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MakerGear M2: Slic3r Start G-Code for PETG / V4 / 24 V / Whatever

The already ponderous chunk of G-Code that slic3r prepends to the outgoing file got a bit more complex with all the changes going on around here.

As it stands now, the starting G-Code looks like this:

;-- Slic3r Start G-Code for M2 starts --
;  Ed Nisley KE4NZU - 2015-03-07
;  Makergear V4 hot end
; Z-min switch at platform, must move nozzle to X=135 to clear
M140 S[first_layer_bed_temperature]	; start bed heating
G90				; absolute coordinates
G21				; millimeters
M83				; relative extrusion distance
M17				; enable steppers
G4 P500			;  ... wait for power up
G92 Z0			; set Z to zero, wherever it might be now
G1 Z10 F1000	; move platform downward to clear nozzle; may crash at bottom
G28 Y0			; home Y to clear plate, origin in middle
G92 Y-127
G28 X0			; home X, origin in middle
G92 X-100
G1 X130 Y0 F15000	; move off platform to right side, center Y
G28 Z0			; home Z to platform switch, with measured offset
G92 Z-2.10
G0 Z2.0			; get air under switch
G0 Y-127 F10000	; set up for priming, zig around corner
G0 X0			;  center X
G0 Y-125.0		; just over platform edge
G0 Z0 F500	; exactly at platform
M109 S[first_layer_temperature]	; set extruder temperature and wait
M190 S[first_layer_bed_temperature]	; wait for bed to finish heating
G1 E20 F300		; prime to get pressure, generate blob on edge
G0 Y-123 F500		; shear off blob
G1 X15 F15000	; jerk away from blob, move over surface
G4 P500			; pause to attach
G1 X45 F500		; slowly smear snot to clear nozzle
G1 Z1.0 F2000	; clear bed for travel
;-- Slic3r Start G-Code ends --

The blow-by-blow description…

Lines 9-10: Manually enable stepper drivers and wait half a second

Changing to a 24 V power supply for the motors doesn’t affect the winding current (because the drivers control that), but it does increase the current’s rate-of-change (because inductor voltage = L di/dt and the applied voltage is 26% higher) during each microstep. That means the motors snap to a whole-step position a bit faster when the Marlin firmware enables the drivers and the higher di/dt induces more glitch voltage in, say, the endstop cable, triggering a false contact sense (as the circuit depends on the Arduino’s 20+ kΩ internal pullup resistor). In any event, a half-second snooze avoids the problem.

Lines 18-19: Home Z-axis & set platform switch offset

The only way to set the offset accurately is to compare the actual height of a printed object (or the skirt around it) with the nominal value. I use 5 mm tall thinwall open boxes and, after setting the Extrusion Multiplier properly, they’re good test objects.

Lines 22-24: Extruder final heating

PETG tends to stick to the nozzle, so the nozzle now sits just over the edge of the glass plate and flush with the top surface, so that the initial drool forms a glob anchored to the side of the plate. It looks like this:

V4 PETG - preheat position

V4 PETG – preheat position

Notice the curl attached to the nozzle: I generally pick those off with a tweezer, but let this one remain to show how this mess works.

Line 31: Prime the extruder

With the hot end and platform temperatures stabilized, I ram 20 mm of filament into the extruder to refill it and stabilize its internal pressure. Because it’s been drooling ever since the plastic melted, not very much plastic comes out, but what does emerge enlarges the blob and bonds with the plastic stuck on the nozzle, thusly:

V4 PETG - extruder priming

V4 PETG – extruder priming

Lines 28-29: Detach the blob

Moving 2 mm onto the platform leaves most of the snot hanging on the edge of the glass, with just a bit on the far side of the nozzle. Doing that relatively slowly gives the plastic time to flow around the nozzle and remain with the blob, then zipping to X=15 encourages it to detach.

Lines 30-31: Wipe away what’s left

Pause for half a second to allow whatever’s left to attach to the platform, then slowly move to X=45, and watch the remaining snot leave a trail on the platform as it oozes off the nozzle.

Then hop up 1 mm to clear the platform and pass control to the rest of the G-Code with a clean nozzle!

That’s the ideal outcome, of course. Sometimes a recalcitrant blob hangs on, but it generally oozes off while the nozzle trudges around three skirt outlines…

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  1. #1 by Simon davies on 2015-05-02 - 07:41

    I have been watching my UP! Plus (which uses a proprietary slicer routine) and realised it does something similar to your routine here to start with a clean nozzle before proceeding with the print. However it appears to do about 25mm =1″ of raft style printing; so having the nozzle closer to the board than normal and endeavoring to squeeze the maximum unti the perf board. This happens at the full speed of the print where ‘fast’, ‘normal’ and ‘fine’ are on offer indicating a difference between, prototype, shake the machine apart, something reasonable and sluggish with excellent detailing.
    Simon

    • #2 by Ed on 2015-05-02 - 08:43

      start with a clean nozzle

      The Thing-O-Matic had a silicone rubber wiper that came heartbreakingly close to working. It’d wipe most of the the drool off one side, but trying to wipe the other side would pick up the first blob again.

      So cleaning the nozzle on the edge of the platform actually improved the outcome… [sigh]

      perf board

      I did some cookie cutters with Cristin, who ran two Afinias pretty much full time. They’re basically rebadged UP! printers using FR-4 perfboard and she hated cleaning rafts off her cutters; the M2’s glass-flat bottoms got her attention.

      Oddly, though, FR-4 perfboard seems to be the new hotness: mechanical joints may be the only way to persuade exotic plastics to stay put. Everything old is new again!

  2. #3 by Simon on 2015-05-05 - 07:29

    As a very recent convert to 3D printers, there is a steep learning curve happening here – my initial attempts with my second hand UP! seemed easy – until I discovered that the filament I thought was ABS was actually PLA – and running at ABS temperatures makes it stick to most things. Since then I have fought with levelling issues, an aluminium base board that is not flat by quite a long way (+/-0.6mm) and discovered in turn that I prefer PLA and then ABS and that the UP filament is the greatest/difficult to work with…Also huge issues with boxes and the like turning into banana shaped junk during the printing which I think is associated with the levelling problem.
    No doubt you have been through all of this!
    Perf board I find to be ok but I have issues with the old bits in the holes coming up proud of the surface at some point during the heating process…

    • #4 by Ed on 2015-05-05 - 08:05

      a steep learning curve

      Indeed!

      Before someone actually tries to run a 3D printer, they have no idea how many things can (and will!) go wrong between “Hey, I need X” and having X in hand, for all values of 3D printer and X.

      Apart from the ABS/PLA confusion, I’d say you’re encountering all the usual problems. Although it may seem like cold comfort, remember that you learn more from your failures than your successes.

      Welcome aboard! [grin]