One of the most exciting capabilities of rapid fabrication is the ability to create not only items of artistic content, but also to create tools and even improvements for the 3D printer itself.
Once I had leveled the platform initially using the manufacturer’s suggestion of a sheet of paper as a rudimentary feeler gauge, the first item I printed was a bracket for the digital indicator I mentioned in monday’s post (link). After leveling the build plate using the recommended “sheet of paper” as a rudimentary feeler gauge, I printed the first item ever from this marvelous MakerBot: the Replicator Bed Level Jig
The original jig was printed using black filament, displayed on the left in the image above. Due to gap distance variation following my inexperienced first try, layers were increasingly separated to one side of the extrusion but the final product was servicable and I was able to level the build plate by first establishing the proper distance using a metal feeler gauge and then measuring the distance from the rails to the build plate using the digital indicator, adjusting the level screws until the plate was balanced.
By setting all four corners of the build plate to the same distance from the y-axis rails, I was then able to print a well-formed permanent copy of the jig in white filament. I installed small rare-earth magnets to clip the final jig into place on the rails without requiring me to hold it and possibly influence the measurement. These tiny magnets cost less than $2 USD for a pack of 10 through the local Harbor Freight store and are wonderful for creating temporary connections between extruded plastic components.
I have found that it is necessary to re-level the build plate regularly between print jobs and the jig has been used each time since. This is a tremendous tool, fashioned from the 3D printer itself, that makes all 3D printing much easier! I will cover additional improvements, tools and objects as I encounter them as we design and develop the robot frameworks for SOLID Learning.
- Replicator Bed Level Jig (Thing #23257): http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:23257
- 10 Piece Rare Earth Magnets: http://www.harborfreight.com/10-piece-rare-earth-magnets-67488.html