Thursday, November 20, 2014

1.3mm Hex Driver Source

1.3mm might be very prevalent in the metric world; but, can be hard to come by in the United States.

So, I have made an effort to make it as easy as possible for you to locate and buy a 1.3mm Hex Driver.

I wa able to find one at Hobby Hanger in Chantilly, VA.  While they do not sell online, you can call them to purchase the MIP9013 that I talk about here.

Perhaps the easiest way to order the 1.3mm driver is to go straight to the source.

Moore's Ideal Products (MIP), located in Covina, California, is a company serving the hobby market.  They make a high quality 1.3mm hex driver (Model #9013) that can be purchased in hobby stores or on their website.  The cost is $15.00.  Here is the product page MIP9013.

MIP tools have the extra benefit of being color coded. I have tested this driver on my own cube3 and it works very well. At first glance, it might seem a bit expensive for a single application.  But, it's a lot less hassle to fix the Cube in the field than other options.

Besides, getting to know the MIP site has other benefits.

It was not only great to find a good source for a very rare tool; but, it promises to be a great source for accessories that we can use to enhance our own 3D printing projects.  Most of the tools and accessories I have found most useful, have come from a hobby shop or a hobby site.  And, if the hex wrench I purchased is any barometer, they deliver first class product.  Now that I've seen all they have to offer, I'm thinking of using some of the gear, clutch or differential parts in one of our immersion classes.  Sounds like fun!  :)

UPDATE - Harbor Freight Driver Set

Eric Albert alerted me to a set of drivers from Harbor Freight that includes a 1.3 hex bit.  The price is $6.99.

This is equally good news as Harbor Freight has many local stores.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Waxing Nostalgic Looking for Parallels

One of the benefits of being old is that you can draw on decades of experiences when trying to come up with old circumstances that mirror new circumstances.  At the risk of totally boring  you, I want to go back many years to describe how I feel about the current filament situation.

My mind drifts to tires...

A a young child, in the 1950's,  I would visit my uncle's home.  In the garage was a marvel to see... a gorgeous Packard.  It was an imposing beast of a car

Every feature that you see in the image above, of a similar Packard, was pristine and beautiful... right down to the most riveting ornament ever attached to the hood of a car.

It looked SO-O-O-O fast. 

How I longed to go for a ride in that car! 

Looking back, underneath that beautiful exterior there must have also been some age related engine problems.  But, at the time, the big issue standing between me and a glorious ride in that magnificent beast was four flat tires.

No matter how beautiful that car was, it couldn't get me very far on four flat tires.

Fast forward to 1969.  My brother-in-law purchased a Ford Torino with the 428 cu in (7.0 L) "Cobra-Jet" engine with "Ram Induction".  While not nearly as beautiful as the Packard, it was an amazingly fast car.  It may be hard to imagine; but, there was a time when you might not see another car on I-495 or I-95 for miles.  It was the perfect place to see what that Torino could do. Being young and dumb, whenever he would loan it to me, I would wheel up the ramp and, opening up that 428 Cobra Jet engine, ROAR onto I-95, hitting 110mph in seconds.  Top speed was supposedly greater than that; but, even I wasn't dumb enough to push it beyond 110.

Now, there was a reason why that stretch of I-95 was a good place to open up that engine.  It was straight and long.  The Torino Cobra Jet had an archilles heel.  It didn't take corners all that well.  And, that was because the tires of the day were bias ply.  They were not as stiff as today's radial tires.  So, if you wanted to go fast, you had better be going straight,  The other issue was that while it could go VERY fast.  It didn't like to stop all that well.  That is because the old drum brakes in the back weren't sufficient to stop it well.  A car that could do well over 110mph on a straight road was reduced to a crawl on tight country roads with a lot of turns.

While these memories, for you,  might not have any connection to the situation we find ourselves in with the Cube 3, in my mind they do.  Even if that Packar's engine were perfect, the tires would hve still meant frustration for me.  And, had the Torino had the benefits of radial tires and full disc brakes it would have been an even more awesome driving experience.  Granted, that experience would have probably been short-lived since I probably would have died in a blaze of 429 glory.  Remember, I did say young and dumb.  :)

I don't know how soon it will be.  But, in the near future, the clogging issues will be a memory of the past.  But, like the flat tires on a beautifully crafted Packard, we will be frustrated as we see such a fine machine not being able to reach its full potential for just a little while longer.  We have a tire issue, not a car issue.  Find the right tires and we're off to the races.

