posts tagged with the keyword ‘3dprinters’

2014.02.14

If you were to ask me today “Hey Pete, what 3D Printer should I get?” and you didn’t really provide me any more info on what you want to print, or what your budget is, I’d rattle off a bunch of my own 2 cents, or maybe even 4 cents. So that’s what I did below.

Consider this my opinion as of February 2014. Oh, I should also note that if you really want a ton more info, maybe too much info, check out what my pals at Make did with their Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing 2014 Edition. (Note: You might even see me on page 17.)

Printrbot

Printrbotprintrbot.com
Printrbot grew from a (very) successful Kickstarter campaign, and the original goal was to get more 3D Printers out into the world, and they’ve definitely done that. Their offerings include kits and fully assembled printers, ranging from a few hundred dollars up to about $1,000. The Printrbot machines have been made with laser-cut wood, but they’ve just announced a new printer with a metal frame, which should help improve quality a bit. The default print volume of the Printrbot machines isn’t too big, but if you want cheap, Printrbot is an option.

Deezmaker

Deezmakerdeezmaker.com
Deezmaker also grew from a Kickstarter campaign, and I’ll admit, much of my respect for Deezmaker comes from the super-smart Whosa whatsis and his involvement. If you’ve been around the 3D printing / RepRap community for the last few years, that name may mean something. Did I mention he’s super-smart? I totally trust Diego and Whosa to make high-quality printers and be awesome dudes when they do it. Prices range from $800 to $1,500, a bit more than Printrbot, but I think the price is warranted, as you get a better machine.

LulzBot

LulzBotlulzbot.com
Moving on up, it’s the LulzBot folks! With the new TAZ 3 they’ve created a damn impressive printer. They’ve had impressive printers before as well, and they’ve had a program that included giving hackerspaces free/discounted printers, which is pretty cool. If you’re looking for a bit of a more established company, LulzBot (despite the name) may be a good choice. You’re now in the $2,200 price range though, and they really only have the one model, but from all I’ve heard, it’s a damn nice machine.

So the three companies mentioned so far all have one great thing in common, they’re open source. They’ve all made a commitment to release the files and documentation needed to build your own version of their printers. Without this sort of commitment you would not see 3D Printing being where it is today. The open sharing of knowledge, tools, software, and best practices is what got us here, and that’s important to remember, because…

Oh yeah, there’s also MakerBot!

MakerBot

MakerBotmakerbot.com
MakerBot was the poster child of 3D printing when I first got into it years ago. They did a lot to bring 3D printing to the people, and then they went closed source, and got acquired by Stratasys, a company which holds a lot of patents, and while they do some amazing things in the world of 3D printing, they also threaten to slow the growth of 3D printing through lawsuits, which I’m not a fan of. If your eyes glazed over reading that last bit, a MakerBot may be right for you. To be honest, they make pretty good machines, and you might consider them the “IBM” of 3D Printers. If you need one for work and you want support and a company to call/blame/etc. MakerBot might be right. You’ll probably spend $2,200 or more, though they did just announce a “mini” at $1,400.

So there ya go, my recommendation for buying a 3D Printer as of February 2014. Now, if you want to build a 3D Printer, that’s an entirely different story!

2014.02.09

MG Plus HotEnd

It’s been quite some time since the last RepRap Report. I guess 2013 was pretty smooth as far as 3D printing goes. But don’t worry, things went wrong eventually, so here’s another update.

I hit a problem with extruding, as in, filament would not extrude, which was a new thing for me. I know a lot of other people with printers, either at Milwaukee Makerspace, or through the Milwaukee 3D Printing Meetup, and I hear stories of extruder jams that require taking everything apart, torching the nozzle, soaking things in acetone, etc. I managed to go over 18 months with no issue. And then I had an issue.

Filament would not extrude. I raised the temperature, and still no luck. I moved the RepRap to a warmer room, and still no luck. It looked like the thermistor on the nozzle was a bit loose, so I reattached it. Still no luck. Finally I decided a teardown was in order. I pulled things apart, and eventually cleared out the barrel and the nozzle with some help from a torch and some acetone. I made sure I could see light through the nozzle. All good, right? I put things back together and was about to push some filament through when… the high temperature wire that was embedded in the ceramic broke off. That was the end of that!

There was pretty much no way to reattach it. I asked around online and people were like “You’re still using a MakerGear hot-end!?” And yeah, I was, because it just worked. For 18 months it worked fine. People kept telling me to get an all-metal hot-end from E3D, I didn’t feel like plunking down $75 nearly $100 USD for one, especially since I assumed it was really just a new heating element I needed.

I ended up finding the MG Plus HotEnd on Thingiverse, and just ordered the Heater Block Assembly from the ebay shop of RP One Labs for about $20. I managed to do a minimal amount of damage getting it installed but… it worked! I was extruding again! (After I had to solder together the thermistor wires I accidentally sniped. Oops!)

