This coming week I have two statistics exams coming up, so naturally I have been procrastinating by trying once again to get some decent prints out of my MakerBot.
When I first built my MakerBot I was immediately disappointed – for some reason my printhead wouldn’t hold its temperature properly.
After a week or so of troubleshooting with the help of the great people on the MakerBot Operators Mailing List I determined that my motherboard was faulty.
I sent the motherboard and extruder controller back to MakerBot Industries and they identified a problem and sent me back repaired boards.
Upon receiving my repaired boards I immediately attempted a few prints. To my utter dismay my prints didn’t come out perfectly, they didn’t even come out okay.
Often the extrusion would just stop mid-print because of a lack of pressure against the extruder gear, and when it was extruding it would ‘ooze’ ABS while the print head was moving up to the next level and cause the layers to vary in thickness to the point where the print head would collide with the part and knock it over.
It turns out that buffering the GCode to the SD Card is really important for getting good prints. It completely stops the pauses between layers and ensures that no excess ABS is deposited on the part. I didn’t understand how much of a difference it makes – printing straight from ReplicatorG is a recipe for disaster.
It also turns out that customising the Skeinforge profiles (or exploring different defaults) makes a big difference too. If your raft is large then the part is much less likely to knock itself over. Especially important if you are using an acrylic build platform instead of the heated one.