Ilios Beam Startup Guide
Before you begin using your brand new Ilios Beam 3D Printer, it is recommended to go through some initial checks and steps, to ensure that you grasp the basic knowledge on how everything goes together and how to optimize your prints in the future. Since all Ilios 3D printers are made by hand, no matter how accurate the machining is or how careful the assembly went, there will always be slight variations in each 3D printer. To ensure that you prepare your Ilios Beam 3D printer for its initial print, please go through the steps described below and if you have any questions then feel free to use our Forum or Contact Us directly.
1 - Initial Unpacking & Assembly
Ilios Beam already comes almost fully assembled, however since its Z-Axis comes apart for easy transport, the first thing you need to do is place the Z axis on the main unit as shown in the image below and tighten the 2 knobs which hold the axis to the base.
Please don't forget to have the additional washers between the knobs and the axis brackets as they provide additional stability and prevent the knobs from wearing out the plastic brackets. For now, do NOT install the Lift plate and its mount as that will come later. Just make sure that the Z Axis is mounted firmly to the base. There is no need to over tighten the knobs as long as they are nice and snug.
Once you install the Z axis, plug the 6 pin connector coming from the axis to the mating connector on the Ilios Beam Base. It shall be located near the axis and is clearly visible. No need to push it hard, just push it in until it doesn't go any further.
It is recommended that you place Ilios Beam on a level surface. It doesn't have to be perfect as it doesn't affect the printing process, however if the 3D printer is off kilter by too much, the resin within the VAT container may overflow and seep into the internal workings. This is naturally an extreme case but it is something to have in mind when placing the 3D printer in a work area.
2 - Powering Up & Initialization
Once you installed and connected the Z axis (the lift arm), connect the Power cable to the back of the Ilios Beam 3D printer and flip the power switch which is located near the power plug, also on the back of the device. The internal power supply will operate with 220v AC as well as with 110v AC just fine.
Ilios Beam as well as all Ilios 3D printers with the latest electronics go through an initialization sequence which ensures that everything is working properly and zeroes all movements to their home position. There is nothing you need to do during this step so sit back and simply observe.
As a quick explanation of what you should expect, the "Ilios" logo shall appear on the LCD display first and the internal CPU will load the operating system as well as the user interface. Once the interface loads, the initialization command will be sent to all sensors and motors as well as the laser assembly.
First the X and Y axis will go to their home position (you shall be able to see the arm move through the VAT glass) and stop on the Left bottom side of the VAT (if looking from the LCD side of the 3D printer). Once the X and Y axis stop moving the Z axis will go to its highest position and pull back a bit. At this point the Ilios Beam should be initialized. However there are still few checks which are recommended so please keep reading.
3 - Laser Check
Before you do anything else, it is a good idea to check that the Laser which will be curing the resin on the VAT, works properly and has not been damaged or misaligned during shipping or handling. To ensure the laser assembly is functioning properly, please follow the steps below.
- On the LCD user Interface press the "Control" button.
- Move the X and Y axis with the help of the arrow keys to roughly center the laser arm below the VAT glass. It doesn't matter exactly where you position it as long as it is away from the edge and somewhere in the middle of the build area.
- Take a small piece of white paper (approximately 4 x 4cm) and place it on top of the "hole" from which the laser beam comes out. It will be clearly seen on the X - Y arm.
- Make sure you are not looking directly down into the laser area. The laser will be enabled at its full power and the piece of paper ensures the beam scatters and doesn't shoot into the air. (During printing the laser will never reach its full strength unless you delay the exposure by a large factor. Also the Lift plate covers most of the build area so exposure to any laser light is minimal.)
- Press the "Light Bulb" button to enable the laser.
- What you should see is a bright blue spot on the white paper. If that is indeed what you see and not a dim glow then your laser assembly works perfectly.
- Press the "Light Bulb" button again to disable the laser.
4 - Lift Alignment
Since each Ilios Beam is assembled by hand and due to the fact that there is no physical way for Ilios Beam to know when it reaches the bottom of the VAT, the relative position to Zero (the point where the Lift is lowered to the very bottom of the VAT and barely touches the glass) besides the Home Switch on the top of the Z axis, the distance is predefined and is at its maximum.