RAMPs

Once everything was back together in it’s proper place, I was ready to print, except that the z-axis then decided to have a mind of its own. Telling z to home made it go up. Then down. Then up. Then up and down. Hmmm. I ended up swapping the x and z axis Pololu drivers. The z axis was back to normal then. Test print. Hmmm. The x axis was missing steps, and I got the old problem of your entire print shifting to the left (or right) mid-print. A bit of Pololu pot adjusting and eventually all was good. (Come to think of it, it took a bit of adjust on the z axis driver as well. Things seem dialed in now, and I can print.)

I secured the RAMPs board down, and… wait, nope. Crazy stuff again. I thought perhaps a noise issue? Hmmm, it seems perhaps the connector that plugs the z motors into the RAMPs board is a little wiggly, so for now the RAMPs board is just hanging there. Sigh… I’ll fix that connector. Eventually.

The important thing is, I can print again. One of the reasons I leaned towards building my own printer was that I figured I would be familiar enough with the machine that I could easily repair it when the time came. That’s seemed to prove true so far.

I’ve spent the weekend calibrating things again. I’m still using Slic3r and Pronterface. I know there are lots of other (and newer) options out there, and I should explore them a bit, but for now, there are things to print!

2012.12.23

Cookie Cutters

Back when I wrote my Printing Violations? post I brought up the issue of licensing, and while I am a believer of open culture and sharing, I’m still torn on the topic of artists who take the creative work of others (even if the “others” are huge corporations) and use it to make money.

When I saw the post Maker Mom Builds Cookie-Cutter Empire With 3-D Printers my first thought was about the rights and licensing issues. (I was then pleasantly surprised to see the comments addressing the issue right away.)

Cookie Cutters

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that Athey is not an artist, she’s a really good artist, and has some impressive and very well executed designs. This is important, I think. I mean, anyone can download an image of a video game character or a Dalek and quickly make it into something, but her work is well beyond that. Still, is it right for her to be using things others have created to make money? Her web site at warpzoneprints.com says:

Now I’ve somehow turned what started as a hobby into a full-time job!

I spend a lot of time thinking of myself as a terrible artist, and I’ve made plenty of badly drawn robots, but I’d feel much better about myself selling a badly drawn robot that is my own creation than a well drawn robot that someone else created. (I’m going with the belief that Athey has not properly licensed the characters she is using.)

Of course there’s the issue of licensing… It’s no secret that I use a lot of art from OpenClipArt.org to make things. The license of all art on OpenClipArt is Public Domain Dedication which states:

You can copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.

So yeah, I’ve not sold anything I’ve made yet using art from OpenClipArt, but at least I’d feel fine doing it. And yeah, I have friends who make good money making things based on successful movies, games, books, etc. Maybe this is just the world we live in now, where everyone is a maker and selling of things, and it’s all just a big mash-up anyway.

I guess I’d break things into a few categories:

A.) Using things others have created to make things for yourself.

B.) Using things others have created to make things to give to family/friends as gifts.

C:) Using things others have created and creating design files that others can use.

D:) Using things others have created to create and sell things.

I’m all for A. and B., and I think C. is pretty much OK. (Think of the many items on Thingiverse) As for D., that’s the one I’m still not sure about, and that’s the one Athey and Warpzone Prints falls under. What do you think?

(I should probably do a post in the future that talks a bit more about my own usage of others work in my own art, as I’m not completely free of that behavior myself.)

2012.12.17

3D Printing Accessories

So you’ve got a 3D Printer on your Xmas list, or somehow you’ve convinced your company that they need to get one before the end of 2012 because it’s a tool you’ll definitely need in 2013. (And yeah, it probably is!)

So the big question is… what else do you need?

You may not need any of these things, but these are the things I’ve found useful to have around during the past year of 3D printing. Now, keep in mind, I make a lot of functional parts. Some people just make pretty things, and the amount of extra stuff you need for “pretty” things versus “functional” things may vary. (And yes, I focused mainly on tools/items you need for prints, not the actual printer.)

Drill, Drill Bits, Drill Press
I often make parts with holes, or need to make holes in parts. Sometimes you’ll print a part with a hole that needs something inserted into it, either a bolt, or a rod, or a dowel, or screw, or something else round. Running a drill bit through the hole can help smooth things out and get the hole the right size. Sometimes you don’t even need a drill, but just the bit with a pair of pliers, or a vise-grip, or even a vise. Running the bit back and forth (without it turning) can clean up those edges in a hole.

On occasion I need to make the holes after I print something. In this case the drill press often comes in very handy. Sometimes you don’t know you need the holes, or you want more precise (or smaller) holes than you can get from printing. There’s no shame in drilling holes in a piece you printed. It’s just another tool in the process of making.

There’s also reamers and tappers, but I don’t use those, don’t have those, and won’t get into those.

Files, Sandpaper, X-ACTO Knives (and blades!)
Sometimes part just don’t fit right, or sometimes it’s better to make something a little too large and take of the extra. A set of files (flat and rounded) can do the job. The round ones can also come in handy like the drill bits mentioned above. Sandpaper also has its uses, though any of the abrasive tools will leave the surface looking a bit ugly. Ugly is in the eye of the beholder of course, and if it’s a part you don’t see, it probably doesn’t matter. As for the X-ACTO knife (and blades) they can be used to cut away edges, excess plastic, support material, etc. A good knife always comes in useful. I’ve also used a pair of diagonal cutters on occasion. A bit less precise than an X-ACTO knife, but sometimes it’s the right tool.

