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My first 3D print

Page history last edited by MikeJ 7 years, 6 months ago

 

This is a step-by-step walk-through of making your first 3D print with the B9Creator.

If we've missed anything, this is a wiki... fix it!

 

Assumptions

You have an assembled B9Creator.

You have a clean workspace.

You have a computer with dual monitor outputs or a splitter

 

You have viewed the information and videos on the website's "Getting Started" page

 

Materials

You should have the following things handy. If you don't, you can fake it, but it'll be messy.

If you don't have something, there are links to where you can buy it.

 

Set Up the Computer

Set the Display Preferences: The projector needs to be set as a secondary monitor input. In your

Control Panel's Display Settings, this monitor should be set to 1024 x 768. Make sure the "Extend My Desktop to this

Monitor" box is checked.

 

Disable the screen saver and power-management on the PC that is connected to the B9.

    1. Go to the Control Panel
    2. Search for "Choose when", and select "Choose when to turn off the display".
      1. Set to "Never" or at least as long as your print job will take.
      2. You can see the estimated time to completion in the Print window. (Big red LCD style timer).

 

Software Preparation

1. Get an .STL file.

.STL is the "stereo lithography" file format, although it's now used for all kinds of 3D printing.

If you don't have one, you can grab them one from Thingiverse.com.

Most CAD software should be able to export .STL files.

Tips for choosing a model:

  • Try something with a relatively simple shape to start with.
  • If you find a model that requires no supports, even better!
  • Complex shapes will require more preparation to add supports.
    • You can learn about doing this later; for now let's print something!
  • http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:25117 is very quick-to-print object.

 

2. Load your model into the B9Creator layout tool

  1. Run B9Creator.exe
  2. Select Layout
  3. Under Build Space
    1. Leave the resolution at  XGA (1024x768) unless you've custom-modified your B9 to use a different projector.
    2. Select the proper XY resolution (whatever your B9Creator is set to).
      1. Changing the XY resolution of your B9Creator requires manually repositioning the projector, as well as dialing the focus rings properly.
      2. At 50u XY, your projector should be almost at the top of its mounting slot. See Calibration.
  4. Under Model List,
    1. Select "Add"
    2. Navigate to your .STL file
    3. The model now appears in the build area.
    4. It'll probably need to be repositioned.
  5. Click on model name in the Model List, or in the 3D viewport.
    1. If the model is huge, try scaling it by 0.1 in X, with "Lock Aspect Ratio" enabled.
    2. Click "Apply Changes"
  6. You may need to rotate the model.
    1. Rotating around Z by 90 degrees is a common thing to do
    2. Rotations are absolute: to undo a rotation, set it to its previous value (e.g. "0")
  7. Snap to floor
    1. You almost always want to do this so you don't have a zillion empty layers at the bottom of your model.
    2. The only reason not to do this is if you plan on doing something fancy with supports later
  8. View your model
    1. In the viewport:
    2. Hold the right mouse button to get the virtual track-ball (rotation)
    3. Hold the middle mouse bottom to pan the viewspace
    4. The scroll wheel zooms in and out
    5. Left-clicking selects various models- for now just try one model at a time
    6. Give yourself a nice 3/4 view of the model.
  9. Offset your model from the floor
    1. You only need to do this if your model does not have a built-in offset and supports.
    2. If you do not have a proper offset your model may warp.
    3. Select your model, and simply add 2mm to whatever the Z-value is and hit enter or Update.
    4. Your model should move 'up' a bit.
    5. We'll add supports and a base layer later.
  10. Save your layout
    1. Click the floppy disk icon in the top-left corner
    2. This will save a .b9l file. I recommend using the same base name as your .stl file.
    3. close the window- the red X in the upper right corner

 

Slice your model

  1. Select Slice from the B9Creator.exe menu
  2. Browse for the .b9l file you just saved
  3. Choose the desired layer thickness
    1. This is the "Z" resolution.
    2. You can choose any value you want (changing this resolution requires no calibration).
    3. Select 75 micron.
      1. it is not faster to print at 100u, because the cure time per slice is higher.
    4. B9R-1-Red resin is tuned to 75 to 100u slices.
      1. 50.6u slices will work, but your experience may be non-optimal.  
  4. Select Slice
    1. Choose a (.b9j) filename. I usually take the default.
  5. Wait

 

Edit your model

This is the tricky part: because everything printed has to be attached to something you've already printed, if your model has any overhangs you'll need to add supports to give those bits something to attach to. For this reason, I recommend a simple model to start with, or a model that has built-in supports. (I model my supports in the CAD program- it is more flexible, editable and repeatable).

