Category Archives: Uncategorized

3d print Journal 10-01-18 : Slicer Vase Mode

Happy new year to you all.Anet A8 upgrades : Anet A8 3d printer

Prior to the Christmas break I was printing with my Anet A8 3d printer.

I had the slicer vase mode set– if you haven’t tried it you must.

Vase mode produces, in some slicers, a continuous spiral – no steps in layers and only one shell thick no infill.

Great for vases!

But people have found that you can print other items, which follow the rules – continuous circuit on each level.

So a mathematical christmas tree and other objects have appeared.

The first slicer I tried with vase mode was KISSlicer.kisslicer logo

You have a lot more control over most things with this slicer and it can be very confusing to start with – it is really frustrating that most of these slicers call the same thing by a different name – just trying to be clever I think but to the end user it is very confusing.

Anyway, I had gone through a certain number of calibrations with KISSlicer and thought I was getting somewhere.

They have model which does not slow your printer down as a calibration piece. Download it here.kisslicer vase mode

So I was getting on with the vase mode ( found by sliding the infill slider to the right in the style tab) and not really being happy with the fact tat it would print like a normal print – with the z axis going up a full level each layer, but with no experience in vase mode how do you know different.

I started printing out the Christmas trees, and found a few problems -like minimum layer time – the printer would, at the top of the tree, raise the print head and wait then resume. The top would then not print properly.

Another reason to look at the sliced file before printing, so I did next time and thought I had cracked it – it was ok until about 1cm from the top where it did the same again, even with the min time per layer set to 0.

so enough of this I changed slicers, I went back to the one I think most people have used Cura.cura logo

Reading through some of the older posts on forums I came across the fact that in cura vase mode was called ‘spiralize the outer contour’ – vase mode is shorter and more descriptive!

Activate it by going into expert settings and click the selection.

old cura vase mode

So I tried a print in this and wow – I sat there for a fair few rotations of the christmas tree, watching the z axis continuously turning ever so slowly the print nozzle never stopping and the filament continuoulsy being fed.

What a joy!

The print – well there was no seam to start with, it was as people had described vase mode – a very thin single layer structure.

And it printed to the very tip with no problems!

I like the idea of KISSlicer and will go back to it in the future, but at the moment I am back with Cura, version 15.04.6 at least.

With the success of this I looked on thingiverse and downloaded a few more vase patterns – I can recommend the vases by  Ferjerez Mathematical creations which if you have scad you can play with.

Some of the vases and bowls absolutely stunning – thank you Ferjerez.

Printing some of the vases I noticed that in the overhangs there were gaps, looking for the answer online I read that this was due to poor machine setup, hmm what had I done wrong?

I had printed a few more things in ‘normal’ mode and came back to this.

Setting the slicer up and saving the gcode I printed another vase and waited.

This time the walls were thicker and it had all worked, even the overhangs had printed vase worked ok

Looking at the settings in Cura I had left the wall thickness at 0.8, printed with a 0.4mm nozzle. I didn’t think this was possible, but it did it, over extrusion maybe? But I don’t care it worked.

So I went ahead and printed a bowl from the same pack and again it came out with a thicker wall thickness sslicer vase mode green bowland was able to hold its shape well.

I downloaded the later version of Cura – 3.0.2 at that time and had sliced the same model, I need to sort out the start gcode so it acts the same as the old version and not drag the nozzle across the bed.find it here in later versions

I hadn’t really explored it with this program and updated to version 3.1.0, it loads so slooowly on my PC.

I downloaded another ‘ test your printer’ file by majda107 and h

ad sliced that in the latest Cura, saved it – had a quick look at the layers and copied it across to my sd card.

On printing it I thought something was wrong with my printer – the first layer would not stick and the further the machine got into the print the worse it was.

Using a screwdriver I was constantly adjusting the height of the bed – flashbacks of the old days when my Z axis endstop was loose – nope it still wouldn’t stick.

I happened to glance up at the display and saw the Z height at 0.8mm and thought – that’s strange it should be on the first layer, how come.

Then it dawned on me, my hand slid slowly around to the reset switch on the main board and pressed it.

The print head was slid across to the left and the mess on the bed was cleaned up.

Back to the PC to slice it again – this time untick the ‘spiralize the outer contour’ and slice it again.

Yes I did laugh and wonder at the software engineer who could have added something to the display to say that you are in a ‘special’ mode rather than standard mode. But no they leave you in the dark with most of this. And people wonder why 3d printing does not take off with the masses!!

yes I did check the layer mode more carefully this time and yes it did print more than just an outer shell. I do wonder what it really would have printed if I had left it and the layers had stuck together- would It be a ghost outline of the model which it was going to print?

So if you take nothing else from this – make sure you check that you are not going to print in vase mode when you expect something else!

And increase the wall thickness of vase mode to make your models a lot thicker and stronger.

I did notice when playing around with the later Cura 3.x.x you will need to exit the program and restart it to get the model to slice correctly.

Good luck with your printing. so go and have fun with your slicer vase mode.

