Introduction: Neva 3D Printer Maintenance V1.0

Picture of Neva 3D Printer Maintenance V1.0

This guide was written for the Neva 1.0 3D printer by Dagoma <- Available here. It's probably one of the highest value printers for it's price range.

I've been taking a deep-dive look at the Neva 3D printer as part of my week-long journey to Santa Barbara, so I wrote a little maintenance manual for this unique piece of hardware.

Even if you don’t have a Neva, this information applies to most FDM (Fused Filament Deposition) 3D printers.

Why maintenance?
All machines need maintenance and FDM 3D printers are no different. A little care and attention can make the difference between ok prints and awesome prints or the difference between lots of troubleshooting and hardly any. 3D printers are just like owning a bike, if you take care of it, it’ll last forever!

Covered in this guide

- Cleaning / checking the nozzle
- Cleaning / checking the bed for defects
- Checking belt tension
- Checking / cleaning the extruder drive gear
- Cleaning & lubricating rods and bearings

Step 1: Cleaning / Checking the Nozzle

Picture of Cleaning / Checking the Nozzle

How often?

Before every print.

Why?

The Neva uses 3 pressure sensors under the bed to perform it’s 9-point leveling routine. Since the nozzle actually touches the bed during this process, it must be clear of additional cooled plastic that might change when the bed level points are triggered. Not doing this could cause a print to be too close or the nozzle to crash into the bed and damage the print surface.

Another reason is that, filament stuck to the side of the nozzle could get dislodged while printing, get stuck onto the layer being printed and cause the printhead to get stuck which can cause it to skip and lose it’s position during the print

Tools

Wire brush (or folded paper towel)
.4mm drill (optional)


Procedure

  1. Plug in the Neva
  2. Double tap the bed. The printer will home the 3 towers, move forward and begin to heat up. After it’s heated the filament will begin to eject.
  3. Wipe off excess filament *gently* with a wire brush or folded paper towel.


***CAUTION***
DON’T USE YOUR FINGERS to touch hot plastic!
Print nozzles are 210c (almost 400F) and even slightly melted plastic can burn your finger.

***Notes***
It’s possible to do these steps with a cold nozzle and flush cutters, but it’s not advised. 3D printer nozzles are easily damaged and even slight damage can change the shape or diameter of the nozzle causing filament jamming and poor print quality. This is especially tricky to do if there's lots of plastic stuck to the nozzle due to a print failure.

Step 2: Cleaning and Checking the Bed

Picture of Cleaning and Checking the Bed

How often?
Before every print.

Why?
The Neva uses 3 pressure sensors under the bed to perform it’s leveling routine. Therefore, the bed needs to be relatively absent of bumps and anomalies, including leftover plastic from the previous print job.

  1. Carefully, and completely remove filament from the bed (especially near level points)
  2. Cleaning with isopropyl alcohol is safe for the print surface and clean the bed of dust
  3. Inspect the print bed for defects (especially near level points


Tools
Metal Scraper
Alcohol

***CAUTION***

Make sure not to use the scraper in a way that moves it toward your hand or fingers. Rounded scrapers are safer to use than rectangle edges. They'll also damage the print bed less often.

***Notes***
Keep an eye out for gouges that might result in deformities. Some dents and bumps might occur that don't effect print performance depending on location and severity.

Step 3: Cleaning / Lubricating Rods and Bearings

Picture of Cleaning / Lubricating Rods and Bearings

How often?
4-6 months 500-1000 hours of printing.
OR
When dust has accumulated on the rods
OR
When an axis makes metal grinding noises

Why?
Metal or dust will eventually wear out the rods and damage the bearings causing the machine to print poorly and sound horrible.

Tools
3-in-1-oil aka machine oil (available at hardware / most big-box stores)
Gloves

Process

  1. Wipe rods with a clean rag or paper towel (do not use solvents or water)
  2. Place (1) drop of oil in the top of each the bearing


**IMPORTANT***
Don’t use WD40 to lubricate rods and bearings
The RepRapWiki has some great information on lubricating parts.

Step 4: Check Belt Tension (not Too Loose, Not Too Tight)

Picture of Check Belt Tension (not Too Loose, Not Too Tight)

How often?

Every 2-3 weeks
Tightening may be necessary once after 12.

Why?
For linear axis to function accurately, belts need to be firmly in place. This can be one of the trickier parts to maintain. Retightening might be necessary due to compression of the frame over time, elasticity break-in after initial installation.

Tools
Small pliers

Process

  1. Check the belt by gently squeezing two sides of the belt together. If very gentle squeezing allows both sides of the belt to touch, they may need to be tightened.
  2. Pull the top side of the belt out. (the bottom side isn't as easy to re-seat)
  3. Use pliers to pull down on the belt (make sure to pull down straight) 5-6lbs of force, should not be physically difficult.
  4. Beginning with the top, slide the belt back into the seat using your fingers, then push firmly with the end of the pliers or a small flat head screw driver.

Step 5: Orientation of Arms Is Critical for the Neva!!!

Picture of Orientation of Arms Is Critical for the Neva!!!

How often?
Whenever unexpected mechanical failures, print head jams, or after long periods of storage.

Why?
There are magnets inside each arm and If the polarities aren't matched correctly, they can interfere with the fan on the print head and cause it to stop. If the fan stops, the filament will jam and be difficult to remove.

Process
Take a look at the pictures above and note the tiny dots that are located only on one end of each arm.

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