Category

Software Updates

AutoMaker 2.01.03 release and TechABS

By | Chris Elsworthy Design Blog, Design, News, Software Updates | 6 Comments

Hi Robox Users,

We’ve got some new features in AutoMaker to let you know about which are around making results match expectation and warning users when Robox cant continue. We’ve also release a new formula of ABS which is making it the material of choice for me right now.

AutoMaker Improvements

  • SurePrint enhancements
    • Off-bed model checks occur at project load time
    • Prints cannot be started if a model is off-bed
    • PLA is ejected if not required during a print with high bed temperatures
    • Bed temperature is lowered to PLA levels and raft is enabled if PLA and a different material are in use simultaneously
    • Improved post-processor and slicer failure indications

In previous versions the post processor was responsible for checking the sliced model to ensure that head movements were not beyond the ability of Robox, we now check the model before it is sliced to ensure it fits inside the build volume and thus wont generate moves that can’t be performed.

We’ve seen a few Dual Material users printing with PLA and and another materials that need higher temperatures at the same time, this has the potential to cause problems.  If the PLA filament gets too hot before it reaches the head it can jam the system, to overcome this and still allow these two materials to be printed together we’ve introduced some automated systems. Firstly, if the PLA was loaded but not used in the print we simply eject it just before the print to ensure it out of the build environment. If PLA is used for the build alongside another hotter material then AutoMaker now uses the PLA target temperature for both the bed and ambient, to ensure that the model sticks to the bed raft is automatically switched on.

AutoMaker check that the combination of the raft thickness and the models height to ensure it still fits into the build volume.

There are a number of checks that the post process does to the sliced model before allowing the print to start, if the print cant continue we now let the user know why whenever possible. This includes when the print exceeds the build volume due to switching on features like spiral printing and brim.

Without taking away options from users we hope that the above features will enable more prints to be successful and less chance of jamming or damaging your Robox.

Since the last release we noticed a few small issues which have also been addressed in this release;

  • Fixed macro selection issue – DM macro incorrectly selected in some situations when SM head mounted on dual-extruder printer.
  • Settings for Support, Raft, Brim now fit on the screen correctly
  • Bed axes move correctly when AutoMaker is resized
  • Calibration improvement – prevents apparent leak of nozzle when starting nozzle open calibration (only experienced by a minority of customers)
New materials – techABS
I’m very excited about this! ABS is the material of choice for many design engineers, its mechanical properties are well rounded and can have a mirror polish, it accepts a wide range of glues and paints as well as sanding and cutting nicely. Its a bit more difficult to print perfectly and warping and shrinkage have been a cause of pain on may prints. This new formula goes a good way to fix this, it prints at a slightly lower temperature and requires a cooler bed to stick down. A lower shrink rate along with these other properties means that parts print reliably, have good mechanical dimensions and have a beautiful surface finish.

Automaker 2.01.02 – New Feature! – Support Material Gap

By | AutoMakerNewsflash, Design, Materials, News, Software Updates | 6 Comments

As we start to key up CEL and Robox for dual material printing we have introduced a lot of new concepts. Most of our users will have seen some of these multi-material features creeping into AutoMaker over the most recent few releases. Today we’ve added another new feature with AutoMaker 2.01.02 Download here.

We think that one of the most useful features of multi-material printing is the ability to use one material for your part and the other as support structure. This means with the correct choice of material, support can be greatly improved. One of the Materials we been testing is PolyMaker’s PolySupport, we’ve found it to print well in a wide range of temperatures and have consistent structural and functional properties. PolySupport is designed to be a support material for PLA and we found that although its a PLA based material it delaminates easily from PLA and other materials making it very easy to remove. It has elastic and flexible properties which mean its a joy to peel from your model, infinitely easier than using any other Peel-able support material we’ve tested, in-fact its so good we’ve added a this new support gap option.

To further improve the support that an easily peel-able material can give your part we can remove the gap between the top and bottom surface, this gap was necessary when you needed to break-away support structures of the same material. We semi-automated this option, when AutoMaker sees that you are using a different material for support than the one chosen for your parts it will automatically deselect this option.

