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Question about print quality and electronics..

Posted by ampapa 
Question about print quality and electronics..
March 19, 2017 07:35PM
Hello! This is my first post on the forum as I begin the learning process of 3D printing and the mechanics behind it before buying my first machine.

I currently own a CNC and want to also do some 3D printing so I understand the basics of how things work but I'm curious about how to determine the print quality/layer thickness/electronics?

I'll probably buy a kit my first time out, maybe even the Prusa i3 MK2, I've also noticed there a lot of knock off's with all different features mostly due to the open source.

So here are a few starting questions for me...

1) Layer thickness, what determines how thick a layer is? The thinner the layer the less noticeable I assume... what gets one printer to 50um and another to 100um, um I think is the correct measurement?

2) Electronics control board and I'm guessing a driver board, what is the standard? are they all based on the Arduino? Is the ATmega2560 and RAMPS 1.4 kind of the industry standard? Is that the combination that they call the "RAMPS"?

3) Print quality, is this the same as layer thickness or are they different and what's the determining factor there?

Any insight you can provide would greatly be appreciated as I try to steer my way thorough the new terminology.

Thanks.

Ampapa,
Re: Question about print quality and electronics..
March 20, 2017 12:00AM
1. Lower layer thickness gives higher vertical resolution, so it is one of the contributors to print quality. But the smaller the layer height, the longer the print takes. So almost all my prints use 0.2mm and I only use 0.1mm when I really need the quality.

2. Arduino/RAMPS is popular not because it is good but because it is cheap, and adequate for entry-level printers if you live with its limitations. There are much better controller boards available. Whether they are worth the extra cost to you depends on your situation and your goals.

3. There are lots of factors that affect print quality. The accuracy and rigidity of your mechanical build is the most important. Some people report that modern 32-bit electronics gives an improvement in print quality over 8-bit electronics, but that assumes a good mechanical build. Good electronics and firmware can't for the most part compensate for poor mechanics.

HTH David


Delta printer calibration calculator, mini IR Z probe, and colour touch screen control panel: [escher3d.com]

Large delta printer, and other 3D printer blog postings: [miscsolutions.wordpress.com]

Full disclosure: I have a financial interest in sales of the Panel Due, Mini IR height sensor, and Duet WiFi.
Re: Question about print quality and electronics..
March 20, 2017 01:13AM
A limiting factor for later height reduction is how consistently the extruder can extruder very small amounts of plastic. Many of the cheap i3 clones use a variation of an extruder design that was originally made by makerbot forcthenreplicator. They're cheap, but not really very good.

I don't entirely agree with what DC42 says about RAMPS. RAMPS has become the de facto standard because it has been cheap and well supported by reprap. This makes it pretty ubiquitous at the low end. Even now, some mid range printers use electronics which are in effect just an integrated arduino and ramps board (albeit with well chosen, quality components). YEs, these days there are better options - 32 bit boards with more code space and more features, capable of running high tee stepping rates and so on. But the benefit of these particularly in a low end printer when you have a constrained budget isn't that significant. Even if you were building a better quality printer, RAMPS might still be a good fit.

I think a prusa mk2 would be a great first kit for you. It's reprap, very hackable and very good out of the box. And very well supported. It's by prusa, and the community.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/20/2017 01:30AM by slippyr4.
Re: Question about print quality and electronics..
March 20, 2017 03:32AM
One of the main problems with RAMPS is getting a good board - the quality control in some of the Chinese knock-offs is non-existent. One way around that is to buy one of the better-made RAMPS boards that can be found here and there - there are a small number of makers who do it properly. My Prusa i3 has a RAMPS board and it has served me well, but I tried to buy another for a different machine and failed completely... I bought 2, neither worked, and eventually I went for a Duet board. This has served me very well as it has been made to a professional standard.
Re: Question about print quality and electronics..
March 20, 2017 04:50AM
Many thanks for the information and feedback!

Some follow up questions if I may.

Quote
David
1. Lower layer thickness gives higher vertical resolution, so it is one of the contributors to print quality. But the smaller the layer height, the longer the print takes. So almost all my prints use 0.2mm and I only use 0.1mm when I really need the quality.

What's the difference between an Prusa MK2 and a Hictop, like this question hasn't been asked a million times, is it the mechanics that prevent one from printing at 50um (or should I be thinking layer height) or simply the use of the E3D hotend that gets the credit? I've been watching Thomas Sanladerer lately put together a "cheap" i3 clone and with a little spit and bubble gum and he's about finished. I don't know how well it will print in the end but I'm intrigued about the deceptively easy build and with a CNC at my disposal I should be able to build a considerably more accurate mechanical setup.

I really like the design of the "Spyker" machine.. not sure about how well it performs but it has a large bed and looks like it can print large. (Spyker)

I did notice on the electronics page (Electronics) the comparisons between the boards. From an entry level perspective is anyone using 32bit boards like the "Smoothieboard" or the "DuetWifi" those seem to have the most features and I assume still use the code base for Marlin?

ampapa.,

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/20/2017 04:51AM by ampapa.
Re: Question about print quality and electronics..
March 22, 2017 05:14AM
Quick answer on the last question.

I use a DuetWifi and that code base is RRF (RepRap Firmware) It is not Merlin.
There are 2 reasons why I use the Duet Wifi and will continue to do so.
1 It is a fantastic board, well developed and oh so smooth. My printer has never been this quiet and I did get a jump in print quality.
2 The support is just as good as the board if not better.

As for the build that Thomas is doing, yes it is a great video series and yes I think it is a great way to get into 3d printing. And even that build will produce reasonable prints, might even become great prints.
As long as you get things aligned properly and are careful in building it, you will get results. And since you have CNC experience, I think it would be the best way for you to get into 3d printing.
It is a cheap way to start, you learn what is and is less important and you can start printing stuff.

Oh and finally, well done for first looking around and asking the right questions. Now dive in!


Lykle
________________________________________________

One of the creators of the Zesty Nimble the Remote Direct Drive extruder.
[zesty.tech]
Re: Question about print quality and electronics..
March 22, 2017 03:40PM
Smoothie boards use smoothieware firmware

Half the issue with 8bit boards is the shortcuts the firmware had to do to make it work on such limited hardware/
Running marlin on a 32 bit board would be a horrific idea.
Re: Question about print quality and electronics..
March 22, 2017 04:27PM
Appreciate the reply's.

Looks like I have a bit more reading to do...

ampapa,
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