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Welcome to the Leaf Spa Luxury Plant Apartments

I’ve started to think of the plants that grow in the Leaf Spa as residents within dah (ever so) swanky Leaf Spa apartment building…the challenge of course is affordable rent (just ask my kids whose current salaries can’t afford an apartment…grrr…but I diverge).

I decided to make the apartment numbers be the nutrients as they appear within the periodic chart.  


Apartment K

Here is an image from Fusion 360:


This way, not only will I be reminded of the important macro and micro nutrients, but be constantly reminded of the gleeful combination of chemistry and (plant) life.  

ChallengesBringOpportunitesNow I can refer to a plant not only as “the basil plant”  but the basil plant in apartment K…for some reason I find that fantastic.  It makes me happy/smile, so I must do it.  Happiness, pain, sadness…back to delight…don’t you just love it?

I’ll use two colors – white for the box and black for the lettering.

Thanks To Those That Went Before

Russell Singer – Russell works for MAKEiT (here is a podcast that features Russell and his work)- the company behind the Pro-M 3D printer I bought about a year ago.  Russell’s knowledge on how to successfully print based on the particulars of a design is excellent.  Besides that, Russell has ALWAYS answered my email questions in a timely, detailed, and courteous fashion.  As I get older, I become so much more grateful for the excellence and difference one person can make. THANK YOU RUSSELL.

Fusion 360

The wonderful concept of complete parametric design of a component continues to elude me.  Fresh off watching Adafruit’s excellent Layer by Layer – Adaptive Parametric Features youtube video, I was ready to embrace designing everything using parameters and constraints.  Alas, things got WAY too complicated quickly when applying parameters and constraints to text within the component.  I tried to follow an Autodesk help tutorial posted in the help forum…but…really?  I have to stand on my head, twirl, and do…what?  …seriously?  Back to rolling in the dirt and just doing whatever it takes with Fusion 360.

3D Printer


For this I want to use PLA.  So I go on Amazon to get white and black filament.

Simpson DOHI ordered TPU instead of PLA.  I didn’t know about TPU…I like the elasticity/flexibility…hmmm….this time I’m returning and getting PLA.  Too much stuff lying around.  And so I wait.  Oh…I accidentally touched the hot end of the extruder when it was HOT…..OUCH…don’t do this …..D’OH…. 🙂


I like to check for firmware updates every once and awhile.  The current version on my Pro-M is 2.13.  The version on the MAKEiT is 2.17.   Luckily, the update went smoothly.  Perhaps mostly due to the fact I had done an update before and knew to use Cura and the USB port.  Would be nice if I could just OTA (Over The Air) update the printer and not use Cura….but alas….the good news is MAKEiT would rather focus on customer’s successful printing.  A good tradeoff.

Print Settings for Dual Extrusion

Getting the settings right  takes more skill and practice than I have.  Lucky for me, MAKEiT has amazing support mostly in the form of Russell Singer.   A big challenge I have with two color printing is the nozzle leaking when changing colors.  There are others, so I asked Russell for advice.

Advice From Russell on Two Color Printing

Dual extrusion on our printers requires a little bit of attention first to Z-height leveling of the nozzles. For two materials or two colors printing together in one part, it’s important that the nozzles are as close to evenly level as possible. If printing with a second material like PVA only for support, the secondary nozzle should be very slightly higher than the nozzle printing the main part.

In terms of settings here is what comes to mind:

  • Using significantly higher retraction z-lift setting can help quite a bit by preventing travel motions from one nozzle from impacting areas already printed by the other nozzle. For two-color printing I use a z-lift value of 0.8, for soluble support printing slightly higher of 1.2
  • Soluble support benefits significantly from printing with a raft.
  • Tool change retraction distance should be far enough to take the material out of the heat zone, 35mm works well
  • Extra restart distance after tool change can be useful if you notice gaps in extrusion, but depending what materials and how often it’s switching nozzles it may be unnecessary
  • On parts where there is significant lag between when one nozzle stops and restarts printing, using a prime tower may be necessary. Prime towers can be finicky and and like to fall over if the part is very tall, using a raft can help avoid this
  • Adding in a tool change gcode script (below) to adjust temperatures based on which nozzle is active can reduce stringing, color contamination, potential for clogs, and a few other improvements


and typed out:
G1 X100 Y170 F4000; Move out of the way while it stabilises active tool temp.

{IF NEWTOOL=0}; LEFT Extruder is active (T0)

{IF NEWTOOL=0}M104 S180 T1; Cool inactive extruder to 180c (T1)

{IF NEWTOOL=0}M109 S210 T0; Heat active extruder to 210c (T0).

{IF NEWTOOL=1}; RIGHT Extruder is active (T1)

{IF NEWTOOL=1}M104 S180 T0; Cool inactive extruder to 180c (T0)

{IF NEWTOOL=1}M109 S210 T1; Heat active extruder to 210c (T1). 

Things to be aware of when using this script: the numbers for temperature must be changed within the script if you use different materials (this is for PLA now). If you use this script with ABS you’ll have to manually adjust the temperatures within the script’s tab to appropriate ones for that material. Also there are sometimes other things that trigger S3D to think a tool change has happened, even when printing single nozzle, so if you leave this script in place when it’s not needed it might unexpectedly adjust your temperatures. For this reason it’s probably best to save a different profile for two-material printing that’s separate. When it moves out of the way to allow time for temperature adjustment the head will move to a fixed point, specified by the first line of the script. Where it says “X100 Y170” you can adjust those numbers to place the head at a point in the XY plane that ideally isn’t very far away from the main part or prime tower, but also isn’t directly over it. Last thing to be aware of with this script is that Simplify3D requires you to have two separate processes setup for two material prints; both processes must have this script otherwise it will only go through the temperature changes half the time, and the temps will be wrong the other half.


I imported the FFF file Russell attached, made sure the tool chain script was added to both processes, and also:

  • Increased the Extrusion Multiplier from .93 to .97.  I still believe at least the filament I use requires a higher Extrusion Multiplier than what Russell recommends.  I am not completely confident of this.  However, for now I will go with a .97 extrusion multiplier.
  • Changed the parameters Russell noted:
    • Retraction Z-lift
Pasted Image 4 6 17 9 11 AM
    • Tool change retraction distance and extra restart distance:
Pasted Image 4 6 17 2 55 PM

.  I’ll start my settings with an updated Pro-M FFF file which I downloaded from this site.

I go to using the Configuration

The FFF file’s GCODE section has these settings:


First Print

The first print ended up using white for the text.  In the future, I now know to check out what will be printed by changing the coloring to Active Toolhead.  In this print’s case, it was showing that only one color would be printed:

Pasted Image 4 6 17 5 24 AM

Not what I wanted.  What did I do wrong in the setup?

Pasted Image 4 6 17 5 30 AM

of Course! I did not set the tool for the layers to be the extruder with the black filament.


Printing the text was also a challenge as the text got smaller because of the melting of the filament – the text is a bit small with the settings.  Instead of spending time improving text printing, I’m going to change the Fusion 360 model to only have the chemical symbol instead of other text.



Right now I’m printing out more apartment numbers – CA, N, etc…. sometimes the print works…and other times…well…it’s truly a process….