Category Archives: general

How Large Can you build a 3D Printer

small printer to large transformation
Icons made by Freepik from www.flaticon.com

A lot of people look at the small volume of the desktop 3d printers and dream of designing a huge machine.

What limits the size of a 3d printer: mechanical components , complexity and costs are the three main limitations for the size of a 3d printer.

In theory there are no limits to the size of a 3d printer, but practically there are a few — let’s have a look at some of them…

What do we have right now

Your typical home desktop 3d printer has a volume of 20cm X 20cm X20cm for the x,y,z sizes.

This equates to 20x20x20 cm^3 = 8000cm^3

I know i have dreamt of building a huge , and i mean a huge 3d printer…

One that no one else has thought of building….

The stepper motors can be just the same….

As can the electronics….

wiki

And it will print chairs and tables with the same resolution as what i have now…

Ok…back out of dream land let’s look at some of the large printers around now and see what their specs are…

What are large format printer

So you want to print big huh…

Well you could easily go up to the Tronxy X5st with a build volume of 500 X 500 X 500 for about $700 – but that is not that much bigger…

Or the MODIX BIG-120X v3 with a build volume of 1200 X 600 X 640 for $6500, still not big enough…

How about the THE BOX from BLB industries a massive 1500 X 1100 X 1500 for a bargain price of $50,000 ( 2020 prices).

Mechanical limits

Your little desktop 3d printer with a build volume of 8000cm^3 uses 8mm straight rods over that span.

And you can bet there will be a little sag in the center.

Now double the width and that deflection becomes very serious with the weight of the printhead.

So you thicken up the rods to 2X the diameter – so that’s now 16mm diameter rods.

beam sag

The frame needs a bit more bracing with the weight increase.

And the belt is twice the length – you know how difficult it is to tension that standard belt – now you want it twice that length….

More stresses on the frame sides…..

The bed is now twice the width, so double sized. the weight goes up so the speed you can throw it around comes down…unless you uprate the motors and electronics….

And if you decide to increase the y axis then the bed is four times the size and weight …

Imagine trying to get that bed flat to within 40um over that distance and support it underneath…they struggle enough with the standard bed never mind one 4X the size…

And double the height – getting rods that are straight over that distance and increasing the leadscrews diameter….

And ideally an enclosure to keep the temperature stable to reduce the warping of the models…

So all around the mechanicals have to increase to keep the accuracy and that is only going twice the size…

Imagine 5X the size.

Besides not fitting onto your desk, the shear bulk of the mechanicals is getting so large that it is time to look for a different way…

For me it is individual sections, so maybe robot arms with an overlap – controlled from a central processor reducing the likelyhood of arm crash.

This way the different sections could be printed at once rather than sequentially…reducing the timescale of the large print size.

Electronic limits

Upsizing your printer may mean upgrading the size of your steppers – so upgrading your stepper drivers.

And you will need the stepper to get to the other side in almost the same time as now – so a massive increase in the speed and getting all that mechanics moving….

Again an increase in stepper motor size….

You will need an increase in the processing speed – so out goes your faithful old arduino…

Your power supply – on the limit for the old Anet a8 would be one part which now is huge – so power usage becomes a significant percentage of the costs.

Along with volume of printing material…

Are the slicers up to it

To 3d print a model you need to slice it and create a gcode file.

So let’s take a 25mm cube and slice it with 0.3mm slices – the time according to cura would be about 20 mins at about 60mm/s print rate

So keeping the speed setting the same lets double the size to 50mm all round.

The time has gone out to 102 minutes…..

To get back to the 20 minutes we need to increase the speed to about…well the slicers are internally limited in the software and won’t allow me to carry on increasing the print speed so i can’t get it below 82 mins

And double again to 100mm cubed the time has gone out to 7 hours and 51 mins (471 mins), even at the higher speed…100mm box

So you can see that even a fourfold increase in size and a massive increase in speed the timing has gone out by 22 times…

The other way is to increase the nozzle size and then increase the layer thickness.

But if you want fine detail on the outside then you need the precision nozzle.

Maybe this is something they can look at in the future – printing on surfaces rather than printing the whole model, so 3d printers become surface decorators.

With this you maybe able to have the large layer heights and then finish off with a finishing printer.

 Is there any future for very large printers

As can be seen from the figures above – to get to a meter cubed you are looking at a very serious printer – industrial – enclosed and heated to keep it stable – very heavy mechanically to get the precision.

Will they go up much from this and get the precision.

