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Loading and Unloading 3D Ink
Description of M3D 3D Ink Filaments
We've really seen PLA become the workhorse for The Micro, and very strongly recommend this material for first time users. The reasons include a subtle but nice molasses smell, really capable of printing large objects well, M3D optimized quality compared to first generation 3D printing of PLA's (such as better support removal and retraction to prevent ooze - whereas ABS was better for these in the past, PLA has caught up), never infinite use of the printbed (no damage), extreme strength, and most importantly really neat translucent colors that we produced free of extra charge for these even though they are special compared with solid colors. About the only disadvantage of PLA is that it is tricky to get working with the friction of the internal port and that it requires longer print times on very small objects to allow cooling.
Comparatively, ABS is better for very small prints (where fast cooling is needed), where a small amount of flexibility is needed, or where solvent-smoothing is needed (such as to make and paint figurines). Increasingly, we are planning to release alternatives for ABS such as durable and slightly more flexible materials.
Tables of M3D Filament Cheat Codes
Below are tables that display all cheat codes for ABS, PLA, Opaque PLA, Chameleon and Tough filament colors, which can be used during the Load Filament process. You can view a couple of chameleon filament videos to learn more about how it works: Genie Blue - Ice 15C Video and Coral Orange - Warm 45C Video. If you notice a cheat code displays incorrect information in the M3D software, please contact our technical support team here.
Using Non-M3D Filaments
There is a common question: Any issues running non-M3D PLA or ABS filaments? Many different people have tried printing with several different types of filament, but various aspects such as temperature, flow rate, motion speed, model configuration, etc. determine the difference between a successful print and a failed print. Most 1.75mm filaments can work, but there is no guarantee it won't clog the nozzle. Ninjaflex, for example, has worked before but there is no guarantee about performance or quality at this time. In the future, we will begin to test and certify various types of filaments that can work with the Micro.
Creating custom filament profiles
Custom filament profiles allow you to set the temperature for a particular filament/color combination. This is for advanced users only and we recommend using the default settings that have been tested by M3D. Not doing so can have the potential to clog your nozzle, overheat the extruder motor, or damage your printer.
Quick adjustment of filament temperature
In the heat of the moment, there is another option to change the current filament temperature immediately. Click the settings cog in the upper right hand corner to quickly change the current temperature setting of the loaded filament. The temperature range for PLA is 190C to 240C. The temperature range for ABS is 240 to 285. If the temperature is set to outside of these ranges, an error message will pop up to say the temperature cannot be set outside these bounds.
MSDS Reference for M3D Filaments
All of our products, including our filaments are made from 100% non-toxic components and considered generally safe under normal use. They are not considered a chemical, or a hazardous material by OSHA standards. Therefore, OSHA defines it as an "article" and does not require MSDS sheets. You can see more information about that here: http://www.ilpi.com/msds/faq/partb.html#article
Loading Filament Through The External Port
Once you’re ready to load your filament for printing, you will need to select the 3D Ink button at the top left. It will give you two options on how to load filament, for now we are going to use the external port option. The second page will ask you for your filament cheat code or filament type. Enter the CHEAT CODE displayed on your filament spool.
Once you have entered the cheat code, click next and the printer will heat up and extrude the factory filament first. Open the filament package and install the end of the filament into the external port and you will feel the extruder take hold of the filament. Once your filament is extruded, you will click “yes” to end the filament loading process. Great! Now, you have completed the load filament process and you are ready to print!
For our new filament spools, you will find a 3 letter cheat code on the front of the filament spool. In this case, you will type (CHEAT CODE) for (TYPE/COLOR) filament. The name 3D Ink indicates it is PLA filament and if it’s ABS 3D ink it will say “Expert 3D ink (ABS)”. If you have an older spool of filament, you will find a simple label saying white PLA for example. Instead of a cheat code, you will simply put PLA or ABS depending on the filament being used. A third page will ask you for the color and you will select the color you are currently using. For this video we will use the ice cheat code.
After clicking next, the printer will then move to its home position. It will then begin to heat up and you will see a small piece of filament at the external port left from the factory. You won’t have to do anything with it as it will be extruded once the loading process begins. Now, I’m going to open my filament package and find the end of the filament. The prompt in the dialog box may ask you if filament has exited the extruder yet, but you will want to click “NO” I want to continue loading my filament to ensure the selected filament has been extruded. You will take the end of the filament and place it into the external port and you will feel the extruder take hold of the filament.
