With the PP3DP filament having proven itself admirably in the Stratasys, I ran more parts with the material and set up a job consisting of a little box to hold ER-16 collets and a paintball gun trigger frame. Since I don’t like to have the machine powered up and sitting idle at full temperature for long periods (thereby cooking the filament), I try to adjust the parameters so that the job will complete during the day, allowing me to immediately start up a new job, or power down the machine. There’s a few methods that I use for this – I can add or remove parts from the job, I can adjust the infill density (turning on the crosshatch options for a faster ’sparse’ infill), or I can change the layer thickness (thinner layers give more precise parts but take longer). For this particular job, I wanted to use a sparse infill to conserve material, and wound up changing the layer thickness to 0.007″ down from the normal 0.010″.
This adjustment of the layer thickness also affects the base layers (‘raft’ in RepRap speak), and since the foam build base I currently have in the machine is getting a bit ratty, I increased the number of base layers from the normal 5 to 10 for a total base height of 0.070″ to traverse the increasingly rough terrain of the foam (I have a box full of new foam bases – I should just replace the darn thing). While I had run 0.007″ layers with the PA-747 and MG47 materials, I had never done so with support material. I watched the base layers progress to see how well they’d form with a smaller slice height.
On the right side of the base, you can see a bit of waviness on some of the roads in the center. As the nozzle would make a pass, the ‘wall’ that was being formed would flop slightly to the side – the long straight lines of the roads didn’t help the wall stiffness any. As the freshly deposited topmost road cooled and contracted, the wall would return mostly to normal shape, but some waviness remained. On the left side, the top layer of the base is being laid down, and the support material actually started ‘bunching up’ in spots, resulting in a raised, rough surface. I knew this would probably cause the model to become too infused with the support to allow the two to separate easily, but I let it run anyhow.
When complete, I had significant warping and lifting on the corners of the trigger frame part, though support for holes and overhangs worked beautifully. The poor adhesion to the base could be due to the concave surface on that face of the part – rather than having a solid face, the support layers under the trigger frame are an open crosshatch, so there’s not as much contact area. The box halves fared better, though I had highly variable adhesion to the base layer (rotten at corners, yet fused together where I had roughness on the base layer).
Although I hadn’t run the MG47 with support, I wondered if the lower die swell of the MG47 helped provide such good results when running at a 0.007″ slice height. I realized that I had never checked the die swell of the P400S support material, so I finally checked it – a whopping 0.020″! It makes sense that the support material wouldn’t act as kindly with such a small layer height – it wants to swell up, as it’s being ’smeared’ to a road width much greater than the road thickness.
At this point I wondered if newer algorithms and flow curves present in Insight might make 7 thou base layers behave a little better. Unfortunately, Insight never had support for the 1600 (and official support for the entire FDM thousand series machines was dropped at the end of the version 6 lifespan), though it can generate output for the 1650. Given that there are a number of 1650s still in use, yet I’m the only one I know of with a 1600, it was possible that differences between the two are minimal. In looking through generated output from QuickSlice for the two models, it looked like parameters were very similar (though the 1650 is run a little faster). I crossed my fingers, set up Insight to send to a 1650 and let it rip on a Mendel test part at a 0.010″ slice height. Wonder of wonders, it ran without a hitch – a part that would take an hour in Quickslice would take only about 45 minutes through Insight! I set up a whole plate of Mendel parts, and it ran equally well. I then tried a small part at a 0.007″ slice height in Insight – it ran fine, so perhaps having a large surface area for the base is an issue. Insight also has several support styles available, so I’ll need to play with those settings as well.