The hotend is one of the most important components of FDM 3D printers as it deals with the fusion and subsequent deposition of the layers of our piece to be printed. Even if, trivializing, it could be said that its task is “only” to dissolve the filament, reality teaches us that to perform this simple step well, a hotend must have not indifferent qualitative characteristics of components and assembly to guarantee a smooth running smoothly. The parts that make up a hotend are not many and I will group them into 3 sections which we will then analyze individually.
Let’s get to know the importance of the 3 areas better, starting from the entry for the filament with pneumatic connection. It is certainly the least critical part of the hotend, it only has to ensure the entry of the filament into the actual body of the hotend. The pneumatic connection houses the PTFE tube where the filament flows. The pneumatic connection is screwed to the hotend body and ensures the absence of play in the case of an indirect bowden extruder
The world of 3d printing, especially for those who deal with it at a hobby level, is unfortunately not free from problems. An unexpected event that can happen is that related to the obstruction of the nozzle of our hotend on the part of the filament. Fortunately, it does not happen often and in any case there are many ways to clean it, for example it is often sufficient to extrude a material with a higher operating temperature than the one causing the cork, or if the block was due to the abs, a bath of a few hours in acetone often solves the problem. In my specific case, the block was due to some plaque that I had neglected, causing it not only to deteriorate but also to dust. This caused, after a few minutes of printing, an obstruction of the nozzle which was not easy to remove with the most common methods. So I came up with a “soooo homemade” way to clean the nozzle.
One of the main characteristics of stepper motors is that of being able to perform a complete rotation divided into small sections. A complete rotation means a movement of 360° from a starting point on a circumference.
To simplify the concept, let’s imagine that we can turn the shaft of our stepper motor by 1° at a time, to make a complete rotation we will have to “tell” the motor to operate 360 times always in the same direction.
These small movements are the “steps” and we can easily understand that the level of precision that we’re going to get is defintely high. The stepper motors that are used for 3d printers generally have steps of 1.8° which means that to make a complete rotation we will have to operate our motor 200 times (200×1.8° = 360°), therefore we have an excellent level of accuracy.
This precision is used to make really small movements with the moving parts of the 3d printer, this allows a remarkable level of accuracy and detail in our prints.
A very important step to properly set up our 3d printer is tuning of driver’s Vref of the motor’s step by step. Very often a hasty calibration of these drivers leads to lose some steps or even to their break due to overheating…
tuning of driver Vref
I have used both the most current DRV8825 and the A4988 StepStick, both on different printers with different cards. The main difference between the two drivers concerns the capacity of current supplied and the number of managed steps: 2A and 16 microstep for the A4988, 2.5A and 32 microstep for the DRV8825. Obviously the cost varies and the A4988 are naturally cheaper.
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