A month off, Day 25, 26, and 27: The Final Days


The Month Off comes to a close. I spent most of the last few days working on the Voron, tweaking and tuning settings. While my prints from it completed, they didn't quite have the quality I had hoped for. Granted, I'm used to a rather high standard from my  Ender, given how tuned that printer has become over the last few years.

I tried a few different thermistor settings until I settled on a configuration that at least felt accurate enough. In general, it all still feels a bit too low. The hotend in particular. I could be wrong about that, and trying to get an accurate read with a multimeter has been difficult. I have a  cheap non-contact thermometer, but it doesn't work all that well on shiny surfaces.

One thing I really wanted for this printer was to be able to bring it places as a demonstration piece. The small size makes it easy to move. To that point, one evening I grabbed the printer and set it on my living room floor to do some tuning while watching a movie. I didn't even have to adjust the bed springs.

I also really wanted to try printing some ABS in the Voron. ABS, supposedly, is where the Voron really shines as a printer. The first rule of ABS is to always try printing it in an enclosure to prevent various print issues. So, the panels had to finally go on the printer. This process didn't take all that long.

At first, I had issues getting the ABS to adhere to the PEI build plate. It would simply peel off after a few minutes. Brims were of no help because the brims themselves would peel off. After some quick research, a suggestion was to print with a higher bed temperature than expected compared to printing on glass. Usually, 90-95C is enough for ABS on glass with a bit of gluestick. I really wanted to avoid the gluestick here, and definitely didn't want to ruin the PEI's textured finish with it. Instead, I turned the bed temperature up to 100C, and my adhesion issues nearly disappeared.

Nearly. The Voron 0.1 has a thicker build plate than my Ender, and holds the heat longer. Thus, it feels colder to the touch than expected when first reaching temperature; all that metal has yet to warm up. If I print from a cold-start, even at 100C, it may lose adhesion. A possible solution is to overheat the build plate for the first layer, say 105-110C, then drop down to 100 for remaining layers. This is a feature I'm sure Cura supports, I just need to configure it.

Even today, I was still tuning the printer, trying to troubleshoot the Z-banding I saw in prints. I've reduced it enough that it's no longer as much of an issue, but I'm sure I can yet squeeze more quality out of the Voron.

Printer tuning aside, the last three days of The Month Off have been....frustrating. There's been a sense of time slipping away, wasted on trivial things or leaving other things yet undone. In reality, that's probably how it was going to end either way.

It's hard not to feel a little angry at myself and my circumstances which lead this entire month being spent on...a printer and a door. Others would have traveled, getting life experiences which would otherwise not be accessible simply due to the time off required. I couldn't travel, and the places I could have traveled to even if I did showed signs of the hypothetical visits there being unpleasant due to other external factors.

I have a saying for this: "Sometimes the Universe is cruel to be kind." It's hard not to think this last month is very much that sort of situation. The fact I couldn't travel has been a reason for much bitterness and frustration -- that's the cruelty. The kindness was that perhaps, if I did travel, it would have been even more disappointing compared to just staying home instead. I may have spent the month on a "printer and a door", but it really wasn't the only thing I did.

One thing I did lavish in was a sense of space. A sense of space has been, historically, very important to me and a key way to preserve some measure of mental health. For years, it seems, I've been so tightly wound as to actively fear opportunities for that space. There was just so much going on, so much to process, and never enough time to do that before the next task or crisis.

I'm unsure how or even if I'll be able to maintain that sense of space as I return to work next week.