Author: 3dprintcreations

D-Bot Core XY progress update and lessons learned

All the 3D printed parts for the D-bot Core XY were already printed but the issue was quality of the prints and the overall strength. The creator of the D-bot noted that PETG should be used instead of PLA due to the strength of PETG and an infill around 75%-100%. I did not have PETG at the time and I decided I would print out the parts in PLA and when the D-Bot was complete, I would re-print every single structural part on the D-bot in PETG. This was a mistake since I didn’t realize how monotonous building the frame was. Every part of the frame required precision so trying to get the nuts to slide into the V-slot extrusions were a pain and inserting bearings into the parts as well. I received my Hatchbox PETG filament a bit late but PETG is not an easy material to print as it requires a higher temperature, a heat bed, and tons of experimenting. PETG is supposed to not warp as much as PLA and adhere well but I had warping issues and had to switch back to PLA since PETG wasn’t working well overall.

Somehow, my UBIS hotend jammed and in the midst of cleaning up the thermal sock, the wire for the hotend must have dislodged internally so a $69 hotend lived for 6 weeks and I got a E3D Lite V6 for $30 but the heat break snapped on the first print. This is how I ended up looking into Aliexpress, eBay, and Amazon. I ordered an E3D v6 extruder from each site since they were all cheap and about $11 or less and so far the one from Amazon is the best and had fastest shipping. It took a bit of modification to work on the PrintrBot Simple but it was worth it… sort of. Hack-sawing aluminum is not fun and I highly don’t recommend it. Unfortunately, some printed parts warped so I can’t finish the frame and I didn’t go in order of the D-bot guide so I will have to do some disassembling. Now that my hotend is temporarily fixed, I can re-print some of the parts.

Best Places to Source Parts and Filament

On my quest to get the right part for the right price, I had become complacent going with Amazon. Overall, they are a great vendor with fast shipping for Prime members but I realized Amazon is not as competitive in pricing as many people believed. In most cases, if you are sourcing a part, it is best to go directly to the manufacturer but this is not always possible as some manufacturer do not directly sell to customers but rather large vendors such as the 3 giants below and prices may seem uncompetitive.

There are smaller or more specialized companies such as Filastruder which is the official U.S. distributor of Britain’s E3D’s hotends and Germany’s Watterott Electronic’s Trinamic TMC2100 stepper motor drivers. If you are looking to source quality specialized 3D printing parts such as V-slot extrusions then there is OpenBuilds or if you just need a ton of nuts and metric bolts, Mr. Metric has everything you need.

Each online store has its strengths and weakness and below is a list of best places to source filament and parts in terms of price and quality.

Filament Price: eBay – For PLA and ABS, eBay has the most competitive pricing with brands like California’s Excelvan selling 1KG of PLA for ~$15, ABS for ~$14 and unbranded PLA  and ABS for $11. Excelvan’s filaments have good overall print quality but is sold on Amazon at $23 for 1KG spool.

Filament Quality: Amazon – Hatchbox PLA is well known for their quality and they sell on eBay and Amazon but you get the benefit for 2-day Prime shipping with Amazon for about $23 for a 1KG PLA spool. Amazon is also better source for TPU and PETG as eBay vendors have not caught onto the diverse filament market competitively.

Hotends Price: Aliexpress – I was shocked to see Aliexpress had a variety of hotends at a much lower price than eBay. From a discussion on Reddit, the general consensus is that the knock off hotends are a hit or miss. Some companies have perfected the trade while others continue to source the cheapest materials and/or inaccurate machining the parts. Buyer beware, you should always check the vendor’s sell history for reviews of the items before making a decision to purchase.

Hotends Quality: E3D, Filastruder – It is best to go directly to the manufacturer or redistributor when you can afford to. These vendors are the pioneers in either designing or marketing the product and generally have the most experience and best communication and support plus the idea that you are supporting a company that is working hard to provide you with a high quality, innovative product.

Printboards, Stepper motors, etc: Aliexpress, eBay, Amazon – In that order as far as pricing. Quality should be the same across the board. Amazon does generally have the advantage with their fast shipping which compensates for the small extra cost.

