


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Hi Martin,

Looks good! Did you generate the G-code or was it Slic3r? If it's Slic3r you can alter the texture by changing the direction of the top layers. I usually align the "with the grain". Also, how dense are the sleepers?

Your filament might be the same stuff I'm using. It's called PLA/PHA.

According to Colorfabb - "We've developed a new type of filament, it's a blend of PLA and PHA. Polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) is an biodegradable polymer produced by bacterial fermentation of sugar or lipids."

Anyway, it is a bit better than straight PLA.

Cheers,
Andy
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Hi Rob,

Printing ABS requires higher extruder temperatures and it gives off unpleasant fumes. Not the best thing to have in your dining room, although I suppose you could use the extractor fan above the cooker when domestic authorities are out.

Cheers,
Andy
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Hi Andy,

Thanks for your input. "Biodegradable polymer" ? Does that imply printed items have a limited life-span or it is so long in the future we don't need to worry.

I remember now reading of the vapours with ABS printing. I was thinking it may give more flexibility to items such as chairs to allow easier threading and not exhibiting the brittleness you had commented on with other materials. I get the feeling that Martin isn't using the dining room or the kitchen for his track experiments :D although the smells and possibly harmful vapours still need treating with respect.

Rob


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Andrew Barrowman wrote:Did you generate the G-code or was it Slic3r?

Your filament might be the same stuff I'm using. It's called PLA/PHA.
Hi Andy,

It was sliced with Cura, which is the default in the software supplied with the printer. But I've been comparing the Cura-generated code with Slice3r -- it's completely different, and Slic3r has far more options. So I have to try them all to find the best for our purpose.

What's obvious however is that none of them are optimized for railway track -- they assume you want to print a toby jug or an alien invader. I've been editing the G-code manually to get what I want, and my thoughts now are that for the timber base the best option may be to generate the G-code directly in Templot instead of using the DXF/STL/slicing route. I definitely want to print one timber at a time, not sliced across the entire model.

The filament I'm using is:   

 http://esunchina.net/products/142.html

Whether that's the same as yours I have no idea. All the suppliers seem to have a PLA Plus option, without much explanation of what's in it. :?

cheers,

Martin.

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Thanks Martin.

In Slic3r the top layer direction is determined under Print Settings - Infill, "Fill Angle". Try it either at zero or 90 degrees (depending on the number of layers).

Yes, printing track can be a painfully slow process. I don't mind so much with turnouts because they are a lot of work to make by hand. Despite that, I have many yards of printed plain track bases. Once you get everything dialed in properly you can launch a print and go and do something else.

I must admit when I started trying to print turnout bases I had little confidence that it was going to work at all. I bought my first printer on a whim and the track idea came later. Now I'm convinced it really is quite practical, even with the long print times. The one thing that surprises me slightly is that very few people have jumped on it, but each to his/her own.

Cheers,
Andy
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Rob Manchester wrote: Biodegradable polymer" ? Does that imply printed items have a limited life-span or it is so long in the future we don't need to worry.
Hi Rob,

As Martin pointed out the other day I've been dorking around with this for several years. I haven't noticed any degradation in the things I printed several years ago. They are certainly not falling apart, but I should probably take a more serious look and do a bit of testing.

I've mainly been using PLA and PLA/PHA. ABS would be different and probably last longer, but it probably degrades over time too.

Cheers,
Andy

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Rob Manchester wrote: I get the feeling that Martin isn't using the dining room or the kitchen for his track experiments :D
Hi Rob,

Not the kitchen, but it needs to be indoors in the warm and dry. I managed to clear a bit of space:




The PLA polymer is hygroscopic (as are many others). As with injection moulding, if it gets damp steam will be created in the machine -- with very detrimental effects on quality (and even danger, in some cases).

As supplied, the filament is vacuum-sealed with silica-gel. But once hanging on the back of the machine, it is difficult to reseal. You don't want to cut individual lengths for a specific job, because starting a fresh end through the extruder is a lot of hassle (at least it is on this machine). But a 1kg spool could last for several months, so keeping the machine in the warm and dry is important. At present I'm removing the spool after each job and sealing it as best I can in a plastic bag, while the filament remains attached to the printer.

Making a proper sealed spool holder/dispenser has been added to my NOD list:

 https://www.amazon.com/Polymaker-PolyBox-Filament-Filaments-Printing/dp/B075DBPY6F

There is another reason for that with the BIBO -- hanging 2Kg on the back of the printer case is quite a heavy weight, and might long-term distort it (it's made of aluminium/plastic laminate). Bearing in mind that it carries the drive shafts and slidebars directly, a distorted case would be bad news.

PLA appears not to create any offensive smells or fumes, and it hasn't triggered the smoke alarm. ABS when hot has the usual smell of burning plastic, and would need some form of extractor if used indoors.

cheers,

Martin.

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