Should I monitor my 3D prints? (Operating your 3D printer unattended)
As with any machine tool that generates heat and movement for long periods of time, we believe that you should be actively monitoring your 3D printer. We put a caution statement on the front of our 3D printers: “DO NOT OPERATE EQUIPMENT UNATTENDED”
Fusion3 sells 3D large 3D printers so naturally, we understand that many customers will be printing parts for upwards of 20 to 40+ hours. It has been our experience that no 3D printer is infallible, regardless of their marketing language and for your safety, peace of mind, and best results, you should actively monitor the machinery while in use.
Some 3D printers are rated for ‘unattended operation’. We believe that this is certification is meaningless. For example, a customer relayed a story about their experience with a $150,000 industrial 3D printer, rated for ‘unattended operation’. They ran a part over a weekend. Early in the print, the vacuum table which holds the proprietary build surface in place failed and the part ended up sticking to the print head. The part ran for the entire weekend as material continued to extrude into a larger and larger ball. This ball slammed around the inside of the 3D printer destroying the internal motion control system and also shattered the glass door of the 3D printer. While this 3D printer was rated for ‘unattended operation’, the owners were left with a machine that was useless for a long period of time, waiting for over two weeks for the manufacturer to send a team on-site to evaluate the damage.
So how should you monitor any 3D printer while in operation?
1) Be present for the first 15 min to 1 hour, ensure print starts properly, and you experience good first layer adhesion.
2) Have the ability to check print every hour or two, someone checking in, or a remote camera system. Individuals, small businesses may want to purchase and subscribe to a 3rd party cloud camera system. Larger companies will likely already have a security camera system or own specifications for remote monitoring of devices.
3) Network connection to stop the printer in the event you are not satisfied with the state of the print. Perhaps a layer shift, print head jam or print comes off the bed. If you configure access to your Fusion3’s network connection, you can stop the printer via those means. Another method is to purchase an IoT power plug which would allow you if properly configured to shut down power to the 3D printer.
What adhesive should I use when operating my Fusion3 3D printer?
We recommend that our customers use ONLY Avery purple glue stick, applied directly to the glass print bed. We’ve tested many options and this is the best. It’s also readily available and inexpensive. Several tubes are included with your printer.
What are the steps to print my CAD file on the Fusion3 F410?
The workflow for printing with a F410 is very simple.
- Export your CAD file to your hard drive in .STL or .OBJ format
- Open that file using the supplied Simplify3D slicer software
- In Simplify3D, import your file and align it on the print bed to the optimal placement (usually to minimize the amount of support structures)
- In Simplify3D, select the F410 Printer Material Profile for the material you wish to print
- Select ‘Prepare to print’ and save the file to your hard drive
- Copy that file onto your F410, either onto the SD card or via web browser to the F410’s onboard storage
- Prepare the print bed with adhesive
- Load your filament into the printer
- From the printer control panel or web interface, start your print
What do I need to do to prepare the printer for each print?
You’ll occasionally check to ensure the bed is level, clean the bed using water and a paper towel and then apply adhesive to the heated print bed.
What’s the speed of the first layer and what does it speed up to after that?
The first layer is printed at 1/2 of the normal print speed. Note that the quality of the first layer is very important to the quality of the print. The first layer needs to adhere well to the print bed and be smooth and even. The slower speed ensures that this layer is good. After the first layer, the F410 will automatically speed up to the selected print speed.
What is the turnaround time from when a part finishes to starting the next print?
The turnaround time, assuming you are using the same filament spool, is 2-10 minutes depending on the material. For higher temperature materials, such as ABS, most of this time is for letting the bed to cool down so the parts self-release. If you need to change spools of filament, it takes another 5-7 minutes to unload the current roll of filament, heat the print head, load your new roll of filament and purge any remaining filament out of the system.