At the end of March, I broke my MakerBot CupCake idler wheel while trying out my new filament drive worm-pulley. In April, my friends Scott Smith and Ben Wynne in San Diego machined me some aluminum replacement wheels, which are totally awesome.
Old and busted; new hotness. Yeah, baby!
This wheel press-fits perfectly onto the bearing, starting by hand and then leaning heavily on it on a countertop. It’s thicker than the original wheel, making precise alignment with the drive pulley less important. It even has a knurled edge — showoffs!
I’d been experiencing “plaid” printing, in which the filament feed rate dropped at very regular intervals, and attributed it to the (tangible) irregularities of the acrylic idler wheel. But I’m still getting plaid prints, and I don’t think my aluminum wheel (hot off the lathe) is irregular, so the problem must be elsewhere.
Hm, look at the deflection of my filament feed motor shaft, all the way to the left of the hole in the enclosure.
Hm, look at the deflection of the shaft now, when the flat hits the edge. That would explain why the weak feed is so regular — recovery doesn’t rely on the drive pulley maybe grabbing the filament and maybe being able to spin the idler wheel to a different spot before it gets going again.
Looks like I need a bearing on that motor shaft. I printed a shoulder washer/bushing for it and it helped for a while, but not enough. I think a real, metal bearing is in my future. And perhaps a different drive geometry. A lot of good filament feed designs are being uploaded to Thingiverse.