I very much doubt that they are cost effective enough for a manufacturer to try.

The time taken to print such a volume must be huge, it is getting into the territory of cnc timing – so decisions will be made whether to remove material (CNC) or use additive manufacturing (3d printing)…

With the idea of the multi arm printers – you are adding a lot of cost and complexity, it would be unlikely that home users would have access to this sort of tech for a cheap price.

The same with the finishing printer.

Maybe the large layer height bulk printer, but the finishing printer would almost have the agility of a robot arm to get into all of the nooks and crannies.

So there is a limit of build size versus cost and builders of 3d printers are finding this whenever they build a large volume printer.

If you can sacrifice resolution then you can build larger, but if you want the really small feature size then you will have to put up with printers being about the size stay are at the moment until a massive breakthrough in tech happens.

BigRep / CC BY

You might find large fast printers at 3d print service centers, along with metal printers.

But for printing , and scanning, large objects on a fixed bed i feel that the problems will outweigh the benefits for a while to come…

 

Prusaslicer vs Cura : Is it worth moving

3d printer in action

I have now been operating 3d printers for a few years and have got used to creating models – or downloading- slicing and printing. But have recently become more and more frustrated with the Cura interface – so started looking elsewhere.

Knowing that Prusa did their own slicer – originally a slic3r variant (which i have tried..recently)- they have now taken a version and gone their own way.

So is it easier to use, better, more workable, faster, more accurate that cura…let’s find out shall we….

Why a 3d slicer is necessary for 3d printing: A slicer is necessary for 3d printing due to the fact that a 3d printer needs coordinates to send the print head to for it to lay down the molten filament to create the model in 3d from your cad model.

When i started my journey in 3d printing Josef Prusa was making the Prusa i3 mk2, which i eyed enviously at the time.

Not willing to spend that much i settled on a prusa clone from china, which came bundled with cura – the slicing software.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9a/Ultimaker_cura.png
The cura logo

We are talking version 15.xx of cura…the very basic one – but still a very good introduction to slicers…

Following the development of the Cura slicer and their versioning was interesting…now on version 4.xx…this all makes sense.

But version 15 had enough for me to start creating models on my printers.

It was absolutely fantastic.

But i am now looking at the newer versions of cura and seeing all of the parameters you can change under the expert settings and thinking – do i spend more time with the slicer than creating the model or actually printing it.

So I started looking around at other slicers to see what they could offer…

I have looked at Kisslicer – i now use their cal model as a test.

I looked at slic3r, and found that prusa have taken a version and gone in their own direction.

I do like slic3r and may come back to it, but it seems a little less advanced now that the prusaslicer.

I did look briefly at simplify3d – but with a slicer costing more that the printer and the slow updates, reported all over the web then i will give this a miss at the moment.

So i thought i would concentrate on the Prusa slicer.prusa slicer logo

If i was starting now – what would i advise people to start with – i reckon i would go with Prusaslicer or slic3r rather than cura.

Why…i think just a little less confusing and has more features easily accessible.

That being said, i have only worked with it for just over a week  -and have had a few issues.

This is the reason for this post.…to prevent others from having these issues and to set it up right from the start.

Why look at prusaslicer

Looking at what you can do with Cura, and i know that a lot of the features are now available in there.

I found that creating curved tops was always a problem.example of stair casing in slicer

As you go up the curve, unless you had chosen a fine layer height then you started to get a coarse stepping at the top.

The other part is that when making things like the x and y belt tensioners – i had a couple snap due to the amount of infill i added, but didn’t want to add it al the way through the model.

Finding that slic3r had adaptive slicing and you could create a layer stack, not just a hard step for the layer change made me smile.

And as i say after finding that the prusaslicer had this option along with the variable fill – i had to give it a go…

First go with Prusaslicer

After using Kisslicer and the introduction wizard to setup the printer, i found the Prusaslicer a bit awkward.

I am sure it is supposed to have a wizard that starts when you first install it, so maybe i have installed and deleted it in the past, but nothing came up.prusa slicer first view

I do like the fact that you get the four tabs open on startup, with slic3r you have to open them yourself.

I didn’t bother creating a new printer for my anet clone and used an i3 mk2 as a printer.

On slic3r when you add a model it appears in the center.

Ok, but i want to print it front left corner, and until i found that tick box in the file -preferences it would always snap back to the center…..

The Prusaslicer comes with that box unticked, but it is under configuration preferences if you want the model to stay in the center….

First impressions

Looking at it’s simpler interface from the ( to me ) now cluttered cura one, i felt that it was laid out better – similar to the old cura.

