Friday, June 29, 2012

Printing 3D HDPE

We did it!  Today Big Red printed multiple layers in HDPE.  Great job everyone, you guys have worked so hard.  However, we still have obstacles to over come. 

In the mean time, for all of you who had to miss it, below are two videos and some pictures of the day's events.

Taping up the hopper to the extruder

Testing the HDPE extrusion before running a print


Brandon watching Big Red go

Hot HDPE is some stinky stuff.  
Only our beloved President had an appropriate respirator for the gases.

Printing the 2nd Layer

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Getting Close to Print Time

Here's the update on Big Red. We now have a working extruder. Thanks for the help Brandon B. The Z-axis motor coupler is no longer slipping. Thanks Adam. The print bed is almost finished. Thanks Mark H. The feeding tube is a fair way into development. Thanks Chris. The extended thermocouple is in place. Thanks Yuen. This is just to name a few.

Tomorrow we hope to begin test printing. We will also continue the development of the feeder tube, play around with anchoring the HDPE print surface to the print bed, get the PID temperature controller set up. Should be a good day. Starts at 11 am.

If you want to come in and work on your Clonedel you are welcome to do that too. The belts just got here today so if you want to come in and pick yours up you can do that too.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Smoothing out your prints.

So this post is a little unrelated to any Big Red stuff, but I mentioned it to Matt and he wanted me to throw this link up.

This would be an interesting thing to look into for a club project, or even for people to work on on their own.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Since we are going strong with big red, people are going to be in and out of the room most days of the week.  We understand set times are important for people so someone will be in ME 252 Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 11-5.

You are free to come in these times to work on your printers or help out with big red. We will also keep our policy of "if the door is open come on in".  So there will still be work time outside of these hours but these are set and will occur every week.

We also want to have a day on the weekend to have the workshop open.  If you have a preference of Saturday or Sunday as a work day then comment on this post so your voice can be heard. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Big Red: To Do

OK folks, we've been trucking along with Big Red these past few days and have finally hammered out a few more specifics of the "Big Red To Do"s.  Below is the list, as well as some more detailed info to hopefully get more people working on them without too much supervision.  (A basic list is also posted in ME 252)

Wire Routing

  • We need something that collects all the cords (power to heater, thermal couple, 12 volt for motor) so that they won't get caught but still gives full range of z-axis freedom.  We're thinking we want something that will clamp to the top and bottom of the z-axis.
  • The thermal couple (wire) needs to be extended.  Talk to Bill Kuykendall (ME Staff Engineer), he is the guy to go to for this.  We need a type K and as long a cord as we can manage.
  • The 12 volt motor will also need a switch.
  • All of the wires that connect to the extruder should have some sort of quick connect plug for easy removal.

  • The dial that controls the heater needs a better mount than masking tape

  • Over by where the wires on the x-axis come out, we need a place to set a: power strip, 12 V power supply, PID, and Relay
  • OR we need to extend the thermal couple wire such that we can rest that stuff way out of the way where they can't get bumped

Barrel Rotation

Currently the copper extruder that we have on Big Red has issues of rotating.  What is happening: as the plastic heats up and gets pushed into the barrel by the auger, the plastic is sticking the auger to the barrel, which causes the auger to actually twist the barrel.  This is bad.  What we are thinking of as a fix:
  • Tighten the copper barrel to the steel portion.  DO NOT break the copper.  The copper needs to be screwed in "snuggly" but not too tight or it could bust the brazing.
  • Tighten the steel.  When tightening the steel, DO NOT grip the copper.
Both of these need done.

(Matt worked on this yesterday. The copper continues to rotate.)


We still need your milk jugs!
  • DO NOT bring in dirty jugs.  If they stink in the slightest way, we will NOT ACCEPT them.  Remember that we are guests in this room.
  • De-label your jugs.  Best way to do this is with a hair dryer.  They have to be completely dry, but the heat from the dryer will cause the label to peal right off.  Extra emphasis on the labels being dry when you do this.  If they are wet, the glue will NOT come off.
  • Remove the plastic ring.  Feel free the crush the end to get it off or snip it off with scissors.
  • Only bring in DRY jugs

Design Build Platform

We will be posting more information about this later.

New Gears

Matt's got this covered.


Matt also has this covered.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Work Day on Tuesday (and today if you Like)

Sorry for the long silence. I have been out of town enjoying my couple of days of summer break during which I spent some quality time in a giant dumpster searching for plastic bottles. Between Brandon B. and me, we got about 60 lbs of milk jugs. I also spent some time removing labels etc. and now know what to do and what not to do. Today or Tomorrow John over at Scrapblasters is going to help out with the shredding. So with luck, we will be printing on Tuesday afternoon.

The Plan

Today(Monday)- I'll be around at 10:20 and can let people in to the room and depending on what I hear from John at ScrapBlasters may be able to stay and help.

Tuesday- Lets all meet up on Tuesday and work. I'll be in at 10 am. Let's plan on printing even if we need to shred plastic by hand. If you have an old iron, bring it and we can experiment with making the HDPE print bed. 

Time to start rounding up your milk jugs. Here's how to prep them:
  1.  Remove label by heating with a hair dryer (about 5-10 sec. The label must be dry for this to work well.
  2. Wash them well! I used a hose with a powerful nozzle
  3.  Remove the colored ring at top.
  4. Dry them. (I don't have a good method yet.)
  5. Crush and bag them up. 
The parts order is almost completely in. Just waiting on a couple of things. We should have some Clonedel build days shortly.

See you today or tomorrow.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Today's Meeting

Today we had a meeting about bringing all the pieces together and getting our boat printed. Thanks to everybody who showed up to support the project even though it is a vacation week. Here are some of the key things we discussed/accomplished. I'm writing this from memory so if I get some of the details wrong (or forget something entirely) please correct me in the comment section.

We wrote up a calendar to give us a visual idea of what's coming up. We then filled in some dates for deliverables. We settled on an ambitious schedule to allow time for unexpected delays.


12 JUN
13 JUN
14 JUN
Extruder/Hot End Assembled
15 JUN
16 JUN
Obtain milk jugs from Whidby Island
17 JUN
18 JUN
Test printing with actual HDPE (hopefully waterproof)
19 JUN
20 JUN
21 JUN
Have an idea of warping and how to handle large prints
22 JUN
Decide on feasible boat design
23 JUN
24 JUN
25 JUN
26 JUN
27 JUN
28 JUN
29 JUN
Print boat

30 JUN
01 JUL
02 JUL
03 JUL
04 JUL
05 JUL

06 JUL

07 JUL
08 JUL
09 JUL
10 JUL
11 JUL
12 JUL
13 JUL
14 JUL
Milk Carton Derby!

An extruder design was discussed and should be assembled by this Thursday.

We sorted through 6 garbage bags of milk jugs and separated the clean ones from the ones that needed washing. It was a very unglamorous job but important nonetheless. Keep saving (and washing) your milk jugs because we're going to need them! We also weighed jugs and found that the average is about 67 grams. To put that in perspective if our final design weighs 100 pounds that's about 675 jugs.

We still don't have a final boat design, but that will be highly dependent on how many milk jugs we get and how skilled we become at printing in the first week of the quarter. The simplest design discussed is a flat bottomed boat with vertical walls that seats one paddler. The general consensus is that we will be thrilled with anything as long as it floats.

Lastly we were able to upload and run actual G-code on Big Red. The printer reads dimensions in inches so either our design work needs to be done in inches or we need to adjust scaling factors. We took a video of the print using a sharpie in place of an extruder. The video file is too large to upload here so you can find it at:

We have overcome several huge hurdles up to this point and only have a few left. Let's keep up the momentum and get this thing together in time for Seafair!

Happy printing.

Matt's add on...

To try ad make up for missing the meeting yesterday, I worked on HDPE printing. I tested various materials plastic cutting board, wood, screen door, tape etc. Wood worked ok but not well enough. So I decided to print directly onto milkjugs. I cut out about 8 squares of milk jug plastic, put a piece of parchment on top and ironed the stack until I had one thick sheet. It was super easy and the plastic fused nicely. I trimmed up the edges and printed on it. As you can see, the HDPE stuck really well. What was surprising is that the print was not completely fused to the build platform. It snapped right off with a good tug. Soon we'll see if this scales well. I'll be in today to work on extruder stuff (6/13).

end Matt's add on

Monday, June 11, 2012

STLs and Gcodes needed!

As everyone knows, there's going to be a meeting tomorrow. Hopefully we'll be able to hook an extruder up to Big Red, and get some tests going! To do that, of course, we need some things to print.

So this post is for the people who have printed before: bring in your favorite calibration files! I've written up a simple converter that replaces any Z axis commands with the proper DynaTorch command. So far I've only tested it with gcodes generated by Slic3r, so it would be preferred to have an STL file rather than a gcode file.

Thanks everyone, see you tomorrow!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Meeting: Tuesday June 12th 3:00pm

Calling all UW Fabbers!
It might be Summer Break for all the other UW students but Seafair continues to loom, so no rest for the Awesome.  We need to start double timing it!

So we are holding a meeting this next Tuesday June 12 at 3pm to get an update on the various projects for Big Red.  We are also going to have a build day that day.  So bring what you have and we'll have a big group build!

For all you members at loose ends:  This is a great opportunity to get involved in the Big Red project!  The plan will be to have all the groups there working so we'll be throwing members at the different groups who need an extra hand.

For those members that are a part of a project:  If you can't make it, make sure what you have makes it to the meeting with or without you!  Get a hold of one of us, and we'll see what we can do about getting your project to the meeting.

Matt has also stated that he will be arriving in the morning sometime so the room will be available all day.  We'll keep you posted as to what time that will be.

Keep Printing,

P.S. Non-Mechanical Engineering Students: The building will probably be locked.  If you wait outside the doors on the North-side of the building, we will let you in (and you'll have a better chance to catch the door being opened by someone else) Update: The building is open this week.  You shouldn't have any trouble getting into the building today.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Seattle Maker Faire was Great

We all had a great time at The Seattle Maker Faire. We met a lot of great people there and saw some really cool stuff. Thanks to all who helped make it happen. Grawmet was awesome and the Frostruder was delicious, at least for us anyway.

Right now it is finals time, so there probably won't be much this week. Sorry, no work day Tuesday or Thursday. If you need to get into a room to work on your own, send an email and maybe we can work something out.

Time to study...

P.S. The room is being utilized exclusively Thursday by another group.  So absolutely no one is allowed to use ME 252 until late in the afternoon when the group is done.
This also means that the room needs to be CLEAN for them.  ~Beth

Friday, June 1, 2012

Exciting progress on Big Red!

We're getting close to being able to print a boat! A huge hurdle has been passed. We now have control over the Z-Axis! And not just jittery, slow control, either. It used to take nearly a minute to move up a layer, one tick at a time, but we've got that down to mere seconds!

The next steps will be finishing and hooking up the extruder and making some test pieces. We would like to be able to start and stop the extruder from within the g-code (rather than have it simply extrude all the time). The current mindset is to hook up a serial connection from one of the motors to a relay, which activates the extruder. If anyone is interested in helping out, comment below! (Even if you're not interested, comment below. This blog isn't interesting without people participating.)

Lastly, don't forget that the MakerFaire is this weekend! We've got some sleek and glossy posters, and some really cool bots that will be set up. Check 'em out if you've got the chance!