3D Printing Update – Some of what’s Happened and What I’ve Learned

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Oh heck! I have been neglecting my blog for long enough!

Due to the dearth of posts on 3D Printing you might suspect that I haven’t done any at all! Maybe I gave up? Not on your life! A Makerbot Replicator 2X is just too dang expensive to give up on!

When it came to the thermocouple, for a while my printer was in a bunch of pieces strewn all over my workbench. But, finally I got my printer back together and working.

I have gotten somewhat better and having successful prints… somewhat… I am better at leveling the build plate (very important leveling the build plate)! Kapton tape is very important for printing in ABS. But Kapton tape is a pain in the butt to apply nicely to the build plate (I should devote a whole post to this subject)!

I have designed a few things using Sketchup and you can download them to print on Thingiverse.com. My user name there is getOrvillized:

http://www.thingiverse.com/getOrvillized/designs

The things I have designed so far:

  • Garden Hose Spigot Handle
  • Makerbot 2X GoPro Camera Mount
  • GoPro Mounting Bracket
  • Furnace Pipe Connector
  • Hanging Basket

I am getting better at using Sketchup but I am by no means an expert… yet… 🙂

I’ve been working mostly with spools of ABS plastic. Mostly Makerbot brand. Some Octave brand as well (Octave seems to be a runnier plastic).

ABS printing… breathing the fumes makes me wheeze. Don’t breath the fumes.

PLA printing… smells like popcorn (since it is corn based that makes sense)… I still wouldn’t breath the fumes!

ABS loves to shrink and on taller prints the layers like to separate on the corners.

ABS (what legos are made of) is stronger and more flexible than PLA.

You could leave an ABS print in your back car window no problem, one in PLA plastic might get a little gooey sitting back there.

Basically, PLA melts at a lower temperature than ABS.

When printing in ABS you have to spend a large amount of time waiting for the build platform to heat up. When printing in PLA you do not have to heat the build plate so it starts to print much quicker.

To make your prints stick to the build platform during the printing, you use Kapton tape for ABS and Blue Painter’s Tape for PLA.

When printing in PLA, put the Blue Painter’s Tape over the Kapton tape. The Kapton tape is too expensive and too hard to work with to remove and install anew when switching back and forth between ABS and PLA. I found out this is what they do at the Bot Cave at Makerbot.

You should only change the Kapton tape when it gets too messed up (gouges and scratches) for prints to stick properly.

There was a 3D Printing Expo in Chicago. I took the day off and went to it. It was a big disappointment. Makerbot was not even represented there. The size of the whole exhibit floor was about the size of my back yard! I saw everything there was to see in about 20 minutes (that’s about a dollar a minute based on the ticket price).


Above is a sample brace for a child to wear to help them function.
This was at the Expo, and it is definitely a cool use of the
technology to provide custom solutions at a smaller cost.

I have recorded some of the prints I have recently done on YouTube.

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