Adam - thanks for the tips, very helpful. We are up and running. Any advice on things to print which help keep the replicator running smoothly? Seems there are a lot of clips etc on thingiverse.
I've only had mine for a couple of months, so I haven't yet needed to replace any components (knock on wood). The main thing is just keeping things lubed up and using blue tape that's had the polish worn off of it. Yesterday I was having trouble getting a part to stick, and realized it was because the tape was too shiny and new. I hit the tape with some sandpaper, and suddenly it worked like a charm.
Keep in touch! Would love to hear what you learn.
Yes... definitely learned that the hard way! Look what happened to the poor demo comb we printed out... You can see the imprint from the base on it. Whoops! :X
Fusion 360 Social & Community Manager
I don't think they will let you get away with acetone vapor polishing in the office but you can get some beautiful results by melting the surface layers of ABS prints with acetone vapor!
Here she is! You can see how happy I am to meet her.
I've been using Fusion and then 360 with a Makergear M2 for the last several months. It's not a replicator so I'm not sure how similar my experience will be but for me it's been love-hate, vacillating between absolutely amazing and incredibly maddening.
Beautiful designs that wouldn't be a problem with a CNC are often unprintable with fused layer deposition (or if they are printable, the quality is unacceptable). With a bit of practice, you can factor the limitations of the printer into your designs and come up with very nice pieces, though. I foolishly started with relatively complex pieces but I'd recommend baby stepping through simple, conservative designs, gradually pushing the envelope.
I'll second and third the comment about lubrication. After awhile, my printer started making a horrible sound and the belt would slip a few times while printing leaving all subsequent layers shifted by a few mm or even as much as a couple cm (very frustrating when the print takes 12 hours). I'm not sure what the Replicator uses, but for my printer, I replaced the aluminum bushings with «self-lubricated» brass ones (which still require frequent shots of 3-in-1 oil) and that made a huge difference.
Calibration is a big factor as well. I was getting sloppy parts with one of my spools of filimant and it turned out that although it was labeled 1.75mm it's actually 1.8mm. It doesn't sound like much, but that 6% difference in cross section and flow rates really matters.
These might be very printer specific, but I've had a lot of trouble with my z-axis stop and bed leveling. It seems the print head has to be very close (order of ~ 0.1mm) to the substrate to get good adhesion and quality. Just a bit too high or too low and the quality of the parts goes down or (more annoyingly) the parts peal off of the surface mid-print. Obviously if the bed isn't very level, that separation might be perfect in some areas but too great or small in others and so larger parts are very sensitive to that adjustment. Further, vibrations move my z-stop so I have to re-calibrate that with almost every print.
It's clear that a lot of good engineering has gone into the M2 but there are some frustrating issues. I'm curious actually if the Replicator is more stable or if that's a general issue with «cheap» 3D FLD printers at this time. I'm guessing / hoping that at Autodesk, you'll at least have enough people dialing things in on the printer and sharing knowledge that your experience will be more overall positive than mine has been.
There is no doubt though - when it works, it's awesome to hold something in your hands that came out of your imagination.