Support Gap OptionI hear some of you say “Why peel-able, why not focus on dissolvable support?”, well, we thought the same when we started to print with multiple materials but quickly discovered that dissolvable material solutions are messy, take a long time and are often difficult to process and store. Peel-able support can often be removed in a few minutes, where dissolvable support material can take hours if not days to disappear and often require some peeling as well. One thing you might have read about on the internet is the use of limonene to dissolve HIPS away from ABS prints, this is not a reality, after only a few tests we found that limonene does dissolve HIPS, but it also damages the ABS beyond usefulness. The other thing is that unless you LOVE the smell of oranges you quickly grow tired of all your parts, the office, your finger and pretty much everything you own having that pungent smell. Don’t misunderstand me, dissolvable materials will have their place, but for a large majority of support applications we feel easy peel-able is the way forward right now.

We’ve also exposed some of the controls around the generation of support structure to you so that you can tune your profiles to get more perfect parts.

Support Gap Options Profile

 

Version 2.01.02

  • Autoupdate now uses port 80 rather than port 8001
  • Added Support Gap function
    • This controls the vertical distance between the support material and model material which affects how easily support material can be removed
    • Disabled automatically if support material is different to model material (useful when using specialised peel-off support material)
    • Horizontal (Support XY Distance) and vertical (Support Z Distance) offsets are configured in the Print Profiles page
    • If Support Gap is enabled the system will introduce a vertical gap between support and model material
    • If Support Gap is disabled there will be no gap between support and model material
  • Improved filament saver function for dual material printing (automatic heater control during prints)
  • Grouped advanced mode controls onto an Advanced Mode menu on the Preferences page
  • Automatic selection of correct head type on profile page
  • Modified status display to make use of Material 1 and Material 2 clearer

When AutoMaker updates are available your system will usually find and offer an update automatically. If you are behind a firewall or some other system which prevents this, please visit www.cel-robox.com/downloads/ and download the most recent AutoMaker package.

AutoMaker sometimes needs to update the firmware on your printer. Please allow the firmware to update as requested by AutoMaker. If you do not allow the firmware update to take place, AutoMaker may not be able to communicate with your printer.

IMPORTANT NOTE: a firmware update will power cycle your printer so ensure no operations such as a print or calibration are running at the time of the firmware update.

Spiral Printing on Robox

By | Chris Elsworthy Design Blog, Design, Printables, Software Updates, Stuff and Things | 4 Comments

If you’ve downloaded the latest version of AutoMaker then you may have noticed that we’ve activated Spiral Printing for you to play with. Robox is particularly good at spiral printing as it offers the highest ranges of wall thickness without having to remove and replace the nozzle.

Below is a quick guide on how to best use this new feature.
There are a number of things that you should be aware of when trying this feature.

  1. Only place one object on the bed at any time.
    Because of the nature of spiral printing the flow of material from the nozzles does not stop and start. Placing more than one object on the bed means that the models would be impossible to print in one continuous extrusion.
  2. Ensure that your print has only one continuous island from bottom to top.
    This is for the same reason – multiple islands on any layer means that the flow of material has to stop and start. Spiral printing is designed to avoid this.
  3. Consider how thick you want the base to be
    This is one of the few controls Automaker has for spiral printing, the number of layers you choose and the layer thickness will equate to your base thickness before spiral printing starts. The first layer is always 0.3mm and as a guide I would ensure that this is the minimum filament width to ensure good adhesion to the bed. The sequence layers heights are controlled by, yes you’ve guessed it, ‘layer height’. So for example if you’ve chosen a layer height of 0.2mm and 5 base layers your spiral print with have a 1.1mm thick base. (0.3mm + (4 x 0.2mm))
  4. Think about what wall thickness you want
    After the base of your part is completed the system moves to the spiral printed section, continuously moving up as it orbits the perimeter of your design laying down a single line of filament. The wall thickness is controlled by the perimeter width and because its only going to be done in one pass you may want to increase it and use the larger 0.8mm nozzle to create wall thickness of up to 1.2mm. As a guide I’ve found that the ratio between layer height and wall thickness should be between 2:1 – 5:1, the thicker the wall and the smaller the layer height the more likely overhangs will be printed perfectly.
  5. The part must be solid, not hollowed out with a wall thickness
    Because we are using ‘Solid layers at Bottom’ and perimeter thickness to control the thickness of your part the part needs to be a solid to start with. If you want an inner and outer shell, and don’t mind a hollow centre you can use an idea I had when designing the is thermal mug: add a very thin cut down through the part to make each layer a single perimeter again. On the photo below, you can see that the sequence of printing is outside surface of the bowl -> half the handle -> inside surface of the bowl -> half the handle -> outside surface of the bowl… and so on…Thermal MugSpiral Mug Section Small
    6 . Your design is less than 99mm tall
    Robox has a 100mm Z-build height, but because of the way Cura adds the Z move to every move on the layer sometimes the sliced part will come out slightly above 100mm. The post processor will throw this out as impossible print, so to avoid this scale your part to ensure it is less than 99mm high.

