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Pi Wars 2019 Part 4 – Another Tool For The Arsenal

Whilst developing my Robot, I have hit various snags and limitations with my 3D printer, with its smaller build plate, and limit to Brand PLA filament. I have been thinking about getting an upgrade for some time, however during my usual daily browse of Facebook and an advert caught me by surprise. Aldi, were selling a 3D printer!

I’m used to picking up some groceries from Aldi, however a 3D printer did seem a little extreme for the weekly groceries! I sat down and read various reviews and  write ups. It’s all very confusing, as there seems to be loads of differant brands for the same printer, however it seems to stem down to being a re-branded Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus. After watching countless review videos, I decided to bit the bullet and pick myself one up.

It arrived within a week and was very easy to setup. There were a couple of issues with the Z  Axis being a little out on one side, but a quick adjustment and several bed adjustments later, it seemed to be printing perfect prints. My main gripe with my other printer (XYZ Davinci Jr) was the fact that you can only use their own brand filament, unless you want to mod the printer and install custom firmware, something I wasn’t too keen on. Because of this, I ordered a range of different materials in the hope I could find an alternative to laser cutting my chassis, a big cost saver as I would be able to do it in-house rather than externally.

I was initially drawn to ABS. Reading various sources, it seemed to have greater strength and rigidity to standard PLA. I spent a good 6 hours trying to profile the material, in the aim of getting a perfect first layer, however after countless attempts trying various techniques such as using hairspray and glue on the build plate, I was unable to get that perfect first layer. I turned to the lovely community of twitter to try and help me get to the bottom of the problem.


The general consensus seemed to be that it wasn’t worth messing around with ABS, so I did just that and ordered myself a reel of SUNLU PLA+ filament in space grey. A sort of hybrid between ABS, with increased strength. After a couple of runs trying to profile it, I finally seemed to get the perfect first layer, and let it print a top part of the chassis. All seemed to be going well until I noticed the extruder was progressing further up the Z axis, but the model wasn’t. The extruder was jammed.

I was a bit lost at this point. Because my other printer was designed at the entry level audience, I have had very limited experience with trouble shooting failures, however after googling and reading various articles, I started by using a 0.4mm rod to try and clean the nozzle. This didn’t seem to work, so I then followed a guide on how to assemble and dis-assemble the extruder. Doing this ended up to be fairly simple, removing 2 bolts enabled the fan, heat sink and stepper motor to become separated, which game be access to the entry to the heat element. It was quite obvious at that point to see what had happened…

The cause of this seemed to be a heat issue, so I increased the extruder temperature by 10° to try and fix the issue.

I set the print gong again from scratch, and after a nerve wracking 8 hours, the build had finished to what  I thought was a very good standard.

The final settings I used were:

  • Bed temperature – 60°c
  • Extruder Temperature = 215°c
  • Initial layer speed 30mm/s
  • Print speed 60mm/s

I used the same settings to print the bottom chassis part and after assembly finally decommissioned the cardboard chassis although I have to give it credit, it had done very well and lasted longer than I ever though it would!

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