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Thread: 3D Printers

  1. #1

    3D Printers

    My ignorant preconceived notion of most 3D Printers was was that they produced brittle weak plastic shapes. However a few weeks ago my wife hosted a Star Wars Reads day at the library where she works and we got people from the 501st, Rebel Legion, and Droid builders. I photographed the event and chatted with a lady who had 3D printed a working BB-8 unit.

    I was impressed because the plastic she used, PLA, I think, was more flexible and durable than anything I've seen a 3D printer output before. She said it was relatively affordable which spiked my curiosity a bit more.
    I could have sworn some of you have dabbled in 3D printing before and I would really appreciate some direction in how to get into this.




  2. #2
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    I don't have any actual experience with an actual 3d printer, but when I was designing a part for my son the software I was using let me configure how much support material to print in the solid portions of the print. The more support material, the longer it would take to print, the more plastic it would use, and thus the more expensive it would be. I've also read that the temperature of the print head makes a difference. the B&N here was trying to sell printers for a while and they had some figurines they printed and they were super brittle, like the layers weren't bonding together properly. My guess is that the printer wasn't set up properly, rather than any flaw in the printer itself.

    MAKE magazine puts out a "3d printer guide" every year. I'd check that out, I found it very approachable. They score each printer based on a variety of areas like print quality, ease of use, price, features, etc. They also have regular articles about 3d printing in their regularly issues (every other month) so it may be worth subscribing if you get into it.

    Also if you don't want to invest in a printer, there are services where you can upload your model and have someone (usually local or local-ish) print it and send it to you, for a reasonable fee.

  3. #3
    I've been working with several printers for a while now; several for schools around the area, and ones that I personally own. I'd be glad to offer my brain-puke on the subject.

    3D printing has gotten pretty cheap and easy to get in to. There is still a good deal of learning and experimentation to do, but its highly approachable. If you want to tinker with it, check with near by schools or see if you have a hacker/maker space near by, as a lot of these places are pretty welcoming for this kind of thing. But, yeah, anyway...

    There are really two main types of 3d printers out there in the realm, as far as cheap'n'easy are concerned; resin and FDM. FDM being where a thermoplastic, such as PLA, ABS or nylon, is melted and applied in layers with an extruder. Resin comes in the form of either SLA or DLP to expose and catalyze the resin. FDM can be a bit cheaper, but can also be a bit more frustrating to work with and produce less detailed objects. Resin is higher detail, smaller print area. I have both an FDM printer and a DLP resin one, and I find myself using the resin printer more, as I tend to print a lot of miniatures for D&D. Really cheap FDM printers can run around a couple hundred dollars as a kit, and really decent dual-extruder can be around 500-700. The resin printer that I'm currently using was around $400 i believe. Some high quality SLA resin printers are several thousand dollars.

    As for material, FDM is pretty cheap, around $20-30 and up for a 1kg spool of PLA or ABS, which can last quite a while. Meanwhile, resin can cost about $30-40 and up for a 1 liter bottle, which gives you comparable amount of material to an FDM. As for strength, FDM prints can be really strong, if the printer is calibrated correctly and the setting are just right. Resin prints are EXTREMELY strong, from my experience.

    I think a good starting point would be to ask yourself what you want to use this for exactly. Do you want to print small highly detailed things, like tabletop gaming miniatures, or larger, less detailed things?

    Also, I can see about printing a couple of small test objects to send you, if you want.
    I can't wait for the day schools get the money they need, and the military has to hold bake sales to afford bombs.

  4. #4
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    The only thing I've ever wanted to print was the parts to a mechanical calculator, would yall know if they can print plastics strong enough for the sorts of mechanical strain you might find in one?

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Reid View Post
    The only thing I've ever wanted to print was the parts to a mechanical calculator, would yall know if they can print plastics strong enough for the sorts of mechanical strain you might find in one?
    Absolutely.

    https://makezine.com/2017/07/28/see-...culator-works/

    My pirate crew (or part of it) is working on doing some research on the degradation of various types of plastic when they are shredded and re-extruded (twice, once to make filament and once to print) so hopefully you can make a recycled one to be all planet friendly.

    Phantom, I texted you about this but you should definitely check out the machines we are making to do this once they are done.
    Epstein didn't kill himself.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Reid View Post
    The only thing I've ever wanted to print was the parts to a mechanical calculator, would yall know if they can print plastics strong enough for the sorts of mechanical strain you might find in one?
    I believe so, yes. Just make sure to research the printer and material to find out what tolerances you'd need to account for and shrinkage/swelling for the materials. I know with some resins, like the polyurethane that's currently in mine, they can shrink around 10%, although there are some specialty formulas out there... PLA can actually swell a bit sometimes, as it pulls moisture from the air. ABS would probably be the way to go for mechanical parts, if using an FBM setup.
    I can't wait for the day schools get the money they need, and the military has to hold bake sales to afford bombs.

  7. #7
    Thank you all for the helpful feedback, especially Admiral Zarn.

