New Printer Adventure

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June 19, 2023


We got a new printer…

… and we thought it would be fun to share that experience.

In the past month we got a new FFF (FDM) 3D printer. Well, it is new to us, but a used machine. Welcoming the Raise3D Pro2 Plus to our maker collection here at Illuminated3D. This thing is a huge machine with a massive print volume and dual extrusion. Actual print volume is about 300x300x600mm. To give you a better idea of scale, below is a photo of my 5-year-old next to the machine before we hauled it up to the office.

The machine came from TAIT (the company I work for). It was being retired as it had been giving folks a lot of issues, no one had time to maintain it, and the vendor that TAIT was using for 3D print resources dropped support for the Raise3D machines.

So, here was a “non-functional” machine that was probably about 8 years old, about to get scrapped, but you can’t really just walk out the door with a $5k piece of equipment, even if the guy in charge of it is happy to give it to you. I made sure to contact the right people, and after a couple days of everyone chatting about it, I was handed a piece of paper that siad I was allowed to take this machine home.

Of course at this point, the machine sat in my garage for about six weeks on account of I had to go to Europe for a job, but on my return I was able to put a bunch of work into it. To start, I had to get the filament that was jammed in the extruder out and get the extruders back up to being happy. For the most part the extruders were in pretty good shape.

In doing some research on the Pro2, the biggest complaint was heat-creap. Now, in looking at the hotend assembly and cooling setup, I can understand why this might have been an issue (and probably was the issue that led to the machine being retired). Axial fans just don’t produce a lot of pressure, the heat sinks are small, and the OEM ducts don’t help. Lo and behold, on the Raise3D forums this is hot topic and I was able to find mutiple people who had designed cooling retrofits that use much more capable blowers instead of fans. Printed the new ducts on the resin printer for better heat resistance, mounted a 5015 blower for cooling the heatsinks and 40mm blowers for part cooling. The difference in airflow is night and day. Photo below of the new setup.

image of a 3D printer print head with a 5015 blower fan in front and two 40mm blowers for part cooling.

Next up on the hit parade: new hotends. I knew that I would need at least new nozzles, but I figured “why not just make it like-new?” As it turns out, BondTech (yes, the people who make the 3:1 extuder that everyone loves) makes a hotend kit for the Pro2 that is also designed to help with some of the issues people had with the stock setup. For $140 it comes with new heat blocks, Copperhead bimetallic heatbreaks, and CHT nozzles. Plus they have full install instructions with photos! This is actually in-line with the price for OEM parts, so well worth the upgrade.

The re-building process was fun, though tedius at a few points. The colling setup required getting some small nuts in hard-to-reach places, and threading all the fan wires through the cable management space was a challenge. I learned the heard way to put the JST connectors on after you pass the wires through the managment space. After rebuilding the print head with hotends and cooling upgrades, and leveling the bed, it was time to start printing.

image of a 3D printer print head with a 5015 blower fan in front and two 40mm blowers for part cooling.

Me being me, I just grabbed a roll of filament, copied some settings over from Cura to IdeaMaker and pushed go. I was very impressed that for the most part everything “just worked!” I still had bits of tuning and calibration to do, but nothing out of the ordinary. Now I just need to learn me some IdeaMaker and figure out the best way to do material management in the software.

To really prove that I was able to rehab this machine it was time to print some long and fun prints. What did we print? Dice Towers of course! I wanted to see if I could use the nearly full roll of filament that had been jammed in the printer, a roll of ColorFabb Matte PLA. I tossed it in the dehydrator for 24 hours and then loaded it into the machine. Ran a quick temp tower, which was beautiful across the entire range, and then sent a 40 hour print on its way. After nearly 60 hours of print time across mutiple parts, “The Observatory” dice tower came out amazing. I totally dig the black matte filament, but it is on the expensive side.

With the matte black used up by the first dice tower, I turned to another old roll of filament. Silver Silk PLA from CC3D. The roll was still in the original vacuum sealed pack from 2018! This roll I took out of the package, loaded, printed a couple calibration objects and then launched another dice tower. Yes, evenĀ  filament that was 5 years old printed amazingly well. Quite possibly one of my best experiences with silk PLA. Maybe I need to switch my Ender over to a Bondtech CHT nozzle too… (cuz I totally bought one, just haven’t swapped yet)

No, today we are dialing in dual extrusion and learning how to manipulate models for it in IdeaMaker. So far things are coming out well. I have the base of a hummingbird feeder running on the Ender while I do some colorful flower accents and wasp guards on the Pro2. It is coming together quite well.

Overall, very happy to have been able to get this new machine up and running and added to the collection.


So, what can we make for you?


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