Monthly Archives: September 2018

3D Printing: Ashtar K Printer: Printing #2

Upgrading X Motor Mount

Printing new X motor mount on CTC DIY I3, and replacing it on the new Ashtar K: CTC DIY I3 prints quite reliably – there is nothing to clean up – the piece I attach it right away:

Ashtar K lacked a proper print surface (before I received the black sticker surface), otherwise I would have printed the piece on itself.

Black Sticker as Bed Surface

The 400×400 black sticker arrived, and I cut it into 400x300mm and put it on the mirror – which worked well, and so far I can tell the surface is very very flat, much better than on alu heat bed.

bed-corner-detailCurrent bed setup (top to bottom):

  • 400x300mm black sticker (“frosted sticker”), apprx. 0.6mm thick
  • 400x300mm 3mm thick mirror
  • 210x210mm 12V alu heat bed
  • various cork patches under heat bed
  • 10mm light black foam material
  • 420x320mm 6mm plywood (white painted) as Y carriage
    • 4x printed corner mounts holding 3.7mm thick sticker/mirror combo
    • M3 x 35
    • M3 washer (below printed corner mount)
    • Spring (20mm long, ~10mm OD, 1mm wire)
    • M3 washer
    • printed knob (below plywood), 30mm OD, 8mm thick, M3 nut inserted

Now that I have a good print surface I finally printed pieces for itself.

Mounting the 400×300 bed (OSB 6mm, white painted) with 200×200 heat bed (which I hardly use, as I started to print on cold bed):

I currently use the white PU steel enhanced GT2 belts, and it produces hard edges, some ghosting, but more precise prints than the black rubber GT2 belts which just stretch too much – I have to research this more closely – about the type of reinforcement and the use with more heavy beds (Y carriage).

Just for the record regarding Y carriage (2018/09):

420×320 carriage:

  • 4mm plywood flexes, but has been quite flat – not recommended
  • 6mm plywood hardly flexes, but has been hard to buy truly flat – and so far my attempt to flatten it did not work well – not recommend unless it’s flat
  • 6mm OSB quite flat, does not flex much (3 or 4 sliders) – recommended

320×320 carriage (for 300×300 bed):

  • 4mm plywood works (3 sliders, 4 sliders recommended)
  • 6mm plywood works (3 sliders, 4 sliders possible if plywood is truly flat <0.2mm difference)
  • 6mm OSB quite flat, doesn’t flex (not yet tested)

Just to explain my thought or decision process for my setup:

  • the mirror should not be bend (of course)
  • the support structure should not be the edge mounts, but the foam in between
  • the carriage can be bent, but not flex
  • revelation: already bent means the springs with screws might extend the bent further with a flexing carriage, and not counter act – as the mirror should stay flat

so, even though the springs/screws and edge mount can adjust, the carriage should be fairly flat, and not flex at all – this way the edge mounts holding the glass/mirror only stabilize position. Main force to hold the glass/mirror, for my setup, is the foam in between. So, there is no “spring” induced vibration back/forth introduced, but the foam neutralizes such vibrations – and hardly adds weight/inertia.

Sliders & Belt Mount Positions

Top view with see-through (best mark “0,0” on both sides to keep reference).


400×300 vs 300×300 Bed

Originally I focused on 300×300 bed at least, with some tweaking and narrow X carriage I was able to reach 380×300 printable bed, so it was suitable to use 400×300 plate as well.

It takes me about 5min to mount new bed, downgrade from 400×300 to 300×300:

Changes needed:

  • move Y endstop switch from left to Y carriage extrusion to the right side
  • Y stopper mounted on the bed needs to placed accordingly

With 300×300 bed the 0,0 is now plenty outside of the bed, with 400×300 the 0,0 is near the printed bed mount.

Setting Offsets for 300×300 bed

With 300×300 bed the 0,0 is now +32mm to right and +25mm deeper, hence the Gcode M206 is set like this:

M206 X-32 Y-25

H Plate/Module as X Carriage

The 3 wheels module riding on the 2020 alu extrusion I named “V plate” due the shape, the 4 wheels module “H plate” providing more stability or rigidity for use as X axis carriage, when the nozzle runs over slightly unclean extrusion and tilts upside. For the X carriage I choose a narrow (48mm wide hole-to-hole) version:

It’s the first/early version, the adjustment screws (M3x10) are very or too close to the bed for my taste, next version will use M3x8 and give more spacing. I like to keep the hotend close to the X carriage so not to waste Z space.

