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Archive for June, 2016

14
Jun

Clicgear Brake Hub & 3D Printer

The amount of golf and my friends and I play would not be what you’d class as “normal”. From about March to November we get out at least twice a week and for many weeks in there, three times. So 70 to 90+ games in that time frame.

While this obviously takes a toll on our sanity, it also takes its toll on our equipment. Specifically the golf carts. No, we don’t count golfballs in there because they aren’t really lost, just misplaced until someone new finds and adopts them. Yeah, that’s a totally different thing…

Our cart of choice is the Clicgear series. Best fit in our vehicles, nicely designed for the most part and easy to push. The earliest is version 2.0 and the latest is the 8.0 or the 3.5+. The V8 is a different animal because it’s a four wheeled cart, and keeps the clubs more upright, plus, oddly enough, it’s easier to push.

With the 2.0, 3.0 and 3.5 series they all share a common weak point. Or design flaw if you want to call it that. The brake hub. It’s a dogged plastic hub that is really not all that hard to break.

Clicgear Brake Org

So in a matter of time, it ends up looking like this:

Clicgear Brake Smashed

Replacement parts can be ordered from Clicgear but shipping to Canada is stupid. A trip to the local Golftown resulted in the “silly” being continued because they won’t order one, you have to buy a dozen.

A cruise around Thingiverse led me to someone who designed a brake hub for 3D printing. I downloaded and printed it out, and it didn’t exactly fit as well as I hoped

When I checked some of the dimensions they appeared correct except for the gaps next to the 2mm pins. Plus there was a gap in the center that while matching the original hub, did little so I remixed, adjusted the gaps and filled it in slightly.

Clicgear Brake Top

And the bottom (where the pins and gaps have to be exact):

Clicgear Brake Bottom

Printed at .2mm, 100% infill, with supports.

A simple matter to remove the nylock nut that holds on the wheel, remove the old brake hub and replace with the new one.

Clicgear Brake

While checking the hub for fit, I noticed that the cable is about as far out of adjustment as possible and yet still work. The way all of our carts seem to come from factory, where I’d say they have a quality control issue or two, is the dog barely catches the tip of the hub part. Thus considerable force on the hub.

The brake dog that moves is shaped to fit snugly into the brake hub, but every one I have looked doesn’t fit properly. If you have a Clicgear cart, I’d strongly suggest you check out the brake adjustment and make sure it is completely engaging and disengaging properly.

I’d printed a couple of spares now so we’re all good to go for a couple of seasons. Now if I could just find a way to print Titleist NXT Tour golfballs I’d be set….

3
Jun

Simplify3D – Delta Printer

Having logged over 1700 printing hours on my delta’s means that I have more than just a passing glance and familiarity with the operation, firmware and supporting software.

Having said that, I’m always on the watch for something that works better than what I currently have/use. Be it a firmware, mechanical part modification, or support software upgrade. It was with that in mind that I decided to try Simplify3D. Since there is no “trial” version, the only way to get it is to pony up the $149USD and buy it. Which I did.

The whole premise being that whatever GCODE Simplify3D spit out would be vastly superior to anything from Cura, Kiss Slicer or Slic3r. I know Slic3r extremely well so this sort of advertising statement should not be taken lightly.

Keeping all this mind, this is my opinion of the software, from strictly a delta printer users point of view. Cartesian printers could be a completely different kettle of fishes. I don’t know, I only own delta’s.

Buying and Installation

Once you PayPal the rather princely sum for the software, you’re given a link to download the software and you set up a cloud account with Simplify3D. Mainly for updates as I read it so you don’t need a full time connection to the net to use the software. I did need a connection initially to get the software registered so I could use it.

All in all, straight forward and painless.

Setup

When you first run the software you’re given a choice of printer profiles to choose from. And it’s NOT a small list by any stretch. At least until you start to count the Deltas in the list. Then the list is very small indeed.

To put this in perspective, one needs to remember that delta printers are not the printer of choice. The last “stat” I saw was that delta printers were the #1 choice for a kit and satisfaction but still only occupied less than 20% of the total printer market. In Simpilify3D’s printer support list, this is reflected.

Simplify3D’s software, which I’ll refer to as S3D after this, when running sort of resembles a mash up between a typical slicer and something Autodesk would do for a UI.

Simlify3D UI

S3D refers to your printer settings, which is actually more than just printer settings, as processes. You know, maybe because they didn’t know how to spell profile. Or processes sounded more impressive. The quick start guide implies that you can even select multiple “processes” when you slice. The quick start guide also completely ignores telling you just what might happen should you do this.

The model list is merely the bunch of STL files you are going to print. But yeah, models sounds more impressive than “objects” or “Tessellation”…

The toolbar is S3D’s nod to Autodesk.

S3D’s whole claim to fame is based on the processes as noted, and this is the first red flag that went up in my mind. I have custom built delta’s, not a Kossel MINI, Kossel MAX, or Rostock.

I selected some of the “prebuilt” processes for the delta’s and it was pretty obvious from the get go, those were token gestures at best and if something was actually printed it was more good luck than anything else. None the less, I did try printing with the various processes. I have the failed prints to show for it.

Custom Process

About 4 hours into seeing what S3D could and couldn’t do, and I decided the only way to make it do something is start and create a custom process (profile). Five hours later I was still working and testing. Because I’m slow? Nah, because the documentation that explains all the settings is so poorly written that it’s two points below a joke.

