Build report: Metal Plus upgrade from KS Plus

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Build report: Metal Plus upgrade from KS Plus

Postby PxT » 2015-Mar-Fri-16-Mar

I recently had the opportunity to upgrade my original Kickstarter Plus to the new Metal Plus. This is my story.

Disassembly
I started by disassembling my old Plus. She's been with me through thick and thin and was one of the very first bots shipped. Mine is in the middle here, way back in 2012:
Image
https://twitter.com/printrbot/status/186353230006067203

I carefully saved all the nuts & bolts, bearings, etc. in case I might need some spares. Thankfully none of those stupid square nuts were needed to assemble the new machine. Glad to be rid of those, although at least they never roll off the workbench.


Unboxing
My kit arrived carefully packaged. No damage in shipping. Good. The bed arrived partially assembled. Also good.
IMG_0436 copy.jpg


After some initial mixups which required a second & third shipment from Printrbot I had all the required pieces and I was finally getting somewhere. I won't go into the gory details of that, but feedback has been provided to the appropriate people. PBHQ was very responsive in replacing missing parts, but of course it would be better not to have them missing from the start.

By this time my workshop is starting to look more cluttered than normal.
IMG_0437 copy.jpg


The Build
I followed the step-by-step guide on the printbot site. For the most part this is pretty accurate, with some minor issues. Some of the pictures are obviously of a prototype or pre-production model so they don't match up 100% with the current kit. Also there was at least one step that assumes knowledge that you don't have until a later step. This could do with a once-over from their support staff, and ideally they should sit down with someone who has never built a printer before and see if they can follow the instructions to the letter. Any flaws should be apparent pretty quickly. I have the advantage of having disassembled and built a couple of printers by now so I mostly know how everything is supposed to work (at least at a high level).
IMG_0438 copy.jpg


Extruder woes
Since the Ubis was out of stock on the Printrbot site at the time I was ordering my parts I decided to get an E3D v6 and give that a try. The E3D is significantly shorter than the Ubis but I thought I could probably find a way to make it work. I first tried mounting it directly to the Alu extruder. There was a bit of a clearance issue because of the coupler that protrudes from the top of the hotend interfering with the machined feed hole in the extruder. It wouldn't sit flush with the top of the mounting plate and so the screw that tightens down the plate wouldn't align with the groove in the hotend. I resolved that by drilling out the mount slightly, so the E3D could be made flush in the same way an Ubis would be.

When I mounted the assembly on the bot I hit my next problem. Because the hotend is quite a bit shorter there is no longer enough clearance for the stock fan shroud. I played around with designing my own that would work with the standard mounting holes on the X carriage, but there is very little vertical space to work with and I wasn't successful at coming up with something that would work. Back to the drawing board. I searched and found this thing that adapts the E3D to be the same size as the Ubis. Luckily I already had a working printer (Simple Metal) that I could use to make the plug. With that in place the hotend fits perfectly and I can use the stock fan shroud. The amount of grip on the barrel of the hotend is reduced quite a bit, but with enough tension on the mounting screw it does not seem to be an issue so far. I wired up the always-on extruder fan in the same way as is recommended for the all-metal Ubis hotend and got a Noctua 40mm fan for print cooling (quiet and has a 6 year warranty!)

Firmware
I had to modify & build my own firmware to be compatible with the E3D thermistor. There is a good thread on this which covers the modifications needed: viewtopic.php?f=21&t=6491&p=47774
I had some issues getting the motors & homing directions to be correct but eventually managed to find the magic combination of settings. Some of my problems were compounded by motor problems.

Motor Problems
IMG_0443 copy.jpg

By this time the build is just about done. Everything is buttoned up, except for the bottom plate so that I can load firmware. Testing out each axis, and the hotend. So far so good. Except the X axis is acting weird. Not sure what's going on. Tried flashing firmware with some changes to the settings. Tried adjusting motor power (hooray for digital settings!). No dice. Finally realize that the symptoms are more like an electrical problem so I ripped off the side cover and discovered that one of the wires to the motor was severed. Not sure if I had accidentally damaged it during installation or what. No problem, I have an extra motor lying around. Not sure where it came from but it's the right size. I get that one in place and the issue is still there. Take it back off and test it with no load and it works. Weird. Get it mounted again and now it's failing even with no belt. WTF?!? Checked the wiring on that one and it becomes apparent that wiggling the connector at the motor end of the wire causes it to misbehave. That's probably why I threw it in a drawer to begin with, probably should have marked it as damaged. (Lesson learned).

So off to eBay to buy a few spares just in case. Once those arrived I got one mounted up and it worked flawlessly first time. Success!

Approaching the Finish Line
In the finishing stretch. Now I just need to do a test print. I chose the Marvin Advanced model as a good test of machine capabilities. Results? Judge for yourself:
DSCF0472 copy.jpg


Overall the print is very good. It's hard to tell with the natural filament in this photo but all the fine details are clean and there was absolutely no stringing. Very happy with the results.

Extra credit
Heated bed? I have one from the Plus so I installed it. The heat shield material ripped as soon as I tried to screw it in place. Useless. I might try to cut it down slightly and then tape it on with Kapton instead.

