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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2017

    Yet another cartridge mod

    I saw some mods to cartridges to allow easy filament changes or pass through and decided to poke at a solution as well. I like the sealed container that is already provided with the cartridge so my goal was to make the cartridge easily re-fillable and re-usable but keep the cartridge its self mostly stock externally
    Purely by chance I came across a filament brand that has a spool that works as a drop in replacement. Up till now I have been re-spooling onto the original cartridge spool(which sucks because I only have 1 support and 1 model cartridge so even swapping out colors is less than fun unless I endeavor to consume a full roll at a time). I know that likely does not seem too exciting, there are already filament brands out there with drop in replacements that even come with a replacement chip but they are still expensive.

    Most filament rolls I have picked up from RepRap related sources tended to have an issue fitting in there as well, the center hubs were oddly spaced so I figured I would have to do some material removal on the cartridge center hubs, then print and replace the hub with something that was a little more universal. So I started there by removing the first item that seemed to be always in the way for these cartridges.

    I started with removing that thing and sealing it back up.

    After that I started considering ways to cut out the center hub from the top and the bottom and what would work best to fit pretty much any spool. About the same time I ran out of plastic and needed more on short notice. I ended up running to a local store that carries filament and bought some from there. The spool was different from the ones I had used previously so I gave it a try fresh out of the box.

    It dropped right in, spins freely, and the lid closes perfectly fine. It does not bind when the lid is tightened down either. You can see they are different dimensions but hey, if it fits and I do not need to modify the hub more so be it. The prints seem to come out nice with the brand too so I cant complain.
    Heres some more pics for the notable comparison

    And with the lid in place

    The next step to this easy refill is to make it so that the chip no longer needs to be re-set. I think the best way to make this happen will be to code up something on a small arduino based setup that can be mounted inside the cartridge(replacing a desiccant bag or two). This will either have a button that you can press which will power up the arduino re-set the cartridge and then power back off(this solution requires the cartridge chip still exist) or will emulate the 1wire chip entirely(just toss that old chip in the trash).

    The second idea was more centered on the arduino presents a 100% full cartridge and keeps the serial number and other details in eeprom(so they can be modified if needed like printer type and material) and stores any updates from the machine similar to how the original chips do. Part of the startup sequence for the arduino when it first powers up would be to check if a button is pressed or not. If it is it will increment the serial number stored in eeprom before it presents to the printer. This would make the cartridge 100% fresh again any time the cartridge is removed but retain the ability for the cartridge to have a "memory". Even cooler would be multiple memory slots so you could "save" the state of one roll as you swap to a different one making it so you can return to the previous roll at a later time easily and not need to re-set the chip with the specifics from that roll.

    I like this idea in part of still keeping the percentage tracking functional. I just do not fully trust myself to estimate the amount of plastic I have on a partially used roll and I would prefer the machine pause or do similar than keep running because I happened to have 2% less plastic than I thought and ran out.
    In reality that probably is less of a concern for business level operations but I am mostly just a hobbyist working out of their basement so minimizing waste helps a lot.

    The spool mod stuff was kinda just a get my feet wet thing. The arduino emulating the 1wire chip is the real challenge to this post. I will update more as I learn the arduino 1-wire libraries and what challenges there are while trying to operate in a slave mode(like the chip) instead of master mode(like the cartridge resetters).

    More updates to come, let me know if you have any thoughts!

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