Thanks for reading


Anet A8 bearing replacement- SB1

Service Bulletin 1 (SB1)Anet A8 upgrades : Anet A8 3d printer

This service bulletin details how to check and perform Anet A8 bearing replacement on the X and Y axis.

What are the symptoms which require Anet A8 bearing replacement

After you have bought your 3d printer and used it a fair bit you may notice a few strange noises.

Where the print head used to glide across the printer, you notice a knocking noise as it changes direction.

When the bed changes direction there is a visible jump.

Well the main cause for this could be wear on the linear bearings. Continue reading Anet A8 bearing replacement- SB1

5 Mods for the Anet A8 3d Printer

The Anet A8 is a cost effective introductory printer into the 3d 5 mods for the anet a8 : Anet A8 3d printerprinting world.

As a build it yourself model, it is up to you how you modify it.

The standard build is good and will teach you a lot about 3d printing.

But it can be improved on easily and cheaply. Continue reading 5 Mods for the Anet A8 3d Printer

Cooling nozzles for 3d Printers – What do you need?

Testing the cooling nozzles on an anet a8cooling nozzles in situ

Are you happy with your prints from your 3d printer? Could your cooling nozzles on your 3d printer be part of the problem?

Check out what it is for and how it does what it does. Continue reading Cooling nozzles for 3d Printers – What do you need?

3D print Nozzle secrets

All about a 3d print nozzle

3d print nozzle : main

Continue reading 3D print Nozzle secrets

Where to place your 3d printer for the best results

person shrugging

So you have bought yourself a 3d printer- excellent, now- where to place your 3d printer for the best results.

With the helpful hints in this post you can be sure that if you follow them you will get the best results from your 3d printer. Continue reading Where to place your 3d printer for the best results

Build Your Own 3d Printer Kit: Renren3d LE (A Delta Printer) Part 4

Build your own 3d printer kit – part 4 – programming

So you want to build your own 3d printer kit, so did I – I bought the renren3d le printerRenren3d LE kit.

If you have been following along you will have a built a printer and be waiting for it to work.

Just as a recap.

This series of blogs is my build of the Renren3d LE printer

The series so far consists of

Part 1 – initial setup

Part 2  – frame build

Part 3  – fitting the electronics

And this is part 4 – the programming of the unit Continue reading Build Your Own 3d Printer Kit: Renren3d LE (A Delta Printer) Part 4

3d printer problems: hardware error: build platform heating up when printer first switched on

A little while ago a friend had a problem of the build platform bed heating no powerheating up when printer first switched on. He asked why?

Make sure you are not seeing residual heat from the last print. Leave the printer on for a couple of minutes and watch for a temperature rise on the heated bed before going through this fault diagnosis.

If you see the bed temperature rise above 50C on it’s own ten switch off and follow this fault diagnosis. Continue reading 3d printer problems: hardware error: build platform heating up when printer first switched on

3d Print Failure : A Lesson to be Learned From

You know when you have one of those days you shouldn’t have switched your printer on. Well mine was now.

I just tried printing out  thin man by walltosh, and di3 thumbwheel bed dial adjustment wheels i combined them in Cura.

3d print failure : flatmen

These started off alright but very quickly became a 3d print failure. The filament was picking up dragging with the print head.

Ok, it happens – clean off the bed and start again.

Auto zero the machine and try again.

Nope it failed again. This time on first layer adhesion!

Clean off the build platform again.

Add some glue to the build platform and this time try the Wanhao print bed level check.

Nope still not sticking in places.

Ok,ok enough. Switching the machine off the build platform was brought to the front. All of the PLA cleaned off and the platform washed off with soapy water.

Now it should be alright.

Switch it back on, auto zero the printer and try the calibration again.

Still failing to adhere to the platform.

Clean it off.

Switch it off.

Readjust the front bed levelling screws.

Try again.

This time the extruder motor sat there and clicked, skipping filament!!!! brilliant.

I don’t need to clean it off this time as there is no filament!!!!!

A blockage, just what I need.

Before it cools eject the filament. Excellent it snaps above the height of the ptfe tube.

Switch it off.

So after a cup of tea.

Switch the printer back on, navigate to preheat PLA, and use a pair of pliers to try to remove the filament. You have got to be kidding me. It snaps again slightly lower.

Switch it off.

Ok, nothing left it now needs stripping.

Switch it on and navigate to preheat PLA again, wait for it to get hot and wipe off the excess PLA from the nozzle with a paper towel.

Using a spanner and mole grips, to hold the heated block, the nozzle comes loose and is removed.

Switch the unit off, I noticed that the lower x axis rod was getting hot. That’s not right. So looking at how the hot end is put together I see that I have a thermal bridge between the two nuts on the

3d print failure: thermal bridgethreaded rod. As there is no gap between the nuts the heat from the hot end is able to travel up to the mount and from here to the bearing and onto the rod.

This is what caused the filament to melt inside the extruder. The cause of the failure.

I will need to remember that when I put it back together.

The stainless threaded tube with the ptfe guide in is supposed to be the thermal break for the hot end! Oops. I’m learning.

Removing the threaded tube by unlocking the nut and removing the retaining screw. I use the mole grips again to hold the hot end while doing the two nuts up together. This allows me to use the lower nut to unscrew the threaded tube. And yes it is blocked with filament.