Nuts, bolts: Mr. Metric & OpenBuilds – Mr. Metric provides a wide variety of parts at competitive prices. Amazon does sell nuts and bolts but you are limited to the specific sizes or packs they are selling. OpenBuilds has a wide variety of specialized parts for 3D printers. They are currently most noted for their V-slot extrusions for the D-Bot Core XY.

If you believe there is a vendor I missed or agree or disagree, please feel free to comment below.

Disclaimer: 3D Print Creations is not associated with any of the companies mentioned in this post nor is receiving any paid sponsorship or financial gain.

 

The next big project: D-Bot Core XY

PrintrBot becoming Obsolete

The next big project underway is the D-Bot Core XY 3D Printer. Currently, I am using a PrintrBot Simple Metal which was an overall good printer at the time of purchase but is becoming a bit obsolete. The original PB Simple came with a small print bed size of 150mm cubed and without a heatbed but there is an X axis and heatbed upgrade for about $130. Another issue is the bed itself not being very level and their solution to this problem is the automatic bed level that measures 3 points which is not very effective since it lacks enough information to fix the issue. Older unofficial PB firmware measures 9 to 12 different locations and other printers such as the new Prusa i3 MK2 measures 9 different points on the bed. Another major issue is the non-metal parts warping over time. The two rubber Y axis grommets holding the Y axis level are now stretched overtime due to use over time and the contributed weight of the extruder motor. The effect of this is that after every print, the Z axis moves up or down 0.5 to 1mm which means constantly having to recalibrate after each use.

Why D-Bot?

The D-Bot Core XY has many benefits over the PB Simple and although I list a few issues with the Core XY, majority are not very relevant or solvable with some extra cash. It was a hard decision whether to go with the Prusa i3 MK2 or build the D-Bot but I wanted to build my own printer and with the overall shipping and extras, the D-bot is slightly lower in costs.

Pros:

  • Strong structure
  • Highly detailed build guide, possibly the best detailed guide
  • Strong following and online support community
  • Proven design; has been created by dozens of people with great results
  • Large print bed ( 300mm x 300mm x 312mm approx 12” cubed)
  • Fairly small overall frame size for its large printing area (XYZ, 503mm x 333mm x 520mm)
  • Extra Z axis support (dual stepper motors to move bed along the Z axis)
  • Optional Heated bed
  • Compatible with TMC2100 stepper motor drivers for reducing sound (unlike PB Simple)

Cons:

  • V-slot extrusions instead of T-slot extrusions which can be difficult for people outside of the US to obtain
  • Not for new people, this is not a kit, it’s a guide and requires many tools and several dozen parts
  • Long lead time from date of order (heavy reliance of eBay parts to be cost-effective leads to many parts coming from China that will take about a month or longer)
  • No automatic Z-axis calibration but it is an optional upgrade that the designer justified that it is not really needed due to the stable Z axis

Painting 3D Prints – Toys and supplies for children

I have a few school projects and I chose to do some charitable work for one of the projects. I decided to gather school supply donations and add some artistic value and the end product will be donated to needy children. While searching for ideas for the supplies, I came across these low polygon Pokemon which are pretty adorable. Can you tell which are painted and which were printed in their respective color? Charmander looks more like Barney with his friends. Squirtle and Pikachu were actually printed in clear PLA but I painted them (not a great job) and it sort of worked.

So how should we paint 3D prints? Well, it is always better to print the object in the color you want but when that isn’t a viable option, sanding and primer is king. Sanding will help smooth the superficial exterior but at the same time create a rough surface microscopically for primer to adhere to. Once you primer, this allows a good texture for you to apply acrylic paint. If you were in a rush like me, you can skip these steps and just layer on the paint. I applied a first layer, let the paint dry and then re-applied another layer. The second layer helped with color and I’m thinking about testing a third layer but if I did that, I should have just used primer in the first place.

These polygons were speed printed at 0.3 layer height and 15% infill so the quality suffers a bit but then again, they are low polygon models. I tried also printing Vi from League of Legends which is a difficult model to print and to me, it does look awesome although it is also in low resolution but I had gotten some negative feedback from Imgur. Also, a separate earlier print of Rammus, Bulbasaur, and Pikachu that went missing. The worst part is when you step on one of these.

OpenRC F1 Race Car

I’ve been working on a project I found off of Thingiverse called the “OpenRC Formula 1 Race Car”.

