First days with the Wanhao Duplicator 4 3D printer

I started off printing the supplied .x3g PLA file of the butterfly, and was delighted to find it printed perfectly. The only issue was the removal of the raft requiring a lot of finishing using a wet stone and sand paper to remove all the raft strands. I went to bed with great optimism for the printing of my own design the following morning.

The print of the cookie cutter was in PLA.  The printer was set to the default settings.  Issues occurred not far into the print. I printed onto the print bed covered in Kapton tape. The cutter had a 2mm chamfer around the grip edge that did not print well so distorting.  Also, some areas on the top where not filled in with correctly, with visible gaps on the base.  The printer unwantedly filled in an internal area of the cutter. I put this down to the fact it was drawn in surfacing based CAD software, wherein I had removed said, yet the G-code still generated them as layers  (This was rectified at a later date when I redrew the cutter in I a different solids based CAD software)

Next I attempted to print a scaled down 200/1 size ornate metal gate I had drawn in CAD (and can currently be seen in Hollingdean rd. Brighton.)  I attempted the print this in ABS on the default setting.  The print was a huge failure. Totally distorted. The plastic bent and warped and unset strands got dragged around clogging up print head. This was again down to incorrect default heat settings of the extruder and build plate as well as a non-ideal print bed surface. The item finally became pulled away from the print bed and the print cancelled.

So far not so good! I therefor decided to try printing the gate using PLA. The print completed but was very thin and clearly did not utilise any ware near enough layers (the print time was less than 30mins and had a raft) so I decided to thicken the gate to 50mm and reprint in PLA using the default settings. The gate printed resembled the real thing but was warped with disconnecting threads and gaps.

I came to see that that the settings for the pre supplied PLA butterfly utilised 20 degrees lower heat settings for the extruder, but in particular for the build plate (printing at 60C rather than the default of 100C) And I suspected this could have resulted in the distortion of the PLA print. Day one was a fast learning curve indeed!

The following morning, just to complicated things further, I decided to revert back to attempting to use the ABS filament by printing the pre supplied ABS .x3g file of the butterfly. I had found the previous day that it was hard to calibrate the bed to be evenly flat as the bed itself is not level, being lower in the centre than the edges. Wanhao have commented on this in there setup YouTube video and so supplied a glass plate for the bed. So, I attached this and attempted the print. The print detached so after the raft was set.  I added the supplied masking tape and attempted the print again.

The print held in place, mostly. During the print the raft lifted on the corners, distorting the edges of the wings. I suspect adding the glass plate and masking tape would require an increase in the bed temperature settings. I decided to continue the print to see the outcome. But then the filament tanged and stopped extruding. So I cancelled the print. It did leave me with an interesting half complete print where the infill is visible and the corners have an interesting distortion error.

This all sounds like a disaster, but it was not. Weeks later (now) prints have been of great success. (Please see further posts for the result, findings and settings).  So why Blog about this first week of rookie antics?  I want to show, in particular to new users, how 3D printing is a new technology with little support from the printer manufactures. We are still the early adopters, if not first leaders, of desktop 3D printing and we are all muddling through it. After all, things got better when I lowered the bed temp setting for the PLA to 70C and reprinted the cookie cutter. Yet I only found this out by looking through online articles.

Its key that that coming to grips with the printing software supplied (Replicator G) does mean more than just getting to grips with Print-o-matic . Understanding Skeinforge it a must.  For a start Print-o-matic does not allow the user to alter the build plate setting, which is a must) and a really weird they would leave this out.)  Also, I have found that Skeinforge crashed when generating G-codes if you tick the temperate box, which is a most critical factor! You therefor must go into the code and change the temperature manually.

I asked Wanhao for the g-code settings for the supplied test .x3g files thinking this was a good place to draw comparisons. They could not find the setting but put me into contact with ‘Print 3D’ who suggested the following temp settings from printing. This has worked well for PLA prints. I have yet to try the ABS:

Print 3D recommendations:

Generally for Printing the following settings are recommended:

ABS – Build Plate – 110 – 130   Extruder -230

PLA – Build Plate – 60                   Extruder -220

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See ya hear again soon!