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Extrusion Multiplier: Effects Thereof

Part of the Curvelicious Cookie Cutter effort involved making the thinnest possible cutter blade wall consisting of two adjacent threads, because that’s about what the Afinia printer was producing (from a different model). My OpenSCAD code, based on an Inkscape model derived from the as-printed Afinia cutter, enlarges the cookie shape by a specific distance with a Minkowski sum; the model ultimately becomes G-Code directing the extruder nozzle around the outline.

Obviously, that required a bit of fiddling:

Robot Cutter Variations

Robot Cutter Variations

The pink cutter on the top came from the Afinia, complete with raft. The red cutters, all with short blades to speed up the printing, came from my M2.

The printer mechanics determine the step/mm values for all four axes: X, Y, Z, and the extruder. The effective diameter of the “gear” driving the filament into the extruder seems subject to some quibbling, but setting it so the thinwall box comes out with the proper filament width seems reasonable. Given those four values, the slicing software can control the extruder speed to produce the proper volume of plastic as the XY speed varies.

The slicing software must also know the raw filament diameter, which seems to be consistent within a few percent for the filaments in my collection. Because a 1% change in filament diameter produces a 3% change in extruded volume, a few percent is about all you can tolerate; broad-tolerance filament may require sensors and adjustments that printers don’t currently offer.

There is one remaining variable, essentially a Fudge Factor, which Slic3r calls the extrusion multiplier. This seems to be a linear factor applied to the extrusion volume, so that increasing the factor proportionally increase the flow rate. Given correct step/mm settings and the measured filament diameter, you (well, I) adjust the extrusion multiplier to get the proper extrusion flow. As it turned out, the multiplier I’ve been using with the M2 worked out to 1.00, although I’ve also used 0.97 on occasion. Although I haven’t read the Slic3r source code to verify this, varying the multiplier by +3% should fudge the diameter by about +0.017 mm = 1% of the measured 1.72 mm.

Note that the Makergear-modified Marlin firmware in the M2 will produce different results, as they use a different value for the extruder gear’s effective diameter. More discussion on that is there.

Soooo, I set up the extrusion multiplier to produce parts with accurate dimensions, because that’s what I care about, and didn’t worry too much about perfect surface finish, because I don’t really care about that. Cookie cutters, however, need a completely filled surface that prevents dough from collecting inside, but have essentially no dimensional accuracy requirements.

The quartet of stumpy cutters bundled together on the left of the top photo explored the effect of changing the extrusion multiplier. I used the same STL model for all the cutters and varied only the extrusion factor, so the results depend only on the plastic flow rate and the M2’s impeccable mechanical stability.

A sharp cusp at 0.96 has a slight opening:

Robot Cutter - 0.96 extrusion multiplier

Robot Cutter – 0.96 extrusion multiplier

The cusp fills in at 1.10:

Robot Cutter - 1.10 extrusion multiplier

Robot Cutter – 1.10 extrusion multiplier

The handle surface is slightly open at 0.96:

Robot Cutter - 0.96 extrusion multiplier

Robot Cutter – 0.96 extrusion multiplier

And filled in at 1.10:

Robot Cutter - 1.10 extrusion multiplier

Robot Cutter – 1.10 extrusion multiplier

In all those cases, the measured blade thickness varied slightly, but not enough to matter in this application. I didn’t record those numbers and no longer have the models, but … you just tune for best picture.

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  1. #1 by Jason Doege on 2013-09-17 - 10:11

    Do you have to tune using the object you wish to print or is there a small and therefore quickly printed test object you could use?

    • #2 by Ed on 2013-09-17 - 12:55

      The thinwall open box seems to cover all the initial settings:

      • Step/mm calibration
      • First layer adhesion
      • Layer thickness
      • Layer width
      • Extrusion temperature
      • Small object cooling

      The rest is just a matter of fine tuning… [grin]

      [Edit: I admit that I’m a big fan of not screwing around with different settings for different objects. I can get away with that only because most of the things I make look a lot alike. If I were doing single-wall vases, snowflakes, pillboxes, and lower receivers, I’d have a different opinion.]