(stock photo from the OpenRC project)

This is a 1/10th scale model of a Formula 1 race car designed by Daniel “Barspin” Noree. He provides an in-depth guide on creating this vehicle with links to buy the internal electronics. RCs (Remote-controlled vehicles) are a new hobby for me besides owning older, cheaper prebuilt Tyco RCs like the “RebounD”. Good ol’ memories.Image result for tyco rc

This is what the vehicle looked like almost fully assembled before paint. The printer stopped extruding the rear tires but the majority of the prints are simple and came out well even in such a low resolution at .25 layer height. I would assume that .1 layer height would be more optimal since there are a lot of M3 screws and nuts needing to be added but this was initially a test print. This was also the first time attempting to paint a 3D printed object and most people say acrylic paint doesn’t adhere well to PLA were somewhat correct. Although I purchased automotive primer, I tested an initial layer of paint and the color was not very vibrant. For those who have the resources, it is better to print in the filament color of the print than printing then painting.

After a second layer of paint, the colors popped out a lot more. I ran out of white PLA and for some odd reason, many PLA sellers on Amazon do not ship to California except Hatch so I went with them on a silver PLA and black TPU for the front tires. The picture below is of PLA front and back tires but the front ones have a second coating of black acrylic paint

Most people have heard of TPU filament but only from the brand name, Ninjaflex. I am on a limited budget so Hatchbox having 1kg spool for around $28 seemed like a great deal and also the California seller issue limited my buying options. This was my first time working with TPU and with a 20% infill , speed of 20mm/s, and printing temperature set at 235C, the front tires came out great on the first attempt. The tire on the right is TPU while the left tire is PLA that has been painted. TPU is a ThermoPlastic Polyurethane which is a type of material that can a wide spectrum of elasticity and toughness which this material is extremely tough and will twist, bend, and bounce without losing its original shape.

Currently, the project is halted due to electrical issues (I blew up a receiver for the transmitter) but replacements are on the way and I am starting my next two projects: Charitable school supply design project and building a 3D printer mainly out of 3D printed parts, SnappyRepRap.

If you are interested in creating your own OpenRC car, check out the Thingiverse OpenRC F1 project. Daniel Noree also has multiple projects such as OpenRC Truggy, which you can find here

Please check out his website at http://danielnoree.com/

Revar’s SnappyRepRap

Hatchbox 1.75 TPU

3D Print Essentials

There are a couple of tools that can improve the 3D printing process or after-print process dramatically that many 3D print enthusiasts consider these tools a necessity. At first, I was skeptical because I didn’t want to spend more money but then I realized either my prints were:

  1. Not sticking to the plate
  2. Sticking to the plate so hard that it would take the force of King Arthur to pull it out
  3. Coming out well for 99% of it but needed some adjustments
  4. Too big or too small to fit a part
  5. Anything and everything else

So here goes the necessities which are ranked in order from what I think is most important to just a nice-ty (nice to have) rather than necessity.

1. Tape – $11 Amazon – 3M Scotch-Blue 2090 or $7 Walmart, Home Depot
$20 Amazon Kapton Polyimide

Scotch’s BLUE Painter’s Tape (Masking tape) or Kapton Tape. Although you could go for cheaper generic masking tape, you will realize how much of a headache it is when you can have a wider strip of tape such as the 2″ painter’s tape and there is one wider option specifically for 3D printing but it is priced 4x as expensive. Painter’s tape helps your print stick to the bed and allows it easier to remove your print. It is a cheap option, $12 from Amazon or about $7 from Walmart, Home Depot, etc., and will last you many prints.
Kapton Tape is another option that is designed to withstand heat up to 400 celsius and works better with ABS filament. Kapton tape is a polyimide tape developed by DuPont for use with circuit boards and other scenarios involving heat so if you are using a heated bed with ABS, it is a viable option but it is twice as expensive than painter’s tape.

2. Palette knives – $21 Amazon – Titan Tools Putty Knife Set or ~$8 Walmart for one palette knife

This is a pretty close tie for first as these things can save your fingernails from a lot of pain and help save some of your prints from snapping apart. It’s a good practice to use your palette knives to take off every print because it helps with inching prints that are stuck on the bed and good use of leverage.