Robox_spiral_cup_iso

You can download the cup above from this link. robox_spiral_mug.stl

Robox_spiral_lee_hand

Or the Vase with Support engineer Lee’s face on it by clicking the image above. LeeVase_Mk2.stl

AutoMaker update – 2.01.01

By | News, Software Updates | No Comments

We’re pleased to announce that AutoMaker 2.01.01 is now available – this release should not only improve prints but also addresses some of the issues users have raised.

We do read all of your posts and look to include as many changes and fixes as we can. We’re guided by our customers so please keep your comments coming! AM 2.01.01 Forum

The main changes in this release are a completely revised estimated print time calculator – it is now (usually!) just a few minutes out for prints that take many hours, but do let us know if you find a model that gives you incorrect results.

The post-processor has been modified to improve small-section print quality. This improves the overall appearance of the majority of prints and we’re really pleased with the results we’re seeing.

We’ve also added the ability to create spiral prints and improved the support for multiple printers and removed the message telling you that AutoMaker is up-to-date.

The firmware now allows you to resume a print from an error state when you’re not connected to AutoMaker – pressing the flashing red eject button will attempt to resume the print. Connecting to a computer will help you diagnose a problem and may still be necessary in some circumstances.

We’re going to be working on lots of exciting changes over the coming weeks – but a couple of highlights are:

Beta tools – we’ll be introducing open Beta downloads so that anyone who is interested can try out early version of major features. The first of these will be the Robox Root, which will allow users to use their desktop AutoMaker to access and control printers connected to another device on the LAN (e.g. a Raspberry Pi).

Language updates – we’re very aware that the language packs are out of date and we’ll be working with our partners to consolidate languages over the coming weeks.

The QuickFill comeback

By | Design, Software Updates | 4 Comments

QuickFill is currently one of the most underutilized features of the Robox. The idea is that the Fine nozzle prints perfect perimeters, whilst the unseen infill is printed fast using the larger fill nozzle. The original Robox single material head has been designed entirely around this idea, with the ability to quickly switch between the fine and fill nozzles, both being fed the same material from the same extruder.

2 owl

Why was QuickFill removed from the default settings?

The simple answer is that we were not happy with the quality of output from the Robox when QuickFill was enabled. Artifacts being left after the fill nozzle closed meant that the parts didn’t look particularly good at all. It’s always been possible to create a custom QuickFill profile, but we don’t want to create a default that locks people into rubbish prints! With recent changes to the post processor, improved control over the needle valves, and a little bit of Maths thrown in for good measure, we’ve improved print quality and subsequently made QuickFill a viable tool once again.

quickfill

What are the benefits of QuickFill?

QuickFill can speed up a print without sacrificing quality. If we use Slic3r to create parts, we can utilize a feature called ‘infill every # layers’. This allows for us to only print infill on a specified layer, in most cases, this is every third layer. The amount of time saved can depend entirely on the size of the part, a 25mm (1 inch) cube will take approximately 2hours and 20 minutes using the fine (100 micron) profile and 1 hours 50 minutes using a QuickFill profile combination of fine (100 micron) perimeters with fill nozzle infill every 3 layers. When printing something slightly larger, and more complex, QuickFill really comes into its own. The owl pictured below takes approximately 12 hours and 10 minutes, using the QuickFill profile combination of fine (100 micron) perimeters with fill nozzle infill every 3 layers, the owl only takes 5 hours and 10 minutes!

1 owl

When will I be able to select Quickfill in Automaker? Will it replace the default profiles?