Tip on Cube 3 WiFi Connection

Whenever I gat an email from a reader that provides solutions based on their own experience and ability to troubleshoot, I am reminded why I love blogging.  It is not only a way to share my own ideas; but, provides a communal connection for all users.

I'd heard from some users about intermittent WiFi issues with the Cube3.  But, since I'd not run into the issue, had no explanations.  Fortunately, one of our community not only had the Wifi issue; but, found the solution. 

Jesus MG had a problem where his PC would not always recognize his Cube 3 printer.  He solved the problem by giving administrator permissions to Cubify.exe. 

Jesus MG writes...

  • Go to: “C:\ Program Files( x86)\3D Systems\Cubify\ Cubify.exe “ 
  • Click right button> Properties > Compatibility> Run program as administrator
  • Now it seems that there are no problems.
The internet is wonderful.

It doesn't matter where we are in the world, we can provide solutions to fellow users anywhere else around the world.

But, being helpful isn't limited to providing solutions.  Sharing challenges is equally helpful.  People writing to me about the issues they find, helps me assess how widespread a problem might be throughout the user base.  By pooling our experiences and observations with filament issues we might be able to better narrow down the causes... heating, stripping, STL design, etc.. 

Every communication (except the dreaded SPAM) helps! :)

Monday, November 17, 2014

3D Systems Video - Gap Difference Correction

NOTE:  3D Systems removed the original video and replaced it with an updated version.   The video below is the updated version.

3D Systems engineers have produced a video for those of us that have the problem where one print jet is higher than the other.  All it takes is a simple mechanical adjustment requiring only a 1.3mm square end hex wrench in those machines exhibiting the issue.  (Mine did.)

We can fix it in the field!  Who knew?  :)

The only catch?

You may not have a 1.3mm hex key in your toolbox.

But, they are widely available on the internet and Grainger carries them as well.  Here is the Grainger page for the 1.3mm Hex Key..

When I buy such tools, I prefer the to purchase the driver type of hex wrench.  You might find a precision set at your local hobby store or one can be ordered online..

Here is the updated version.

I want to make a short observation about these videos from engineering.

I spent from 1969 to 1981 as a video producer for clients like the National Park Service, Postal Service and major national and international news networks.  I know and appreciate slickly produced videos.  But, when it come to getting serious about getting real, helpful information about the equipment on which I rely, THIS is the guy I want to see telling me how to fix things.  I don't need slick.  I need solid, factual step-by-step information delivered without hype by the guy that knows how it is done. 

You can't get better than this for giving Cube users straight-up help.  I really appreciate straightforward video help like this.  Keep them coming 3D Systems.

Two thumbs up! 

Hmmm... I GOTTA find out who this is!  Maybe we can nominate him for the 1st International Cube Users Hero Award or something.  :)

Cube 3: Rundown of Outstanding Issues to be Resolved

Prior to the 1.08 firmware update, there were some gap issues with early machines due to a difference in height between the right and left printjets.  Any negative effects of this seem to have been resolved by the new ability to calibrate affected machines. 

It was further corrected in subsequent machines by a new die for creating the printjet housing.  It is my understanding that ALL machines now being released should have perfectly level printjets.  I have no idea what serial number reflects the change; but, since the firmware and calibration seems to have successfully addressed the issue with earlier machines, I consider no longer an outstadning issue.

However, there is one issue that remains and that appears to be totally related to the cartridge.  The end result is clogging, which usually could always be traced back to a poor gap.  However, in this case, it seems the issue is that the extruder can work so rapidly and forcefully that the current filament can strip leaving the extruder to be unable to feed properly.

OK.  So, here's the good news ans the bad news. 

First, the bad news.

I'm getting enough reports that, along with personal experience, tells me it's a common problem right now.  However, it's not 100%.  I was able to use one cartridge right down to the end without a clog. 

