Feed Tube & Spool Holder
We were initially a bit unsure of where exactly should snap the feed tube into the grooves provided at the back of the printer, so we tried to guesstimate on that. During printing though, especially for large builds, it would seem like it would be wise to have the feed tube be as long as possible to reach out to wherever the extruder head needs to move to. So we moved and affixed the feed tube as high as possible on the clips on the back.
The positioning of the spool at the back is very convenient but when printing, as the spool unwinds itself, there might be a fair bit of tension on the feed tube and filament. This may lead to the feed tube dislocating itself from the extruder if it’s not firmly plugged in. We think it might be worthwhile to consider some other attachments to prevent this problem? We are also not sure if the current slots for snapping the feed tube on is at its optimal position.
For the spool, you will have to install the spool holder(bracket) yourself. This is a pretty simple job of inserting it into the slot at the back of the Replicator 2. During installation, we found it easier actually to place the spool into the bracket before inserting it into the slot behind the printer, so that’s something to think about.
However, when we needed to pack the printer away, because it was easier to leave the filament loaded, we would remove the spool and spool holder as 1 piece and put them into a ziploc inside the Replicator 2.
Ah, and about the spool of PLA filament, it appears that it comes in a sealed bag with a desiccant pack for good reason as humidity would mess with it (which sounds to be a potential problem here with the sky high humidity in Singapore). So it’s advised that new spools be left in their original unsealed packs until they need to be used, and to pack and store open filament spools in a cool and dry place, preferably with some desiccant materials to keep humidity from damaging the filament.
During printing with the Replicator 2, it sometimes pays to check that the filament on the spool is not caught onto anything which will cause it to jam and not extrude (thus ruining the print).
The Extruder and Printing Mechanism
Here’s a closeup of the part that weaves the magic – Replicator 2’s extruder nozzle and print head.
The Replicator 2 uses Fused Filament Fabrication(FFF) for its extruder. Basically, the working principle of this addictive technology means the filament spool is fed into the extruder by precise amounts using motors(steppers in this case). A heater block will then melt the filament to an appropriate temperature. The melted filament is forced out of the heated nozzle at a specific temperature.
We are pretty impressed with the build of the whole extruder assembly. It is very sturdy. It comes with a fan attached at the side of the extruder.
One other thing – it seems like there is some kind odd musical sound which is being played when the printing is in progress. =)