Miscellaneous

The Woes of 3D Printing

February 12, 2019

I’ve been playing around with my friend’s 3D Printer for the last month or so, and along with that I’ve been playing with a lot of different software for slicing and printing models. Initially I used ReplicatorG as that was what was recommended in the manual. It looked like some sort of clone of the Arduino interface, and a pretty basic one at that.  However it worked, sometimes.  I could print benchy and I was able to print one other part for my Reprap project but most would not print. I just couldn’t figure out the patter. Certain files printed fine, others would go through the whole warmup phase then shut down.  If you looked at the GCode it generated it was pretty much empty. It was driving me bonkers so I eventually abandoned it for a better solution.

From there I tried slic3r and Cura but wasn’t really having any luck getting it setup or getting it to connect with them.  On a whim I tried out Makerbot’s software and found it connected easily under the Makerbot Dual profile and was able to start printing right away.  That was leaps and bounds better than ReplicatorG but still seemed to lack a lot of settings for dialing things in like the first layer.

At that point the laptop I was using to interface with the printer suddenly started having power issues so I figured it was finally time to setup OctoPrint on my Raspberry Pi 3 B+ as I had always planned on going that route once I got my own printer setup. However, as always, that job sent me down another rabbit hole.

I ran into issues initially setting up the Cura Engine on my Pi.  Long story short it was because I had manually installed the program rather than using a preconfigured image (as I already had PiHole running on it).  So I ordered another Raspberry Pi and setup a dedicated OctoPrint server on it and used the preconfigured image.  Cura Engine was setup out of the box, yay! However a new problem presented itself, I needed a Cura profile in order to print.

So I installed Cura on a desktop machine only to find out it doesn’t even support importing profiles from the newest version. Arg!!! I debated hunting down an older version and generating a profile with that (which I might still explore later).  But after a little more research and I discovered that there’s a Cura plugin for OctoPrint that works really well so I got that setup pretty quickly but still wasn’t really happy with the idea of having to use my computer upstairs to sent jobs to the printer downstairs.  Sure, being able to monitor it via webcam is pretty awesome, but usually when I’m working with the printer I’m sitting right beside it.

Anyways for now I’ve decided I’ll just use the Cura plugin and print through OctoPrint.  However that’s still not a perfect solution.  The profile for the Wanhao Duplicator 4S only has one extruder and I couldn’t find a way to enable the second one until I brute forced it. After I got that straightened out I finally got it to send out a print job however it tried printing with the build plate about 6″ below the extruder and made a pile of spaghetti. Sigh, on to the next problem…

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