I’ve managed to connect a webcam to the ArduinoMega that is controlling my 3D printer, so now I can trigger a picture from the G-code that the printer is reading to make the part.

This means I can take a picture at the beginning of each printed layer, and make time-lapse video like this:

I’ve replaced my X axis, which was bronze bushings sliding on steel rod, with a recirculating-ball linear bearings and guide. The former X axis had enough play in it that you could feel it just by wiggling the print bed, and was affecting print quality quite a bit.

Between my new extruder hot-end, this new bearing, and lowering layer height to 0.36mm, I’m getting print quality that’s better than anything I’ve produced to date.

It’s also faster, so much faster that I’ve had the motor miss a few steps. I’m experimenting with feeding 24 volt power to the stepper motor drivers, and initial results seem good, although everything runs a bit warmer. I also have another linear bearing, and may use it on the Y axis.

Here’s a “before” picture of my previous X axis slide:

Bronze bushings sliding on steel rod.

And here’s a picture of the new linear bearing & rail:

Recirculating-ball linear carriage & rail

Here’s some of the first test prints I did with the new bearing:

Twist-cube, printed with new X axis linear bearing

A one-cent bottle opener

Here is some video of it in action, if you listen carefully you can hear the *tick* *tick* *tick* *tick* of the ball-bearings clicking around their recirculating channels inside the carriage.

After melting the PTFE insulator yet another time, I’ve built another hot end. This one doesn’t use the PTFE as a stress-bearing part, but only to contain any plastic that may ooze above the top of the heater barrel.

The heater barrel is threaded into the PTFE about 0.25″, just enough to keep it aligned. The PTFE isn’t attached anywhere else, just sandwiched between the washer and the aluminum mounting plate above it.

I also made modular heater and thermistor, ala Makergear.com HeatCore. (I know a good idea when I steal it).

non-load-bearing PTFE

I’ve also ditched the separate nozzle, and used the brass screw as a one-part barrel+nozzle. The opening was drilled with a 0.45mm drill.

No nozzle!

Print quality has improved by a lot, and I haven’t had any problems with the feed pinch-wheel teeth stripping the filament.

New extruder, better prints.