Tag Archives: 3D printing

Things you can print on a 3D Printer

Things you can print on a 3d printer - postcard display stands

So you have a 3D Printer, what do you print with it?  First, a bunch of test prints with whatever 3D model files in .STL format you have on hand. STL is the format used in most 3D printing software.  I found a bunch of great files to print at http://www.thingiverse.com/.  This post is to share photos of the things I’ve printed. 

Above you see my post card display stands. I designed these myself  to show off some of my most recent post card collection additions. I love post cards, and have every one I’ve ever received.   My dream is to one day, when I’m old and grey, scan them all front and back to then share a lifetime of post cards via a website.

3d printed cable guide chain-7251    3d printed cable guide chain-7248

This was an early test print part.  It’s a link of cable chain.  Cable chain is used to route wires to machine components moving linearly.

FDM 3d printer-7314

I labeled each print with a sharpie to keep track of the changes. At this point I was simply trying to get the machine to print decent layers at slow speeds.  I think I’m up to XI or XII now.

FDM 3d printer-7311

The above pic gives you an idea of how the cable chain links work.  I’ll post more on this when I’ve added it to the X axis of the printer so you can see it in action.

3D printed robot

Maker faire robot printed as a test.  I was still struggling with pauses in printing at this stage. Turns out the pauses were caused by fragments of Virus software I thought I had completely removed.   It’s challenging using  Windows OS to run a real time machine. Eventually I’ll have all of the printing done from an SD card directly on the printer with a small screen and some buttons for an interface eliminating the need for a computer when printing.

Filament extruder V1.0-7360    Filament extruder V1.0-7359

Filament extruder V1.0-7358

I printed this cool Iris box as my first larger print.   I had some issues printing and this is where I realized you have to use different parameters for larger prints.

Filament extruder V1.0-7356     Filament extruder V1.0-7353

I ended up printing the iris shutters twice. The first set (seen on the right side in the above photos) printed out but because the parameters were not correct they were rough, bumpy, and did not work with the iris mechanism.  You can see the second set (on the left) are much more uniform and flat.

Filament extruder V1.0-7350

Everyone needs at least one Minion.  This guy has become my 3D printer mascot.

  Filament extruder V1.0-7364    Filament extruder V1.0-7369

Above shows the largest part I’ve printed to date.  It’s a hopper for my filament extruder project.  I had some issues getting it to stick and had a couple of failures.  After it passed the half way point I added some high temp tape to hold it down and make sure it didn’t lose adhesion to the build platform.

3D printer Filament extruder

 Above is my nearly complete filament extruder.  This will allow me to recycle plastic into filament to feed my 3D printer.  I have about 20-30 lbs of black abs waiting to be ground up and fed into this when it’s done.  Those are commercial resin pellets you see in the photo. I was testing the auger’s ability to feed the pellets as well as test if there was any jamming at the hopper feed to the auger.

3D printed robot toy

A multi part robot I printed out for my Nephew who is coming to visit me soon.  I’m using ABS filament for these prints and ABS is readily solvent welded as well as thermally fused.

3d printed cookie cutter

For my niece, a hello kitty cookie cutter.  It needs a little sanding but this should make some very cute lil kitty sugar cookies. She likes to make cookies and I like to eat cookies so we make a good team.

3d printed propellersAnd of course there are the experimental prints like this propeller where each one is printed with a different parameter. I record all of my experimental settings, data, and conclusions in a lab notebook.  Keeping a well organized lab notebook and project records is the secret to project success.  This set of experiments was targeted at settings on printing larger thin wall parts.  Two conclusions were drawn from them,  first the ideal print speed for this type of part and second that reducing the extrusion temperature results results in better print quality.  This part had no purpose but a friend who is a HS teacher asked for some parts to use when teaching his students about 3D printing so they are going to a good cause, the education of the future generation.

3d printed objects on display

There are many other objects I have printed, both successfully and less so.  I guess that’s enough for my first show and tell 3d printed objects sharing for now.



The basics of 3D printing explained in pictures (or how parts are made on a 3d printer)

reprap based large 3d printer

While hiking up in the White Mountains with friends this past weekend I started talking about my 3D printer project (shown in the photo above).  One of my hiking companion responded with, “So how does 3D printing actually work?  I get that it makes things, but not the how.”  This post aims to show you, in a series of time lapse photos, how my FDM type 3D printer builds a part.    I took this series of photos throughout the printing of a pair of cable chain links.  The images go in order from top to bottom and left to right.  Take a look and you will see the white ABS plastic growing up from the build platform as the build progresses.    The layers are 0.3mm tall in this build and there are 45 layers in total.  It took about 40 minutes to print these parts start to finish.

Time lapse photos of 3d printing-7270   Time lapse photos of 3d printing-7273

The first image (above left) shows the outlines of the first layer being put down on the build platform.  The print head (or plastistruder) works a bit like a tiny hot melt glue gun, melting the plastic filament and squeezing out a tiny thin layer through a nozzle onto the solid surface.  The second image (above right) shows the outline filled in on the left part.

Time lapse photos of 3d printing-7278   Time lapse photos of 3d printing-7279

After filling in the first layer the print head is raised up 0.3mm and it prints a second layer on top of the first.  This printing layer on top of layer is fundamentally how all 3D printers produce parts and is often referred to as Additive Manufacturing.

