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Ender 6 - First 3D Printer Learning Curve

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tangerine
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As the title suggests, I just bought an Ender 6 as my first 3D printer - I had intended to buy a CR-200B but the suppliers seem to be pushing the delivery date further out of reach so I dived into what feels like the deep end. I had to get a printer with some kind of enclosure because I have a cat - I hope that is self-explanatory.

Anyway, I wondered if somebody could give me there thoughts on two seemingly unrelated topics which are causing me conflict - bed levelling and adhesion.

I am having some slight bed levelling issues, I manually level the four corners with a piece of paper (every adjustment seems to throw off the other corners!) but when eventually get everything about right and I check the centre, the paper won't fit under the nozzle. This doesn't make any sense to me so I just compromise by lowering the corners slightly. Anyway, that pretty quickly got me into thinking about getting a BLtouch, which I have ordered and I having read various accounts of compatibility, I'll do my due diligence before I commit myself fully by installing it.

But having seen one in action on people's videos and trying to find a reliable method of adhesion, I wondered if anything adhesive on the print bed might interfere with the BLtouch, i.e. if the bed is sticky, won't the BLtouch probe stick to it, even if so slightly as to effect the measurement?

I'd also appreciate any adhesion tips. The PLA which came with the Ender 6 almost worked out of the box until about half way through printing 'mao' (I was expecting a communist leader but got half a cat). The filament I naively ordered at the time I ordered the printer is actually PLA-F so there have been quite a few spaghetti monsters. I have some adhesive spray on order but in the meantime, I tried PVA on the smooth side of the bed which works for one print but then peels off. I don't want to damage the original bed so I am thinking of buying a pice of glass that I don't mind messing up.

Anyway, nice to find a forum with an Ender 6 section which is actually working. I joined another forum and have been waiting a week to get my posts approved only to realise just now that the last post that anybody made was in December.


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Harkon
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This is my first printer too and I can share some of what I've experienced.

Re: bed levelling.

I had exactly the same experience so I had the corners a bit loose but still contacting the paper. Everything worked fine. I found the with PLA 210C nozzle and 60C bed worked best for me. The glass bed comes with something slick on it. The more I used it and washed it, the better it seems to work. Letting the bed cool before removing anything PLA has it almost loose, yet at temp still holds in place. Some filament brands are better than others. For those that don't like to stick, I add some glue stick. The Elmer's purple is what is generally recommended, but I have what was laying around and it seems to work fairly well. Once the bed gets to temp the glue isn't sticky anymore. I would recommend that you do your bed levelling everything at temperature. This is, after all, how it will be run.

Re: BLTouch

I added one and I really like it. Get the bed level manually and then run the automatic routine. I had to update the firmware. This was simply a matter of downloading the file, putting it on the root folder of the SD Card and re-starting the printer. Very easy to do. I personally like it. I fished the cable through the loom and it plugged right into the board by the extruder motor. On YouTube a guy installed his and he cut the cables to solder the correct connectors onto it. I didn't have to do that as the ends were all there, just that there were 2 female connectors had to connect. So I just used some small solid wire to fashion pins, long enough plug the 2 female ends together. Then a bit of electrical tape to keep them from disconnecting and everything works. Just make sure the wire colors match up.

I have added a few other things and am adding an all metal hot end soon so I can run ABS. I need to make some parts for my motorcycle and ABS will weld right to the plastic that is already there. I also have a small heater and controller coming and when I fashion a lid for the beast will be able to print ABS and nylon. The best investment so far is the OctoPi. With OctoEverywhere and a small camera, I can keep an eye on things without having to actually be in the same room, or the same location, for that matter. I just added a TP-Link Smart plug and using a plugin for OctoPrint, I can kill power to the printer, once my print is done. Again, I can do that from anywhere my phone works.

The wire loom and bowden tube, the way it flopped around had be concerned so I printed some better clamps for the hot end and fixed end that actually clamps down the corrugated wire loom material and the bowden tube at the hot end. I like it much better as there is no repetitive stress on the wires or the bowden tube.

Overall, I think the Ender 6 was the absolute best compromise in size, speed, cost and capability and do not regret the purchase. The cube frame with  the additional walls add a great deal of stability, the only thing missing is a proper lid.


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tangerine
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Nice to make actual contact with another Ender 6 3D printer novice - though you sound like you have a lot more experience/confidence than me. I have quite a bit of technical experience in other areas so I am pretty good at following instructions so long as they aren't from Ikea.

I'm trying not to bite off more than I can chew to start with - in my distant past with other interests I have overwhelmed myself with stuff so I learned to take things slowly. One step at a time.

I have very little experience with Raspberry Pi but I have one somebody gave me lying around somewhere so I have it in mind to try OctoPi.

