Category Archives: 3D Printing Journal

Time-Out ,3D Printing Stuff, Web Stuff and More

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I’ve been off of work since just before Thanksgiving and for the month December. After a really hard year of work I finally have time off. It is wonderfully strange!

  • Extruder on my Makerbot 2 3D printer got totally messed up (I may do a post on this going into more detail later).
  • Started watching more videos on Lynda.com on modeling in Sketchup. Also on YouTube.
  • My 3D Printer was out of commission for awhile.
  • I joined the 3D Printing Group over on Facebook. You have to submit a request for membership in order to join since it is a closed group.
    • This is an awesome group!
    • There are a lot of members here who know a lot and are passionate about 3D Printing!
  • I subscribed to the 3D Printing Nerd YouTube channel run by Joel Telling.
    • One thing I saw on his channel was his review of the pre-release version of Lulzbot TAZ 6 3D Printer. I was intrigued. I could buy it on Amazon if I wanted to.  $2,500.00  … a Lot of money… hmmm…
  • I started learning more about how to code a PhP web site. I set up several different internal sites to do useful stuff for me and my family.
  • I started looking into writing my own blogging software again. We’ll see where THAT goes!
  • Saw on the 3D Printing Group a contest to design a printable Nerf dart gun. Got in on the contest rather late… I did submit an entry… basically all I had time to do was an air piston that shoots a single Nerf dart out of it’s barrel that is powered by two rubber bands.
  • Also saw on the 3D Printing Group someone asked about what anyone thought about the Lulzbot TAZ 6 3D Printer.
    • There was a bunch of responses of users who had the printer, loved it, loved the service, and were showing pictures of things that they printed on their new printer.
    • This pushed me over the edge. My Makerbot still was not working at that time, and I just did it!
  • I really like my new TAZ 6 printer!  I like that it auto-levels!  I like how many different kinds of filament I can use with it.  More on the TAZ in another post.
  • I bought some parts to fix my Makerbot from Fargo 3D Printing.
  • Eventually I fixed my Makerbot and got it working again. Yay!
  • Upgraded my version of WordPress here to the latest version today (its about time)!

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.

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 (http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:31702)… 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 (http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:31686).

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!

Printing in PLA is Frustrating So Far

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PLA Filament
I have a Makerbot Replicator 2X 3D Printer. It can print in both ABS and PLA plastic filaments.  So far, the only plastic I can get prints out of  fairly reliably is ABS.

I found some interesting info on the subject in Google Groups:

https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/makerbot/s1wZ6KoiIQY

I tried some things I saw here with some slight improvements. But it is still not worth my trouble.

I am giving up printing in PLA for now, I will probably try different things every now and then when my patience is running higher.

We will see.

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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