Additionally I made a new hotend mount so it would use another mounting holes than belt mount:

But now it’s harder to reach the hotend mount holes due the part cooler – oh well.

After few days, I noticed one wheel stopped to turn, no longer touching the alu extrusion – I guess the carriage slowly balanced itself and triangulized, no longer use the 4th wheel. I re-tighten the 4th wheel gently so it would roll again.

Z Couplers: To Wobble or Not To Wobble

As I posted before, I suspect the Z couplers to be the main source for Z wobbles, as the threaded rods may look and are cheap but they are mostly straight – the wobble actually is caused, after close observation, from the misalignment which happens when you screw the metal couplers on, in particular if you attached the lead screw or threaded rod with uneven surface – the thightening screws may or may not attach cleanly – and thereby push the Z rods out of the center of the Z stepper motor – when the Z thread holding the X axis is fixed, the resulting wobble is worse at low Z heights; and if you fasten the Z rods at the top, the wobble gets even worse.


A simple remedy I found is to use printed couplers, two pieces which are screwed together with 4x M3 screws and nuts, a bit of an overkill, and a bit time consuming to fasten: incrementally tighten each screw over and over until all are tight – but I think it’s worth it: the two halves attach evenly and the PLA or ABS or whatever you printed the couplers, is soft enough so the threads of the Z rods carve themselves evenly into the coupler, and self center themselves this way – result is better centric attachment of the Z rods, not perfect but acceptable and better than poorly manufactured metal couplers.


As mentioned before, I switched from M8 to M6 for the Z axis the M6 provides 1mm movement per full turn, and is more flexible to even out out-of-center wobbles, better than the stiffer M8 threaded rod. If using couplers at all, and likely introduce out-of-center mounting, rather use a more flexible lead-screw or threaded rod than a stiffer one.

3D Printing: Ashtar K Printer: Printing #1

It has been a few days (2018/09/04), since Ashtar K happen to be able to print, the heat bed still unfinished, some prints illustrated below are done with no leveling screws, the mirror just taped on the Y carriage – don’t laugh – later prints I had proper carriage and leveling screws included; a proper build surface I still wait for in the mail (400×400 black sticker to be cut in shape) – anyway, here some of the early prints:

40mm XYZ Calibration Cube

The original 20mm XYZ Calibration Cube is printed in 8 mins with 0.5mm nozzle at 0.4mm layer height, and so I thought, let’s print it 2x the size with 0.4mm layer height, merely 40 mins later this:

The quality is . . . impressive, this is just tuning a single day – mostly on the extrusion factor and print temperature – and this is what I hoped for: XYZ positioning almost flawless: there is slight ghosting on X axis (which could be resolved) shown on “Y”, and Y axis shown on the “X” which is fine, given the size of the bed and its weight and inertia this is OK.

I had to increase print temperature +20C from 200C to 220C for 80mm/s infill while printing with the 0.5mm nozzle, I otherwise would hear clicking from the extrusion stepper motor missing steps. I still use the classic E3D V6 (clone) heat block, not the Volcano heat block.

20mm Calibration Cube: Different Layer Heights

Printed with 0.5mm nozzle, left-to-right: 0.1mm, 0.2mm, 0.3mm and 0.4mm layer height, 60mm/s (80mm/s infill), 200C first layer, rest with 210C, pink glowing PLA by Sienoc.


X Carriage: Sliders vs Wheels

While printing with slider carriage on the X axis, I noticed increased stuttering, and regardless if I thighten or loosen the grip, the stuttering remained, and slight horizontal tilt occured when changing direction on the X axis resulting in too narrow prints in X dimension.


X carriage with white nylon wheels ( OD / 7.3mm width)

So, I changed back to wheel-based carriage, first again 23/7.3 white nylon wheels (right photo), but when I printed “L” shape with 200mm length in X and Y and 1mm height in Z, I noticed slight Z sinus form as I saw before – while it rolled nicely, there was a wobble . . . and so I printed a new carriage which holds the black OpenRail Double V (clone) 24.4mm OD / 11mm width, and put it on the X carriage:


X carriage with double V black wheels 24.4mm OD / 11mm width

A brief overview of the carriages riding on 2020 T slot (B-Type) alu extrusion:



Sliders: on the X axis it did not last, the stuttering was not avoidable; the issue is that the X carriage is one of the hardest axis of the Prusa i3 style geometry to handle: it isn’t just X directional rail, but also pressure on the Z with the weight of the print head, and running over overextruded filament – and it’s hard to pull the X carriage perfectly without the carriage have some vertical tilt as well – anyway, I still use the slider option on the Y carriage – and works fine so far.

