Frequently Asked Questions


There are several things about the 3D Monster family that are worth highlighting. 

  1. Size. At 1, 3.4 and 8 cubic feet of build volume, our machines are some of the largest in the industry
  2. Multiple fully independant extruders, each with its own temperature control. The stock machines are configured with 2 extruders, but there will be an option to upgrade to 4 extruders. This is significant because you'll be able to print with support material, multiple colors, and multiple materials, which allows much more versatility in your prints. 
  3. Vertical Layer Resolution. Our printers have been tested to print at and below 40 micron layer resolution. This is one of industry-leading specs and begins to approach the resolution of large commercial machines
  4. Rigidity. The strength of 3DMonstr is part of what allows it to be so precise. This allows us to use stronger motors, which provide faster speeds at large size - making large format printing more practical. An additional advantage of frame rigidity and precision is that once properly calibrated, the machine stays calibrated for a long time.
  5. Modularity. The 3DMonstr machines are built to expand with the rapidly improving 3D printing technology. The printer is modular and has many interchangeable parts: motors, controllers, displays, and, most importantly, our FastMount(TM) extruders.
  6. Our printers are foldable making them easy to store and to transport.  Normally with machines this size, you need to take them apart to move them.  With 3DMonstr, it's easy to fold flat as one piece, or take apart into two pieces and then put back together, easily, quickly, and with no tools.

Although the initial setup requires two people due to the size of the printer, the setup is easy. The printer comes in two parts and will take about 30-60 minutes to put everything together, including setting up the liquid cooling system, hanging the extruders on the QuickMount, setting up the spools, leveling the bed, etc.

Prosumer is a new and happy medium between professional and consumer equipment. Prosumer technology has a specific market, which is where you come in. Our target market is consumers who are interested in 3D printing at large scale, and who are going to be more involved with the creation process, from design to personal customization.

The 3DMonstr family of 3D printers is going to help define prosumer products by competing with similar professional grade products, while retaining consumer prices. 

Our 3D printers come mostly fully assembled because we believe that when they're built to completion in our facility, with precision instrumentation and by our team who have been working on the machine from day one and understand all of their ins and outs, they will be more reliable and have better precision out of the box.  For the larger printers, the gantry and the tables will ship separately.  You will be able to put them together, without tools, in about 3-5 minutes.

Not entirely. We feel that manufacturing our printers requires large, high precision, expensive CNC machines that are not available to most OS Hardware makers. So the only folks that would actually benefit from us open-sourcing the design will be the large off-shore manufacturers. Frankly, we're not ready for that level of competition yet.

On the other hand, we would very much like to support those makers who want to improve their 3DMonstrs. Accordingly, we will publish certain mechanical, electrical and electronic interfaces on our printers under one of the OSH licenses. In particular, we will open up the mechanical interface between QuickMount and LittleTitan extruders. We will also publish the electrical and electronic interface between the control computer and the extruder itself.

So you will be able to add an extruder of your own design to your 3DMonstr printer. And you will be able to take one of our LittleTitan extruders and have enough information to try to make it work on a different printer. In the future, we will even sell extruder interface kits that include everything you need (mechanical parts and electronic components) to create your own extruders that will work with the 3DMonstr printers.

Also, all our future extruders will comply with these interfaces. So when we are ready to deliver our Food, LowTemp-Paste, and Pellet extruders, you'll be able to hang them on the 3DMonstr printer you already own.

Finally, all the software related to our printers is completely Open Source. We use a slightly customized version of the Open Source firmware, and will publish source code on our site. We would hope that the Open Source community accepts our modifications back into their source tree, and would work with them to help them in doing so. But in either case, we will support our modifications over time, including updating the firmware to follow major releases. As for the higher layers (Host, Slicer), we strongly recommend Open Source tools such as Repetier-Host and Slic3R. We will continue to track the developments in those communities and continue to test our compatibility with those tools

The software is all Open Source. Personally, we use Repetier Host for driving the printer and Slic3r and Cura for slicing. One major reason we picked Repetier Host is that it comes with Slic3r and Cura completely integrated - so the use is pretty seamless - there's no fiddling with installations and integration. The other reason we use Repetier is because it has a built-in printer simulator, so you can take your 3D model, run it throught he software, and see what it will look like.

Summary

The frame is made from industrial grade aluminum - extrusions for the frame and billets for the connecting structures. The motion control components (ballscrews and guides) are made from high-grade steel. Then they are ground and tempered for long life.

