Monday, 26 September 2016

The tough decision was made.

I am now a 3D printer, or own a 3D printer. I am a 3D printerer.

Whatever.

The upshot is that we will not be eating for a month, but thats OK i need to lose the weight.

Well I guess if you have followed me this far (Hello Paul) you will want some juicy details.

I went for the Original Prusa i3 Mk2 and what a mouthful that is. At a pricey 600 squid its still way beyond my budget however the cost is reduced form the built form by about 200 pounds. After about the 4th hour of building I saw why. You can only but Original Prusas from prusa research in the Czcehk Republic anything else isnt neccesarily a cheap knockoff (the printer is open source and in the spirit of reprap) but considering Prusa invented the i3 style I think I know where I would rather spend my cash.

3 days later (its a 2 day window but I was at work so asked for a delay, the lovely people obliged) Mr UPS knocked on my door with a behomoth of a box. It took nearly 6 hours to assemble nut luckily they package some Haribo to keep you going. Sadly the kids ate mine.

I then plugged it in and…nothing. Some quick research showed I had some cables plugged in wrongly. Powered up and my scrren lit up wonderfully. Then it was time for the self test. Pop. Dead. A fuse had been blown on the board. A bit more checking and I worked out that I had wired the heatbed power to the nozzle and vice versa. Thank god for fuses.

Day 2 saw a visit to Halfords for a blade fuse (the type that goes into cars), this set me back a whopping 99p. Back to the printer buttocks clenching and bowels loosening. Its started up, self tested and calibrated itself telling me that I couldnt set a square if i tired really hard (which i did) one of the advantages of the MK2 however is that it does not care. It fixes wonky axis in the software. Being the perfectionist that I want to be! I decided to try to twek the axis. I got it better but still skewed however you would not guess.

The moral of the story. Check your cables 5 times then ask someone else to make sure. Then unplug them one by one and REALLY make sure.

Does it print well? You tell me?

IMG_5029IMG_5032IMG_5033IMG_5034IMG_5035IMG_5036IMG_5042

I think it was a good choice.

You can support me by spreading the word about my tiny but growing etsy shop and my 3D Hub. Or just by being interested and commenting.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Mr Data- Model shelves, make it so.

I need to hone my design skills, I also need to find a better way to house my massive Starfleet collection. They are currently on a 90s style black bookcase. Above each model is space for another, they are currently suspende on string but are always hanging oddly and for some reason starfleet ships will not balance.

Solution? Some shelves to clip into the shelf above. Time to design.

As I need to improve my modelling skills (3D and otherwise) I decided to fire up Blender, and dagnabbit learn it.

After i poured my brain back in i switched to 123D by Autodesk but still finding it oddly unituitive I finally found myself falling back on good old tinkercad.

After getting some measurements I was fairly confident I had a plan. So I knocked up Version 1.

shelf1

I thought it looked reasonable but once sliced it became apparent that there were flaws. The model would take an inordinate amount of time to print and, given the small mass of the ships, actually seems rather overengineered.

Back to the tinker board and into Mk 2.

shelf2

Version 2 will print a lot faster and use less materials. The question is did I scrimp to much. Will it even work? Will there be a Mk3?

I will let you know.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Learning the long way.

The world of 3D printing is daunting. The one prominent piece of advice I hear is “Be prepared for a learning curve”. The main statement is “You will have prints fail”

Even experts in 3D printing spend hours tweaking slicer settings, fixing meshes, checking fill settings, fixing heat settings, calibrating beds and other things I am sure I have not even encountered yet.

This post was initially going to be a quick run through of the concepts and workflow of 3D printing. Then I realised that I was hardly an expert and people might take it as advice. Know this. I know NOTHING. What I can do, however, is outline what I have done and how I have learnt.

My first port of call was the main hub for models www.thingiverse.com. This is pretty much the defacto resource for premade models. All are free to print but re-engineering and even use for resale are covered by CC licences. This means that creators have the right, for example, to say redesign this as long as you credit me and use the same terms. You cannot sell it.

The site then lead me onto a fantastic resource for design called TinkerCad by Autodesk. It is a hugely intuitive and simple builder but able to resolve complex designs which you can then print.

holder

After a bit of practice I was able to churn this one out. A six coaster and holder design. As I have the design talents of a six thumbed silverback gorilla I am rightly rather pleased with it.

Of course designing is still just an early stage. I now need to take this model and prepare it to be printed. The design consists of 2 .STL files one that is the coaster and one for the holder. A 3D printer cannot print this.

So the next step is to use a “Slicer” program to literally slice the image into a series of cross sections (imagine one of those 3D cardboard models) and create the instruction files to pass to a 3d printer. This is essentially a text file known as .gcode. This code instructs the printer head where to move and when to squirt plastic. How hot to do it, how quick to do it, what to heat the bed to and many other things.

Even then you have problems incipient. What about those overhangs on the holder and on the coaster faces. You cannot print onto thin air. So more thought goes into supports to hold these. What if the print comes off 3 hours into the build (did I mention it is slow) that's 3 hours wasted and all that plastic. Even it it works the surface wont be perfect. You will have sanding and finishing to do until you finally have a monochrome block of plastic that is truly from your own head.

Then you show it to someone and they say “oh, is that it”. So despite the massive time sink, cost, and overall over expectations I am bound to encounter I am still keen to print this and hold it in my grubby six thumbed hands.

Maybe one day I can show you too.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Welcome to the new Blog

I would say I am a flutterer, I flutter from passion to passion. Hobbies come and go, interests wax and wane.

My house is filled with Star Trek Models, Bugs in resin, more Tardis's (Tardii?, Tardis?) then you could could and innumerable Airfix models and Astronomy tools. I have a large Butlins Badge collection and associated Blog (badges.blogspot.com)
 I also run (ran, its dead quiet) a blog on Movies (www.reviewedatrandom.com) and have more PCs in the house than people living there. 

So for my next expensive and ultimately stupid passion I am fixating on 3D printing. I am currently a wanabee having no equipment or experience however I have started research and building of models. The eventual hope to be to print and even custom print (for money dolla) to order via 3D Hubs.

This will be the first blog that I have written that goes from the start of a passion. It may capture the highs, lows, pitfall and sheer frustration of learning a new skill....or this may be the only post.

You can see some of my nascent tinkerings at thingiverse.com/crowlord/about and I may even put some up in more detail at later posts, one day I may even print them. 

Join me in the journey. There will be cookies (its EU law now).