Octave Top 10 3D Printing Tips and Tricks

by Roy Worthington

  1. Reprint using the initialize switch. Not everyone knows that you can repeat a print after removing the last printed model from the platform, by simply pressing twice, the initialize switch on the front of the Afinia or UP! printer. The computer does not have to be connected. You can even do it after the printer has been turned off and turned back on.
  2. Reduce the “cycle time” on the printer by having a second build plate ready to swap out at the end of a print. Thus, the print bed will not cool down too much and delay the start of the next print.
  3. When installing a print bed, put the rear clip (or clips) in the back of the build plate before installing it on the print platform. Saves struggling trying to get a clip around both the build plate and platform.
  4. ABS modules tend to have white “stress points or areas” where either raft or support material has been removed. Simply hit the area with a heat gun to restore the original color.
  5. Use an Octave temperature switch to reduce the nozzle temperature. This allows for a much better print experience with easy removal of raft and support material when using other than OEM filament.
  6. Use Borosilicate glass for an extremely flat print surface.
  7. An excellent adhesive to hold models down (and significantly reduce warping) is Purple Glue. This low cost glue, as used in schools, is water soluble and excellent for 3D Printing – especially on Octave’s Borosilicate build plates.
  8. When a model finishes printing on a Borosilicate glass plate using Purple Glue, simply put the model still on the plate in front of a fan. Within a minute or two there will be a “Crack!" At which point the model will break loose off the plate.
  9. Changing filament colors. We get asked this a lot at shows! You can set the printer to pause at a certain height and go through the withdraw/extrude procedure. But wait, there is a far faster way – Change on the Fly. While the printer is still printing, draw back the filament tube from the extruder head to expose the filament. Snip off the filament about four inches from the extruder. Pull the filament out of the feeder tube and insert the new color. Then “follow” the end of the first color with the beginning of the new color. This method saves time and also creates a better bond between layers because no cooling of the filament is involved.
  10. We saved the best until the last! At every show we get people asking how we get an extremely shiny and polished finish to some of our ABS models. It is very simple and involves no manual labor. Start with a new, empty paint can. Using paper towels from the kitchen, create a curtain on the inside wall of the can. Use fridge magnets to hold the paper towel against the wall. Put perhaps three table spoonsful of Acetone (same chemical that is used to remove finger nail polish) available at paint stores, into the can and swirl it around so the paper towel completely absorbs the Acetone. Next put a metal riser (inverted U shaped) to keep the model off the floor or bottom of the can. Then put the model on the riser and place the lid loosely on the can. Depending on the model, it can take from 30 minutes to over two hours for the vapors from the Acetone to melt the surface plastic of the model. You can keep inspecting it every 15 minutes. We take the model out just before the surface is completely shiny because the process continues outside the can for perhaps 10 to 15 minutes. It is better to take the model out too soon than too late. If you leave the model in for long enough it will end up being a melted blob of plastic!

    We enhance the process by putting the paint can on a revolving stand. This keeps the vapors moving inside the can for an even better (and slightly faster) finish.

    And if you want to really do it right, then line the inside wall AND bottom of the can with paper towels. Soak in Acetone. Now put the lid upside down on the ground and place your model on top of it (you might want to use a small stand to keep the model off the lid). Now invert the can and place on top of the lid covering the model. Since Acetone vapors are heavier than air they will float down around the model for an even better finish.

This article was published on Saturday 24 May, 2014.