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FLSUN 50mm Blower Upgrade for Volcano

Upgrading my FLSUN to a 50mm Blower fan

When I upgraded my FLSUN Delta with a volcano kit from Aliexpress, I didn’t reinstall a part cooling fan. Mainly because I didn’t want to go back to the old 40mm fans I was previously using. I wanted to upgrade to a 50mm blower fan, and design a custom shroud for it.

You can find a 50mm blower fan on Aliexpress at this link.

 

Installing a blower onto the stock effector was pretty simple. Only one screw hole was available because of the design of my blower fan, so I opted to use a bit of epoxy for a stronger connection. Just the fan by itself worked quite well. It moved a lot of air towards the build plate, but it was pretty weak on freshly printed plastic. Since I’m using my delta to print at layers thicknesses up to 0.6mm now, I need stronger airflow around the tip of the nozzle.

 

Nozzle Designs

I went looking around, and I found a circular nozzle design on thingiverse. It worked pretty well! I found that it sent some of the airflow upwards towards the hotend, though. Using the snap-fit connector as a base and Fusion 360 for designing, I made three different attachments. The first attempt worked, but it suffered from the same problem as the circular nozzle. I used two channels to direct air downwards at a slight angle, but far too much air was directed to the hotend.

50mm Blower Nozzle V1
Nozzle V1

 

On the second attempt, I separated the channels from each other and added some chamfers to help direct airflow. I left some space on the front for air to move forward, still thinking that it would help or something. I also doubled the height of the channels. It worked much better than the first attempt, and the airflow was impressive. I still wasn’t satisfied with the amount of air that was being directed around the nozzle.

 

Next, I moved the openings to the bottom of the nozzle. I used large chamfers to control the direction of airflow as much as possible. The resulting part is quite effective, and has no problems keeping up with my printing. There’s definitely a lot of room to improve, though. For starters, the outputs are different sizes so the airflow is going to be uneven. I tried to make one output larger to compensate for the fact that it has bends and is offset from the nozzle, but I wasn’t sure exactly how to do it. Still, parts are turning out much nicer with the new fan and attachment installed.

50mm Blower Nozzle V3
50mm Blower Nozzle V3

The files can be downloaded here, on thingiverse.

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FLSUN Upgrade with AliExpress Volcano Knockoff

Volcano Clone Installed

Volcano Nozzle Upgrade on FLSUN Delta

I purchased a knockoff E3D V6 and volcano nozzle set on Aliexpress through Anycubic, because I wanted to upgrade my FLSUN Delta. The volcano upgrade is a nozzle set designed to allow significantly more filament to be extruded, so you can print tougher parts in less time. Genuine volcano kits are available for around $50 or more, but I’m a cheap bastard so I am going to use the chinese clone. It was around $11 for the entire kit when I purchased it in early March 2017. Shipping took a long time as expected with Aliexpress, but everything was there and it looked good. It came with a full clone J-Head assembly, including a 30mm fan, heating element and thermistor as well as a separate volcano kit. The volcano kit came with a larger heating block and four nozzles that range from 0.6mm to 1.2mm. Quality looked pretty good, and it’s definitely going to be an upgrade over my old, worn-in E3D V5 clone.

 

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Upgrading

Upgrading my FLSUN delta was straightforward. Installing the new hotend was essentially the same process as removing the old one. I removed the old hotend by disconnecting the bowden tube, electronics and the two screws that hold it in place. I took the old hotend assembly out of the bracket. On the FLSUN delta, only two screws have to be loosened to remove the hotend assembly from the effector so it’s pretty easy. I put the new volcano hotend assembly into the bracket and tightened it into place. There is a screw that is used to adjust the auto-leveling function of the effector, and I had to make sure to readjust that to be accurate.

I soldered the fan to some extension wires so that I could run it down to the control board. The polarity of the thermistor and heating element don’t matter, so reconnecting them was easy. It took about fifteen minutes to install the new hotend, and run the wires. I had some trouble removing my old hotend assembly, because it melted into the plastic effector slightly over time.

 

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Systems Check

Temp Graph

I accidentally overtightened the thermistor, which caused it to short and throw a temperature error. I checked the thermistor using a multimeter, and found that the resistance was 0Ohms which confirms a short circuit. I wanted a reading between 70k and 80k to confirm that it was working. I fixed my mistake by putting some kapton tape on the exposed wire, and then I carefully put it back into place. I wrapped the hotend in some ceramic insulation, and then I wrapped the insulation in aluminum tape.

I ran a quick self check, and then a PID tune. If you need to do a PID tune, I personally referenced Tom’s guide for configuring Marlin. Everything looked great, and the temperature was surprisingly stable after my first check. The temperature graph shown is from the purple vase print that’s coming up.

 

Printing

I loaded a scripted vase into Simplify3D, and sliced it in vase mode. I wasn’t sure was settings to use to start with, so I went with the following:

  • 0.8mm nozzle
  • 0.4mm layer height
  • line width of 1.0mm

I thought that using a line width of 1.0mm would cause the layers to squish together firmly, increasing strength. I primarily wanted the volcano to quickly print strong objects, so I thought that a vase would be a perfect way to test speed and the strength of walls/layers.

Right off the bat, there was some cooling issues due to the lack of a part fan. The thick lines were holding onto too much heat, and they started to sag. I added a small desk fan to help with air circulation, and the print quality increased quite a lot. Printing slower would also help. I have some blower fans coming in the mail that I will install on the effector for a more permanent solution. I stopped the vase print after 15 minutes to examine it. The surface finish is beautiful, where the part was properly cooled. The thick layers have a charming texture and the way that they line up nicely is quite satisfying. It’s also incredibly strong, the thick lines give the vase some real structure even though it’s only one layer thick. The infill left a lot to be desired, lots of missed gaps because of the huge extrusion width. I can fix that with settings, though!

Purple Vase 0.4mm Layers
Purple Vase 0.4mm Layers

I tried some cable chains at 0.4mm without any part cooling, at around 80mm/s print speed. I printed four links at once, to give each piece some time to cool down. They came out quite ugly with 0.4mm layers, but they functioned well enough and were very strong. Most importantly, they printed FAST. It only took about 2 minutes to print each link, which is at least two times faster than my original Prusa i3 Mk2s with the stock setup.

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I started tweaking the settings a bit, and settled on the following for my next test:

  • 0.3mm layer height
  • 0.8mm line width
  • 25% overlap
  • 200C nozzle
  • 80mm/s print speed

I noticed that the volcano nozzle has significantly less oozing than the stock nozzle, so I reduced my retraction from 6mm to 3mm. I put a desk fan in place to act as part cooling, and printed some test nuts & bolts. I printed two bolts and two nuts at the same time, with the bolts spaced apart to test retraction. I added a 2-layer brim to the parts to make sure they stayed put on the bed. They came out looking pretty nice, and the total print time was only around 10 minutes! Retraction seemed perfect. They worked right off of the build plate and they are incredibly strong. There are some minor banding and over extrusion issues, but for the third print after upgrading the quality impresses me.

 

I adjusted some acceleration settings to help compensate for the heavier hotend, and then I ran another vase mode print. I printed another scripted vase, this time at 160% scale. Still using the 0.8mm nozzle, and a layer height of 0.3mm. An hour into the print, my filament ran out, so I had to stop the print. I managed to print about 85% of the vase, so I’m not calling it a total failure. The vase came out incredibly strong, and the surface finish is getting better with every print.

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Conclusion

I’m quite happy with how the upgrade went, and I’m surprised at how low the cost was considering the quality of components. It took forever for the parts to arrive, but when you consider the incredibly low cost you can’t beat it. The seller ANYCUBIC also refunded me on a set of 5 nozzles that took an extremely long time to arrive, and they were responsive to questions. A genuine volcano setup would most likely produce higher quality parts, and it’s going to be made with higher quality materials and more stringent quality control. On the other hand, you really can’t complain about the knock off when you basically get two functional hotend setups for around $11 Canadian. It was basically a straight replacement for the stock nozzle on my FLSUN delta. There was some minor fidgeting to get the fan attachment on with the stock effector, but it ended up working out fine. It took about 30 minutes to change the hotend and get printing. Half of that time was spent doing a PID tuning.

The strength of printed parts and increase in speed is awesome. I primarily use my original Prusa i3 for prints where quality is important, so it’s great to have this option on my delta to rapidly produce tough parts. The volcano clone still produces high quality prints under the right conditions, and it will only get better as I tune in my settings. It’s also nice to have a higher quality hotend assembly on the Delta, so that I can reliably print materials other than just PLA.

 

I seriously suggest this upgrade to anyone that’s considering it. The monetary investment, and time spent is so small compared to the time it will save when printing. Upgrading from a 0.4mm nozzle to a 0.8mm nozzle immediately cuts print time in half. Thicker lines also mean less layers and stronger layer adhesion, which results in much stronger parts. Plus, bigger individual lines means less individual movements and it results in smaller gcode files that are easier to process! The only downside ( other than aesthetic quality ) is that the upgrade doesn’t come with a dedicated part cooling fan, so I’m going to have to improvise. I’ll probably just hot glue a blower fan onto the effector and call it a day.

 

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ProGrow Update #4 – SD Card, Analog Buttons & 3D Printed Enclosures

ProGrow Version 1.0

ProGrow Update #4

ProGrow Version 1.0
ProGrow Beta

 

I completely revamped the layout and configuration of the modules on the front of the ProGrow. I designed and printed some basic enclosures for all of the different little modules to help isolate each unit and tidy it up. It’s still a mess of wires, but I’m making progress on the overall design. I used 3DS Max to design the basic enclosures, and then I used my Kossel Delta printer to make them. Most of the things were printed using white PLA, but I ran out and used black PLA to print the 9V battery enclosure.

3D Printed Enclosures

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I’ve successfully added an SD card module to store data for the long term. I have a spare 16gb MicroSD in there right now, so I have a few years worth of samples that I could store. I’m going to change the SD card to a smaller, more robust one to help avoid catastrophic accidental corruption. I use the SPI.h and SD.h libraries in order to read/write to the SD card and I store the sensor data in a .txt file. I’m working on graphing the data automatically, but it’s not a priority right now.

 

4 Buttons Connected To One Analog Output
4 Buttons Connected To One Analog Output

I removed the 4 digital buttons that I was using for manual control. I made a circuit that outputs an analog signal instead of a digital one, and connected the buttons to a free analog pin. This freed up 4 digital pins for future use. I use a few series resistors to create different analog signals that gets sent out through the purple wire in the image above. The buttons are placed so that they will see different levels of resistance from the chain of resistors when pressed. The programming simply reads the analog value and then makes decisions based off of the value. Much more pin-efficient than before!

 

The LED display made the old RGB indicator light obsolete, so I removed it. This gives me even more digital pins for future use.

 

I’m going to work on reducing the power draw, and implementing batteries next. I’ll be publishing a parts list sometime soon.