So far, I have printed just the half a cat I mentioned and something I downloaded off Thingiverse but I am working on a small guitar related project which oughtn't be too challenging to print once the design is finished. My problem in that area is that I have thirty years experience using Adobe Illustrator and I haven't found any 3D software which behaves in the same way (Sketchup drives me crazy!) - though I think that Fusion 360 may be what I have been looking for - I just need to wade through the tutorials.

I am also thinking of how to close the top, mainly because of my cat but also if I ever use ABS to contain the fumes slightly but by then, I hope to have moved the printer to somewhere where the fumes would be less of a problem. I had the idea of creating something like a tent - my Mum used to have some kind of thing for putting over cakes to keep flies off which collapsed like an inverted umbrella. But last night, I thought that maybe something which projects upwards from the extruder corner (where the clearance is most critical) with three fingers fanning out to the other corners.

Anyway, I am quite happy with my purchase and glad that I didn't hang on waiting for the CR-200B. It was quite a bit more than I had hoped to pay but its 22kg was quite reassuring somehow when I assembled it and although it wasn't like building one from a kit, the assembly was quite instructive.


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tangerine
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@harkon By the way, did you crack the right acrylic seal (wall)? I watched a guy from Tesla Owners Online assemble an Ender 6 and he cracked his so I thought, I'll be EXTRA careful when I assemble mine and even put washers on all the screws to distribute the force but I cracked it in exactly the same place.

I guess it could be a small design flaw.


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tangerine
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I forgot to mention that I could not get the filament through the blank sensor. I contacted the supplier who gave me some vague advice about pushing a piece of filament through from the top to guide it through and by cutting the filament straight (rather than at 45º), and with a lot of fiddling and a moment of luck, I got it through and then trimmed it at 45º to pass it through the extruder.

However, after a few seconds of printing, the blank detector tripped. I hadn't realised what had happened as the message on the screen just said to change the filament which made me wonder why Creality had put a multicoloured sample requiring the filament to be changed on the SD card. I wasn't interested in the colour so I just press the button to continue and it happened again and again until I realised that the sensor was faulty. Maybe something was dislodged when I was trying to get the filament through but If I did, that seems like a bit of a design flaw too.

I disconnected the blank detector so that I can print and the supplier is sending a new one.


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Harkon
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@okulo

With ABS you will want to close in the top anyway, from what I understand, as it's best to keep an elevated enclosure temperature.

The Raspberry Pi isn't overly complicated, but you will need to make sure you have at least a model 3B. While it is possible to run without a heatsink and fan, I highly recommend running with a heat sink at least. And make sure you have a proper power supply. Pretty much anything labelled as a charger will not work. If you need help setting it up, let me know, I'll be happy to help out. There are really good instructions online regarding OctoPi. That is by far the easiest way to go.

No I did not crack any of the covers. It was something that concerned me as I was installing so I was careful from the start.

I had issues with threading the filament through the sensor to start with as well. It certainly is not how I would have designed it, but costs are reasonable and I assume the design is why. I do my best to straighten out the filament before I go to thread it through. My filament is almost always already cut at a 45. When it gets stuck, back it out just a very little bit and rotate it while feeling for it to thread through, as you wound if it were a screw. It works for me every time.

I haven't needed the filament sensor yet, but it has not failed me.


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tangerine
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I've been searching for my Raspberry Pi but can't find it so I can't even tell you which model it is but I have a feeling it might have been v2. Like I said, somebody gave it to me trying to enthuse me with it but I couldn't think of an application at the time.

I printed my first design today which came out pretty well - an attachment for a Planet Waves/D'Addario Micro Tuner to an American Fender Stratocaster without having to drill a hole or use a clip. I'll be uploading it to Thingiverse as soon as I get to my other Mac.

I took the filament sensor apart to see how it works and it is a very simple device which should be foolproof but having seen how it works should make feeding the filament through a bit easier.

As for adhesion, I have been 'painting' a very thin coat of PVA/water mix as the bed is heating up - it's dry by the time the print starts but I have to do it every time as it peels off with the print.


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Harkon
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@okulo

The PVA and the glue stick have the same principle. Tell me, I assume you are printing PLA. What nozzle and bed temp are you printing at, and what sort of environment is the printer in. Airy or in a closed room. Air flow across the bed will make adhesion tougher.

Also, some filament is better than others. I'm not sure why that is, but the worst for me, so far, has been white (kind of a matte finish, and battleship gray. Mostly I don't need anything on the bed. For the white I print the first layer at 80C and later layers at 70C. I haven't tried that yet on the gray, and most every other PLA gets printed at a bed temp of 60C.

I have heard that a layer blue painters tape works well too, but you will have to make sure you allow for the extra thickness with the Z-Offset. The BL-Touch makes that soooo much easier.