Our machines are custom made in our workshop. Although it's possible to make the pieces yourself, replicating the quality, rigidity and strength of our models would be difficult, and would require expensive equipment. 

More Details

3DMonstr's printer frame is built from high strength aluminum U-channel extrusions and custom connecting blocks machined to exacting tolerances from 25.4mm (1 inch) billets of aircraft grade aluminum. The X- and Y-axes and the dual Z-axes are all built with a 16mm guide rod and a precision ground linear motion ballscrew assembly with 16mm ballnut bearings containing five ball bearing races. The five races not only support larger loads, because more balls are in contact with the rod, but, crucially, do not couple to any axis so that future wear will not introduce any backlash (wiggle.) The ballnut bearings ensure precision by eliminating backlash of the carriage against the shaft. Similarly, one of the fixed ball bearings at the end of the central rod improves precision by eliminating backlash of the ball screw itself. Together, these low friction and tight components provide precise linear motion control with no backlash, prevent sideways motion and ensure that there is no coupling of the major axes. Any imperfections that are introduced over time by wear cancel each other out, so that the printer remains consistent along all axes.

We made the custom connecting blocks using a large CNC milling machine. The rigidity of the design depends upon these custom milled parts, so we believe that it is not possible to build one without access to a large CNC mill.

As a complete novice, you'll have a lot of learning to do. We typically recommend that our customers have experience with 3D printing before coming to us.

You'll need to learn how to acquire 3D models - you can purchase them, you can download them for free, you can scan objects (you'll need a scanner for that), you can create them in a CAD program, you can write software that generates them.

Then you'll need to experiment a lot with simple objects to learn how to configure the printing parameters to get the best results. There are a lot of numbers to tweak, and it will be a while before you can look at a model and have a good idea of how to set up the print and what materials to use. This is the part that we like the most - thinking up of creative ways to print something, experimenting, learning, and seeing the parts come off the printer (both successful, and less so :-) )

If you're not familiar with 3D printing, we recommend that to get started you either get a starter machine or join a local Maker Space that has a printer and learn there.

The print platform is made of special Borosilicate Glass (BG) and has a permanent coating that promotes adhesion of thermoplastics (such as ABS, PLA, PVA and others) while providing excellent surface finish. BG is the best material for this because of its very low thermal expansion coefficient - this means that it will not sag or distort as it is heated.

There's not a direct way to have all four extruders printing different portions of the part. We think that the best way to use them to speed up processing is to segregate the perimeter and infill into two separate extruders with fine and course diameter nozzles. That way you would print every layer of the perimeter, but only shoot the infill in every 3-4 layers. This should speed the overall print process.

The 3D Monster printers do not required that. Our borosilicate glass build platform accepts a simple spray-on coating that provides excellent adhesion for most thermoplastics, like PLA, PVA, and others. The coating lasts from 10 to 20 prints and is easy to re-apply. We use either the Rustoleum Frosted Glass (from Home Depot) or Valspar Glass Frosting Spray Paint (from Lowes). They provide great adhesion and are easy to re-apply.

 

We have changed where the filament sits since the Kickstarter campaign ended. There are still four mount points on the 3DMonstr printers. There used to be two on each side. Each mount point was a hole, threaded to accept a 1/4"-20 screw. Our standard mount consists of a threaded rod that fits into the hole, a flat aluminum filament guide, and a counter-nut to tighten everything up.

Now the filament sits on top of the printer. You can a photo of it here on Facebook:

You can then mount one of two filament holders - a folding holder that accomodates loose coils of filament and end-cap holders that work with filament spools. We will publish printable plans for both in the Downloads section of our site. 3DMonstr printers come with one of each, and you can print as many additional holders as you wish. If you use filament spools that are not compatible with our existing end-cap holders, you can use our printable plans as a pattern to design your own custom end-caps.

Additionally, you will need a lock-nut to go on the end of the threaded rod to hold the whole thing together. The plans for the lock-nut will be published on our site as well, so you'll be able to print as many as you need.

Finally, when you purchase a 3DMonstr printer it will come with the same number of holder part kits as the number of extruders you specify at that time. So a standard 2-extruder machine will come with 2 of each (threaded rod, fliament guide, counter-nut, and lock-nut). And a machine with the full 4 extruders will come with 4 holder part kits. If you purchase additional extruders at a later time, you will also be able to purchase a separate holder parts kit from our on-line store.

Because of the design of our hot end, if the extruder settings are correct, the filament doesn't really get much chance to get stuck in our extruder. If, however rarely, it does happen, the recovery is simple and fast. Just pause the print job, retract the filament out of the extruder, trim the end, re-insert it back into the extruder, extrude a small amount (10mm, for example), and resume the print job. 

Not yet. Currently, Z axis homing is via both end-stop switches and build platform adjustments. We're working on a system that will take this one step further, but that's pretty far down the road.

Yes, you can. Currently all our models come pre-wired for four extruders, and two extruders pre-installed, with an additional option of installing one or two more extruders, giving you maximum of four extruders.  Having additional extruders allows a lot of room for flexibility. You can print support material, different colors, and different materials. This extends the range of the printer significantly. 

It's a powerful machine with big motors.  When it's printing, you know it. Some have compared it to the original Makerbot in sound volume.  We think it's a little louder.

While you will have that option, it is not recommended. It is critical to printer's correct operation that the pin, geometry, and speeds/acceleration configurations are correct. Since our printer is not a RepRap or a Mendel, and the mechanical architecture is drastically different from those designs, the firmware settings are very specific to our printer.

Having said that, if you have the right skills and experience, and carefully maintain the correct settings, you should be able to do this. If you use our version of the firmware as a base for your customizations, we might be able to assist you if you get into trouble with customizations. Beyond that, it's not really practical for us to support you.

Short answer: not for large objects. 

Long answer: At large size you can get either speed (as in "fast built time") or resolution. Printing at high resolution means that each layer is very thin, meaning that if you're printing something two feet tall, at layers 0.1mm thick, you're printing almost 6,100 layers! This can take time. 

As with any mechanical system, heavier objects are harder to move. Fortunately, our extruders and extruder mounts are super-light, compared to most. In addition, our X-axis motor is a huge NEMA23x3.5A Monstr that will move pretty much anything you throw at it at very high speed.

You can print an object using using four different colors.

Or, you can do something like this...

  • Assign extruder #1 to print perimeter with a thin nozzle (380 um)
  • Assign extruder #2 to print infill with wide nozzle (750 um); this allows you to have a much wider deposition trace on the infill, and therefore fewer passes to achieve the same volume percentage of infill, thus speeding up the infill operation; depending on the infill percentage, you might even be able to use the thicker deposition trace to push out so much plastic on every pass that you'll be able to skip every other infill layer, thus speeding up the print even more
  • Assign extruder #3 to print support material with a wide nozzle (750 um); this allows the same technique as in #2 to be used in the support buildup
  • Assign extruder #4 to print support interface with a medium nozzle (550 um); this allows some reduction in print time w/o sacrificing the underside finish of the part too much.

That depends highly on the size of the part, on the density of infil, and the amount of support material necessary. For example, printing the owl (http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:18218) at full size (6" tall) with 10% infil and no support material, we can start an Owl Football Team :-)

Our software is Open Source. We choose to use Repetier Host for driving the printer and Slic3r and Cura for slicing, but you can use Pronterface (firmware) (or RepG ), or other Open Source tools as well.

One major reason we picked Repetier Host is that it comes with Slic3r and Cura completely integrated - so the use is pretty seamless - there's no fiddling with installations and integration. The other is that it has a built-in printer simulator, so you can take your 3D model right now, run it through the software, and see what the print would look like. It won't tell you whether the print is a practical one, but it will tell you what it will look like.

No. You can just push the filament into the top of the extruder, and click the extrude button on the host software.

At the moment, the stock Repetier Firmware you get from their web site does indeed require the user to make changes in the code (however small and simple), then re-compile and re-download the firmware into the main controller when either adding or removing extruders. Without re-writing the firmware in significant ways, there's not an easy way to change this.

When you order a 3DMonstr T-Rex 3D printer, you order one with two, three, or four extruders. We will ship you the printer with the Repetier software all ready to go for the number of extruders that you ordered.

We'll also send along with your printer four copies of the firmware source, one for each number of extruders. That way, if you decide to add more extruders later (perhaps you purchased only two or three to start), or if you choose to remove an extruder for some reason, you don't have to make any changes to the code. You'll just need to open the correct copy of the Firmware using Arduino IDE and tell it to download the firmware to the controller.