    My main objective with 3D printing is to make screen accurate Star Wars props for a fan film. The aim is to recreate all of the Endor strike team outfits. The trickiest part so far is producing the helmets because the plastic doughnut was originally sculpted and then vacuum formed using ABS. Previously I thought about creating a 3D model and producing it as papakura, then coating it in resin and sanding it as needed, followed by vacuum forming as many copies as need. However the thought of just 3D printing the doughnut is far more appealing when it comes to time management. I imagine something that size would have to come in multiple parts, though it seems like it would be too big to print in resin, yes?

    Other items that would need to be printed would be greebles for the wrist communicators, grenades, etc. I figure since those wont be handled much they could be made from PLA.
    There are also printable parts for Star Wars weapons, which would need to be durable, though in most cases I've found some guides that show how to convert an airsoft M16 into a rebel rifle using stuff from Home Depot or Lowe's, so I'm not sure how much would need to be printed.

    A few of the local libraries here are starting to buy 3D printers which patrons can use free of charge. The libraries seem to be exclusively using PLA for their printers, and I don't know if it is the fact they are low-end printers or if some are faster than others, but these things are pretty slow. There is also a que time to consider with the other patrons.

    I did some additional digging and found a maker studio a few blocks from where I work, they have 2 printers, one custom built with vague specifications, the other is a seemecnc.com Orion Delta printer. They charge a monthly membership though I'm hesitant to sign up if their printers aren't going to work for the project.

    I also love the idea of making figurines for D&D, though I'd prefer to focus on this film at present I'd still be interested in seeing some of the stuff you've created, Zarn.

  8. #8
    I am currently failing at printing. Like RIGHT NOW.
    Epstein didn't kill himself.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Phantom-Seraph View Post
    Thank you all for the helpful feedback, especially Admiral Zarn.

    My main objective with 3D printing is to make screen accurate Star Wars props for a fan film. The aim is to recreate all of the Endor strike team outfits. The trickiest part so far is producing the helmets because the plastic doughnut was originally sculpted and then vacuum formed using ABS. Previously I thought about creating a 3D model and producing it as papakura, then coating it in resin and sanding it as needed, followed by vacuum forming as many copies as need. However the thought of just 3D printing the doughnut is far more appealing when it comes to time management. I imagine something that size would have to come in multiple parts, though it seems like it would be too big to print in resin, yes?

    Other items that would need to be printed would be greebles for the wrist communicators, grenades, etc. I figure since those wont be handled much they could be made from PLA.
    There are also printable parts for Star Wars weapons, which would need to be durable, though in most cases I've found some guides that show how to convert an airsoft M16 into a rebel rifle using stuff from Home Depot or Lowe's, so I'm not sure how much would need to be printed.

    A few of the local libraries here are starting to buy 3D printers which patrons can use free of charge. The libraries seem to be exclusively using PLA for their printers, and I don't know if it is the fact they are low-end printers or if some are faster than others, but these things are pretty slow. There is also a que time to consider with the other patrons.

    I did some additional digging and found a maker studio a few blocks from where I work, they have 2 printers, one custom built with vague specifications, the other is a seemecnc.com Orion Delta printer. They charge a monthly membership though I'm hesitant to sign up if their printers aren't going to work for the project.

    I also love the idea of making figurines for D&D, though I'd prefer to focus on this film at present I'd still be interested in seeing some of the stuff you've created, Zarn.
    PLA would be perfect, in that case. The libraries are likely using PLA beccause it's super easy to use. It's not as finicky as ABS when it comes to temperature, uses lower temperatures, and has a rather sweet, pleasant smell when printing. Its kinda funny, I actually ran into an article about finishing FDM 3d prints: https://hackaday.com/2017/11/15/visu...nishing-guide/

    I've seen a lot of Star Wars models, including airsoft conversion kits. You should take a look around this 3d printing metasearch engine: http://www.yeggi.com

    I honestly haven't messed with delta printers any. Custom printers can tend to be pretty reliable. Usually they use a similar design to printrbot or the prusa printers, which are pretty cheap and realiable as open source kits.

    Here's some of the minis I've made so far. Unfortunately, my paint jobs didn't really do the models justice. For example, the lines you see in Mei's coat are just brush strokes. It's pretty hard painting at 30mm scale when you have hands like mine. https://imgur.com/a/tFgxV

    Quote Originally Posted by Spook View Post
    I am currently failing at printing. Like RIGHT NOW.
    What's goin' on?
    I can't wait for the day schools get the money they need, and the military has to hold bake sales to afford bombs.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Admiral Zarn View Post


    What's goin' on?
    The dude I was working with and I had never printed before, so we neglected to use glue on the print bed, which didn't work out since we are using warpy ABS. We got it working though.

    We are actually printing the parts for a filament maker, and are building a plastic shredder as well to experiment with using reclaimed plastic for printing stuff so I had better get it figured out! Eventually we got this small part figure out, though we are using a smaller size filament than the machines take so we are probably going through a bit more filament than necessary. An injection molding machine is down the road too to make giant lego blocks to build interior walls and (sex) furniture.
    Epstein didn't kill himself.

