SINDOH FDM PRINTERS
We have several DP200 models, and 4 3DWOX1 models of Sindoh printer. They live in Studio 5 and 3-412, as of fall 2021.
The Sindohs are FDM printers.
We only run PLA in these machines (no ABS!)
- white PLA is provided for users for Course 4 academic work;
please email firstname.lastname@example.org when a machine is out of filament.
Software can be downloaded for free at 3DWOX
or you can use the shop computers, which also have 3DWOX software installed.
Have a flash drive ready to use to transfer your gcode files to one of the machines. Note: once a print starts, you do
need to watch it for a while to make sure it doesn't fail, but you do not
need to leave the flash drive plugged in.
Sindohs are intended for self-service use. Please watch online tutorials, and ask for help if online information doesn't answer your questions.
Please be considerate of other users, and do not operate multiple machines at once on long prints. Check estimated print times in software - Sindoh
prints (FDM prints in general) can easily take over 24 hours to complete, depending on the size and complexity of the object, and its print settings.
- all our machines are set to "Open Mode". Please do not use the green chips that come with the spools. In the new (beige 3DWOX1)
machines, it will cause an error. There is a plastic recycling bag in 3-412 for these, on the wall by the Sindohs.
- Please do not run any of your own filament without checking with shop management. ABS is never allowed because of styrene fume issues-
our printers do not live in places that are safe for this. Other types of filament may destroy the nozzles. We provide white PLA for you to
use - if you want to try something else, you must contact us first.
- Please do NOT remove a spool from a machine that still has filament remaining, unless it is hopelessly tangled.
If that is the case, please drop it at Jen's desk in 3-412 with a note/email. If a spool is low on filament and not enough to finish a
print, you must still use it up before you can install a new spool.
We've been having problems with half-used spools being unloaded and left out, exposed to humidity fluctuations and
not kept tensioned- this is irresponsible treatment that is likely to make the material unusable. Being wasteful with the PLA in this
way is not sustainable.
So for the time being, when a Sindoh needs a new spool, users must email us at email@example.com
and we will pull one out of storage for you to install.
Processing a file for printing
3DWOX software will open a few file types including STL (& 3mf, ply, obj), which you can export in Rhino
If you are planning to print a Rhino drawing, it is very helpful to monitor your model as you go: use "showedges" to make
various types of potentially problematic surface edges visible in bright pink while you model.
Objects for printing must be solid, watertight objects. They do NOT, however, need to be booleaned together - multiple
overlapping solids are perfectly fine to print- you do not need to attempt to join them.
some mesh repair software options
Free mesh repair software is fairly easy to find online.
In addition to modeling closed, watertight solids, please check the STL meshes for errors as well as scale/units, and move object to
0,0,0 before attempting to process (or upload for full service printers).
Keep an eye on file size, as well - meshes with excessively high resolutions can be bloated enough to crash printer software.
Open Sindoh software, choose the printer type you plan to use,
and change mode to "advanced".
Make sure support and raft
settings are turned on (support isn't necessary if you have a model with no overhangs, but
you'll need to keep the raft setting ON - don't print an object directly on the plate- failure risk will be very high).
Hover over these dropdown menus to see brief explanations of the setting options.
After checking these settings, click on the "layer viewer" icon on the right side bar, to see a preview.
Confirm that your raft and supports are set before exporting a gcode file for the printer.
You will also usually need to use the machine panel to do much more than just start a print. Please familiarize yourself
with the options in these menus:
In the above image, there's a spool icon in the bottom left corner - you won't see that on a machine in 'open mode'.
You should check the spool that is installed in the machine, to be aware of how much remains - but you must use that
material until the spool is completely empty. Do not remove one just because it's low - the printer will pause when it
finishes a spool so you can install a new one. Shop staff can give you new spools to replace empties only.
There are a couple of actions under "setting" on the main menu that as self-service users, you will need to be able to use to make sure the machine can
run your job successfully.
One good practice is to check extrusion manually for a moment before starting an actual job. This is the "extruder" button under "setting".
The arrows are buttons - first, push on the 50 or 100 button, so you can advance the filament enough to see results (these represent mm of
movement, as far as we can tell). Then push the arrow pointing down, to feed the filament into the nozzle. You should see a clean white
noodle of plastic come out after a few seconds of feeding. If this doesn't happen at all, and/or you hear a loud clicking sound on the
right side of the machine while it attempts to extrude, that means there's a problem with feeding filament. It could be the filament tip
snagging in the nozzle, or it could be binding in the spool (see below for detail on both). Do not attempt to run the machine
if either or both of these are happening - it will not work. Read on for more instructions.
Filament Spools Need Love
FDM printer spools must remain under tension so that the filament doesn't loosen and tangle on itsef, like this:
Or else, during a print, it will bind on itself tightly like this, which will interrupt a job:
To prevent this, minimize handling of spools, and always check the cartridge for issues.
The next image shows the route that the filament makes out of the cartridge. All parts must be in place,
and the clear tubes must be kept intact. NEVER cut the filament tubes. If they were yanked out
(usually by bound filament), gently move them back into their proper location.
