Calibration for Vector 3

Today I got back to my Vector 3 3D printer and I started to experiment with getting it ready for printing objects. The reason for the lengthy delay in getting it ready for printing is because of calibration issues. This is not a domestic product bought ready made in a factory, it’s a science project where I have to affirm the product for quality control and operating at my own command.

First I started by loading the new firmware for the Vector 3. That download had been made many months ago on my first attempt. The trouble that I am having with the machine is getting the print bed and the print head in line with each other. The first step was to make the print bed level on every one of five points. These points where at the centre and the far mid points of the print bed.

When I selected the positions I found that one of them went over the print bed by 5mm and the opposite point was 5 mm into the print bed. The other two points at the polar opposites to these points would not activate suggesting that there was something wrong with the y-axis shaft. Something had to be done, but I had to get back to the customer service department for that problem. I didn’t want to start disabling parts until I was sure it didn’t need unscrewing.

After failing to calibrate the print bed I decided to try and see how the nozzle would extrude the filament. The nozzle on this print head would extrude once the temperature was at 180 degree centigrade. I assisted the extrusion by pushing the filament into the print head. The filament came through okay but it’s strength wasn’t all that runny. It seems likely that the temperature once adjusted could melt the filament to make it ooze in a smoother silky texture.

After testing the print head I decided to try and see how the printing jobs would work. I might not have not the print head calibrated properly but I decided to test it to see if it would work anyway.

The first step in the process was to create something to print. I had a file that I had saved for testing: a trophy. I choose this because I felt that it would be great to lift something out of the printer to represent a momentous achievement. Sadly it will be a long time before I can lift a trophy out of this baby.

After selecting the trophy I had to go through a process calling slicing. The objects made in a 3D printer are made through this process where the object is built up in layers of plastic. The slicing process determines the thickness and density of the printing. You can make the object have thick or thin contours on it’s surface, as well as choose the heating temperature for this particular job.

According to the time of the print job, it said that it would take under 4 hours to manufacture. As it turns out I can print the object offline or online. That is a useful advantage because it means that the computer doesn’t have to be attached to the printer during the printing process. The printing didn’t work as planned but I did have a useful understanding of how to operate the 3D printer. Now with all that fun out of the way I think it’s time to try and fix it.

That will take a while but I am in no hurry to get it working. This is an exercise for me to try my hand at electronic engineering. I can now understand how the makers of all fine microchips and machines work to get them to function for consumers. If you think you struggle with writing documents or getting photos stored on your computer don’t worry. I can assure that my skills with electronics are a struggle all the time.

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