Budget 3D Printer Fixes and Enhancements

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About: I've been writing software since I was in the 6th grade, and working with mostly-digital electronics since High School. These days my career consists of software development and architecture that is focused...

Intro: Budget 3D Printer Fixes and Enhancements

I recently received a kit for a relatively inexpensive 3D printer, the JGAurora Z 605S. In this article I will provide details on steps that were required to make this printer work properly, as well as provide some insights for those new to 3D printing who may acquire this model, or another RepRap Prusa i3 clone. Your experience will hopefully be better -- you may receive a printer that works right from the start, but if not, I hope the tips provided in this article will help you solve the problems. Once this machine is up and working, it is a fantastic tool -- maybe not Ultimaker 2 quality, but definitely a tool worth having on a budget. All in all, I am pleased to have it despite the initial problems and it is likely that since I've reported the problems the manufacturer of this model may have fixed them if mine was not a fluke. Nevertheless, regardless of where your purchase your budget 3D printer this information may just make the difference in whether or not you ever get it working.3D

Step 1: Issues With the Kit...

The Plug...

The kit I received came with a UK power cord/plug. Obviously this doesn't work in the United States -- not even here in Texas! ;) This however is very easily resolved. Any 3-pronged (grounded) power cord will work. The Power Supply Unit (PSU) has a 110/220 switch on the side. You can use a plug available from any hardware store to resolve this issue.

Missing Hardware...

Be sure to carefully unpack the kit and check off the supply list. I found that my kit was missing all of the M3 nuts -- the most numerous item in the kit! In total my kit was missing about $18 worth of hardware as you. In the United States, metric hardware is generally more expensive and harder to find than "imperial" hardware. Nevertheless, all of the needed missing hardware was available at a local hardware store. (Lowes) You may however wish to check the instructions and fit carefully before purchasing hardware because the packing list is wrong in some cases and some of the hardware was not needed.


Assembly...

Assembly was actually fairly easy and there were few if any problems when the instructions are followed. As previously mentioned there were a few cases where hardware on the packing slip did not match what the instructions called for -- but, in these cases the needed hardware was supplies, at least in my kit.

Assembly took about 12 to 18 hours. This is where you may decide it is more cost effective to buy a pre-assembled system. :) Of course, I probably counted the time put into all of the trips to the hardware store, etc.

There are also some places where you will need to look at photos and decide for yourself the right way to do things. Running and binding cables is one example. Also the instructions do not detail wire connections to the mainboard -- so you will have to know enough about the design of the printer to get the basics in order to assemble it properly. If you are unfamiliar with which Axis is which, or what the heat bed or extruder are, etc., spend some time reading about the original RepRap Prusa i3 design. The photos in my kit for the wiring were based on an older board that is not longer shipped with the JGAurora Z 605S. Nevertheless most of the connections will be similar if not identical.

Step 2: Fixing the Reversed Stepper Motors!

Once my machine was fully assembled I began to test it out using the control panel. It became obvious immediately that there was a BIG problem. Only the Y axis was able to "home" until the limit switch was hit! The X and Z axis both ran backwards!!! In addition to this, the Extruder ejected filament instead of pulling it into and through the print nozzle!

This seemed to be anomalous to the manufacturer, who had nothing to offer. I suggested that I could use my ISP programmer to alter the firmware (supposing the board was similar to a RAMPS board), but was told that the firmware can NOT be altered. Otherwise it would have been trivial to reverse the X, Z, and Extruder motors via simple firmware changes.

Finally I decided to reverse the wires from these motors where they connect to the board. The JST-XH connectors will not allow you to simply insert the connector backwards! (I think the manufacturer must have accidentally shipped a set of boards with either incorrect firmware, or where the JST-XH headers were installed backwards.)

Hilitchi makes a very nice kit containing 480 pieces of 2.54mm JST-XH connectors, plugs, pins, and sockets. The kit is available on Amazon Prime for $20. Using this kit I was able to make 3 cables that reversed the wires in each connector. Just remember reverse all 4 wires so that it would be the same as if you were able to plug the connector into the board backwards.

This solved the problem with the reversed stepper motors!

Step 3: Printing Materials...

PLA vs. ABS

This is one area where the documentation and advertising for the JGAurora Z 605S was correct. This printer really is not well suited to printing ABS. Even the extremely cheap PLA that I bought (before I knew better) prints well with this printer. ABS will not adhere to the printer bed, with blue tape or to glass. There are many articles out there that will tell you how to make ABS stick. For me only one of them worked -- the one where I laser engraved a dot pattern into a piece of 1/4" acrylic and placed it on the bed with the heat cranked up to 100 C. The problem -- I got one thing to print and then the acrylic sheet was warped. Not worth the effort!


PETG: An alternative to ABS...

