Author Topic: Crap hack. Bulk filament  (Read 39633 times)


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Re: Crap hack. Bulk filament
« Reply #120 on: May 11, 2016, 11:33:34 am »
While researching the Cube 3D printer, I became aware that 3D systems prevent users from using generic PLA filament by inserting a chip into their cartridges which allows the printer's internal computer to roughly gauge how much filament is left in the cartridge (preventing you from starting a print which there's not enough filament to print) . This hack however : is "supposed" to be the answer.   In actual fact, all it does is waste time and filament, with zero net benefit... Here's why :

A little background.
The cube printer has an inbuilt chip in every single filament cartridge.  It, like many 2D printers provides feedback to the printer's interal computer to allow it know how much "ink" (filament in this case) is left in the cartridge.  It also prevents the user from using an empty cartridge, or reloading the cartridge with more filament once it becomes empty.  3D systems would like you to purchase more expensive filament instead of reloading your old cartridge. They even scare the user by issuing statements to the effect of "only use cube filament in your printer, using 3rd party filament may damage your printer and void your warranty".   

The hackaday article, provides reference to a seemingly useful part which you can print which allows the user to trick the system into using 3rd party filament, all one had to do is accept the Cube printers warning that it is running out of filament, and apparent problem solved.  Wrong.  Problem is, that even if you do use 3rd party filament with this technique, the printer will continue to reduce the "available filament" variable in the filament cartridge's chip.  When this figure reaches zero, the printer will prevent you from using even your third party filament as you are no longer given a warning of which you can accept or deny... You're simply prevented from printing all together. 

The solution. 
I argued with myself as to whether to make this public, as I'm pretty sure 3D systems will do an applesque fix for this in future firmware, but realized I have copys of firmware on my machine which I will make available should 3D systems patch their firmware to prevent this from working. 

Firstly, forget about printing the part in the hackaday article.  It's a waste of filament and electricity.  (Ill explain why in future articles).  Find and print a suitable spool holder for your generic PLA filament.  Make sure you continue to use the cube tube with your new spool holder though as this is actually a novel and useful idea which prevents your filament from malforming before it enters the Cube's extruder.

 To make things simpler, I keep the instructions in note form.  This also assumes you've figured out how to load generic filament into the extruder.

1) make sure you insert a cartridge which contains available filament into the cartridge slot.  This is to trick the printer into allowing you to select a file to print. 
2) start the print as normal.  If there "dummy" cartridge you used was nearly empty, you may be warned about insufficient remaining filament.  If so confirm your intention to proceed by selecting the "tick" icon. 
3) the cube will begin to old the file and heat the extruder.  At ANY TIME during this process, select the "stop" button.
4) you will be asked to confirm if you want to abort the print... DON'T select anything.
5) Now remove the "dummy" cartridge from the printer.
6) the cube printer will continue print the object despite the cartridge being removed and importantly, won't reduce the available filament variable on your dummy cartridge's chip while it is printing.  If you try and do this without pressing the stop button, the sneaky software will force you to replace the cartridge within 30 seconds before aborting the print.

A little messy, but this "hack" actually will allow you to print using bulk filament and provide you with a real net benefit ; cheaper printing. 

Any questions, feel free to ask.

Hi Dan,

I have a Cube x Duo.  Do you know if this process works for this 3d printer?  I did follow your steps but I don't have a STOP button only Cancel. I hit cancel asked me if I wanted to and disregarded,  proceeded to take out the dummy cartridge it did continue  for a few moments then stated the cartridge was removed and to replace. I did nothing but the print stopped. The time was still elapsing as if it were printing. Any thoughts?