3. Glue Stick – $2.50 for 4 Amazon – Elmer’s Glue Sticks, Same price at Walmart

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Glue-sticks help with adhesion to print bed, apply a layer before printing and it should help your print adhere.

The following are not necessities per se for printing but for after-print finishing touches

4. X-acto Knife – $3.50 Amazon – X-ACTO #1 Knife, Same price at Walmart

Helps cut off supports, trim off parts for finishing touches and pretty much any small job.

5. Heat gun – $21 Amazon – Wagner 1,200 Heat Gun

I got this idea from attempting to repair a Galaxy S6 phone; heat gun has many uses but it is a double-edged sword. It can do as much harm as it can do good. It softens up the print for you to mold it but it also makes it flimsy so gravity can have an unintended effect on your print. Also, heating your print will make it have a glossy look which can look nice our out of place.

6. Sandpaper – $6 Amazon – 3M Assorted Grit 5-Sheet

This will help with finishing touches but it can be a long process. If you are thinking of painting your product, sanding is the first step before you spray on a layer of primer than a layer of paint. A dremel can be handy if you find yourself needing to sand quite often.

7. Enclosure – DIY $150-$200 or $600 from custom manufacturers

Depending on where your 3D printer is located and what material you are using, an enclosure can help keep temperate control in your printing location. PLA filament can shrink up to 5% and large/long prints are susceptible to warping which can stop your print from adhering to the print bed or cause the dimensions of the printed product to be skewed. Another benefit is reduction in sound, depending on the material of the enclosure and if fully enclosed or not. Just be careful, a fully closed enclosure will keep insulate heat which could cause electronics to overheat and certain materials such as sound proofing materials maybe highly flammable.

 

This post was inspired by an article posted by 3D Printing For Beginners. For a list of links to purchase some of the items listed above, please visit their article at: http://3dprintingforbeginners.com/3d-printing-essential-toolkit/

5 Things to Consider before buying a 3D Printer

With the buzz around 3D printers becoming affordable and accessible, there are a few things that are not generally known to first time 3D printer owners. 3D Printers have major nuisances that you have to commit to once purchased. It’s a large investment and you should know exactly what you are getting yourself into. Did you know 3D printers are loud and slow? Not quite the things you would think of.
prusa

Here are 5 major things you should know before getting a 3D printer:

  1. Noise level – Many 3D printers use 3 or more stepper motors to move their Z, Y, Z axes and with all these moving parts moving and vibrating, 3D printers can exceed 70 decibels which is about the equivalent of a small vacuum machine which means no long overnight prints in your bedroom but there are some solutions. You can buy or create a sound proof DIY box but this is one of the more costly and difficult options. Dampers such as Astrosyn dampers are a cheap solution that can be effective on many  Nema 17 stepper motors and many cheap aftermarket dampers are said to be effective as well.
  2. Speed – 3D printing is a slow additive process. People may not understand that it may take several hours to a day to print certain projects. A 6 inch symmetrical, empty cube can take take a couple of hours depending on how much infill and printer settings. To put this into perspective, the average smartphone is about 6 inches tall.
  3. DIY kits or pre-built? DIY is a great way to understanding how your printer works but it is also a good way to mess one up. With dozens of parts and the printing industry infamous for providing lackluster installation instructions, you can end up spending several hours longer than you expected. A pre-built 3D printer is usually  calibrated well and it is working since the manufacturer are adept at building their own products.
  4. Print material – PLA and ABS are the main two printing filaments but there have been many new additions for advanced users. PLA is the norm for hobbyists as it is cost effective and safe. ABS uses toxic material that is not safe for closed environments such as your room or with food materials.
  5. Build space – Most build sizes are measure in metric so a 150x150x150 is approximately 6 cubed inches. Will this be sufficient enough size to print everything you want? Not everything but it is the standard dimensions for an entry-level 3D printer.

After consideration of all these precautions, if you still are interested in buying a 3D printer, the next step is to consider which printer is right for you. Price is what most a lot of people first look at but prices have been steadily dropping as new printers come out each year and many DIY printers have come into the market. If you are serious about buying a 3D Printer, check out Amazon.com for some reviews then head 3DHubs article on the 3D Printer buying guide at https://www.3dhubs.com/best-3d-printer-guide

If you have more questions, please feel free to comment or send me a message.