As the Ilios printers are assembled by hand, it is almost impossible to make that distance perfectly even for each Ilios Beam 3D printer. Aligning the lift however is very simple and doesn't take too much time. This is done only once unless you intend to dissemble the 3D printer often and move in different locations. To achieve a proper alignment please follow the steps below.
- Cut a piece of A4 paper to roughly match the VAT build area and place it on top of the glass. This will act as a protective barrier for the VAT Non Stick film and as a spacer.
- Place the Lift Plate in the VAT, on top of the paper. The orientation should be obvious as the top side is the one which will be bolted to the lift.
- Press the "Control" button on the LCD interface.
- Use the Up and Down arrows located at the very right side of the screen to move the Z axis down to its lowest position. (You can also press the "Home" button and the position will toggle between Zero and absolute highest automatically so you don't have to press the Up or Down buttons repeatedly to achieve the same effect)
- Once the Z axis is at its lowest position and the Lift plate is laying at the bottom of the VAT, firstly attach the Lift Bracket to the Lift Arm with the provided knob. Initially we want to attach the Lift arm to the Bracket and NOT the Lift plate.
- Note the gap which will appear between the Lift Plate and the bracket. If you bolt the Lift plate to the Bracket it shall raise the plate. This gap is what we need to eliminate. To do this, use spacers or washers so that when you bolt the Lift plate to the Bracket, the Lift plate remains as flat and close to the paper (and the VAT surface) as possible.
- Once there are spacers between the lift plate and the Bracket and the plate is secure, press the "Home" button again to lift the Z axis up (or use the Up - Down buttons to achieve the same effect).
We go through the above step to ensure that the lift will be as close to the VAT surface as possible and as flat as possible during the initial Layer. You don't have to make it perfect as the consequential layers will level out between the VAT and Lift, but that first layer has to be as flat as possible so the model adheres as strongly as possible for the remainder of the print to be successful.
5 - Final Checks & Notes
Congratulations! You have now successfully calibrated and assembled Ilios Beam. All that remains now is to prepare a model in Ilios 3D Suite and upload to Ilios Beam for printing. As a final note, please do the below actions regularly to ensure good prints.
- It is always a good idea to do few "Dry" test prints before you print for the first time with actual resin. Prepare the model you want, upload the file to the Ilios 3D printer and do a print without actually adding any resin. This way you will get used to what happens during a print Cycle and will get the hang for the printing process before you begin using resin. The Ilios Beam 3D printer doesn't care if you have any resin in it or not and you won't damage anything by doing this.
- When printing for the first time, start with something small. It is most likely that if you begin your first print with a large model, it will fail. Not because the printer can't do it but because you need to understand how to properly position the model on the print area, when to use and when not to use supports or the Platform and what material parameters and Layer thickness to set for best results. With a small model you shall waste less material and get results faster in order to adjust for any mistakes which may occur and create a better print next time.
- By Default the Ethernet, WiFi and Web features are disabled in the Ilios Beam (and all other Ilios 3D Printers with the latest electronics). You can always enable these functions in the Settings menu as needed. Due to the high resolution and build area which Ilios Beam provides, processing each (very large) layer takes up a lot of system resources. Printing is more stable and faster when some functions are disabled unless absolutely needed. The techniques Ilios 3D printers with a Laser setup use are very much a new concept which is constantly being worked on. Always check for new updates on our website to keep your Ilios 3D Printer up to date.
- After each print, clean the Lift Plate surface with acetone or alcohol so the surface is flat and a second print can adhere to it as strongly as possible.
- Make sure that you do NOT overfill the VAT. as a rule of thumb, there shouldn't be more than 2 - 3mm of resin and the Lift should be barely submerged when at its lowest position in the resin. Overfilling the VAT may cause the material to spill out of the sealed container and damage mechanical or electrical components.
- Do NOT leave the resin in the VAT for long periods of time if not using the Ilios Beam 3D printer (or any SLA 3D Printer) as exposure to strong light may cause the material to harden or loose its initial viscosity. Always pour the remainder of the material into a separate container to use later and store in a dark and dry location.
- Always follow the SLA material manufacturer recommendations regarding handling, using and storing the product.
- Try to keep the 3D printer clean and well taken care of as it has been assembled by hand and with love.
- If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in our Forum or Contact Us directly.