Once it’s pulling in the filament, you should soon see the color of your filament coming out from the nozzle. Once you do, you will click “yes” in the dialog box to end the filament loading process. Now, you have successfully loaded your printer with filament and are ready to print! After the successful load, it will ask again if filament has exited the nozzle and you will click yes. This will take you back to the first page and display what is loaded in printer.
Description of Problem
Feeding filament through the external path is the recommended option when printing with the Micro. However, adhesion and extrusion problems can be created if some key details are easily overlooked.
Causes + Solutions
- Friction from Spool Holder - The external spool holder is most likely not free of friction.
- Solution: We recommend purchasing precision bearing reducers to allow smooth feeding, as noted in the first image below.
- Tangled Spool - The filament inside the external spool might be tangled/overlapping itself inside the spool or inside the print area, as shown in the second image below.
- Solution: Check that the filament isn't overlapping in the spool. It is not uncommon to have the filament loop under itself when you remove it from the printer for storage and it can be hard to see.
- Overmold or nylon tube resistance - See if removing overmold helps.
- Solution: If the internal port works and the external port doesn't, the overmold is the root cause of the problem.
Loading Filament Through the Internal Feed Path
Instructions In Written Form
Once you’re ready to load your filament for printing, you will need to click the 3D Ink button in the top left. It will give you two options on how to load filament, for now we are going to use internal port. A popup window will come up and it will ask you for your filament cheat code or filament type. For our new filament spools, you will find a 3 letter cheat code on the front of the filament spool. In this case, you will type (CHEAT CODE) for (TYPE/COLOR) filament. The 3D Ink indicates it is PLA filament and if it’s ABS 3D ink it will say “Expert 3D ink (ABS)”. If you have an older spool of filament, you will find a label like this. Instead of a cheat code, you will simply put PLA or ABS depending on the filament being used. A second dialog box will ask you for the color and you will select the color you are currently using.
After clicking next, the printer will then move to its home position for the internal loading procedure. This will give you enough room to access the filament spool holder underneath the printbed. After it has reached its home position, a dialog box will come up with instructions on how to lift up the printbed. You will want to put your two thumbs on the back of the printbed and slide away from you and then pull the front edge of the printbed up. Now, you will see the empty space underneath that will hold your filament spool. You will want to orient the spool in the position so the filament unravels cleanly into the little black tube and can rotate freely inside.
You will then feed the filament into the black tube and slowly feed it all the way to the extruder. You might have to hold the black tube with one hand while feeding the filament and apply some force to get it to the extruder. Once the filament has been feed to the extruder, you will click next in the window prompt. It will then begin to heat up and once heated it will prompt you to check that the filament is being gripped. If it isn’t, push the filament into the black tube until you feel a slight pull from the extruder. The prompt in the dialog box will ask you if filament has exited the extruder, but if not click “no” to continue the loading of the filament. When you finally see filament exiting the nozzle, you will then click “yes” when the prompt comes back.
After clicking yes, you will want to place the spool neatly in the opening for it and follow the dialog for replacing the printbed. You will want to put the flat back edge of the printbed into the back notch and lay the printbed flat with the two tabs facing you. Then push the printbed towards you to lock it into place. You have now successfully loaded your Micro and are ready to print!
Description of Problems
Feeding filament through the internal path is the more advanced option. Friction is the major flaw with the internal filament tube, among other small details that can be overlooked.
Causes + Solutions
- Tightly wound filament spool - The filament is wound very tightly to prevent the spool from unwinding accidentally. However, near the end of a spools life, the extruder does not have enough force to pull the extra resistance, which causes the the print job to fail.
- Solution: Do not use a filament spool that has less than half the filament remaining when using the internal feed path. Instead, switch to using the external feed path for these spools.
- Tangled Spool - The filament inside the external spool might be tangled/overlapping itself inside the spool or inside the print area.
- Kink in tubing - Sometimes the black tubing can become kinked and you will only be able to feed a short amount (2-4 inches) of filament into the internal path before you experience a lot of resistance. Unscrew fluff, lift it, try to undo tubing kink with some kind of metal pipe clean or expander.
- Friction caused by filament surface texture - Check if filament looks like leather and has a rough surface, this may add too much friction. Only smooth filaments work well internally such that if there is any extra resistance at all, one kink in the internal port or anything, its a straight up fail.
- Resistance at the top of the metal housing - Sometimes, the filament can hit the top of the metal housing as the filament.
- Solution: Push the cable assembly towards the back or front to assist in finding the right position so filament can meet the drive gear.