Author Archives: Orville Chomer

Amazing Way to Remove PLA Prints from Build Platform

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Ok, I own a Makerbot Replicator 2. It prints 3D objects in PLA plastic. Great! Cool! And so forth… One thing you notice if you own one of these machines is that the print sticks to the build plate with a kung fu grip. This is especially true of large prints. I can’t pry them off to save my life!

I’ve resorted to removing the build plate, then hitting the print with a rubber mallet. Sometimes I have to hit the print several times! Not good!

I read as much as I could find on the internet about this problem but the closest info I could find was for someone printing on a sheet of glass. They mentioned that if they let their printer cool down, the print would just pop off!

I tried that… even waiting over night! The print was still stuck really good… mallet time!

Then, yesterday evening I had an idea. Maybe cooling down to room temperature wouldn’t work for me… but what if I got the the print even cooler? Hmmm.

So, after my next big print, I removed the build plate with the print on it, tried to pull it off (stuck real good as ever) and tossed it in the freezer for a few seconds. I took it out of the freezer, gave it a twist with my bare hand and… Presto!  It popped right off! No struggling. No problem! For me this is huge!

Getting the print off usually would also pull on the surface I have on the build plate (right now a sheet of skinz).  This should remove or at least greatly reduce this problem.

I do not know yet if this works for ABS. I can’t do this with the Makerbot Replicator 2X since the build plate is not removable (I’m not going to stick the whole printer in the freezer)! Maybe if I clipped on a sheet of glass onto the build plate? 🙂

Anyways, I thought I would let you know.

Thingiverse Ornament Challenge Entered

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I designed 3 entries in Sketchup, each building off the previous entry. The first entry was a single ornament designed to be printed in translucent PLA plastic. The next entry was that same ornament in a little box. And the final entry, a compartimental box with six of the same type of ornaments inside.

We’ll see if I am one of the finalists next Monday.

UPDATE: Tuesday, December 10…. still no word of who are the winners…

UPDATE: Wednesday, December 11… the winners have been announced. I am not one of them. 🙁  It was still fun! 🙂

PLA Printing Saga Continues

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I did a print on my Makerbot Replicator 2 in True Yellow PLA filament. It was truly a bear to remove it from the blue painter’s tape covered build platform. The print actually split/cracked some as I tried to remove it! Not good! 🙁

I notice that to some extent, as the plastic shrinks, it starts lifting the painter’s tape up off the platform little by little. I am replacing the tape quite often.

I noticed when I went to the Microsoft Store and saw their demo printer printing thing that their printer’s build plate was covered with something different, and that they seemed to not be having the problems of their prints either not sticking or sticking way too much. Hmmm. So I went back to their store to ask some questions. It seems that they have been using a stick-on Skinz layer that sticks to the build plate and then trim it with a razor. The guy I was talking with said that it seems to last about a month for them. And… he gave me a sheet of the stuff to try out! 🙂

I have applied it my build plate! The logos printed on it are crooked and upside down… But do I care? No, I am not after fashion… I am after better success with my 3D Prints! I will let you know how this goes.

Getting PLA Prints to Stick Without a Raft

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Printing in PLA on my Makerbot Replicator 2 with a raft is pretty reliable. There are a few problems with this though:

  • I waste extra filament on the material to print the raft.
  • Printing the raft gobbles up a lot of extra time for the print.
  • Getting the model detached from the raft can be really tough (this is the biggest problem by far).

So printing without a raft can be a good thing! The problem is getting the first layer to stick! Here are a few tips I have found helpful at this time:

  • Put a nice even layer of blue painter’s tape on the build plate.
  • Make sure you properly level the build plate.
  • Sand the surface of the blue painter’s tape with sandpaper.
  • Wipe down the surface of the blue painter’s tape with rubbing alcohol (this was important, before I did this parts of the print would not stick).
  • Set the printer’s print speed way down (notice how it prints the first layer of the raft real slow — 30mm per second). — note due to improvements in Makerbot’s software, this step is no longer needed.

This did it for me.

Of course setting the print speed real slow causes the print to take a whole lot longer. I wish Makerbot would change their Makerware software so that if you printed without a raft it would automatically print the first two layers really slow then print the remaining layers at the speed set by the user in Makerware.

Wishing for Memory Functions in JavaScript

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At work I am working on a web app that is very data intensive. A whole lot is done on the client side in JavaScript. There are certain instances in tests I have done where I have run out of memory.

I can adjust parameters down until the errors go away but:

  • Am I getting the absolute best usage of my memory or am I “leaving my change on the table?”
  • What if a user’s PC has less memory than me, are they going to get out of memory errors?
  • What if a user’s PC has a lot more memory than I do… then they really will not be able to leverage that extra memory to their advantage.

I wish there were two JavaScript functions available for programmers to use:

  • totalMemory()
  • availableMemory()

The functions could be called something else, that’s fine. But if there were these functions and if they returned the number of bytes relative to what was accessible to that current instance of the web browser, that would be so useful! As far as I know, JavaScript does not have any functions like this. I’ve looked 🙂

Am I missing something? Are there functions or object properties that I’ve missed? If you are a web developer working on some data intensive stuff on the client side don’t you wish you had these functions available?