We’re hoping to release the QuickFill profiles in an upcoming version of Automaker. We don’t intend to replace the default normal and fine profiles, instead we want to implement a Quickfill on/off slider, much like the Raft and support selections to provide options to those who want them. If you want to help us test our current QuickFill profiles, or you want to create your own, head over to our QuickFill Community Testing page on our forums here.

Dual material Robox upgrades are close

By | Chris Elsworthy Design Blog, Design, Materials, News, Prototype Build, Software Updates | 28 Comments

It has been a little while since we last updated you on where we are with the dual material head, but I hope we can be forgiven for the lack of communication – especially as the real reason for this is that the entire CEL team have had their heads down testing the latest prototypes for faults, fact finding, and future proofing.

But we feel an update now is timely, as we are getting so close to being able to launch the new head to market; we really are almost at the end of what feels like a very long development journey.

RBX01-EX_2_EXTRUDERS_side

Software Update

RBX01-EX_2_EXTRUDERSSoftware is the biggest challenge as there really isn’t a good dual material system on the market to use as a template and both the slice engines we currently use aren’t able to deal with dual material prints in a consistent manner. This means we essentially had to start from scratch creating innovative software for this particular hardware development.

Before we get deep into the dual material system progress it’s worth mentioning what we’ve done to the software in preparation for this momentous task.

For the release of AutoMaker 1.02 we spent a good amount of time restructuring and developing the post processor.  We gained a much better understanding of where and how to open and close the needle valves, how to integrate the material the needle ejected into the model and how this is going to affect dual material printing.

For the upcoming version of AutoMaker we’ve actually recoded the post processor from scratch, our new level of understanding was restricted by our previous work. This updated thinking has gone into the current version of AutoMaker and is the backbone of dual-material capable AutoMaker version 2.

 

Right back to dual material and where we are now….

There are a lot of new requirements needed to take a multitude of models and turn them into a multi material print. We wanted the ability to take a 3D model, break it into individual parts and Dual Material AutoMakerallow the user to easily select which part was going to be assigned to which material.

Because most models which require multiple materials will need two or more separate parts, we wanted to add Group/Ungroup and model splitting. The Group/Ungroup and model splitting all have to be combined with the original transform functions so that we keep the parts’ relative position.

Dual Material AutoMaker bAfter we started to look closely at the model files  AutoMaker was expected to handle we found a very high percentage had imperfections – not normally a problem as the slice engines do some simple repair work – but a bigger problem if you’re trying to bisect the data and then add back in the missing vertexes, polylines and faces. We’ve not fully finished this aspect of the software and currently only warn users of the imperfection in the models that may cause problems later.

We now have a software tool that allows us to perform all of the above functions and it’s helping us finish the development of all the hardware.

The development of the software will continue up to and beyond the date you receive your new hardware, but for the first version of AutoMaker which is capable of doing dual material prints we have tried to keep the functionality to a minimum so that we can ensure stability.

 

RBX01-R2_adding_reel

Hardware Update

After a few false starts we’ve now got working dual material heads and an innovative second reel holder complete with reader. We are also taking a very close look at the management of the Bowden tubes and cables between the x-carriage and chassis.

RBX01-R2_LOADING_REEL

We were worried that the differing flexibility in filaments would affect the homing accuracy and thus distort the mapping of the bed giving poor first layers. We’ve made a fancy new cable chain to take the data and power cable and slightly constrained the Bowden tubes which now both reference the X-rails rather than the carriage.. (sorry if this is too geeky), basically we have more stuff to help improve probing and tidiness.

Another thing that only the people in the know would notice is that we have added a USB socket into the build chamber. It’s been there from the beginning – hidden away in the centre of the reel – but we’ve never got round to exposing it. We thought as we were designing a new PCB for the dual reel holder we would add the missing plug so you can start playing with it too.

The needle valve system has been extremely important in the quality of printing that Robox can achieve when talking about single material prints, removing all the stringing from one island to the next. When you use this innovative system with a dual material head it starts to become even more impressive.

