Archive for February, 2012

3D Printing: Upgrading Firmware & Printer Driver (For Ultimaker & More)

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

Out of the box, the Ultimaker shipped with a stable, but relatively ancient, version of the firmware. This, combined with the stable, but relatively ancient, version of ReplicatorG available from the Ultimaker site was sure to produce useful prints with a relatively minimal of fuss, but nothing that remotely approaches either the blazing speed or amazing quality possible from this printer.

To achieve that requires some significant upgrades to the software stack. And, in some cases, it requires outright replacing some of the pieces entirely.

While this writeup is specific to the Ultimaker, there is a lot of general knowledge in here, and the various bits of software are largely universal to a number of printers. When my Printrbot shows up, I’ll write a revised version specific to that printer while generalizing this a bit.

Note that this is all moving very quickly. When I first wrote this, it required about 3x more steps and was considerably more fragile. It is improving rapidly! However, there is still a long way to go before any of this is easy.

Note: At the time of writing, you need to perform both of these upgrades simultaneously. ReplicatorG really does’ want to talk to the new firmware (of course, by the time I write this, it’ll likely be fixed). Read the rest of this entry »

Ultimaker Printing an Octopus Really Fast.

Saturday, February 11th, 2012

This is a short video of the printing of an Octopus I’ve been using as a test model. The Ultimaker is printing at 250% of normal speed. I started at 100% for the first layers until a solid base was created and then cranked the speed to 250%. It could go faster, I think.

At that speed, the quality of the print suffers a bit. I believe, is mostly due to slop in my belts. I need to print some belt tensioners which will take up the slack nicely.

The print quality is both better than the out of the box experience and tons faster.

This is the result of a combination of upgrades:

  • Upgraded the Ultimaker’s firmware to the latest beta version. It has all kinds of features that enable both higher quality and higher speed prints.
  • Upgraded to using Pronterface to send the G-Code to the printer. It allows for communication at 250kbaud and doesn’t periodically pause like Replicator-G does if you forget and leave the temperature monitor panel open.
  • Moved to using SkeinForge-48 as the slicer.

All three of these tasks were a downright pain to do. All three have been written up in another post.

For now, enjoy some 3D printer music….

3D Printing: Ultimaker Build Notes

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Some build notes from my Ultimaker build experience…..

Overall, it took me roughly 4 days to build the Ultimaker. The first two days were a couple of long stretches and the last two were much shorter. Tuning the device to yield usable prints has taken a bit more time, too, and I still have a long ways to go.

At left is a print made using the default firmware with relatively default settings in ReplicatorG. Stringy as heck, but otherwise quite good! Software and hardware tuning are reserved for another article.

This is some random build notes from the build and roughly correspond in order to the assembly instructions themselves.

By and large, assembly was relatively straightforward. The only real disaster I had was with the cooling fan used on the extruder. When I tried to mount it, it shattered — literally disintegrated into dozens of pieces — in my hand.

The Ultimaker arrives in a surprisingly small, heavy, box. No surprise; wood is heavy and the Ultimaker is largely a wooden box with some very crafty electronics built into it. Frankly, the laser-cut wood based construction is, in and of itself, a bit of a hobbyist kit revolution. Wood is cheap and very strong, yielding kits that can be quite precise, extremely durable, and still remain accessibly affordable.

Random notes below the fold…

Read the rest of this entry »