 

  1. Select Edit from the B9Creator.exe menu.
  2. Select File->Open and find your .b9j file.
    1. It is not apparent that anything has happened. Do not worry.
  3. Click the Hammer and Wrench icon.
    1. You are now looking at the very first slice of your object.
  4. Press the Up and Down arrow keys to move through each slice.
    1. As you do so, you will note Red and Green areas.
    2. Red indicates an area that may be unsupported (i.e. it might not attach to the model and instead float around in your resin causing problems). 
    3. Green indicates something... not sure what. Seems to be areas that will no longer support further layers.
      1. There's not much you can do about this, it's just FYI.
  5. Add offset and/or base layer
    1. You only need to do this if your model does not already have a base layer and/or proper offsets.
    2. I.e. if you use the Ruler.stl file, you need to do this.
    3. Select Edit->Attachment Offset...
    4. Select 1 base layer (the default), and 0 offset layers (the default is 4, but you've already added 2mm of offset in the layout tool)
    5. A new slice is inserted into the model: a flat white rectangle that fills the whole area on layer 1.
    6. Also, however many 'offset' layers you added will appear as completely blank layers.
  6. Enter Support Mode (button in the upper left)
  7. Add supports to any red areas that are actually not supported
    1. Areas that are entirely red (not adjacent to any white pixels) NEED supports.
    2. Areas that are mostly red MAY need a support if the red area extends "too far" past the white area.
      1. This is a judgement call, but my rule of thumb is to put a support every 5mm or so for large areas.
    3. Areas that are red, but not too large, and which are adjacent to a sufficiently large white area (at least square 1mm) probably do not need support.
  8. To add a support
    1. Identify the area that needs a support
    2. Pick a support tool: the circle is a good default.
    3. Click in the red area: a white circle will appear, AND it will extend to all layers below until it hits another white area.
    4. These support pixels are just like any other pixels: so they become part of your model. You'll have to trim them after printing.
    5. Experiment with different support sizes and spacing.
    6. You can remove all supports with CTRL-Del.
    7. If you are using the Ruler.stl file from Thingiverse, an array of 3-5 by 10-20 circles will support the ruler just fine. Be sure to put some close to the corners, then spread the others evenly.
    8. When you're confident your model is printable:
  9. Close the "Slice Manager" window.
    1. You might want to add a note about what you tried for supports.
    2. Save your changes by clicking the disk icon.
  10. Close the  "B9Edit" Window

 

Before printing, calibrate your build table!

This will adjust the projector for the XY size and resolution of the print you plan to make, and ensure that the Z axis build table, in its lowest position, conforms exactly to the surface of the vat.

See instructions here: Calibration.

 

Print

 At this point, you have yet to touch the magic goo. Just a few more minutes...

  1. Select Print from the B9Creator.exe menu.
    1. Once you select Print, you will be given a step-by-step checklist. The first thing to try is a dry run, with the projector off, no resin in the tank, no build platform installed, and the sweeper arm removed. It will simulate the printing cycle: moving the Z axis down, pausing, sliding to the right, moving up,sliding left, moving down, pausing, etc. This will run, going through your model a slice at a time, until the program ends or you abort the process. It's good to do the Dry Run if you've never run the machine before, if it's been moved recently, or you've changed some of the printing parameters, but this is optional; you don't have to do it each time you print.

 

To do the Dry Run: 

First, close the B9Creator software and then restart it (this is important).

Click on Print

Click the "Do a 'Dry Run' only button. A message box pops up reminding you to remove the build table and the sweeper. Do so, if you haven't already, and then click Yes.

Next Click the "Step 3" button. A message box pops up telling you that the printer will do a Find Home (Reset) and then move the table arm to the "ready/fill" position. Click Yes to proceed.

The printer will Find Home/Reset (Z arm moves until the bottom of the red blade intersects the z optical sensor, the x slide closes) and then the arm moves down to the fill/ready position.

When that motion is completed (and not before), click the Dry Run button, which will have changed from grayed-out to active.

The projector WILL NOT turn on. The grid will not be sent to the projector, it will be displayed on the main screen. The mechanical actions of the printer and the patterns on the screen will proceed as if you are printing. Click on the main screen and then press "A" (shift "a") to abort the Dry Run.

 

 

This is the main event. This is the first time you'll touch the resin!

 


Click on Print in the main B9Creator exe file. It will present you with a checklist.  Follow the instructions as you check off the items in the Print checklist one at a time. It will lead you through the following steps. First, browse to your saved job file, then install your build table, which you've previously calibrated to contact the PDMS vat surface. If you've just done a Dry Run, your build table might have ended up in an intermediate position that's too low to install the build table, so click Find Home in the Terminal Utility if that's the case. It will then have you lower the build table to a certain level, after that you'll be instructed on when to add the resin and install the sweeper: don't do either until you get to the right step.