Time lapse photos of 3d printing-7281   Time lapse photos of 3d printing-7282

The printer continues to deposit layer on top of layer. 

Time lapse photos of 3d printing-7286   Time lapse photos of 3d printing-7287

This particular cable chain link was printed without support material.  You can see the plastic sagged and drooped down in the unsupported area as the printer reached the top of the part.  In subsequent printing of this part,  I tested different support options.  The addition of computer generated support features (small towers or thin square wave walls)  eliminate the sagging issue.  The support material is removed readily when the part is done printing with the assistance of a small screw driver or hobby knife.   Eventually I plan to install a second print head so I can use a water soluble plastic support that will dissolve away after printing. This will allow me to print  finer more complicated geometries.

Time lapse photos of 3d printing-7299

The above photo shows the  final parts ready to be removed, cleaned up and snapped in the cable chain.  You can see the first few strands of the upper crosspiece drooping down. These are easily removed with an sharp hobby knife.  I hope this helps you to better comprehend how parts are built on a 3D printer. There are a number of different printing technologies out there but all of them use the same basic principle,  depositing a single layer on top of another layer to build a solid object.   Perhaps I’ll do another post comparing the different types of 3D printers out there in the near future. 

As always, if you have any questions please ask.

Reprap 3D Printer progress and photos

One of the corner angle mounts for my Reprep printer being made on my CNC machine.   As a kid, I was a huge fan of Science Fiction Novels, but never did I really believe I’d see the day where I’d have a robot, that would make me another robot that could then replicate itself.  I think one of the greatest things of our era is the ready access to programmable chips like the ATMEL ATmega series.  These are the processors used on the very popular Arduino and Sanguino boards.  My Reprap will be powered by Sanguino running on an ATMEL atmega eventually.   More on this topic in a later post.  Today is all about showing bits and pieces of my reprap 3d printer.

Reprap 3D printer Y axis WIP        reprap 3D Printer Z axis and x Axis drive side

The Left picture shows the Y Axis set up.  The build platform will be mounted to a carriage that runs on those four 12mm  linear bearings that are seen in the picture running through the center of the chassis.  I need to get a belt with 19 less teeth then my current or cut the belt and clamp both ends to the carriage (the 1/4″ aluminum  square in the pic).  The pic on the right shows the Z Axis as well as the drive motor on the X Axis.  The X axis will have the stepstruder printing heads on a carriage moving on 4 8mm linear bearings.

Reprap 3D printer Z axis other side       RepRap  CNC machined stepstruder print head

The left pic shows the idle side of the X axis as well as the other side Z axis.  I chose to go with the dual stepper motor Z axis over the belt driven dual leadscrew set up.  I have tested it with my zac built stepper driver set up run by a 555 timer pulse generator circuit to drive a pololu A4988 and it works well.  I imagine I’ll have to check for lost steps and align the printer periodically with this set up.  The right hand picture shows my milled stepstruder.  It’s roughly based on the MK6 Stepstruder sold by Makerbot with some Zac-provements.   I still need to order a heater cartridge from them and machine the shaft, heat break standoff and some other pieces to finish the plastistruder unit.  Eventually I hope to have a double extruder head set up so I can run a water soluble support material on one head and the build material on the other, or to do multicolor builds.


My RepRap based 3D printer

This post will catch my readers up to speed on my 3D Printer project.   It’s design is loosely based on the current RepRap Mendel and Prusa Mendel 3D Printer Designs.  My goal was to build as much of my 3d printer from what I had on hand.  I started this project back in May of 2011.  I’ve been working on it in my spare time and having my CNC Mill do 95% of the manufacturing of components for this project.  It’s been a good way for me to build CNC programming experience as well as test out the capabilities of my CNC milling machine (based on the popular RF-45 model Mill Drill) to determine Gen 2 upgrades needed to the CNC Mill.

My Reprap project is partially inspired by the fact that I had a prototype Objet Alaris 3D printer for evaluation for work for 9 months prior to their launching of that product.  It was mostly product testing and a bit of debugging for Objet but it gave me a full taste of having 3D printer access all the time.  I still have and use many of the components I printed out for the house, my zacbuilt engine driven TIG welder, and of course in the Datsun  and Mustang.   3d Printing, also often refered to as rapid prototyping, is the greatest thing to come along since the advent of CNC machining for the fabricator.   It’s often faster to design a part virtually and just print it out then to try and make it by any other means.  It’s a great way to test out crazy ideas, various styling changes, and tactile features of a design.

Reprap Gen6 electronics      reprap CNC machined Stepstruder plastistruder

My RepRap 3D printer will be driven by Gen 6 electronics.  This SMT board drives all three axis, and the stepstruder (aka plastic extruder printing head as shown in the right pic above) all in a small low power package.  My first go at acquiring a Gen 6 board did not go so well and I ended up returning it.  The board had numerous poorly soldered joints and one chip was floating off board at 20 degrees with several pins in the air.  I since decided to finish the mechanical before reacquiring another Gen 6 board.  By the time I’m ready to fire it up there might even be a better next Gen board design available.

I think I’ll close this post here,  I’ll share more about this project over the coming days to get caught up on where I am to date so I can move forward with the next steps.