Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Insulating the heater block... more data!

I recently posted on the topic of Insulating the Heater Block and a few days later received some great data (graphs) from Alzibiff, a Mendel90 owner and keen RepRaper. Alan (Alzibiff) was in the process of insulating his J-Head heater block with some silicone tape, as per Nopheads design improvements, when he kindly captured some before & after data. This is great data in many ways. I hope I can do its interpretation justice...

{By the way, Alan is the proud owner of that 'pin-up' of 3D printers, the Black Dibond one with the Christmas Tree, which famously featured on the cover of the Mendel90 build manual for some time!)

The target temperature for all graphs was the same, 220 Deg C. The power resistor in the J-Head v5b, running on 12v, had no difficulty bringing the heater block up to temperature in all tests. The significant observable differences between graphs was in the average % power draw, the blue line along the lower (green) graph in each case. Alan has two fans on his x-carriage, one ducted under-carriage PEEK cooling fan (same as this), which I'll call the "Upper Fan". He has a standard M90 work cooling fan, which I'll call the "Work Fan". The latter fan duct was unmodified, no insulation cooling hole (another of Nopheads mods.)

Small Tech Note: I've checked that the power draw of the fans do not impact on the power graph. It only shows % power draw by the heater.

Figure 1. No (heater block) Insulation, Upper Fan ON, Work Fan OFF. 45% power to maintain temp.
Figure 1

Figure 2. No (heater block) Insulation, Upper Fan ON, Work Fan ON. 55% power to maintain temp. This is interesting because it's suggesting there is extra power needed to maintain temperature when the Work Fan is on. There must be air drift from the downward facing cooling fan that is impacting on the heater block, causing it to draw more power to maintain temperature.
Figure 2

Figure 3. Heater block insulation fitted (Silicone Tape), Upper Fan ON, then Work Fan ON at the '31' mark, so both fans on for the latter half of the graph. 38% power (Upper Fan ON), 48% power (both ON), approximately.The power draw to maintain temperature after the insulation is fitted to the heater block is nicely reduced. The insulation is doing it's job. But, once the Work Fan cuts in the power usage increases again slightly. This suggests that cool air drift from the work fan is cooling the heater block somehow. I expect the heater block would benefit from some insulation on it's base also, to further improve the insulation, but the nozzle probably doesn't protrude enough to permit this with the present j-head design.
Figure 3

Figure 4 is probably the most impressive. It shows the insulated heater block in operation with both fans OFF. To me it's the most impressive because the power draw (green graph) is barely above 25%. It shows that the silicone tape is a very good insulator, and really outperforms my skinny Teflon jacket. I must add that this particular test (Fans off) did unease Alan, and he didn't run it very long as he has had his share of extruder jams in the past.
Figure 4

Quick Conclusions:
The silicone tape is an excellent insulator, and an enhancement worth considering.
Indirect cool air (air drift) from fans has a greater impact on the power required to maintain hot-end temperatures than one might think, due to the cooling effect of such air.

Thanks to Alan for the graphs. Hope folks found it of interest. Questions and comments welcome as always.

1 comment:

  1. I like the graphs in that they show the bump at the switchover at what looks like Marlin's PID_FUNCTIONAL_RANGE of 10C -- the gap in the green %power, and maybe the jiggle in the red (what is the red? heater block thermistor temp, versus orange being temp in the barrel or something?)

    If it is Marlin's 10C cutoff, I'd suggest widening the PID range so it the PID can start tapering down earlier to avoid the gap and smoothly transition to steady-state.