Stratasys Industrial 3D Printer Maintenance Tips: Fortus Edition

Article by GoEngineer on Dec 09, 2020

Companies that use industrial 3D printers for production likely have them churning out parts regularly and are often using a variety of 3D printing materials. Like any other 3D printer, an industrial 3D printer requires regular maintenance and upkeep to keep them running smoothly. In this article, we share six helpful instructional videos with tips for Stratasys’ Production Fortus 3D printers ( 380mc, 450mc, and F900 ).

#1. Fortus Tip Change Process

Changing the tip on a big machine doesn’t need to be a big job. Regardless of what 3D printer you own, the process is pretty much the same. The only difference will be the interaction with the display screen.  

Before you get under the hood, the display screen will have you run through some initial prompts and have you verify that there isn’t a part on the platen. The build tray will rise, you can remove the build tray, empty the purge bucket, and vacuum out the chamber.

Once complete, you can go under the hood. Watch us perform a tip change on the Stratasys Fortus 450mc in the video below or by following the steps in  this article

 

 

#2. Material Load and Unload 

A brand new canister of 3D printing material will have a shipping plug under the foil. You’ll need to peel back the foil, remove the plug, and reseal the tape. Take the cap off of the top and snap it on in front of the canister. 

Open the door on the material canister, then, using your thumb with pressure, roll the wheel down a couple of times until about a foot of material is exposed. Snip off a bit of the material until four inches are remaining, push it back flush, and close the door. 

Load your material canister into the bay at the bottom of the printer, pull the pin on the drive block, and after three seconds, open the front door and push in and down the material wheel on the canister three times to push filament up into the drive block. The drive motors will do the rest.  

To unload material, press the down arrow next to the material canister on the touch screen and wait for the blue ‘material path’ to turn orange. This is an indication that it’s been unloaded from the system. Down in the bay, you should see that the light is quickly flashing green (another indicator that the system is in process and you should wait until it is complete). Once the screen says that the material has been unloaded from the head, the canister can be removed completely.  

We suggest watching the video below where we show how to properly load and unload material.

 

 

#3. Fortus Tips and Foundation Sheets

It’s important to know what tip to use with what material, as well as the proper foundation sheet combination for your Fortus system. Both GrabCAD Print and Insight Software make it easy to find the perfect combination.

In  GrabCAD Print,  simply select your printer. In the Tray Settings panel, the drop-down menu will display all the materials that are available for that 3D printer. Once you select a material, you’ll then be able to see all of the material slice combinations, with tips, that are available for that material on your selected machine.

In  Insight software , launch Modeler > Setup command and choose the modeler type that pertains to your system. You can see the model materials available for that system, the support material combination, as well as the tips/resolution options available for each given material.

We go into more details in this article and in the video below. 

 

 

#4. Laying Down Nylon Build Sheets

Having trouble getting your Nylon build sheet to lay flat and take a vacuum? You’re not alone. We recommend storing your build sheets in a sealable container, one that has a sealing gasket around it that will keep the moisture out of the container. If you have any extra desiccant packs, you can include them in your sealed bin as well.  

In our 3D printing lab, we’ve also added a renewable dehumidifier and placed that inside of the container with the build sheets to help pull out moisture. This alone can make a significant difference in how fast a build sheet will lay flat in your 3D printer. 

Our final tip is to cut a board that can lay flat on top of your build tray. 

Learn more in the video below.

 

 

#5. Theory Behind Manual Calibration

Calibrating your 3D printer is essential for producing the best quality parts. Understanding what this process is, why it’s necessary, and how it’s being performed is important as well. 

When calibrating your 3D printer, you’re ultimately looking for how the support tip sits in relation to the model. The support tip will be moved around so that it builds right next to the model tip. The model and support tips have a tool path that you want building right next to each other. 

When you’re looking at the calibration, the model will extrude out hashes on either side of the numbers which indicates thousands of inches of movement one way or the other. Use the sliders on the screen to choose where on the pattern the support extrusion is centered between the model extrusions. The goal is for the support to run down the middle, centered between the lines of extruded model material, at the 0 mark in both X and Y. Repeat the calibration as necessary before checking the Z calibration. 

Dive deeper into this topic and learn how to perform a manual calibration by watching the video below.

 

 

#6. Cleaning Tank Refresh

Do you know how often you should change the solution in your Ultrasonic cleaning tank? If you notice the solution in your tank starts to look thicker or whitish in color, it’s probably about time. If you’re using the soluble support with the materials allowed with Fortus series 3D printers, it takes between one and two hours to clean a part in the Ultrasonic system. If at the end of that time frame you’re still removing clean parts, the solution is still good. If it takes more than 2 hours to get a clean part and the support material has not dissolved, then it’s time to start thinking about cleaning out your tank. If parts take more than four hours to clean, it’s definitely time.

To clean it, drain it and put in the new solution at a clear state, and start over. The only exception to this rule is if you’re using this same bath to clean any of the Nylon materials. Nylon and Polycarbonate support materials take twice as long to remove off of the parts as does the SR 30 or SR 35.

 

 

I hope you found these 3D printing maintenance tips helpful. To learn more, check out the links below.

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About GoEngineer

GoEngineer delivers software, technology and expertise that enable companies to unlock design innovation and deliver better products faster. With more than 35 years' experience and tens of thousands of customers in high tech, medical, machine design, energy and other industries, GoEngineer provides best-in-class design solutions from SOLIDWORKS CAD, Stratasys 3D printing, Creaform & Artec 3D scanning, CAMWorks, PLM, Altair, and more

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