One More Memory Related Thing
One more thing regarding JavaScript memory usage… There is a piece of info that I do know is out there somewhere… but I have not found yet… How much memory do JavaScript variables use?

I assume strings  may use 1 byte per character (or do they use 2 bytes to support unicode). I assume booleans take the least amount of memory (possibly 1 bit)? There are integers and floating point values… how many bytes do they use each? What is the overhead number of bytes for each variable and for each element in an array? Knowing this information could be helpful in deciding how to store information in memory the most efficient way.

Microsoft says that their floating point variables in JavaScript use 8 bytes (search for the word “byte” on the page).

This looks like an interesting JS library: something where you pass in a variable or JSON string and it returns how many bytes it takes up.  I have to investigate this further when I have some time!

Crazy Ways of Designing 3D Printed Parts

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So I got my female connection test piece working perfectly. My thought was Yes! I now have the measurements I need  to implement connections on the actual model!

Not so fast. I guess I just do not have the hang of this.  It seems to involve a lot of trial and error. Like I’ve said before, I am using Sketchup to design my parts.  This part of the project is driving me nuts. Its just the first part… getting the four base pieces to snap together.

I did not work on it last night because I was just too frustrated with it.

Working on Test Connector

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Yesterday evening I started working again on the design of a female connection piece. The model I am working on (which I want to make copies of and give as gifts to family members) will use these connectors on the base. Instead of just trying to add them to the main model right away, I am creating a small connector which I can adjust the measurements of and print in a relatively short period of time and test to see if it fits the male part of the connector.

If it does not, I can make adjustments to the measurements and repeat the process. Printing this test piece takes much less time than printing the whole actual part of the model! Once I get it just right I will write down the final “correct” measurements and use them for all the base pieces of the model.

A couple months back I was working on this test connector. I was printing test prints in ABS plastic. I am putting ABS aside and printing my tests in PLA plastic. It takes about 24 minutes to print my female connector test print on my Makerbot Replicator 2 3D Printer.

3D Printing Journal Continued

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I have started printing again after I got back from vacation. A lot of warping on a modest sized print in ABS plastic. It may be my imagination, but Makerbot’s Brown ABS filament seems to shrink and warp more than a color say like Red.

Oh, and I started getting temperature errors again 🙁 . I have not investigated this yet. It is just too depressing to look at right now.

PLA is still a non-starter on my Makerbot Replicator 2X printer.

There is a gift I want to  give to some of my relatives this Christmas. I am designing it and I want to print copies out and give as gifts. At the rate I am going, I am spending more time fixing the printer, having failed prints, etc. than I am designing this gift and printing its parts.

I decided rather impulsively to go to the nearby Microsoft Store and buy a Makerbot Replicator 2 printer (not 2x). It prints only in PLA. So far, I have found it to be much more reliable than the 2X. If I level the build plate properly it has a very high rate of successful prints. I am getting back to designing this gift in Sketchup again. Yay!

Note: The Makerbot Replicator 2 looks a lot like the 2X but… it cost less, does not print in ABS, has only one extruder not two, does not have an aluminum build plate, its build plate does not heat up (no need to for PLA), the extruder itself is different, there is no plexiglass on the sides and front, there is no plastic lid. So far… so good.

They have a demo printer at the Microsoft Store, it seems to be printing merrily away without filament cruft laying about. They sell a handful of PLA filament colors too. I will need to order some other colors from Makerbot that I need to print my gift out properly.

Getting the PLA prints to get unstuck from the build platform of my new 3D printer is harder than for ABS prints on my 2X. But I will trade successful prints for this problem any day!

I have notice that PLA can shrink… but a whole LOT less than ABS. I have a hunch that the really neat photos of say the green tractor on Makerbot’s site where printed on the Replicator 2 in PLA. I don’t know for sure, but I think I am right. I printed some tractor parts in ABS on my 2X (… there was a lot of warping. I printed the body of a UPS Truck in Brown ABS, there was a lot of warping and splitting (

Other Stuff
I got a new desk for my workshop at Office Depot to put my MacBook Pro on and hopefully it will be a future soldering station as well. My workshop is looking more and more “workshoppy” all the time! 🙂

Do I have too many proverbial balls in the air at one time? Probably!

I Began working on new Blogging Software

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For all the benefits of using WordPress for my blog, there are many more draw-backs. Sometimes I wonder if I would have been better hand-coding my blog! Writing a post like this that only contains your basic text, its fine. You start wanting to embed pictures or perhaps videos and it behaves very badly. I lost a whole long post recently 🙁 .

So, over vacation I started filling out a notebook with designs for my own blogging software. I’ve been doing a lot of content management software at work so doing content management type stuff is fresh in my mind. My goal is to get off of WordPress and get off soon. I want to be able to put together posts efficiently. I want to spend my time writing and refining my posts, not struggling with the technical problems of the platform I am using.

The database I am using is mySQL. I was going to write the blog software in Coldfusion (since that is what I am most comfortable with). But I have decided to use PHP. All nice and open source! 🙂 I’m developing it in a web instance running on my iMac using MAMP.

Goal: That I have a local instance working with basic functionality by this Saturday.

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