I have had this Stratasys FDM 2000 3D printer for about a year now. You may remember that I purchased it from Michael Guslick (aka Have Blue) last summer. It has been a great machine. The advantages to owning one of these, is that you get a commercial grade printer for a fraction of the cost, you get a for real heated build chamber, you get a legitimate support nozzle that retracts when the model extruder is printing, you get the extreme flexibility of using Stratasys printing software (Insight is very powerful software that allows for incredible tweaking of print settings), you get a printer that pauses when filament runs out, you get a printer that you can put most any filament through that you would like (since it doesn't use propriety cartridges), you get dry filament storage built into the printer, and you have the ability to put higher melting point filaments through the rugged extruders. Did I mention you need not worry about expensive service contracts? All for a price that can typically be half that of a Makerbot. Granted, their slow, but the prints are good.
Well at some point last summer the power went off in my studio building and the printer was in the middle of a print. When I came in to work the next day, I started the printer up thinking that I would just resume my printing. When I started it, I heard the blowers kick on, but there was a terrible noise and something wasn't right. I immediately shut it down and then inspected the blowers to see that the vanes were completely melted on two fans on the left side of the machine. I assume that when the power was off the existing heat in the heat exchanger and it's housing transferred heat to the blowers and "cooked" them. Those of you you who have used an old FDM may realize that when you shut down the printer, the blowers stay on until everything is cooled down. I guess the power shutting down, didn't allow the machine to cool properly. Well, at least that's my theory. I still have no idea why it didn't happen on the right side of the machine as there are blowers there as well. Anyway, it was finally time to replace the blowers. This requires a teardown of the left side of the machine, but I figured while I was at it, I'd do a complete teardown and clean everything up. I figured these images would let someone have a glimpse of what these machines looks like under the hood. After getting all of the insulation board out of the various cavities, I was able to look at the rigid bones of the machine. It's really amazing how theses are just large steel welded frames with xy unit and z unit bolted into the frame. It's no wonder these weigh so much; they're built like a tank. The construction actually reminds me of my old Grob bandsaw. It was funny to see the typical foam core laminated with aluminum foil sheet backers that are used for insulation (similar to Thermax sheeting shown here) and how they were spray painted black in the areas that would show from inside the build chamber. I was glad I tore everything down as there were years of waste filament lying in the bottom of the printer as well as just a layer of fine build table foam dust everywhere. I had noticed that the machine had always "smelled" like burnt plastic and maybe this is the reason. We'll see if it helps to have the machine completely free of printing debris. I think that's it for the teardown; look for future installments in the near future.