Meow… 3D Printed Cat

2015-02-14 CatAfter the stresses of getting my new Solidoodle Press 3D printer working over the last week, it’s nice to jump back to the faithful Up! Plus 2 for a simple print. This design was downloaded from Thingiverse, you can also get one by clicking here. It’s also a bit of fun taking photos of the result!

I will admit the print didn’t come out perfectly – there was a bit of a skip about half way through, resulting in a gap just below the neck. I’m not sure what caused this error, but the small amount of support building inside the cat to support the top of the head also broke at about this time, so perhaps the nozzle collided with the print and fell out of sync? No major problem though, it’s only noticeable up close, and nothing a ribbon can’t fix. You can see what I mean in the below time-lapse photos, with the support broken and angled in the 3rd image, then removed by the 4th image. But the top of the head still printed without any problems, so the support wasn’t needed anyway.

2015-02-13 Cat TimelapseSure makes a good gift for someone, thanks Roman Hegglin for the design!

– Posted by James Novak

Convert Your Solidoodle Into an Up! in 3 Steps

2015-02-11 Time LapseAfter a previous post where I listed my steps to printing success with the new Solidoodle Press, I am now on a roll with completing prints. My secret? Convert the Press to be more like one of the Up! series of 3D printers!

There are really only 3 key things you need to do this, 2 of which are obvious in the time-lapse photos above of my latest complete print of the Beer Bottle Lock:

  1. Avoid the mess of glues and sprays – much of the success of the Up! 3D printers is that they use a perforated PCB as the printing plate. I bought 2 perforated boards from Jaycar and cut them to fit on top of the existing glass plate. A bit of masking tape is all that’s needed to secure them in place. Just make sure they’re completely flat, shiny side up.
  2. After watching all my early prints fail on the Press, I realised the other element the Up! printers combine with the perforated board is a good ‘raft’ base (automatically generated for the Up!), creating a solid lock into the perforations and evening out any issues in bed level before you get to your product. This is not a feature available in SoliPrint, so for the print pictured above I actually modeled my own 0.5mm thick raft in CAD. While this is a bit more complicated if you’re printing downloaded models, it’s relatively quick to add using the freely available MeshLab or similar STL editing software. However if it’s your own design, it should only take 30 seconds to add this detail before exporting to an STL. Pictured below is the raft after peeling away from the Beer Bottle Lock, along with photos of how the Up! Plus 2 prints a raft before putting your STL on top for reference.2015-02-12 Build Raft
  3. Change the nozzle temperature and printing speeds. The Up! Plus 2 prints ABS plastic at 260 degrees, while the default for the Press is only 215 degrees. This is too low to properly melt ABS and let it flow. At the moment I’m using 240 degrees with good results, and also slow the printing speeds so that there is less shaking and opportunity for error. My settings from this successful print are below.150211 Second Success Edit

I realise many people are having success using a variety of other hacks/fixes/additions which you can find on the useful SoliForum website, but this is my own twist on improving the Solidoodle Press. Also a big thanks to Solidoodle for releasing the new SoliPrint software version 1.1.1 which has corrected some of the bugs I initially wrote about.

Finally, below are some detailed photos showing a comparison of the print from the Solidoodle Press (pink), to the same file printed on the Up! Plus 2 (green). The main thing I’m noticing is that the Press does an average job of flat surfaces parallel to the print plate, failing to fill them in completely like the Up! Plus 2. But the other surfaces are quite good! Of course it’s important to keep in mind the Press is about a third of the price of the Up! Plus 2, so expecting the same quality is asking a bit much. Yet I believe if Solidoodle continue to improve their SoliPrint software, the quality could really come close to that of the Up! Plus 2. Time will tell.

2015-02-12 ComparisonIf you have any questions about getting you Press to work, or want to share your own modifications, please post them in the comments section.

– Posted by James Novak

Let There Be Light

2015-01-26 Lightbulb LampMy first free giveaway for the new year! Click here to download the file ready to 3D print from Thingiverse.

I literally had an old Ikea lamp in my hands ready to throw away when I realised I could give it a whole new life with the help of 3D printing. My only real restriction was the volume of the Up! Plus 2 printer I’m using. You can see the original Ikea lamp in the images above, and process of transformation into something with (I think) much more personality. Projects like this are extremely satisfying as I hate to throw things away, and really demonstrates the opportunities to extend product longevity through 3D printing.

I’ve also taken some photos of the printing process so you can see the support material required. I knew this would be a bit painful and increase the print time, but while it looks like a lot the support is so thin that it really wasn’t too wasteful. I also have a feeling that there may be less support if I printed it upside down. If I need another one I’ll definitely try it out.

2015-01-26 Lamp TimelapseIf you make one I’d love to hear how it went and if you manage to print with less support. Just leave a comment here or through Thingiverse (along with photos). Happy printing!

– Posted by James Novak

Turning the Clock Back 11,000 Years

2015-01-24 Cat CompleteIt’s certainly an odd thing to get excited about, but 3D printing a replica of a Saber-Toothed Cat which has been extinct for over 11,000 years is very cool!

3D printing for archaeology is a huge area, and one that I think particularly benefits schools – having access to files like this can really bring to life the past and engage students in learning like never before. This particular file is available for free from Thingiverse (click here to get the files).

I’ll admit it wasn’t all smooth sailing with this print, I ran into problems with the skull failing numerous times and have had to perform some maintenance on my Up! Plus 2 to stop layers ‘slipping’ during printing. You can read how I fixed the problem in a previous post. I also came across a problem with the recommended print orientation of the large skull; because it is only attached to the print plate by a small amount of plastic to minimise the need for support material, as the print gets taller it also begins to flex and shake. It’s like a tall skyscraper in the wind, with the top swaying from side-to-side. I think this is responsible for some of the problems as well, with the print nozzle colliding with the print and causing all sorts of failures.

To solve this I had to rotate the skull into a normal sitting position as pictured in the time-lapse photos below, and allow there to be a bit more support material. Obviously this solved the problems I was having, and there really wasn’t too much support to remove. The only thing I’d love to see is a separate jaw piece which could hook/snap into the skull and provide a life-like hinging motion! But really happy with this one ๐Ÿ™‚

2015-01-23 Cat Skull Process

– Posted by James Novak

3D Printed Virtual Reality

2015-01-18 OpenDiveFollowing on from my previous work building the Google Cardboard and my own custom virtual reality (VR) headset, the logical next step was to try 3D printing a full headset. With limited time before an upcoming talk I’m giving on Virtual Reality and 3D printing, I have downloaded the OpenDive model freely available on Thingiverse. I chose this one because I was impressed with the lens holders (which I already used for my Hybrid Headset) and it seems to have the most feedback/reviews/likes out of all VR headsets on Thingiverse.

The most important point with this model is that I had to scale all parts down by 5% in order to fit the small print plate of my Up! Plus 2 3D printer. This was specifically for the main frame of the headset. I also had to use MeshLab to separate the other parts, as they are all grouped as a single STL file which also doesn’t fit the print plate.

Interestingly the seemingly thick sections of material which I was concerned about have already been given an infill pattern within the STL file, minimising material waste which was good to see. I think the Lens Holders are too tight fitting within this model, while the brackets for the phone (printed in green) feel too loose – I’d probably want to glue these into place before risking my phone in there!

Below you can see a time-lapse of printing the main headset – overall the complete model took just over 6 hours to print using the 0.2mm layer thickness and normal print speed.

2015-01-17 OpenDive Process

– Posted by James Novak