Now, the good news

Those users with which I've spoken, seem to be of the same opinion that the issue is exclusively within the cartridge itself and has no cause in the basic machine design.  That really is good news for me, because correcting the problem can be addressed either with a new filament compound and/or a redesign of the extrusion system in the cartridge.  I know for a fact that 3D Systems has brought new filament producing capabilities into the 3D Systems family.  This should mean greater quality control over the filament production and finishing process.   If filament weakness is the culprit, we should be seeing some new filament in the pipeline to address that weakness.

When?  I have NO idea.  But, I'm betting that it will be soon.  And, as soon as I know, you will know.

The other good news is that the Cube community includes some brilliant, analytical minds.  I'm trying to team with as many of these individuals as possible to get their feedback on their own field results to see if we, as users, can add some eyes, ears and gadgets to provide feedback to 3D Systems as to which designs might cause the most trouble or which colors seem the most reliable.

Call, Write, Call...

The best way you can help yourself and the entire Cube 3 community is to let Cubify Support know about any issues you are having.  They WANT to hear from you. 

The bottom line is that I do not expect this to be an issue for very long.  I will post when I know for sure that it is completely behind us.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Find by 3dFan - Calibration Video

A community of users is invaluable.  This was illustrated by the fact that 3dFan, in a comment, pointed to a video produced by 3D Systems that demonstrates how to use a new Calibration Procedure made available in the 1,08b firmware update.

The link to the video is:

It is my understanding that not all Cube3 owners will need to calibrate their printers.  Recently produced printers do not have the issue of having a difference in printjet height.  So, it would be wise to contact support if you are having gap issues to see if the calibration procedure described in the video applies to your situation.

It tuned out that mine did benefit by following the directions in the video. 

But, the thing I am waiting for that should be the biggest boost for Cube3 owners is the release of upgraded filament from the Village Plastics factory that 3D Systems purchased last year that is supposed to be optimized for use in Cube3 cartridges.

3D Systems - Village Plastics

But, it also may be that we could see new types of materials in the future.  In this press release 3D Systems talks about adding nylon to the CubePro capabilities. 

They also have a filament called HIPS, which easily dissolves in an orange peel extract cleaner.

Could it migrate to the Cube3?  Who knows.  But, it's an intriquing thought.

Expanded Filament Facility

3D Systems continues to expand their capabilities to support the consumer user by bringing quality control of expendables in-house. 

As soon as I know that the new filament is in the pipeline, I will do my best to test it immediately.

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Perfect Example of Dangerous SPAM Comments

No sooner had I written my article about my deleting comments that I deemed to contain SPAM, than an apparent spammer added a comment to that very article that is a perfect example of why it is dangerous to trust links in comments unless I endorse that link in my reply to the comment.

Here is the comment.  Notice how carefully they must have read the original content?  LOL!

Velocity Labels has left a new comment on your post "SPAM and Comment Policy Explanation":

Thanks also for sharing your knowledge by making this blog. It's really a great help for me. I hope you make more blogs like this.

Adhesive visitor pass labels (Link Disabled)

Velocity Labels appears to be a legitimate company.  I was able to reach them by phone.  But, the link that I've disabled was flagged by Webroot as containing probable malicious code.

The person posting this has a Google ID and claims to work there.  But, hackers are clever and even that may be a hoax to add a level of trust.

In any event, this is exactly why I delete 99% of comments having any kind of link.  If I miss one, do yourself a favor and so NOT click on the link!

I have contacted the company to alert them that they may have been hacked.  More often than not, a company will not know it.  I worked for a highly secure government contractor with amazing levels of security and a little over a tear ago they were informed by the FBI that our computers had been compromised by a foreign government.  How?  A single individual had clicked on a link in an email that had supposedly been sent by a friend.  But, of course it was not the friend.  It was a spoof.

Fortunately, no serious secrets were compromised; but, it definitely was a wake up call.


I had a great conversation with the owner of Velocity Labels and they will be contacting me when they have made sure that all the pages on their site have been purged of any malicious code.  While it's a shame that we learned about them through the work of a person trying to take advantage of their good reputation, I am happy to have become acquainted with them.  I look forward to being able to safely point you in their direction once everything has been checked out and given a clean bill of health.  I'm thinking about trying out their services by purchasing some custom labels for the YouthQuest Foundation.  I have the Dymo Lablemaker Twin Turbo and love it.