PETG is a great alternative to ABS, and this printer can handle it just fine. PETG has a shiny finish and has more flex to it than ABS, but it is not as brittle as PLA. Try it out and see what you think. In the attached photos, the blue funnels that I made for casting High Power Rocket motors (another article for another day) were printed using PETG. The smooth finish is perfect for a funnel, and the resulting product is strong. I had previously printed funnels using PLA but it was too brittle and they broke quickly.


Other materials

I have Ninjaflex TPE and Ninjaflex SEMIFLEX on order and will update this step when I have information on their suitability with this printer.

Step 4: Other Useful Instructables.com Articles...

Assembly and Glass Print Bed...

If you have troubles assembling your 3D printer, this article may help: How to assemble very cheap 3D printer

In addition to the assembly guide, this article shows how to add a glass print bed that works perfectly with PLA. Though the author provides few details, my glass bed was made from the glass from an 8 x 10 picture frame. I used a 40 W CO2 laser to cut it to the right size. You can use a glass cutter if you don't have laser. Also, a power sander (carefully used!) will round the edges of the glass nicely.

Printing ABS

If you want to try printing ABS on acrylic checkout this article: Reusable 3D Printing Acrylic Baseplate

Though it was not 100% successful for me, it may work for you. If it does, please add your own tips to the comments on this article. I have two spools of ABS that I can't currently use. :)

My articles...

If you "Follow" me you will see a few additional articles in the future that feature prints made from this printer. I have big plans, including plans to eventually 3D print a full size (e.g. 8 to 10 foot tall, 4 to 8" diameter) high power rocket -- but that will require finding or building a suitable printer. If you'd like to sponsor such a project (e.g. provide a capable printer) please contact me.

I will also publish an article showing the funnels in use for making High Power rocket motors, if time permits.

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Runner Up in the
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    22 Discussions

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    PRINCED38

    1 year ago

    sir i build a similar printer but my print is not good.the part is soft and easy to break.what should i do

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    toasthall

    2 years ago

    You could have swapped the wire in the plug by pressing down on the little metal tab with a hobby knife or the like and pulling the wire out. When putting the wires back in just make sure the little tab is lifted up high enough to engage in the plastic casing.

    2 replies
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    als_liahonatoasthall

    Reply 2 years ago

    Yes, I am sure you were right. At the time though I was interested in verifying that I could get the thing working at all, and did not want to do anything permanent. Making the cables that swap the wires but still used the connectors tab will probably hold a bit better in the long run. Nevertheless, if anyone else runs into the same issue, and they don't want to make reversal cables, they should follow your suggestion!

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    als_liahona

    Reply 2 years ago

    Thanks, that is good to know. I have not had too many problems with PLA sticking, and PETG works great on the blue tape. ABS was the only problem and the Elmer's Glue Sticks have solved that.

    36 hours! Wow, that must be quite the print! :)

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    als_liahona

    2 years ago

    For anyone interested... It has been a few months since I wrote this article. Since that time I bought another 3D printer (which I may write about later). The new one is a Delta printer with a large capacity. It is also a kit from a Chinese manufacturer. It cost nearly $800 US. So far (6 weeks after purchase) I can not get it to print consistently or with anywhere near the quality of the JG Aurora Z 605S. So for a $200 printer this thing has been solid for me. The one problem with it (that this article highlights) would not have been an issue if the motor connectors were designed like those on most RAMPS boards so that they can be easily flipped around.

    Anyway, the point is that I'm really happy with this printer now. It has much better quality than I've gotten from the new printer that costs nearly 4 times more.

    Best Wishes.

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    KeifD

    2 years ago

    Make ABS stick 100% of the time!

    For ABS, I used some scrap ABS and tossed them in a jar (with lid) and poured in Acitone. The acitone melts the ABS into a slury sauce which I then use a brush to dip and spread on the glass print bed. This makes the print stick 100% of the time! Looks like a mess on the bed, but works better than anything else.
    Its best to have a jar that fits the brush inside with lid closed. Be sure you can reach it after! Wood hand brush wont melt with acitone fumes inside jar.

    2 replies
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    als_liahonaKeifD

    Reply 2 years ago

    Thanks, yes I tried the ABS + Acetone method once a few weeks ago, but I did not get good results. It stuck better, but still peeled away during printing. So far the Elmer's glue stick works the best. Unlike the Elmer's glue stick, the ABS in acetone smells terrible! :)

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    KeifDals_liahona

    Reply 2 years ago

    So what you have is not enough ABS in the solution. Your solution is too "thin". You want to add more abs so it besomes almost thick. Not quite "thick" but more dense. Play with it.
    You can also spread on more coats.
    I just never EVER had a problem with ABS not sticking after that. Only when the solution was thin. Also you want your heat bed hot the whole time. Maybe if your print is hours, then you can lower and the turn off the heat.

