As I arrived home for lunch, I saw the UPS truck driving away down the street, and sure enough my printer had arrived.
Since so many people are waiting so eagerly for this printer, I thought I would shoot a short unboxing video.
There are some little improvements over the Gen 1 Solidoodle that I like. The extruder has an opening behind the gear that pulls the filament through. If the filament gets jammed, the gear often scrapes against it which creates plastic dust that must be cleaned out. Doing this properly required taking the acrylic off of the motor to really get at the gear. Now there is an access big enough to get a toothbrush into.
When printing with PLA, heat in the extruder can be a problem. PLA softens at fairly low temperatures, before it actually melts. The combination of heat coming up from the nozzle and heat from the motor can cause PLA to soften enough that it gets squished under the gear rather than pushed down through the nozzle. I could never print PLA reliably on the Gen 1 until I mounted a fan on top of the motor. I’m glad the Gen 2 has a fan because those people who opted for a base model with the acrylic platform will probably find that PLA is their material of choice.
Solidoodle doesn’t have official settings for PLA, and it has some challenges due to the way it melts compared to ABS, but I will be working on improving the quality of my PLA prints.
This is the Z endstop. Before starting a print, the bed will rise up, and then stop when the switch bumps against the screw. The distance between the platform and the nozzle is very important. If the nozzle is too high, the plastic won’t stick, and if it’s too low the first layer gets too squished. If you have an acrylic bed and the plastic is squished into it too hard, it can be nearly impossible to scrape off.
The distance often needs to be tweaked one way or the other, and with some printers that means changing a value in the gcode, saving, loading, and trying again. With the Solidoodle, you need only to stop the print, turn the screw up or down, and start it again.
Here are a few more closeups of the printer. One more thing I like is that the Y carriage is designed in such a way that if the Y rods get a little misaligned, it won’t jam the printer. The Gen 1 was over constrained with a pair of bushings on both sides, which caused my printer’s downfall when the Y rods apparently shifted relative to each other. On the Gen 2, the left Y rod maintains alignment with the brass bushings, while the right Y rod provides support with a little wiggle room.