But with four individual panels it feels lighter and has more breathing space.

Loading up the Kisslicer model it appears in the center of the plater (their name for the bed).

But is easily dragged to the front corner (where i usually create my models).

The graphical interface is pretty good – with all the features having a mouse over tip to tell you what they do.

I like the feature of setting a face down on the print bed.

And the fact that it is very easy to cut the model into pieces.

Right clicking when you have selected the model brings up another menu with a host more features.

More Features menu

One of the features i was looking at was to add more infill in places where the model maybe more stressed and not everywhere.

Well this is accessed in the right click on the model menu.

If you add a modifier you then have a selection you can modify within the shape you pick.

These are box, cylinder,sphere and slab.

You can easily resize the modifier and placing it manually in the graphical window can be hilarious, or a pain.add different infill prusaslicer

But help is at hand in the right hand pane with XYZ coordinates.

Clicking on each shows the arrow in the direction of movement.

I was a bit confused with these as they don’t seem to follow convention.

The Y axis going up and down, the x axis left to right and the z axis front to back.

So the x axis is the one in the right direction, the other two are hopefully just wrongly labeled.

But in the right hand pane if you now right click on the little gear you can add the modifier – in this case infill and set it to what you want – i went up to 60%.

And then reslice.

Using the lower slices view in the left pane you can drag the layers slider down to see the effect of adding more infill and make sure it is what you want.

I think this feature is fantastic – with the only problem, even in the more settings the only one i wanted to use was not there – temperature.

I will dig more to see if it is an easy way to create a temperature tower, but i can see that characterizing the printer can be accomplished using most of these parameters.

One more thing about the slider – don’t click on the little plus symbol unless you are ready to change filament.

I must have clicked on it accidentally as the first model i sliced to test it printed all the way up and stopped on the last layer and unloaded the filament- not an expected result…..

So i looked at the G-code in craftware, i thought the listing said M500 ( store settings in eeprom), but i was mistaken and it was M600 (filament change).

But where….

When you click on the little plus on the slider you get a color change created.

There is no callout for this, there is no obvious deletion (especially when it is the final layer), but setting the slider to the layer does give you the option to click on the little x and delete the color change ( about three hours later and an internet search…..) – this has been the only thing i have struggled with so far….

Another excellent feature – especially for any rounded top figures you want to print is adaptive layer editing.

Rounded tops more accurately

Early slicers allowed you to slice at a layer height, and only one layer height.

Now this is ok, with large layer heights giving you shorter print times and lower layer heights longer print times.

Or looked at another way – large layer heights a coarse finish and low layer heights a fine finish.

So what if you have a lot of straight sides that could be finished with the larger layer height and a rounded top that really needs the lower layer height.

In the past you would have to suffer extremely long print times just to get the finer finish at the top.

But more and more slicers are now adding a feature to allow you to have adaptable layer heights.

Not every printer can handle this, so it is worth testing yours – i can’t see why not as they are dumb machines that do what they are told ( well most of the time….).

At the top menu the last item on the right is the variable layer stack – this is only available when in model view (this confused me as i would have thought it would be in sliced view).adaptive layering - more rounded

Once you click on the layers menu then you get a view to the right of the model of the layers.

Using the mouse ( left and right buttons) to increase and reduce layer heights at the different heights of the model you can reduce the stair stepping at the top of the rounded parts – zooming in can show what effect this has – as can seeing the change in color on screen.

And printing it out it does really reduce the large steps if you choose a fast print time for straight sides.

How easy is it

It has been relatively easy to transition over to the prusaslicer.

There have been a few hiccups, as you would expect – the layer change was the worst one so far.

But the added features and simple interface allows you to start to explore the features instantly.

I did set it to expert control settings as soon as i jumped into it, but maybe the advanced would have been better.

I did click on the simple and would find these too limiting, but anyone starting out would have the very basics to adjust and hopefully the model would be passable.

Overall impressions

I think i am a convert.

I will still use cura 15.xx as a fast chuck it on there and see , but maybe with time even that will stop.

Would i put all my eggs in one basket, i will still look at the different slicers to find what advantages and disadvantages there are.

But most people who want to print models don’t want a steep learning curve, they want the model printed now……

There are a lot who seeing the page for setting the parameters of the printer in terms of speed and acceleration and jerk who would have skipped back to cura.

I did wonder where i would find those and whether they could be used to tune the printer a bit more.

On the Anet a8 i found them under the control ->motion menu and noted those down.