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tangerine
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I ordered some glue stick but I want to avoid using it as I anticipate that it will be a bit messy - I used to have to use it many years ago to do page layout at a company which was too tight to pay for a DTP package and I hate the stuff. When I dilute the PVA about 5:1 with water, it is very watery (obviously) and I can apply it thinly and evenly with a broad paint brush.

To be honest, I didn't know what I was ordering and having just blown all my pocket money on the printer, I was highly influenced by price and got PLA-F with a recommended print temperature of 210-230ºC and bed temperature of 60-80ºC - I've been printing successfully at 220/65º but there are fine ridges which I'd like to minimise. I've only really printed small stuff so far and have used a brim for that reason. The room is an office, basically, with a radiator and it is quite warm.

I tried blue painters tape and I might as well have used plumber's teflon tape. I'm kind of glad it didn't work for the amount of extra messing about it would have caused - the PVA is working a treat.

The enclosed photo was shot in very low light and the artefacts are in the photo not the print.

 


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Harkon
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@okulo

The glue stick is easy enough to remove, just take the plate to the sink and wash it with water and a rag. Comes right off, but I love your PVA idea. I must try it. Tell me, is it just carpenter's glue you use, or is it something special?

I got tired of the bowden tube flopping around so I built a bit of a re-enforcement. This seems to keep the tube from moving in the extruder fitting and it keeps it from catching the blue corner piece. Not that it was causing a problem, but it was annoying to watch.

 


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Harkon
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I also made some clamps to keep the wire loom from flopping around. Those were my first project after printing the kitty and the bunny. You can see the clamps at the hot end and the frame.

 


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tangerine
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@harkon I was more concerned about getting a nice even coat of glue and I have found that difficult with glue sticks - I always get lumps. The PVA I use is the cheapest craft glue I bought to try transferring photos onto guitar bodies a couple of years ago. Though it is probably basically the same, it's much cheaper than branded wood glue.

Did your tube not fit in the clamps supplied with the printer? I thought I understood the instructions said to push it into the clamps - it was very tight but I managed. Do your things work well? Have you uploaded them anywhere?

By the way, this is the clip I mentioned:

https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4772512


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Harkon
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@okulo

Just got my Swiss Micro hot end today and am trying to print PETG. The stuff I got from Amazon doesn't stick very well, but I finally figured it out, I think. I have been having less and less success with glue stick altogether. I even went out and bought the much touted Elmer's Purple to no great effect. I am finding that proper head gap and a hot enough bed does the trick for me. The really big thing is keeping the bed plate clean. I wash with soap and water and that really seems to do the trick.

 

It's a bit of a victory every time you get a good print, isn't it?


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tangerine
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@harkon

I felt a bit desperate when nothing was sticking at the beginning so I bought some Elmer's (which I'd never heard of before and though I'd have to research for a UK equivalent) and some 3DLAC spray (also never heard of before) off eBay. I was a bit impatient waiting for the delivery so I tried the PVA which worked well and I have got into the routine of bed-levelling, start the print then gently paint on a thin coat of very diluted PVA which dries very quickly once the bed reaches about 50º. I use a 1.5" (4cm) paintbrush and I just cover the approximate area where the print will be and the strip at the side where the printer prints a line - I presume that this is to prime the nozzle and it gives an idea whether the print will fail when the head moves to the centre because if it drags the line behind it, you might as well cancel it before it starts.

When I'm applying the diluted PVA, I keep stroking the brush so that the stuff doesn't dry in pools. My late Dad taught me that if you want a perfect mirror paint finish, to paint alternate coats at 90º to each other otherwise the brush strokes just get more and more exaggerated - so I apply this technique as the bed is heating up. There isn't much else to do whilst you are waiting anyway and it kills a bit of time!

When you lift the print, it will take the film of PVA from the bed which is why it need doing for every print.

So far, I have not had a single print become detached and have virtually abandoned using brims and rafts - they are too much of a nuisance to remove - that octopus I posted a photo of was a nightmare.

Hopefully, I will find some other uses for the Elmer's and 3DLAC but the cheapest option seems to be the best.

Now I have to work on the Cura settings to get the best quality prints. I'd like to be able to get smoother sides and tops.


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Harkon
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@okulo

Thanks a ton for the info. At the moment I don't have any issues as long as I keep the bed washed. That is remove it and wash thoroughly with soap and water, and rise all of the soap off. This has, so far, provided the best results for me so far. That said, it's great to have an idea to fall back on, just in case.

I've been having less and less success with glue stick. I don't know why either. It seems the PLA doesn't want to stick to it. I did my firs good sized print with PETG on the weekend and it turned out not too bad, but the PETG I got would not stick to the glue stick at all. Only to the clean bed. Everything else was a bust.


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