Acetone and/or Glue
Sometimes you just gotta stick one part to another part. I’ve heard people mention JB Weld, or Super Glue, but for sticking one piece of ABS plastic to another, I just use acetone. It’s messy, stinky, and tricky to work with, but it does a heck of a job. (For PLA I supposed I’d go with Super Glue, YMMV.)

Rubber Bands, Zip Ties, Tape
The rubber bands are often used in conjunction with the acetone, to hold parts together until dry. There are of course other uses for rubber bands. As for zip ties, if you built a Prusa, you’ve already got a bunch of them! Sometimes they’re the right tool for holding things together… and sometimes it’s tape. I prefer gaff tape myself, but masking tape can come in pretty handy.

What Else!?
I’m sure there’s plenty of other bits and pieces and tools and whatnot that I’ve forgotten (a Dremel tool perhaps?) but I figured this was a good list to get started.

2012.10.20

End Stop

Somehow I can’t believe it’s been four months since my last RepRap update! I’ve got a lot to report…

In July I took the RepRaster 5000 to 3D Printing Camp in Madison, and that didn’t work out too well. The first problem was that I couldn’t get the bed up to temperature (and yeah, I print with ABS.) I didn’t notice the ceiling fan directly above me. I moved. I also managed to knock the Z end stop out of place, which made the extruder crash into the bed. No real damage from it, but I decided I needed a new end stop solution. The new one is way more solid. No easy way to bump it out of alignment.

I also took the RepRap to the Milwaukee 3D Printing Meetup. Once again something went goofy, but I did get it working fairly quickly after the first fail. (Just a few weeks ago I took the RepRap to BarCampMilwaukee7 and had no issues at all. Success!)

Power

At some point I got sick of all those damn wires coming from the ATX power supply, so in the process of making them shorter, I hosed something up good and ended up with a power supply that supplied no power. I finally got a smaller (and more powerful!) power supply. I’m not 100% happy about the mains not being totally covered up, so I should make a case for it at some point. It works very well though… much better than the ATX supply did.

Spools

My great spool experiment was a bit of a failure. I mean, at least I don’t use soup cans, and while I still think my idea was good (or at least looked good) trying to wind a coil of filament onto a spool is damn near impossible. Just ask my daughter, who had to hold back from laughing when the power drill kept slapping me in the head with filament. I’ll probably move to one of those adjustable filament holders you can easily get a coil onto. At home I end up just hanging the filament from the ceiling, so that works fine.

QU-BD Extruder

I ended up getting an extruder from the QU-BD Kickstarter campaign, and I haven’t bothered to assemble it yet. My original plan was to donate it to the DIY 3D printer we were going to build at Milwaukee Makerspace. Since we ended up getting a Replicator, we didn’t build a printer. It’s a 1.75mm extruder, and since I use 3mm now, I may end up switching to 1.75mm in the future, so it could come in handy.

Netbook

My best RepRap hack was getting my MacBook out of the picture and making good use of my old Eee PC 701. This was the first netbook ever released, way back in 2007. I’ve struggled with how to make it do something useful, and now it does. I’ve connected an old LCD display I got for free to it, and it sits on the shelf near my workbench. It does one thing… control the RepRap. It’s plenty powerful for that. I do all my modeling and slicing on my MacBook, so the Eee PC just runs Pronterface. And for traveling I can just bring the Eee PC and it doesn’t take up much room.

Mr. Pumpkintatohead

Hey look, it’s Mr. Pumpkintatohead! Nothing amazing, but I’m getting better at using OpenSCAD. I managed to design all the parts (minus the knobs) for my Laser Kaleidoscope in OpenSCAD (no, they are not parametric, but hopefully I’ll get better as time goes by.) I also managed to complete a home repair thanks to OpenSCAD and the RepRap. Hooray!

I’ve still got some challenges. Now that it’s getting colder out, and I’m printing bigger objects, I’ve got some warping issues. As winter comes, this may be my biggest problem. Besides that, things have been working really well. One thing I’ve found is that I’m not happy with my z height. It’s just 75mm, and I’d like to see a bit more. Oh, I also switched from Sprinter to Marlin, so I may be able to get a few more millimeters of height by just updating the firmware. (I was a little conservative at first.) I can probably gain a few more millimeters with a new piece of plywood under the bed. There’s always something to tweak with a RepRap…

I think the biggest change from June to October is that I am now confident enough that I can hit ‘print’ and leave the basement and I’ll come back to a successful print. I used to just stare at the bed as the skirt went down, and that first layer went down… in part because I was fascinated, but also in part because I always assumed something would go wrong. Things tend to go right almost every time now… it’s almost like having 3D printer at home is a normal everyday thing. :)

(You can see some photos of my prints over on Flickr. I’m way behind in taking photos of my prints, but there’s a few interesting ones in there.)

« Older Entries |

buy the button:

Buy The Button

recently at:


top recent artists: