To get the best possible printing results from your Voxel8 Developer's Kit Printer, some basic maintenance and upkeep is recommended.
This section contains some maintenance tips which helps you keep your Voxel8 machine running at its optimal capabilities.
Pre-Flight Print Job Check List
Before running a print, a quick visual inspection for the following is recommended:
✓ The work area under the build plate is clear and devoid of any debris, or tools that may cause a mechanical issue with the build plate on the printer.
✓ The build plate is attached. It is also free and clear of debris. It is also free and clear of the wipe tower print, as well as thermoplastic calibration print and also silver prints.
✓ There is a level and flat application of blue tape that covers the entire build plate and it contains not air bubbles, nor rips or tears which may cause a printing error.
✓ The filament is loaded into the extruder properly.
✓ There is a recent silver cartridge in the print head with nozzle attached and the pneumatics connected properly.
✓ You have performed firmware updates within the last few months.
✓ Make sure that no one can possibly unplug the Voxel8 Printer by mistake, by either stepping on the power plug, or damaging it in any other way.
✓ The area around the printer is free and clear of any other machinery.
Below are some good printer care procedures to conduct during your Voxel8 Printing to help prolong its longevity and level of productivity.
Cleaning the build plate
After each print on the Voxel8 Printer, operators must clean the build plate of both the "wipe tower" print (see Picture 001) as well as the silver and thermoplastic/silver calibration tests (see Picture 002). Failure to do so, will result in a print error.
Picture 001: Wipe Tower that should be removed from the build plate.
Picture 002: The calibration prints that should be removed from the build plate.
Cleaning and re-applying the blue paint on the build plate
You will need apply painter's tape to your build plate before printing. It is recommended that you follow our tips below to make sure that your tape provides sufficient adhesion during you print jobs.
Picture 003: Inspecting the build tape on the build plate.
Remove any old blue tape applied to your build plate.
Picture 004: Removing tape.
Step 2. Apply the new tape square.
Picture 004: Applying the new tape square.
Cleaning debris from the build platform area
It is recommended to keep your build platform area devoid of tools, debris, and other obstacles that might otherwise cause issues with your Voxel8 Printer during its operation. The build plate rises and fails on the z-axis rod and anything under it can cause issues during a print job.
We recommend using a small brush to collect all debris.
Picture 004: A busy work area with printing debris, that needs to be cleaned before printing.
Picture 005: A clean work area and ready for printing.
Lubricating the z-axis rod
Although your z-axis rod comes pre-lubricated from our factory, it is recommended to lubricate your z-axis rod every so often (e.g. every few months). Use the following steps to make sure that the rod is properly coated and protects it from wear and tear. If you notice more noise than usual from your z-axis rod, then you should take action to add some lubricant.
We recommend using a multi-purpose lithium grease - lubriplate no. 630-2, or synthetic grease (see Picture 006).
Picture 006 - Synthetic grease (not supplied in Developer's kit)
Applying grease to the z-axis threaded rod on the Voxel8 Printer.
Picture 007 - Synthetic grease applied to the z-axis rod
It is always preferable to keep the silver barrel syringes capped when not in use (see Picture 008). the caps in both A and B are securely attached so that the silver will not dry out.
Picture 008: Silver barrel syringe is properly capped for storage.
It is also important to keep the sponges wet during the printing process using the silver solvent wiping solution (see Picture 009).
Picture 009: Wetting the sponges with solvent before printing silver.
Cleaning the touch screen
If the touch screen on your Voxel8 Printer should ever become dirty, you can use a microfiber cloth to wipe it from of finger print grease, dust or other materials. Gently wipe the screen using a microfiber. We recommend not spraying the display with normal household cleaner, or using paper towels is these things may damage your screen.
Picture 010: Cleaning the Touch panel with the microfiber
Updating the Voxel8 Printer Software
The Voxel8 team is continually making software updates to the Developer's Kit platform.
In order to make sure your printing experience is the best, we recommend you keep your Voxel8 Developer's Kit as up to date as possible by updating software when notified.
In order to update, there are currently three updates you must make to keep your Control Interface Software up to date.
To access the system updates page, you'll access the IP Address of your Voxel8 Printer, and select System from the top navigation bar.
System selections drop down menu in the Voxel8 Developer's Kit Control Interface
First you want to make sure that your Automation Scripts are up to date. These are scripts that enable the machine to perform the silver alignment procedure, bed leveling procedure, as well as other calibration routines.
Picture 011: Update Automation Scripts in the Voxel8 Control Interface
The next update to make is the Printer UI. This update will be all new changes made to the Voxel8 User Interface and the Octoprint theme.
Picture 012: Update Printer UI in the Voxel8 Control Interface
Step 3. The last update to make to the Voxel8 Control Interface is the firmware.
Picture 013: Update Firmware in the Voxel8 Control Interface
Once all three updates have been made, then the Voxel8 Platform should be fully updated. If you run into issues, contact Customer Support at Voxel8.
Updating Control Interface (i.e. Octoprint) plugins
Every so often, the Voxel8 Control Interface may ask you to update OctoPrint plugins (which is what the Voxel8 Software UI runs on top of). We recommend that you keep your system as up to date as possible by upgrading to newer versions of plugins that will be presented to you over time (see Picture 013).
Picture 013: Voxel8 Control Interface (i.e. Octoprint) has plugins to update.
Check hoses and make sure they are secure and not leaking
If you do a significant amount of non stop printing, we recommend that you check your pneumatic hose and air pressure periodically to make sure they are secure and not leaking.
In the event of a leak you will likely experience print failures with multi-materials such as the conductive silver ink that ships with the Developer's Kit printer.
Testing the unit every so often is recommended to make sure your pneumatics system is in proper working order.
Picture 014: Pneumatic Hose going into the Silver Barrel Syringe.
Picture 015: Pneumatic Hose from the Pneumatic Sled on the back of the Voxel8 Developer's Kit Printer (A = output, B = input, or "House Air")
Check sponge wiping station to make sure they are sufficiently clean for printing
You should periodically check the sponges on your Voxel8 printer (see Picture 016) to make sure that they are intact (see Picture 017) and not completely coated with silver (see Picture 018). Sponges should be changed out periodically so that silver debris is cleaned from the nozzle during printing and does not cause print failures.
Picture 016: Picture of Voxel8 Printer with red circle around the area of the wiper station
Picture 017: Picture of silver wiping station that is freshly installed.
Picture 018: Picture of silver wiping station sponge that is slightly used & dirty.
Check plastic wiping station to make sure they are sufficiently clean for printing
Before printing any thermoplastic object on the Voxel8 printer, the machine will attempt to wipe off extra material that is around the extruder nozzle end. The excess thermoplastic material passes over a dedicated wiper station before starting a new printer, so that any remanent material from a previous print job is not introduced into your new print output. If the FFF extruder nozzle is free and clear of all extra material, then there is a lower chance of any kind of print failure due to residue.
Over time, the plastic wiper station may accumulate plastic bits and debris (see Picture 019), which will need to be cleaned out (see Picture 020). You can use either a pencil/pen to carefully probe the brushes to pop out debris, or carefully your swipe your finger over the top of the brushes like you would with a tooth brush.
Freeing debris from the plastic wiping station
Picture 019: Plastic Wiping station needs to be cleaned out.
Picture 020: Plastic Wiping station is clean and devoid of plastic debris.
Replacing the plastic wiper station silicone strip
Overtime, the silicone wiping strip on your Voxel8 printer will become worn and need to be replaced (see Picture 021). In the event this happens you will need to replace the silicone wiper strip. The steps below layout the process.
Step 1. Locate your silicone wiper strip on your Developers' Kit Printer to left hand side of the build plate.
Picture 021: A silicone strip that may need replacement after sufficient printer usage.
Step 2. Remove the wiper strip attachment from the Developer's Kit Printer by popping it up, and off (i.e. there are no screws holding it down).
Step 3. Locate your spare silicone strip in the Voxel8 Developers' Kit.
Picture 022: A spare silicone strip wiper.
Step 4. Unscrew the two bolts holding the strip in place using the supplied 2mm hex in your Developer's Kit.
Picture 023a: The two bolts are being removed.
Picture 023b: Silicone wiper is removed from holder.
Picture 023c: Getting rid of the used silicone wiper strip.
Step 6. Insert the new strip and screw the bolts back in place using a 2mm allen key for the M3 screw.
Picture 024: A new silicone strip has been installed.
Step 7. Replace the screws and make sure the new silicone strip wiper is securely attached to the wiping station and does not move.
Picture 025: New silicone strip wiper is secured.
Step 8. Using the Voxel8 Control Interface, carefully jog the FFF print head end over the new strip and move it back and forth. The extruder nozzle end should travel into the new wiper strip to remove any excess thermoplastic filament during operation.
Picture 026: Testing the nozzle over the new silicone wiper strip.
Cleaning the FFF nozzle head
Periodically you will want to check and make sure that the FFF nozzle is free and clear of plastic debris is functioning correctly. The silicon sleeve that protects the nozzle end is preventive measure, but it is possible for plastic to adhere to the nozzle over time.
Step 1. Make sure that the nozzle end of the extruder is not at operating temperature.
Step 2. Pull out the magnetically inserted FFF Extruder Cartridge Print head. Then, disconnect the Hot End wires (see Picture 027).
Picture 027: Hot End wires disconnected.
Step 3. Gently remove the silicone sleeve from the nozzle end, and slide along and off the wires (see Picture 028).
Picture 028: Silicone Sleeve.
Step 3. Inspect the nozzle for any remains of filament that are stuck to nozzle end and carefully remove them using a brush (see Picture 029).
Picture 029: Removing any debris from the nozzle.
Step 4. Replace the silicone end to the nozzle (see Picture 030). If your silicone end is damaged then replace it with a new one provided from your Developer's Kit.
Picture 030: The silicone sleeve has been added back to the cleaned nozzle end.