My adventure in 3D printing started few years ago. I was studying Marine Biology and since I was a child I loved the aquarium hobby. It grew since my late uncle gave me my first aquarium when I was 6yr old. I was hooked. I started breeding around that year and not so long after I started having more and more aquariums. At one point (after I had 3 aquariums in my parents kitchen) I had to move them to their garage and it escalted (all the white boxes are unboxed aquariums in the end I had more than 120 aquariums).
Not long after I had my lab setup (unfortunatelly no longer active) I started thinking about 3D printing. Two labs after mine there was a small company making 3D printers. I actually never had heard about 3D printing and they were making 2 types of printers: the Vulcanus Max40 (vMax40) and a Prusa Clone (with acrylic structure). The vMax40 was actually a hit around Europe and they were sending regularly across it. Due to price and not really discussed theme here in Portugal the vMax wasn't really sold here. Aldric Negrier (the maker) provided couple of options: You could buy it from his website (no longer on the market) or you could follow his Instructables: https://www.instructables.com/id/Vulcanus-MAX-CoreXY-Aluminum-Frame-RepRap-3D-Print/ I bought mine thinking about my aquarium hobby and company. Theres always something that you can improve in old design for the aquarium hobby. Theres always something that you can make to make your life a bit easier in the hobby and I was intrigued. This is where it all started. To learn about 3D printing we spent hours and hours (late nights) talking and building 3D printers. I actually let me build a couple printers
that travelled across Europe to foreign countries.
He teached me how I could start to make my own designs and I couldnt be more hooked. Before I had my printer he lent me a small prusa clone to build my first couple of pieces for my hobby. I had to make a air divider for 20 aquariums. Usually the maximum divider that you could found was 10 and you couldn't really add another one to make the 2. I guess I could have built a Y splitter, but what was the fun? I add to make something look cool and to have my branding on it. I wasn't really making it to sell, but to be usefull for me and a couple of friends that wanted to test it. Eventually I made a few smaller ones, but lost all the files. I still have one 20 way splitter to take the measurements and remake them with better airflow inside.
The first one I made the letters didn't came out right and I had to make it better. The second image was right before the deliverry of the last 10 aquariums missing for the aquarium stand!
Why didn't I start with a Prusa?
When I started to get into this world I had big dreams. I wanted to get in the world of cosplay, but the time wasn't right. The prusa had around 18x18x18 build platform and this big vMax 40 was around 40x40x40. I had mine build a bit higher with around 45cm for the height.
When I started, Aldric and a couple of new friends were only printing with PLA (direct drive) and ABS (bowden).
I mainly started 3D printing to make aquarium products for myself. PLA is great, but you can't really put it inside water. The nitrifying bacteria that is present in aquariums would love to digest PLA, so I had to make and enclosure to print ABS (best for use in aquariums or so I thought). ABS requires a higher temperature inside the the 3D printer and higher bed and extruder temperatures.
With that we saw that I had only the option to go with bowden. Having a enclosed printer bowden maked it easier to print. You can have the hot end moving freely without the filament tangling in anything, because of the PTFE tube.
Another thing I found with Bowden was that since the XY was a lot lighter I could print with higher speeds maintaining the same quality with lower speeds on the direct drive.
I started printing with the E3D v6 (https://e3d-online.com/v6-all-metal-hotend). I bought this one, because I was thinking about printing ABS. After carefully learning about filament options I decided to swap my E3D v6 the Lite version (https://e3d-online.com/lite6-hotend). It was cheaper and my friend actually need one more E3D v6 full metal, because he was making another printer to print ABS.
The Lite version is way easier to learn how to print with. Less times uncloging the nozzle, because I messed up on the retract or with wrong temperatures.
I can actually count on one hand how much prints I did with PLA when I was starting. I was eager to start making my aquarium products and I wanted to start printing with PETG. For me PETG had a big learning curve.
Real Filament PETG: https://real-filament.com/
First came the temperature. When you buy a filament that you never tried (at least I usually did it) I
always wanted to try to find the sweet spot for the temperature. In the box you usually see the min/max temperatures for the hot-end and the heated bed.
For me the Real Filament wasn't really attaching properly to the bed without it beeing 60ºC. Right now my first layer is 70ºC and after that 60ºC. I might give it a go with lower temperatures to save a bit on the electric bill, but I'm just now coming back to printing and those were the settings I used without any problems.
For the Hot-End I'm starting the print on 240ºC and 230ºC for the layers after the first.
In bowden system you need bigger retracts and higher retract speeds. That was the first big: OK lets do this. My prints filled with blobs of filament. In the end I was printing with 8mm retract and 2000mm/min around 33mm/s with success, but sometimes I had a few blobs on the print still.
What Made it Better?
I've always used Simplify3D, because that was what they were printing with. They had the know-how and shared with me.
There was 1 or 2 settings that had never had to use because they were printing with other materials with less oozing. Under ADVANCED tab in Simplify 3D process the movement behavior checked was a
must! The only other change I did than the normal speeds and temperature changes was how the layers were built. Instead of the outline going outside-inside I changed to inside-outside. That made the blobs disappear finally!
Retract Speed: 2000mm/min
Heated Bed: 70ºC (first layer), 60ºC (after)
Hot-End: 240ºC (first layer), 230ºC (after)
Avoid Crossing Outline for Travel Movements: Check
Heated Bed Lined with Kapton.
Other stuff I made for the aquariums (lost many of the projects photos):