Monday, July 30, 2018

Cura 3D Printing Lesson.....Finding A Simple Solution To A Printing Problem

A couple of days ago I had a scare while trying to 3D print some parts with my Creality CR-10 S4 3D printer.  I had designed a simple part that I wanted to reprint because of modifications that I found that I needed in my design.  I use Fusion 360 design software and Cura slicing software to make all of my parts.  I was about to set up the STL file in Cura for slicing the model when Cura informed me that an error had occurred with the software and needed to be reset.  I immediately followed orders and did so.  I then went through  the usual procedures to get my part ready to 3D print but when I loaded into my 3D printer the machine failed to start. 

Thinking now that I had done the setup wrong I tried all over again....and again.....and again.  Nothing seemed to work.  I simply could not get the 3D printer to start printing even though the day before I had been printing for hours and hours without any issues.  I knew for sure that the 3D printer was in good working order and assumed that it was a software issue.  So I unloaded my version of Cura (version 3.2.1) and reloaded it into my computer.  The software loaded into the machine fine but again did not fire up my 3D printer.  

The next step was to remove the version 3.2.1 Cura software and load in the latest and greatest version.  This being version 3.4.1.  I was hopeful that this would cure the problem with my 3D printer and I would be back to normal once again. I set up my part once again in the Cura software and loaded into my 3D printer and kept my fingers crossed.  It was a lost cause as my 3D printer still would not fire up and print the part that I had been working on.  

At this point it was late at night and I figured I might as well pack it in for the day and maybe get a reply from the Cura company after I had wrote them explaining what had been happening and requesting some help.  I was glad at this point to forget about it for the night.

The next morning the issue with my 3D printer was still on my mind and I had not heard from Cura on how to solve the problem.  After a little searching online I had discovered a couple of things that I still could try to fix the problem I was dealing with.  One was to take the SD card that I had been using and format it.  The SD card may be corrupt and this would cause the problem. Also another thing that I had not thought of was a simple error on my part that may have caused some of my issues.  When I unloaded the original 3.2.1 software I had not restarted my computer and then loaded the new Cura version 3.4.1.  I formatted the SD card and tried running the part again.  No luck.  I then said heck with it. I went out a bought a new SD card.  Even if this did not cure the problem I could always use another SD card some place else.  I brought it home and set up the new SD card and again had no luck. 

I then immediately went through the process of  unloading all of Cura software in my computer and reloading it with the latest version after restarting the computer in the middle of the process. I fired up the Cura software and had to reset the profile for my 3D printer when the problem of why my 3D printer was not working was starring me right in the face on the computer screen. 

On the setup screen in Cura you can set up a lot of different settings for your 3D printer to customize it. Two things for me stood out.  The two temperatures that you want the 3D printer to run at. The extruder and the heated bed depending on what type of plastic you are using.  The default settings in Cura were set to 230 degrees centigrade for the extruder and 80 degrees centigrade for the heated bed.  I reset the extruder to 220 where I normally like it and then realized why my  3D printer would not print any parts.  On my Creality CR-10 S4 printer I had swapped out the stock heating element with a new Keenovo unit that is a vast improvement over the original for printing ABS filament.  

I had unplugged the stock unit and it no longer is used. The Cura software was trying to tell the 3D printer to bring the original stock heating element up to 80 degrees centigrade and then print.  Since the heating element was unplugged and the heated bed was now being controlled by an outside heating unit and controller the 3D printer computer never could reach 80 degrees from the Cura settings and would never start the print because of it. 

I reset the custom setting in Cura to the bed temperature of zero.  Then the heated bed would be ignored when trying to print something. 

 My Keenovo heating element I manually set to 110 degrees to handle the work of heating up the bed to the temperature I need for printing.  By the way this is accomplished in less than two minutes with the Keenovo heater.  Something the stock heating element could never ever do. Well worth the money if you want to print ABS plastic.  

So after dialing in the Cura custom settings I loaded up the file for the part I had been wanting to print for an entire day into the 3D printer and pressed start.  Fifteen seconds later the 3D printer came to life once again and a short time later I was rewarded with a perfectly printed modified part! YEAH!

One more thing that I had also discovered through my investigation to solve my printing problem was that because I had not restarted my computer and reloaded the Cura software it was also not working correctly.  When I loaded my STL file into Cura to have the part sliced for my 3D printer it looked to be doing everything correctly.  In actuality the Cura software would load the name of the file on to the SD card and that was all.  The file had nothing in it.  Only the name was stored on the SD card.  

So to conclude here.  Check the little things first! Temps, plug-ins, settings, etc.  It was the simple things that got me messed up and after letting it sit overnight I had the solution present itself quicker than fussing with it for an entire day.  No matter what I am more than happy to have my 3D printer chugging along happily once again.  Lesson learned.

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