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    johnip4

    2 years ago

    To print ABS on glass put a thin layer of Elmer glue stick on the glass. Print with bed at 100+. Print sticks well and when the bed cools to about 50 it comes loose.

    3 replies
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    als_liahonajohnip4

    Reply 2 years ago

    Thanks, I tried Elmer's glue diluted with water and that did not work for me. I will try this -- as soon as I remember to buy a glue stick! :)

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    als_liahonaals_liahona

    Reply 2 years ago

    I tried the Elmer's Glue Stick last night with ABS. It worked, half-way. I'm trying it again now. I had two parts being printed and one peeled off during the print, the other turned out perfect. I have the bed set to 105 C, which it seemed to struggle to maintain. It is promising though. :)

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    als_liahonaals_liahona

    Reply 2 years ago

    I tried the Elmer's glue stick a few times and finally had success. I could print small things like bag clips repeatedly without problems. I tried to print some of the STL files that came with the printer -- it's own parts (I think), but once they were about 1/2" off of the platform the ABS stopped sticking to itself??? So, thank you on the Elmer's Glue Stick. I'll use that on the bed from now on with ABS.

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    dmm1542003

    2 years ago

    I have the same version, well a Prusa XI3 but I have been having a ton of trouble with it. When I go to print the Teflon tubing keeps coming up. Any Ideas? I have made sure that the flow rate was right also made sure that the temp was correct, and made sure that the steps were good. It didn't come with the fan so I bought one off of amazon and fits and good great. The problem I had was the fan butting up on the gear and would make it click after fixing that the Teflon tubing problem keeps happening. You guys are my last hope, I have tried everything I could think of and several other forums. The only other thing I could try is the E3D hot end which I think would solve my problem. However not to sure how to mount it without printing anything yet.

    1 reply
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    als_liahonadmm1542003

    Reply 2 years ago

    dmm1542003 - I hope someone else can give you suggestions on this. Our models must be fairly different because I don't know what Teflon tubing you are talking about. Can you add a photo? I'm sure someone can help.

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    sparks_vfr

    2 years ago

    Seeing some comments about ABS, I use it all the time without any problem, on a 110 deg C, glass topped bed, I wipe the glass with Acetone, the use a light spray of Hairspray, no issues at all, just have to be careful with the spray,, a light even coat is all thats needed.

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    MarauderX

    2 years ago

    3D printing involves work - fixing, experimenting, maintenance. I have a printrbot metal simple and only use PLA. I found that a little more investment goes a long way, as it more robust and once set up properly maintence for better quality is a breeze. Using PLA is easier, as masking tape, painters tape, and no tape work well for adherence with almost no warping on an unheated bed.

    2 replies
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    als_liahonaMarauderX

    Reply 2 years ago

    MauaderX, I agree, and for me the experimenting and learning is part of what makes it fun. For those who feel the same, a kit is a great way to go because you will learn more from it! And, PLA is easy to print with. My first PLA however was ordered off of Amazon, came in a color I did not order, and was replaced in two separate attempts to get the color right with ABS, the last one in the right color. The cheap PLA actually works well, but it is brittle. If you leave the spool connected to the extruder for a few hours without it running -- and sometimes while it running, it will break. I've had prints run for a few hours only to find that in my absence the filament line broke and I was printing with warm air! :) I've ordered some Hatchbox PLA. I'm interested to see if it is substantially better. In fairness to the Amazon seller that sent the wrong material 3 times, they did refund my money even while still sending out the last attempt. :)

    -Andrew

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    MarauderXals_liahona

    Reply 2 years ago

    If your PLA is breaking then something is wrong with the quality. I've left out open spools of it for months then gone back and it prints like normal.

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    peabody1929

    2 years ago

    I print using only ABS plastic. My print bed is either aluminum or glass on top of aluminum. The surface is covered with Kapton tape. A trick to apply the tape is to spray the glass or aluminum with Windex and lay the strip of tape down. You can adjust their position to eliminate gaps between strips. When you are happy with the positioning, use the edge of a Starbucks card to squeegee the Windex from under the tape. Let it dry out for a hour and your good to go. I heat the build surface to 115 degrees C. I print the ABS with the extruder at 225 degrees C. Another trick to improve adhesion is to heat the bed and just before printing, rub the Kapton tape with a Kimwipe. Kimwipe have a slightly abrasive texture that conditions the Kapton tape surface. After printing, when the surface cools to room temp, the parts pop off.

    Good luck!

    1 reply
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    als_liahonapeabody1929

    Reply 2 years ago

    peabody1929, Thanks. I've considered trying Kapton tape and may try it if the glue sticks don't work out. I appreciate the suggestion!