All the dual material prints we’ve seen from other manufacturers have to include some sort of wipe tower, ooze screen, long cool down / heat up period, or purge sequence. None of this is necessary if your print head can stop the flow of material at its nozzle tip like the Robox can. Our very first print from the new system was one of the best we’ve seen. So now we’ve worked out how the system works, we’ve got working samples, and we are producing great print results.RBX01-DM_2HEADS_1OPEN

The final step is to ensure that all materials will flow through the new hardware smoothly, tidy-up the interface and test, test, test… I can’t tell you how big a chunk of work this last section is. We need to try every single combination of user input and output and not just once, on one machine. This needs hundreds of times on many printers by many different people to ensure that all the logic we’ve put into the software and hardware doesn’t crumble when given to a user who hasn’t been involved in the development.  With this in mind we’re now at the stage where we’re asking some of our customers who have placed pre-orders to beta test the first batch of hardware from the final production line.

So all in all, we’re really, really close.  If it sounds like we’re no further forward than last time – bearing in mind we finished our last update by saying we were “testing, testing, testing” – please be assured we are.  But after testing comes tweaking, and then more testing!

RBX01-DM_side_&USB_internal

RBX01-R2

So the final date is……???

We can’t say for sure, at the moment things are looking great and we hope to be able to launch the dual material head end of November, as per our last post.  If not then, early December.  But to reiterate the sentiments we made last time, we will only release the head if we’re confident it’s going to produce excellent results for everyone.

 

And lastly….

THANK YOU once again for your unwavering support, stick with us, as in just a couple of months the Robox 3D printer will make its mark as something completely different from anything else out there on the market – and we want you there with us to enjoy the ride.

RBX01-DM_internal_&cablechain

Oh you want a picture of a dual material print? Well….here is a sample of what we have to come.

dualmaterialprint_spiral_cone

AutoMaker 1.01.03 – out now!

By | Software Updates | No Comments

We’re pleased to announce that AutoMaker 1.01.03 is now ready for release.

This version adds the following key features and fixes a number of minor bugs.

The release includes an update to v721 of the firmware which includes…

  • Beta feature – double-tap the eject button to reprint the last job with a computer attached. We’re still working on this one…
  • Change in default steps per unit to improve part accuracy
  • Improvement in auto-levelling for long extrusions

AutoMaker updates…

  • Load Robox project files (from your CEL Robox/Projects directory) by dragging and dropping files onto the layout screen
  • Print job / firmware transfer speeds significantly increased
  • Resume failed data transfer added (allows unplug/replug during transfer)
  • Auto-display scale added for displays less than 800 pixels high
  • Fixed an issue when filament slip is detected during purge – options were switched over
  • STL load optimised
  • Language files updated for German, Finnish, Swedish, Japanese, Russian, Korean and Traditional Chinese – added Spanish
  • Added drag and drop for Robox project files
  • Fixed minor issues on About page – added copy buttons for serial numbers
  • Allow 1 decimal place for scaling operations
  • Fixed issue where print status disappears when filament is ejected and reloaded during a print

Safety Feature Control

You can now choose whether AutoMaker will insist on the door being closed before prints and cool down before opening the door.

Advanced Mode

One of the major changes in this release is the segregation of certain features into an advanced mode that must be enabled through the preferences panel.

When we first released AutoMaker many of the advanced functions were necessary to allow people to experiment with the printer. Robox and AutoMaker have evolved so that many people never need these features. In addition, users who aren’t aware of the consequences of making extreme changes to detailed configuration can shorten the life of some of the printer components inadvertently.

We believe we offer a market leading warranty and that continually improving the reliability of our product is essential. We also want a wide range of users to enjoy using their printer as we develop and grow the available functions that Robox provides.

Advanced mode allows experienced users to adjust settings and use custom filaments just as they could in previous versions. All we ask is that customers using advanced options read and accept our warranty terms and conditions.

That’s not to say we don’t want to allow people to access these controls – more that they aren’t needed by many users and shouldn’t be the first things they see.

So in summary – the warranty warning is really a ‘don’t abuse your machine’ kind of statement. Just like the kind of warranty statement you’d get with most products. We’ll always honour warranties where there is a manufacturing defect or where components fail in normal use.

That’s about it for 1.01.03. Your version of AutoMaker should automatically update, but here’s a link to the download page just in case: http://www.cel-robox.com/downloads

We’re already working on the next release which includes features like raft controls, independent scaling and rotation of models and a time/cost display, so expect more updates over the next few weeks.

Enjoy!

Ian