Using an allen key to push the ptfe guide out of the bottom of the tube I could see that the heat had melted the filament past the end of the ptfe and had jammed it within the threaded tube. It was going nowhere fast!!

With the fact that ptfe is so slippery the filament slid out with little trouble. But yes it had melted above the top of the ptfe tube.

Right now to reassemble it.

Put the ptfe back into the threaded tube.

3d print failure : clean faces

Clean the seat of the nozzle, clean off the plastic on the heated block. Both of these surfaces need to be clean or the plastic will start to ooze out when heated.

Once the nozzle is fitted into the block and tightened, not too tight but enough not to come loose when heated. The threaded tube is now screwed down until it meets the nozzle. If there is a gap left between the nozzle and the tube it will allow the filament to bulge and cause a blockage, requiring stripping of the hot end again very soon.

3d print failure : locked nuts

Use the same technique of locking the two nuts together to force the threaded tube onto the nozzle. Unlock the nuts using two spanners and use the lower to keep the tube in place up against the heating block.

Now to ensure that there is at least 3mm between the nuts. Set the second nut at approx 3mm away from the nut locked against the heating block. Screw the lower extruder motor mount onto the threaded tube.

3d print failure : thermal gap

Only screw it on far enough to allow the lower mount to be placed into the motor bracket.

Screw in the retaining screw and then lock the upper nut up against the motor mount. As the nozzle is lower I will need to adjust the bed to compensate.

Screw the motor back on and refit the tension spring.

Ok so that is back together.

Before you insert the filament we need to carry out the adjustment of the bed.

What I found was that the x axis end stop screws had come loose, so the x end stop was a bit variable. This was re-tightened.

As the ‘home’ position for this printer is off the build platform you don’t know whether the z axis is correct. So what I did was to get a piece of paper and cut a 2 in (50mm) square. Tape the corner of this

3d print failure : razor tapedto the build platform with the other corner extending under the print nozzle – I ended up using a razor blade, just be very careful if you do this not to cut yourself. I found that the paper was not rigid enough, so thin card would be better.

Using the move axis menu routine you can now adjust your z axis end stop until you are very close but above the build platform. What I had noticed was the adjustment screws for the build platform were almost down to their

3d print failur : nozzle touching blademinimum. I set the z axis end stop to approx 1mm (0.025in) above the blade.

I think the reason this had happened was that the z axis end stop had become loose. Note to self – if you need to adjust the printer a lot then stop and see what is loose!!

I now moved the print head over the build platform and performed the paper calibration to get somewhere close to the right height. This was performed in all of the corners. Now there is adjustment on the springs.

Going back to the ‘home’ position I then trimmed the end of the filament, with the slipping earlier the gear wheel feed had marked the filament. Shaping it with cutters slightly will ease insertion.

Navigate to the preheat PLA menu and wait for the temperature to be reached, go to the move axis menu and navigate to the extruder axis, move the filament at least 6mm (1/4in) to ensure that there is no blockage within the nozzle and the filament is coming out straight.

All ok so far.

The fan starts when I select preheat PLA and there is no way of switching it off, so switch off the mains and back on to reset.

Navigate to print from sd and select the calibration.

Watch in anticipation while the printer heats up again and starts to move the print head towards the build platform.

This time there is a thin line of filament laid down onto the build platform. It is not really stuck to the build platform so the front two platform adjusters are turned half a turn.

The print continues and reaches the end.

The platform is cleaned off.

And try again.

This time the filament is pressed down onto the build platform and produces the square with a cross perfectly.

A smile forms across my face, the printer is back in action.

The calibration print is removed from the build platform.

It is wiped down.

You navigate to the print from sd card and select the model you were trying to print over 3 hours ago.

This time it prints perfectly.

3d print failure : thin men 2

The morale is that if you have to keep adjusting things or if prints keep failing there is something wrong – it is not just in a bad mood with you.

Look after your printer and it will cause you less hassle when you really need it. The same as anything in life really.

I hope after reading this you will spend a few minutes looking over your 3d printer and check all is well.

What have you come across that you should have done but put it down to your printer being temperamental? Share your stories in the comments box below – or if it is a long one get in contact it might make a post!

Thanks for reading


oh and another thing – if you happen to melt the air duct on your extruder you might find that your print stops part way through.

My extruder stopped working for – to me – no reason.

So I stopped the print and went to the extruder move axis menu. The temperature was correct and still it did not extrude.

So I switched off and on – could have got a job in the royal navy – going back to the print from sd I tried again.

It failed again, this time though I glanced at the temperature of the extruder – it had dropped from 210C to 180C and the filament was not coming out. I removed the duct and the temperature rose and the filament started to come out again.

Fitting the duct in backwards helped with the temperature, I will need to print off another duct and will probably go for one which surrounds the nozzle and points down rather than one which just emits air from one direction.

The reason for the stopping of the filament – the air flow was cooling the heater block too much and the cartridge heater could not keep up. The print didn’t stop, just the filament! I thought I had another blockage but it was just the air flow!! so another 3d print failure averted.