And there are TAB’s of settings, more so than Slic3r. And not exactly arranged in any logical manner. Plus some programmer decided that numbers were evil so you need to enter “percentages”, like for the first layer start height. Want it to start at .34mm, enter in 113%. Like that’s intuitive.

In the Preferences you can change the mm/m to mm/s and spend a lot of time trying to figure out where Slic3r settings might fit into the S3D settings. Because, there’s no import or conversion from a Slic3r configuration to S3D. Big oversight there to my programmers mind.

Even using the built in processes, when the print job was done the head didn’t home. It just sat on the print. And oozed. I have no idea why all the delta processes would ever want to do that.

Eventually I threw up my hands in surrender. 11 hours of trying to get a decent print and no soap. I emailed the S3D folks and asked for a refund.

Tech Support

I didn’t get a refund, what I got was a reply email that asked me what printer/kit I had and that they would create a “process” custom designed for my printer. All I had to do was provide them with my Slic3r config file and they’d transpose it for me. I sent them links to my delta’s specs and Slic3R config and within the day I had a profile back. They said that they have built a number of deltas and were familiar with them so

Sorry guys, but after looking at your “process” attempt I have to call BS on it. Anyone who owns a delta with a bowden tube knows that retraction is extremely important. The process I was provided gave a 1mm retraction at 30 mm/s. Bowdens want 3-5mm of retraction and 60-80mm/s.

Extrusion is set at .9 by default. Which made no sense at all. Extrusion width at .4 and on and on the goofy settings went. I seriously wonder if they even looked at the Slic3r config file.

Oddly, no one who responds to you via email from S3D tech signs their email so, I’m just going to call him, Blobby. Because that’s what the prints looked like. So Blobby, you get a fail. Time to work on your resume.

A Spaghetti Western

This is what S3D reminds me of.

The Good: opens any STL, repairs where need be, easy positioning. Slices any model in under a second. Creates GCODE files in seconds. Nicely done.

The Bad: stupid settings that should be numbers not percentages, lousy user manual, poor delta support.

The Ugly: Every print made from the generated GCODE.

In spite of the fact I set 3 perimeters for a prime, S3D decided, on its own, that I only needed two. And if you think Slic3r has sporadic moves, S3D is like a deranged hummingbird.

You can see from the first layer, the infill doesn’t meet the outline (and I have the overlap set to 34%), I’m using the “Blobby” process, and it’s going to be a fail from the start.

Outline Fail First Layer Fail

Looking at the finished print with the tech designed process:

First Layer Fail

Yeah on the top is the primed perimeter that is still attached to the main body of the print. Retraction is a big issue, and yes, that’s an easy fix. Less easy to fix is the fact that the infill doesn’t hit the outline. And this is caused by either under extruding, or a speed that’s too fast.

Of course when the extrusion defaults to .9, yes, then that could be a possibility. Dumb. Da. Dumb. Dumb.

For the speed, it’s interesting to see that outlines are variable speed. The inner most outline is done wiki wiki. When S3D gets to the outer most it slows down to what is in the “process” setting. I saw no way to get it to do all the outlines at the same speed.

S3D also fails miserably on bridging. Look at the top and you’ll see the infill doesn’t work. It doesn’t touch the outlines. So you have to print a couple of layers to get it to bind.

Bridging Fail

Blobby retraction settings are abysmal. 1mm at 30mm/s is pathetic. The gold one is a Blobby setting, the red one is from Slic3r with my settings. Notice the head is attached to the fin. That’d be wrong.

Clear Slic3r Superior

Finally Refunded

After three days hounding them I finally got a refund. So to their credit, they stand behind their “if you aren’t happy within two weeks we’ll refund your purchase.” promise.

I’ve uninstalled the software, tossed it in the trash. I miss it about as much as a root canal.

My Thoughts

So, exactly who or what market is S3D aimed at? One look at their web site and this graphic should give you all the info you need to answer that question.

S3D Printers

Yep. Main stream Cartesian printers that, should they become any more plentiful, we’ll have to develop a spaying program for. For the delta crowd and out of the box thinkers, nah, not so much.

If you’ve spent time and learned the nuances of Slic3r and tweaked it (which really isn’t that hard either), I saw that S3D had one advantage in that it allowed you to place custom supports where you want them. You know, if you don’t want to run MeshMixer and do the same thing.

Granted S3D did slice anything I threw at it in a heart beat, but none of the GCODE it created resulted in a useful print. Which kind of negates the slicing speed.

Essentially the way it’s marketed it’s for the plug and play end user, who is so fed up or frustrated with other slicers that just about anything short of a Craigs List ad for their printer would be an improvement.

20131008 004953

Now I’m sure you’ve all seen a lot of examples of failed prints, and for me, I have a fair number of my own that I can contribute as well. But even with the simple mode set in Slic3r I was getting better results than anything S3D was able to generate.

Lastly the CNC tool paths aren’t optimized in S3D. It looks like it’s playing “Whack A Mole” on your design because it’s all over the place. More so than Slic3r and that really surprised me. If you ever want to see what an infill should fill like, head over to ANY tee shirt shop where they print custom crests/logos and watch an embroidery head lay down stitches. The software avoids filling back on itself, jumps (called jump stitches) are kept to a bare minimum because they have to be manually cut out when the design is done. And yes, embroidery designs are multi-layer. You lay thread on top of thread in many places.

My dream is that someday a programming in the 3D print world will be able to replicate what’s been going on in the embroidery industry for a couple of decades when it comes to optimization and fills. Until then, we will just do the best we can with what we have. For Delta printers, S3D sure makes Slic3r look great.