Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Printing glass environments without support material on the Afinia H-Series

Afinia H-Series 3D Printer Setup
After installation of the Afinia Software, turn on the printer via switch from the back. In order to ensure that the design prints properly on the slide, the build plate must be leveled correctly. Access to changing nozzle height branches from clicking on the menu bar 3D print>Maintenance. In the following screen, the option for changing the height for each of the corners can be accomplished by selecting each of the options of “FL, FR, Center, NL, NR” and selecting set nozzle height to a particular height by clicking on “Set Nozzle Height>Yes.” This can be accomplished successfully by setting the nozzle height in the center and each corner of the build plate at a displacement exactly 2 mm between slide and nozzle. In regards to appropriate extruding of the ABS plastic, the displacement between the slide and nozzle must be exactly 0.2 mm. Once proper leveling has been established, printing of the selected environment for the slide can be proceeded to.

Printing with the Afinia H-Series 3D Printer
Before printing, it is imperative to become acquainted with the functions of the printer so that each step of the print can be recognized from the printer itself (Figure 5).
Figure 5. Table of Status Indicators for the Afinia H-Series 3D Printer.

Initialize the Afinia by clicking from the menu bar 3D print>Initialize.  Once initialized, begin heating the table via menu bar 3D print>Maintenance>Table Heat 1 HR. Heating the table to the optimal temperature of ~105° C will take 15 minutes, and another 10 minutes to ensure that the plastic will extrude solidly. It is important to begin this process before following the steps that ensue, for this will allow for the desired environment to print as fast and nicely as possible.
After the table begins to heat, select the design you wish to print from Tinkercad by selecting the option from the menu bar File>Download for 3D Printing. This will prompt for selection of a format to print the design; create the file as an STL or UP3. In the Afinia H-Series Software, select Auto-Placement of the file and the fix option to ensure that the environment printing on the slide is appropriately centered and contains no errors that will cause any deformations in the environment. The auto-placement option can be selected from the menu bar File>Auto-placement, and the fix option can be selected from the menu bar Edit>Fix. With the design auto-placed and fixed correctly, it is time to set the design at the right level on the platform to print on. Since the design will print without a base or support material, the design must be leveled exactly on the slide. To do so, click on the design within the software and pay close attention to the “Min” settings. Select from the menu bar Move, and once highlighted, select “-1” in the scroll bar and move down the object to exactly 0 mm in the z-direction. Next check the printing settings by clicking the menu bar 3D Print>Setup or the 3D print>Preferences from the button. The only settings that need to be manipulated for the design is printing with the “only base” option and the solid fill settings. Printing without support material and with a solid filling is imperative for maximum clarity of the worm and for strength and stability of the design. After the printer has been heating up for approximately 10 minutes after the build table has reached a heat of approximately 105° C, the design will be ready to print. This setup will work well for more simplistic environments, such as creating channels.
However, for the designs with posts, ensuring sturdiness of the posts for the print along with minimizing the amount of spewed plastic can be difficult. For these designs, it is recommended to not bring the design to print exactly on the platform by bringing it down in -1 mm increments from the z-axis. Instead, leave the design where it will be auto-placed and print with a base for the posts that is smaller than the printer can handle. This will allow for the printer to recognize that a base is in the design, yet since it can’t print the base it will treat the posts accordingly (Figure 6).
Figure 6. Glass slide smoothed with acetone-based glue and printed with standard Auto-placement settings.


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