Also, do NOT open a new spool until the old one is completely empty. There is no risk of error in leaving
a low spool in to start a print - the job will pause when it runs out, and that is when it is okay to put
in a new spool.
New spools come vacuum bagged under tension - when you open these bags, and cut the tape off the filament tip,
be careful not to let the filament lose tension! Keep a thumb on it and keep it tight as you install into the cartridge.
If you hear a loud clicking sound coming from the right side of the machine while it attempts to extrude,
that means there's a problem with feeding filament. It could be binding in the spool (as above). Do not just keep attempting to print
if extrusion is not happening, and/or especially if you hear the clicking sound.
Sometimes the filament will be properly installed, with no binding, and will still not extrude from the nozzle.
You'll hear that clicking sound as the feed motor tries and fails to push the filament forward.
These Sindohs rarely clog, in reality. Most of the time, either the filament is bound on itself on the spool, or sometimes,
the 'jammed' filament is just catching
on the inner edge of the steel tube it must pass through to get to the nozzle. This next image shows the tiny opening,
barely deburred. We have been increasing the bevels on these edges ourselves when nozzles are snaggy.
See how tightly the filament is going to fit in that tube? There's really no wiggle room, so if the filament has a rough edge
or is excessively curved, it will really want to collide with that edge, rather than slipping cleanly through.
Sometimes PLA filament just breaks in the cartridge or in the tubing. It's more likely to with age/exposure to fluctuating humidity.
It's not that unusual- there may be a loose piece just floating in the clear tube, or sometimes hidden in the right side of the machine where it
gets fed through by the motor (the one that makes the clicking sound when things go wrong). During normal operation the machine sometimes prompts you
to check on the clear tube to confirm/denty whether there is a piece of leftover filament in there. When there is, you need to follow a couple of steps
to remove it without breaking it into smaller pieces (which get more difficult to remove). This is a typical part of basic machine operation that students
should know how to do, so do not hesitate to learn how to look for and clear "clogs" of broken pieces of PLA.
Here's a video of loose piece removal when it's just in the clear tube:
Clearing filament from clear Sindoh tube
Above and below are failed prints- many wasted hours, and in the 2nd case, a destroyed nozzle ($130 value).
One thing that FDM printers cannot sense is when the extruding filament does not adhere properly to anything below.
This is a common issue - there are a few things you need to do to prevent it.
- turn on raft settings
- turn on and check support material settings
- check print plate, make sure it's installed correctly and securely (more detail below)
- watch print begin, and make sure raft adheres completely to the build plate.
When setting up the print file, always use a 'raft', which is like an extra layer of foundational surface area, to help ensure that the PLA will
actually stick to the bed plate. The plates are made to be sticky enough for this, but not so sticky that it's impossible to remove
prints afterwards. This is a fuzzy line, one of the fundamental difficulties of all FDM prints- and sometimes the material
separates anyway. You need to minimize risk of separation.
Then, to ensure that any cantilevered parts or steep overhangs in your model aren't printed "into air", you must set up 'support material' in the software. This acts as
scaffolding to give any overhangs something solid to rest on. Google FDM print overhang tests to see lots of images of the limits of these
machines' abilities to print without support. Depending on the model, FDM machines do have very limited ability to print on
less-than-complete layer overlap, but risk of print failure skyrockets when you attempt this.
So if your overhangs are severe, you must use support settings.
Then, and this is crucial - when you begin a print, DO NOT WALK AWAY.
Most of our print failures happen when a student hits 'start' and then turns their back to the machine.
You can never assume that there won't be any problems. If you catch an issue right away, it's easy enough to deal with - but the above photos illustrate
what happens when you do not stay long enough to catch a problem.
It is recommended to wait at least long enough to see 2 full layers of raft extruded before leaving printer to run. You will notice that the
extrusion (that noodle of melted plastic) is thicker/slower on these layers than during the print - that is intentional. If you skip the raft, the
extrusion is not likely to stick to the plate at all.
once the print is running, you can remove your flash drive - it isn't necessary to leave it plugged in.
There are also common issues with the plates that you need to be aware of.
The DP200s have stiff aluminum plates that are held in place with thin bumps on the undersides of the plastic tab
flexures. They're attached to the plate with small screws.
The plate can start to shift during a print if either the tabs are damaged, or if the screws come loose/fall out.
Please give the plate a quick check before starting a print - if the plate vibrates during a print, it will fail.
The 3DWOX1 printers have flexible magnetic plates - but they are easy to misalign if you don't carefully replace it. See the
below image for an incorrectly replaced plate (look at the corners).
Like this, the bed is not flat even if it is unlikely to shift during the print. A machine bed out of flat will probably
cause damage to itself and/or the nozzle if a print is attempted like this. The print will fail, at the very least.
These 3DWOX1 printers are slightly newer than the DP200s, and there are some minor semantics differences in the setup/menus
on the screen. We'll update this to reflect some of those details as soon as we can, but in the meantime the process
and concepts are identical - so just keep that in mind when working with one or the other.