Jul 4, 2017 | By Benedict

Maker Donald Papp has designed a 3D printer filament alarm that alerts users when their printer is out of filament. The device, dubbed “Mister Screamer,” is designed to hang loosely over the filament; when the spool runs out, Mister Screamer will drop to the ground, causing it to emit a loud sound.

Failed print jobs caused by insufficient filament can make you want to scream your head off. But what if screaming could actually save your precious prints in the first place? That—in a very loose sense—is what Donald Papp hoped to achieve with Mister Screamer, an ingenious 3D printer filament alarm that alerts makers when they need to replace a spool mid-print.

Papp’s remarkably simple 3D printer accessory is designed for 3D printers that don’t have “smart” features like automatic print pausing, and could be used by most makers who plan to be in the same building as their 3D printer during printing.

“The idea is that if a 3D printer is attended (but not under constant supervision) and the operator is prepared to swap filament rolls when needed, then there is no need for the printer to perform any ‘smart’ duties such as pausing the print,” Papp explains in a Hackaday post.

Mister Screamer opened up

“As long as there is a means of triggering an alarm when filament has run out, the operator can do everything needed to keep the machine printing uninterrupted, and the printer itself doesn’t even need to know.”

In Mister Screamer’s case, the means of triggering an alarm is very, very effective.

The small, 3D printed device hangs directly over an exposed section of filament being fed into the printer; when the spool runs out, there is no filament left for Mister Screamer to hang onto, causing it to fall. The fall causes the tiny device to emit a very loud (80 decibels) beeping sound, grabbing the maker’s attention and giving him/her time to switch spools. In Papp’s case, the time required was around four minutes.

This system was actually Papp’s second approach to Mister Screamer. Before he created the current version, the maker attempted a version of the device that fully enclosed the filament thread and used a roller switch to activate the buzzer.

Mister Screamer old (left) and new (right)

This early prototype was effective but caused some problems. The device caused too much binding friction, and resulted in the device falling from too great a height, potentially causing damage to the contraption.

“The new prototype keeps the same basic function, but with an entirely different approach,” Papp says. “While the device hangs down it is silent. If it falls, the alarm sounds until it is picked back up. Therefore in operation it hangs passively from the filament like a pendant or keychain as long as filament feeds into the printer. As soon as the spool of filament has emptied, the device falls to the tabletop and triggers the alarm.”

Instead of a roller switch, the current version of Mister Screamer uses a reed switch. The 3D printed enclosure contains a void that captures a small disc magnet. When Mister Screamer lies on a flat surface (as when it drops), the magnet settles near enough to the switch to actuate it. When it is vertically suspended, it remains inactive (and, thankfully, silent).

Papp thinks the Mister Screamer project has been a (literal) roaring success, “and not just because it performed its intended job in the expected way.” The maker was particularly pleased that the device could be created cheaply and easily, and that he was able to improve upon his original prototype.

CAD model for Mister Screamer

“As it stands, Mister Screamer V2 does its job well enough to be reliably used for real work, even if its scope is focused mainly on my own printer and needs,” Papp says. “Ever-increasing improvements can be tempting to chase, but it’s rarely necessary to iterate until a solution is perfect. If a problem has been correctly identified and understood, it becomes much easier to judge when the solution is done.”

Of course, Mister Screamer won't be compatible with all 3D printers, since not all leave an exposed section of filament. It's also redundant for machines that have smart features like filament detection. Nonetheless, Papp's creation is a great example of a practical solution to a common problem. Check out the project on GitHub.



Posted in 3D Printer Accessories



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