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3D Printing for Veterinary Surgeries

I recently had the privilege of working with Dr. Arnold S. Lesser, VMD, from New York Veterinary Specialty in Long Island, New York, and his assistant, Victoria Leonard, on two patients with angular limb deformities; one a Newfoundland and one a cat. Dr. Lesser asked our 3D Printing Team to print replicas of the front legs of each pet on our ProJet 660Pro from 3D Systems. This printer can print models as big as 15” x 10” x 8” and uses a sandstone powder type material, somewhat like actual bone, when processed properly.

After receiving the STL files of the complete PET/CAT scans of the animals, I imported the files into 3D Studio Max, a modeling visualization program from Autodesk. From here, I isolated the portions of the scan Dr. Lesser needed for his pre-surgery planning – specifically the humerus, radius and ulna – and within just a few hours, the models were printed! Using these models, Dr. Lesser was able to practice the surgery, in turn lessening the time the animals would be under anesthesia.

Dr. Lesser addressed the angular limb deformity by cutting the lower part of the radius and ulna and using an external skeletel fixator to fix the bone into straight alignment and, in one case, lengthen the leg. In the end, thanks to Dr. Lesser and his team and our 3D Printing Team, both of the pets had successful surgeries!

If you would like to learn more about the benefits of 3D printing for the veterinary field, or the 3D printing services we offer in general, please contact 3dprinting@microsolresources.com!

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How to Add Visijet PXL Core to Your Projet x60 Series 3D Printer

At this point you should have gone through a few full builds on your Projet x60 series 3D printer and the feeder will need to be refilled with the Visijet PXL Core material. This is normal and should be a part of your routine maintenance and pre-printing check list. How often you will need to fill the feeder with Core will depend on your usage and the amount of materials you are using per print. There are many ways to save cost and reduce the amount of Core and binder used for each print but that is a blog post on its own.

Safely Handling Visijet PXL Core

Before we start talking about adding Core to the printer we should talk about taking the proper safety precautions while handling the Core material. The Visijet PXL Core is a powder type material similar to plaster and is non-toxic so coming in contact with the Core shouldn’t be a big concern compared to other printing technologies but it is best to follow the safety guidelines while handling the material during model removal and maintenance. You should wear nitrile gloves to minimize skin contact, safety goggles to protect your eyes, a face mask to avoid inhaling the Core material and a lab coat to protect your clothes from the Core material during handling.

The Visijet PXL Core material can be an irritant if large quantities of it are inhaled, causing your throat to become scratchy, so it is best to avoid blowing the powder into the air while de-powdering and handling. If you come into skin contact with the Core, washing with soap and water will easily remove the material. For more information on the Visijet PXL Core material you should review the Material Safety Data Sheet found on 3D Systems’ Info Center. 

Before Adding Visijet PXL Core

Now that we have gotten the safety procedures out of the way, we can move on to adding the Visijet PXL Core material into your CJP 3D Printer. It is best to start by making sure the debris separator is cleaned and emptied then make sure the excess powder around the build chamber, on the build platform, deck and de-powdering station have been vacuumed using the user hose.

Adding Visijet PXL Core - Build Chamber
Excess Core From Build Chamber Should Be Vacuumed
Adding Visijet PXL Core - De-Powdering
Vacuum The Excess Powder on the De-powdering Station

Run the “Clean Parts” menu option until the debris separator stops pulling material through it. This will make sure the de-powdering station overflow and hoses are clear of any powder that may have been left from previous usage. Next you will need to check the front overflows, by looking inside the grill and making sure it is empty. If it is not empty you can run the “Empty Front Overflow” command and the “Empty Rear Overflow” command found in the Service Menu or by rebooting the printer. Once you have checked the overflows and recovered all the excess Core material around the printer we can start to add the Core material from the Visijet PXL Core eco-drum.

Adding Visijet PXL Core

To add the Core material, first place the eco-drum on the build tray or inside the de-powdering station and then select the “Vacuum” option on the LCD menu.

Adding Visijet PXL Core - Vacuum Command
Running the Vacuum Command On The Projet x60 Series 3D Printer

Once the vacuum is running take the user hose and begin to vacuum the Core from the eco-drum.

Adding Visijet PXL Core - Eco-Drum
Adding The Visijet PXL Core From The Eco-Drum

While vacuuming, make sure you keep an eye on the debris separator and the feeder level displayed on the LCD screen.

Adding Visijet PXL Core - Feeder Level
While Vacuuming The Visijet PXL Core Into The Projet x60 Series Printer It Will Display The Feeder Level

You can fill the printer up to 8 inches but once it gets passed 8 inches, you will get the below feeder is full message with an option to keep the vacuum on.

