Robert Taormina wrote in to ask.

“I was wondering if I could trouble you with a few questions.
Your article mentioned nothing about printer settings.  Are you using a certain power and binder setting?  Or did you have to set your own saturation’s?  For our first test we used the XXX powder settings with some problems.  I noticed that the first couple of layers “smeared”.  What do you think the problem might be?  Printhead going bad? Or saturation setting? “

One of the differences between our powders and “premium” powders is that you must be involved in the printing process.   If you use “premium” powders, someone else has done all the work for you (and for this you pay them the premium price).   You simply purchase, pour in powder, click the powder’s settings and go.

For our powders, *YOU* must embrace the saturation settings.

Try a  stock powder setting = way too wet.

try 3/4 of a given stock setting.
try 1/2 of a given stock setting.
try 1/4 of a given stock setting.
try 1/8 of a given stock setting.

You want to explore the saturation settings until you get parts that slightly pull away from the surrounding powder when dry.   Try letting them dry overnight.   Or make several build plates (and after 1 hour dry time) remove build and bake in a convection oven for 1-3 hours @ 175 F.

Every material may require fine tuning until you are happy with the saturation settings.   We’ve run hundreds of tests.   Every time we test a new material we begin again.

{What you’ve just run is a part of a “design of experiments lab”.  You will note that you have two parameters — shell and core settings.   These are independent parameters.   You now might think about locking either shell or core after your initial tests and then running the other parameter through all the ranges.  It doesn’t take as long as you think AND you will know much more about the printing process than you did before (in case you need to trouble shoot)}

We use 10mm x 10 mm x 100 mm test bars.  Then, we print one of our test pucks, and then continue on through various test geometries.

Printing Test Bars

Printing four 10x10x100 mm test bars to test saturation.

2 Comments on Saturation Settings

  1. Grant says:

    Depending on your settings, the “smearing” is likely due to the saturation levels. In addition, depending on the model of printer you are running (i.e., 300, 400, etc.), you may have this smearing effect due to improper head temperature. The print head is also another variable worth investigating. If your print head is “going out,” you are likely to get smearing and “striping” (i.e., your cross-section looks like a zebra) during builds, which would result in dry and weak parts. If your saturation is too high, your parts may take much longer to dry, and the bottom ~30 layers are likely to be much darker than the rest of the part.

    The best way to overcomes these uncertainties is to do as was suggested above; become active and record trends and printer behavior. You can (will) learn a lot about the process by printing 10mm X 10mm X 100mm test bars…

  2. Grant says:

    Depending on your settings, the “smearing” is likely due to the saturation levels. In addition, depending on the model of printer you are running (i.e., 300, 400, etc.), you may have this smearing effect due to improper head temperature. The print head is also another variable worth investigating. If your print head is “going out,” you are likely to get smearing and “striping” (i.e., your cross-section looks like a zebra) during builds, which would result in dry and weak parts. If your saturation is too high, your parts may take much longer to dry, and the bottom ~30 layers are likely to be much darker than the rest of the part.

    The best way to overcomes these uncertainties is to do as was suggested above; become active and record trends and printer behavior. You can (will) learn a lot about the process by printing 10mm X 10mm X 100mm test bars…

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