  11. #11
    Doesn't care what his title is
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    I bought one a few months ago. I enjoy it quite a bit. I'll come back and write a better post soon, but for now, look into the Monoprice Maker series. I got a "refurb" for $225 that works flawlessly and has but a tiny little scrape in the powder coating on one of the vertical supports.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Spook View Post
    The dude I was working with and I had never printed before, so we neglected to use glue on the print bed, which didn't work out since we are using warpy ABS. We got it working though.

    We are actually printing the parts for a filament maker, and are building a plastic shredder as well to experiment with using reclaimed plastic for printing stuff so I had better get it figured out! Eventually we got this small part figure out, though we are using a smaller size filament than the machines take so we are probably going through a bit more filament than necessary. An injection molding machine is down the road too to make giant lego blocks to build interior walls and (sex) furniture.
    Heh, yeah, ABS can be quite finicky. I'd like to see your work on the shredder, as I've been tinkering with trying to get a setup built for recycling thermoplastics for 3d printing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steven View Post
    I bought one a few months ago. I enjoy it quite a bit. I'll come back and write a better post soon, but for now, look into the Monoprice Maker series. I got a "refurb" for $225 that works flawlessly and has but a tiny little scrape in the powder coating on one of the vertical supports.
    I've heard good things about the Monoprice Maker. I believe it's mainly a rebranded Wanhao, which is also a good brand for 3D printers.
    I can't wait for the day schools get the money they need, and the military has to hold bake sales to afford bombs.

  13. #13
    Doesn't care what his title is
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    I'm on a real computer now, not my phone, so I can give a better response.

    What I've learned as a beginner the last few months:
    1. It's fun.
    2. There's a giant community (thingiverse) that probably already has whatever you want to print, or something close enough that you can easily modify it.
    3. There are several free software options, I prefer Blender for modelling and Cura for slicing and printing.
    4. Modelling in Blender is not that difficult, especially if you already understand 3D basics (like if you ever made maps or models for a certain 20 year old star wars game)
    5. Start off with an inexpensive printer. As mentioned, I bought a refurbed Monoprice Maker Select 2. I chose it because it was inexpensive, but it also had the largest print area of the "entry-level" printers (entry level being under $1000) and received high marks from various review sources. There are more expensive printers that can do two colors simultaneously, have larger print areas, fancier settings, etc, but they're for down the line. Crawl, then walk, then run. Incidentally, the Monoprice is a knockoff of another printer that also received high marks, so they support base is substantial.
    6. PLA is good for just about everything that isn't going to take a tremendous beating. You can adjust the infill density and pattern to fit your strength needs. If you need it stronger, ABS will do. You can also reinforce the PLA with fiberglass if you really need it to be strong. A friend printed an ABS "gun part" that has held up to over 1,000 rounds so far without any sign of stress.
    7. Download or design a few small, intricate models to test your settings before you try to print something big or important. Each filament "likes" certain heat settings, speeds, etc. Every time you get a new spool of filament, run through the tests. Things vary from spool to spool, even if they're the same item.
    8. Spend some time learning the important upgrades for your printer. I added a glass bed to mine that improved adhesion. I added some vertical braces to keep it stable when printing taller models. Little fan ducts and braces and things can make a big difference in the final product, especially if it's an intricate model.
    9. Keep your printer in your garage or some room you don't use much, the noise will drive you crazy after a while, and most things (even small things) take several hours to print.
    10. You can print things in pieces then epoxy them together, or acetone weld if you're using ABS.
    11. Cheap dollar-store hairspray (aquanet) on the print bed prior to heating will help with adhesion. The heat cooks it and leaves the bed a bit gummy so the plastic sticks better. After the print is done and removed, scrape with a razor blade and wipe with alcohol. I use alcohol wipes (like you would use on a scrape or cut) from the dollar store to clean the bed after scraping with a razor.
    12. Your wife/girlfriend/whoever will think it's weird and/or annoying until you print something cool for them. I printed a "floating picture frame" for my wife and she thinks it's just the coolest. I then made the mistake of showing her the model library on thingiverse, so she now has a list of things she wants me to print.


    Hopefully that helps, let me know if you have any questions or if I can be of any other assistance.

    Edit: Your printer should come with a small sample roll of filament, but it will last all of an hour. Order some from Amazon so you have enough. I like hatchbox and solutech.
    Last edited by Steven; 11-16-2017 at 01:48 PM.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Admiral Zarn View Post
    Heh, yeah, ABS can be quite finicky. I'd like to see your work on the shredder, as I've been tinkering with trying to get a setup built for recycling thermoplastics for 3d printing.
    I am planning to document the whole build. We are building the preciousplastic.com shredder, but have plans to modify it. We are already switching from metric to standard stock (unfortunately, because we are burgerboys) but we would like to come up with something similar that you can build out of leaf springs with no laser cutting/milling needed.
    Epstein didn't kill himself.

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