The wiring for the heat bed passes over an unprotected metal edge in the lower base piece. Over time I believe this could be a problem as there is no protection against wire damage. I got some thin rubber weather stripping that has an adhesive back and wrapped that over the exposed edge to provide some protection. I think this is a flaw in the design.

Conclusion
This build was a very long process and there were several hurdles, some of them of my own making. But in the end I am happy with the results and the quality of the new printer is much better than the original Plus. Pretty much all that remains of the original printer in the new one is a couple of endstops and the motors, everything else has been upgraded. What a long strange trip.

[disclaimer: Printrbot supplied the metal upgrade kit to me free of charge, however they have not influenced the content of this review. Extra parts such as the E3D, new printrboard, etc. were purchased separately.]
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Build report: Metal Plus upgrade from KS Plus

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Re: Build report: Metal Plus upgrade from KS Plus

Postby plexus » 2015-Mar-Sat-00-Mar

Congrats PxT - looks great! What is your take on fitting a PB Wood Wades on the new plus? with an E3D? this would be very helpful to know since I prefer to run Wades and I haven't jumped because I am not sure I could fit it easily. can you let me know what would be required to make it fit? thanks!
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Re: Build report: Metal Plus upgrade from KS Plus

Postby Mooselake » 2015-Mar-Sat-10-Mar

Cool! Thanks for the review! Do you plan to add some video once you get it tuned?

I looked at that E3D adapter on TV and couldn't see what kept it secure. The comments indicate it's got a tendency for the extruder to fall off. I don't have an E3D, but wouldn't it be better to have the adapter larger at the base so it attaches at the regular mounting point?

Kirk
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Re: Build report: Metal Plus upgrade from KS Plus

Postby plexus » 2015-Mar-Sat-12-Mar

Hi Moosey.

Oh, and... PxT, what layer height is your print and print speed(s) in mm/s?

It's good to post that with prints so people can try their own printer and do a better comparison ;)

I am printing one now. 200 µm layers, 60 mm/s solid, 45 mm/s perimeter (this seems, for my printer to be a good balance of speed and quality, I cna slow it down for slightly better quality but I am impatient.
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Re: Build report: Metal Plus upgrade from KS Plus

Postby PxT » 2015-Mar-Sat-13-Mar

Layer height on that was 0.2064mm. Speeds are what I had as my defaults in Slic3r, I haven't made any attempt to tune them or really any other settings yet:
Code: Select all
; infill_speed = 80
; perimeter_speed = 60
; small_perimeter_speed = 70%
; solid_infill_speed = 50
; travel_speed = 130
; top_solid_infill_speed = 40



Good question on the Wade's extruder. You would have a challenge as far as mounting it because the stock plate is different. I'm sure it could be accomplished but you would have to fabricate or print some kind of adapter. You can see the provided mounting plate in the exploded diagram here: http://help.printrbot.com/Document/224/.pdf
I think you could maybe design a flat plate for the extruder to mount to that used the mounts labeled "C x 6" in that diagram. You would have to replace those with longer screws. If you don't mind doing away with the Z probe you could use the area that it normally mounts to to provide some stability. It would take some creativity for sure, but definitely possible.

Unless you are really married to Wades it might be easier to just go to the direct drive extruder but keep your 3mm hotend (since I know you prefer 3mm filament). All you would need to do for that is swap out the drive gear to one that can accommodate 3mm, and drill out the filament hole in the extruder bracket to a slightly larger size.

With the Wades you would also lose a bit of Z height because the gears are going to limit travel at the top of the machine. My rough eyeball estimate is that it's a difference of maybe 4 or 5 cm.

I looked at that E3D adapter on TV and couldn't see what kept it secure

At this point it's just a friction fit. The adapter itself isn't going anywhere, it's tightly jammed in the mounting hole. The extruder clamps on to the very top of the E3D and is really only gripping maybe 4 or 5mm, but I made sure that grip was very tight - so far it hasn't moved. I wasn't ready to glue the adapter to the hotend, but now that I know it works I might consider that if the mount becomes a problem.
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Re: Build report: Metal Plus upgrade from KS Plus

Postby Mooselake » 2015-Mar-Sat-17-Mar

Look at the Bondtech.se geared 3mm extruder. It's direct drive, but they use a geared stepper so it has a planetary gearbox between the motor and output shaft taking the place of the Wade's exposed gears. You'll need to adapt the mount, but they make it from 3D printed parts and offer the stl files. If you get it to work I'll seriously consider getting one.

If you get a metal plus upgrade kit I might be interested in your linear rails...

Kirk
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Build report: Metal Plus upgrade from KS Plus

Postby plexus » 2015-Mar-Sun-22-Mar

Well mine turned out pretty good. almost perfect. cheap PLA too. took 66 mins to print with 10% infill. not enough of a difference to warrant a metal upgrade for me.

Ive also tried (extensively) to get a direct drive extruder to work with 3mm. its not worth the hassle as it barely works and overheats too quickly necessitating another fan. why bother. wades works.

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