Mechanical UpgradesMy Rostock Max was an early V1 machine. The newer V2 with the recently introduced ball joint arms and new carriages is quite nice. I don't know if I would have experimented if I had these to start. However, the components I use now do have a high-tech look and are quite reliable. Here's what I have:
TrickLaser Trick Trucks with Delrin wheels. These are very nice and with 3 rollers, do not over constrain movement. In this case, 3 rollers are all that's required and are easily adjusted to remove slop.
TrickLaser Carbon Fiber Arms with ball ends. I replaced my previous magnetic ball end upgrade with these. The magnetics worked well enough but I was concerned that the mass and "drag" from all the wiring from a Kraken hot end might be too much for the magnets. These arms and ends work very well and I get equally excellent layer alignment and precision.
I have not replaced my original V1 effector but I did JBWeld the rods in place to make it more rigid.
PEI print surface. I've spent a LOT of time testing all sorts of print surfaces and concoctions. The only significant surface that I have not personally tested is the GeckoTek surface. For me, PEI gives 100% consistent results, NO part separation failures and beautiful first layer surface finish. My primary use for 3D printing is to manufacture fly fishing reels I sell. These reels are seen and handled on all surfaces and the bottom layer, in particular, is highly visible and must be near flawless. PEI with a light 600 grit sanding and cleaning with isopropyl alcohol imparts a beautiful matte finish and 100% consistency with first layer adherence.
I use PEI for PLA and ABS. For Nylon I use Garolite and other surfaces for polycarbonate, acetal and other exotic filaments.
1/8" Aluminum Heat Dissipator underneath the borosilicate glass/PEI layer helps evenly transmit heat from the Onyx bed heater.
I run both 12V and 24V power supplies. This was primarily an evolutionary thing. If I were starting from scratch today, I would only run 24 volts. The steppers and fans run on 12V and the hot end and bed heater on 24V. I do use a high quality SSR that has very low voltage drop and is ideal for this application. This controls the output to the bed with 12V on the control side and 24V on the output to the bed side.
Kraken Hot End - I originally got the Kraken to experiment with multi-extrusion (it has 4 nozzles!). Another unique feature of the Kraken is that the cold end is water cooled with a 12V water pump. For the type of multi-extrusions work I want to do, multiple nozzles is not practical as drool and drag are problematic. However, I'm completely sold on water cooling! I've run this hot end for 6+ hours/day nearly every day for the last year printing PLA with absolutely no clogs or filament starving. It has been amazing in that respect. I've left all 4 nozzles hooked up and simply lower the one I want to use to the bed with the easy "leveling" set screws on the hot end. So only 1 nozzle is heated and active at a time.
Water Cooling - see above.
FSR Bed Leveling System - my initial experimentation with simple endstop switches mounted to the effector were sub-optimal and inconsistent. With a delta printer, in particular, having the nozzle tip act as the trigger point has advantages and is a "must have" in my opinion (and my experimentation has validated this). This is because unless the effector moves perfectly parallel to the bed surface with NO rocking or tilting as it moves, probing anywhere other than right at the tip of the nozzle is going to introduce errors.
Duet Control Board - without a doubt, along with FSR leveling, the upgrade to Duet and the associated dc42 branch of the RepRapFirmware has been the singe BEST upgrade I've done to my Rostock. Since building this machine I've migrated from the original RAMBo controller to an Azteeg X3 Pro, to Smoothieboard/Smoothieware and more recently, the Duet/RepRapFirmware. For almost 18 months I chased the elusive "delta auto calibration" Grail with very little success. Arduino based firmwares like Repeater and Marlin just didn't work properly (and there was a fair amount of confusion in Marlin with various branches supporting different probes and calculations). Smoothieware doesn't have built-in delta auto-calibration but 626Pilot on the SeeMeCNC forum developed a very nice heuristic calibration on a special branch. The challenge was, due to memory limitations on the Smoothieboard, you can not enable a panel display and/or ethernet with auto-calibration enabled. In use, this introduced aggravating friction even though the auto-calibration was functional, albeit time consuming to run. Then I discovered dc42 firmware. This firmware has built-in delta calibration that calibrates very well in less than 30 seconds and supports ethernet, a very elegant built-in web interface and support for the elegant touch screen PanelDue display. My workflow now includes performing a calibration at the start of almost every print - that's how fast and useful it is. As if this was not enough, the dc42 delta motion control is unique as well. All other mainstream firmwares calculate delta movement in short line segments. Not so dc42, it calculates each and every point of movement. Read my recent forum post if you'd like to learn more. I have also added a wifi bridge so my Rostock is wireless. With the integrated web client, I can upload gcode files, upload firmware configuration changes, and control the printer.
I had been trying to print two color "encapsulated logos" to add to my fly fishing reels for almost a year. The Cyclops hot end was promising but until I discovered the Bondtech QRs, could not produce the results I was looking for with near 100% reliability. Here is an example:
I've already mentioned a few software components I use now: the dc42 RepRapFirmware and the integrated web printer control client. I use RhinoCAD on OS X for all my design work. For slicing, I've tried all of the open source (Slic3r, Cura, MatterSlice) slicers, KISSlicer, and Simplify3D (v3). Of these, KISSlicer is still my go-to slicer. Last summer several significant updates to support multi-extrusion were added along with a feature I requested to separate filament retraction speeds so retract and advance could be different. This is because my research and experimentation with PLA uncovered that it is thixotropic and with rapid retract moves, can jam the hot end. Slowing down the retract eliminates this problem but with other slicers, that slows down the advance also. Now, with KISS, I can slow retract down to 15mm/s and advance at 40mm/s and get excellent results with no jamming.
RECAPHere's what I hope is a helpful list to summarize what I think the most important upgrades have been in priority order. If I were to start with a new Rostock Max V2 today, this is what I would do:
- PEI bed surface with aluminum dissipator
- Duet controller and dc42 firmware
- FSR bed leveling system (2 & 3 should actually be 2a and 2b as they go together)
- 24V Onyx heated bed upgrade with SSR
- Either a Kraken water cooled hot end or an E3D-Online V6 hot end with air cooling initially and then ultimately convert it to water cooling with the soon to be released upgrade or making your own simple jacket.