 

After the build table has lowered itself to its printing position (well below its Home position) fill the vat until the resin touches the bottom surface of the table but doesn't slosh over. If there's a big mismatch between the level of the build table and the level of the liquid, you might check the levelness of the whole machine, and shim up underneath to correct it. The next thing you're asked to do it to attach the sweeper. This is installed so that the hinged hatch swings open towards the left. so that it lets the liquid flow through when it moves toward the right. Engage the little hooks in the slots on top with the round rings attached to the springs on either side. (The diamond-shaped loops attached to the round rings are just there to hold onto.) When this is done, you should be ready to start printing. Click the final command: "Print", then wait. The projector will turn on, and your computer's screen will show the grid, with (if you've added a base layer as instructed above) a white rectangle which becomes the first layer of your print. This will cure to a solid mat adhered to the bottom of the build table; the supports, which are printed next, will normally lead from it to your part as it's built upside-down, layer by layer. As each layer is printed, the vat will move quickly to the left, then raise up, move back to its printing position on the right, sweeping the PDMS floor of the vat's shallow end clean of resin, move down, pause for 15 seconds or so while it exposes another layer, then repeat the cycle.

 

If you're printing something massive, with a lot of supports, it may require more resin than the initial filling of your vat contained. If you see that the resin isn't filling in the clean spot on the PDMS before the part lowers down to meet it, then open the hatch and pour a little more in.

 

The software should notify you when the build has finished printing. It may, however, end with an error saying the print has been aborted. If your part is complete, don't worry about that. If it's not, then it could be due to one of the causes - a stuck screw, a power failure, etc. that  the message mentions.

 

  • Things to watch for:

 

  1. Resin sloshing over the side of the vat
    1. If this happens, Pause 'P' the job, clean up the mess before it drips into your projector, then resume.  
  2. The screen-saver kicking in and inserting a subliminal message into your print job
    1. If this happens, Abort 'A' the print job (it takes 1 cycle, be patient), and then clean the vat as below.
    2. Start again- after disabling off the screen saver.
  3. Large bubbles forming under the build table. If these form outside the projector area, it's fine. But watch that they don't grow and encroach on your part. If they threaten to do so, you can pause the job and manually add more resin to the vat. A little will go a long way.

 

Print complete

Whew! That was a harrowing 15 minutes to several hours, right? Time to see what you have wrought.

  1. Make sure no direct sunlight is hitting your B9 and work area.
  2. Put your glass dish nearby.
  3. Set a couple of paper towels out.
  4. Put on some gloves.
  5. Open the hatch.
  6. Use the manual Z switch to raise the build platform to comfortable position.
  7. Remove the build table. Your part should be attached.
  8. Let the excess resin drip into the vat for a few seconds.
  9. Move the build table to your glass dish. Squirt the part it with isopropanol alcohol to get the excess resin off as quickly as possible to avoid extraneous curing.
  10. Close the B9 hatch to avoid exposing the resin to excess light.
  11. Use your spatula to carefully pry the part off the table.
  12. Set the table aside for now on a paper towel.
  13. Continue to rinse the resin off the part: liberally use isopropanol alcohol to spray it, then swish it around in the run off, then spray it some more, etc.
  14. Do this for about a minute, then when you're happy put the part in direct sunlight for (a while). Rotate it every couple of minutes to ensure all the sides get some exposure.
  15. Admire your handiwork!

 

Clean-up

You should now have a Vat filled with unused resin, a container of your rinse-water/alcohol, a messy build-table and possibly other messes.

  • First, clean the build table, much like you did your part. I use a gloved finger to wipe the resin off under a gentle stream of alcohol and swishing it around in the rinse run-off. Finish with a clean rinse, and set aside on a clean paper towel to dry.
  • Next, clean your other tools. You've probably got resin on your spatula, etc. Clean these.
  • Now you probably want to recover the unused resin.
  • Pour the resin from the Vat through your strainer into your opaque plastic bottle. This will remove the large chunks of debris from any pieces that didn't connect due to lack of support or failed supports (sometimes we make them too small and they break off).
    • Do not mix this used resin with your clean resin. Why? Because while you can recycle resin, if it starts to go bad (i.e. your prints start turning out mysteriously wrong) , you'll want to toss it and still have some clean resin available. [I've not experienced this, so perhaps someone with more experience can fine tune this explanation. -Michael]
  • Rinse the Vat the same way: gentle alcohol spray and a gentle gloved finger should not hurt the PDMS. That's assuming you're using smooth clean nitrile gloves, not rubber garden gloves. Set the vat aside to dry.
  • Clean any spill inside the B9- this can take a while if your resin sloshed over the side. 
  • Store your recycled resin in the same way as your good stuff.

 

Report!

  • Take a picture.
    • Use some spray primer to make it a LOT easier to photograph.
    • Cheap stuff works fine.
    • A simple DIY lightbox can do wonders too.
  • Tell everyone on the forums how it went.
  • Add your wisdom to this wiki.

 

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