Adding Visijet PXL Core - Feeder Full
Feeder Will Display A Warning When Full

Remove the user hose from the eco-drum and turn off the vacuum.  If you were to continue to add powder the feeder will display a “Feeder Limit” alert message and shut the vacuum off.

Adding Visijet PXL Core - Feeder Limit
When You Keep Adding Powder After the Feeder Displays The Feeder Full Message

When the feeder reaches its limit, it will shut off and you will not be able to run the vacuum again until room is made by running the “Fill Bed” command. If the feeder is filled to the top and you try to print a model, it will fail at the empty overflow operation it performs before each print job. Also, failing to empty the overflows may cause the overflows to jam and the PXL Core material will start to spill all over the deck and around the fast axis causing a mess which will damage your print heads or printed model. This is why it is best to add the powder cautiously around the 7.5-inch mark and wait to let the debris separator empty completely before adding more powder, only vacuuming in small spurts until you reach the 8-inch limit.

Once the printer is filled up to 8 inches you are ready to send your print job and continue the production of your 3D models. Optionally, you can run the “Fill Bed” command to speed up the start of your next print job.

As always if you are running into any issues or have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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The Right Way to Change the ProJet x60’s Print Heads

After some heavy 3D printing, your ProJet 660Pro or 460Plus will ask you to replace the HP11 print head, this is normal and the HP11 print heads are considered a consumable. On average, you will go through the clear print head after every 1 – 2 full builds (8 inches high and 10-15 inches wide). The rate of which you replace the print head will vary depending on the amount of binder used by the print job but the print head will not exceed its life of 1000ml of binder on the clear head and 500ml of binder on the color heads. So, if you are near the end of the print head’s life, it is best to replace the print head before printing your next job.

When changing the print head most people are usually in a rush trying to send their print job, they usually just pull back the Fast Axis and replace the print heads without following the proper procedure. This can lead to issues with the print heads as well as the electronics like the Pogo card because the printer doesn’t have a chance to disable the power going into the carriage and put it into a standby state. Below I go through the steps to replace the print head the right way and go over some recommended cleaning steps to take while replacing the print heads.

The right way to change the print head is by:

  1. Using the ProJet’s control knob go to the “Print Head” menu and then select the “Change Print Head” menu option (make sure the top cover is closed), this will make sure no power is going through the pogo pins when removing or inserting the print head
  2. Once the “Change Print Head” option has been selected the fast axis will move to the front and the carriage will move to the left side and the Pogo card will be shut off. It will also display the “Change Print Heads Clean Under Carriage” Prompt on the LCD screen.
  3. Using a mirror check the underside of the carriage for buildup and debris and wipe clean with a wet paper towel moving from a left to right motion to avoid getting the alignment sensor window dirty. Also, make sure to avoid wiping the bottom of the print heads.
  4. Then hit Continue and it will display the “Insert New Heads and Press Continue” on the LCD screen
  5. Open the carriage cover by pulling back the two tabs and remove the old print head by pulling on the blue tab or print head upwards.
  6. Wipe down the Pogo pins with a dry paper towel, removing any residue or debris that may be on the pins and only use the alcohol crush swabs if there is any hard or stuck on debris and make sure to dry the pins using a paper towel after using the crush swab to ensure the alcohol doesn’t short the print head or Pogo pins.
  7. After the pins, have been cleaned and dried, insert the new print head making sure to push down on the pin side not the septum to ensure good contact with the pins. Also, make sure to remove the blue tape found on the print head otherwise you will receive an error saying unable to read print hear or the “1003: I2C Read Failed” error displayed on the LCD screen
  8. Repeat steps 5-7 until all needed print heads are replaced and then close the carriage cover
  9. Close the top cover and hit continue, the LCD will display “Reading Head Info” and the printer will check the heads and move to the park position
  10. The LCD will display “Head Status Updated”, hit “Exit” and the printer will go to the online state. If an error does come up double check that the print head is new, the tape is removed and it is making good contact with the Pogo pins.
  11. Run the “Fill Bed and Align” option found in the “Print Heads” menu to make sure the printer is ready to print by purging the heads and running the alignment.

Following these steps will ensure you will not accidentally short your print heads out and receive an error or even worse damage the pogo card. If you do receive an error, it is always best to check the print head to be sure the blue tape has been removed and it is seated correctly. If the error is persistent you can always contact us for support by calling our office or emailing us at 3DPrinting@microsolresources.com and send us the log file and serial number following the steps from our previous blog post.

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