After owning a MakerBot Z18 3D Printer in Philadelphia for over one year, the machine is absolutely fantastic. As a designer, I have had to tear apart, fiddle, fuddle, and tinker with the machine to get to this point. But it’s been fun. The best part? 3D printing combines hardware, software, and a built element.
- Always make sure that the 3D Printer is on a solid, completely level floor surface. If it’s not, your machine will sway and throw off the build plate level which will dilute the accuracy of your print.
- Always unload the filament when you’re not printing for a long period of time. This will prevent filament jams within the extruder tip.
- When printing a large object over a long period of time, make sure to set your chamber temperature or build plate temperature settings to heat. We have found the typical chamber heat temperature to be 45 degrees Celsius.
- Hook up your printer to a LAN connection to get a live stream of your print from your MakerBot App. You will also be able to start and stop prints this way, as well as remotely unload and reload filament.
If you have a jam in an extruder and filament will not discharge from the head:
- Unload and reload the filament. Apply some pressure to the filament that is being fed into the extruder (not recommended by the folks at MakerBot, but has worked for us). This will force the jam out through the nozzle that is being heated to 215 degrees.
If your computer does not recognize your printer connection:
- Shut down everything. Sometimes the simplest things work the best. Restart the computer as well as the MakerBot, and the MakerBot software kinks should work right out
If long runs are warping and not sticking together when printing large scale objects:
- Use the MakerBot setting “splitlongmoves”. It will allow for the proper bond to each strand of filament by splitting long distance runs so that the filament doesn’t have time to cool too quickly.
- When the “old school” extruders were still being produced, we noticed that the filament feed was not direct enough to into the extruder. We hacked this by taking the top of the MakerBot off and building a custom application piece. I was able to print a spindle from Thingiverse that needs filament spools of 2 lbs. I mounted the printed spindle to an arm of 2×8 lumber strategically placed above the MakerBot. Although a pain sometimes to load, this allows for a tension free flow of filament to the extruder 100% of the time.
If you have any ingenious tips, tricks, or hacks for the Z18’s problems please share. Here are some of our latest 3D Prints: