Filament Quality

Between the end of my development cycle at work and my vacation last week, I haven’t had as much time as usual to work on OpenADR.  I also hit a big snag as far as 3D printing the parts goes and learned a lesson about 3D printing in the process: invest in good quality filament.

A few weeks ago when I ran out of the black, PLA filament I was using and switched over to white Argos PLA given the lower cost. I started noticing my extruder making worrying noises a little later but did not immediately make the connection to the new, cheaper filament.  The extruder motor had started skipping and made clicking noises as it unsuccessfully tried to feed plastic.

IMG_0532

The print layers were unevenly laid down and even missing in places.  Above is a picture of one of the navigation module’s sidewalls printed using this filament.

Assuming something had gone wrong with the printer, I started searching online and trying to debug the issue with the extruder.  I tightened it, loosened it, changed the hot end temperature, and added a cooling fan to the motor, but I was still unsuccessfully printing even at 10mm/s (the Printrbot Simple Metal is rated for 80mm/s).  Finally, I ordered some new filament and, lo and behold, the problem went away!  I was back to printing out parts at normal speed.

IMG_0531

Above is the sidewall printed with the new filament.  The layer lines are barely visible when printing with roughly the same settings as the white PLA.

So lesson learned, good quality filament is very important!  I tried using cheap filament and paid for it.  I’ve fallen a bit behind where I want to be on OpenADR, but unexpected delays are all part of the design process and I’ll work to catch up before the contest ends on Monday.

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