White nylon 23/7.3mm wheel: rolls nicely, but gives wobble to the Z height when used on X carriage, apprx. 1mm, also doesn’t stay vertical upright, but tilts a bit with pressure – when the print head moves over overextruded print it doesn’t level it, but jumps over it. I currently use white nylon wheels on the Z carriage successfully.

Black double V delrin 24.4/11mm wheel

  • groove use: rolls very nicely, gives no wobble, and stays vertical. The next days and weeks will tell if the double V wheels do last on the T slot alu profiles – they are meant on proper V slot alu extrusions.
  • diagonal/edge use: rolls very nicely too, but surprisingly gives less tilt rigidity than groove use – the T slot 6 (B-Type) gives less surface at supposed 90deg edge, but is rather 85deg

Z Axis Linearity

As you may have read in the other post(s), I use M6 threaded rods, it’s flexible and rather aligns with the Z axis itself, whereas M8 is stiffer and misalignment – which by the way doesn’t come from the rod itself, but the mounting with the couplers – won’t impose on the X carriage – this is my own view and it happens to come true again with Ashtar K, after I changed my cheap CTC DIY I3 also to M6.

Now, the 1m long M6 threaded rod, enough for two Z axis each 500mm long, did just cost EUR 0.70, made in China but purchased locally in Germany, and the nylon wheel-based Z carriage happen to work perfectly so far – I expected some slight sinus wobble imposed by the nylon wheels as I encountered on the X carriage, but it seems when there is little force applied on the wheel the carriage works good enough.

Printing 330mm high 10mm diameter cylinder (with slider-based X carriage):

There was some slight extrusion inconsistencies, this is likely due the material, an broken vacuum seal of a newly purchased glowing pink PLA roll, actually, after watching the 2nd print closely, either GCode errors or USB transmission errors, as some segments of the circle (layer of a cylinder) is repeated for some unknown reason and so overextrusion occurs there (needs proper investigation)  – but the linearity is very good, and no Z wobble whatsoever.

Loopy Egg

60mm height “loopy egg”, printed with 0.5mm nozzle, 0.4mm layer height:

The “loopy egg” is a good benchmark for retraction settings, and stressing the extruder motor as the short segments making up the loops require a lot of push / pull on the filament. There was still some slight stringing, which I knew will happen, as the retraction is just set to 2mm at 35mm/s giving very good results. More prints will tell if I can stay with these retraction numbers.

Fighting Heat Creep

I currently use E3D V6 clones as hotends, one with 30mm “original” fan, and one with 40mm fan. And with the “original” smaller 30mm fan I experienced frequent clogging up within the hotend: some of the filament melted above the heat break and expanded and blocked any further extrusion – that happened now several times.

I tried to reduce the extrusion temperature but which caused decline of print quality. After trying to determine the root cause of the problem, I concluded that it was heat creep and insufficient cooling above the heat break, hence, the hotend fan, and I switched to 40mm fan – and the clogging disappeared, not quite yet . . . update follows.


30mm Fan (front facing) with 5015 Fan Fang (top)


40mm Fan (front facing) with 5015 Fan Fang (top)

Although both setups look very alike, I had to print out another fan fang which can contain 40mm fan.

Five Platonics

My favorite geometrical forms – aside the sphere – the sacred set:

Mirror as Bed

I’ve got 40cm x 30cm mirror which became my bed base, underneath with some tight springs some 6mm multilayered plywood, which was warped 2-3mm on the edge – but it didn’t matter (much). The mirror was the reference, and the Y carriage had to hold the mirror. That turned out to work very well: the mirror is truly flat, I leveled the bed once for tilting, after a week, I only had to tweak the Z endstop screw slightly, but I didn’t touch the screws mounting the mirrors to re-level the bed anymore.

So, using the mirror as bed worked well so far due the flatness – but the glass didn’t turn out to print good on it, the printed parts often detached before finishing the print, and ruin the print – so I used blue tape sheet as temporary solution until the black sticker arrives which I already use on the other 3d printer.


As I designed Ashtar K with larger build volume, I choose 0.5mm nozzle at least, and the max 0.4mm layer really pays off in regards of print speed, while still maintain some details – I’m quite pleased so far.