It does work without you setting those up as it will rely on the printer not exceeding its operating parameters coded in to prevent damage.

I will be doing more work on this slicer and hopefully will be creating a series of tutorials showing what it can do.

I will go back to cura version 4.x and see if the same features are in there – if they are ten maybe i will create tutorials on both….

But i hope you will explore the features of prusaslicer and maybe the forerunner slic3r if you are starting to get a bit overwhelmed with the number of elements you can change within cura…

What are your views – what do you think of Cura, prusaslicer or slic3r – let me know in the comments below

Thanks for reading

Phil

 What is 3d Printing Workflow

3d printing workflow

 What is 3d printing workflow

How do you get from the concept to something in your hand with an fdm printer….

What is 3d printing workflow: 3d printing workflow is the method of taking a concept of what you want and turning it into a finished model that does what it is intended to do. 

Let’s break down the workflow into it’s what is actually happening – and this happens for each print you do, whether you follow these exact steps deliberately or just merge them in your head.

3d printing workflow

There are multiple steps within the workflow and these are broken down as :

  • Concept : what you want to create – be it a broken piece or a new design
  • 3d cad: design the article in 3d cad to suit the concept- taking into account 3d print design rules
  • Stl translation: translate the 3d cad file into a mesh file that is necessary for the slicer
  • Sliced: taking the mesh file and creating a layer file for the 3d pritner to be able to print
  • Gcode check: always worth examining the gcode to see if it will look anything like what you want.
  • Print: always a nervous time for the first layer but the exciting time to see the model grow
  • Post processing: removal of supports, stringing, if necessary holes enlargement painting.
  • Done: sit back and look at what you have created…..

let’s look at these in a little more detail.

Model concept

Something breaks, you find that you need a hanger for something, board game pieces

you have an idea that will revolutionize the beer drinking world, a missing piece from a board game….

All of these will spark off a need to build something.

So you buy a 3d printer.

It may happen the other way around – that you get a 3d printer and print a few models, get disappointed with some of the results and put it into the corner.

But sooner or later you find something that sparks that ‘i have something that will make that…’

You now have something in your head you want to bring into reality.

The first thing to do is to sketch it down with pencil and paper.

Look at it, can you imagine it doing what you need it to do.

Does it look like what you imagined.

Turn the paper, redraw it from a different angle.

Happy, well we can now commit to drawing it in a computer

3d cad programs

To some, now is the scary bit.3d cad drawing

But 3d cad programs have come a long way to helping the user.

Some of them have basic building blocks – square, cone, ball, and a few others .

With these simple shapes you can build up hugely complex models.

Or if you are more of an organic person there is software that starts out with a ball and you can pinch, extend, add blobs and mould to get the final model.

If you are used to cad programs at work – there will be similar ones – freecad, fusion 360, openscad or similar.

So you can create your model in the cloud or offline to the level of detail you want and the measurements you take.

You may need to come back to this later after actually printing it and adjust it slightly to make it fit – it is normal in industry to go through a few iterations or designs before the final model is accepted and this is what 3d printing excels at.

Stl file translation

To get the cad model into a form that your 3d printer knows what to do with takes a two stage process.

The above model from the cad program needs saving in a format that can be passed through a slicer – don’t worry this is explained below…

But slicers need models in a certain format.

So the cad programs can export the model as a mesh.

Think of the surface of the model, the skin being made up of triangles.

So a curve looked at through a magnifier would consist of loads of triangles rather than this smooth curve.

And all these triangles need to be the right way round for the model to be watertight – yep it means what it says – another word for it is manifold.

The model needs to have no gaps or meshes the wrong way round or the next process gets confused.

You can use a lot of the cad programs to see the meshes to check them or there are specific programs to check the model – like netfabb

The exported file is in the form of a stl file – yep those are the ones you download from places like thingiverse.

These are the files sent onto the final processing before getting to the physical model.

They are processed in programs called slicers….

3d Model slicers

To get the mesh models to print on a 3d printer you need to simplify what the outside or the surfaces are like.

The 3d printer is really a 2d printer that can be raised in height, so 3d printer slicer software

almost a 2.5d printer building it one layer at a time.

It can’t turn the extruder upside down to print things underneath, so it needs a process that formats the surfaces into layers.

Or slices…..

Hence the term slicer  – they convert your model into a number of slices that can be built up.

Understanding what slicer software can do, what you can change and what they have hidden is one of the keys to getting good 3d prints.

There are a few slicers out there, not all very user friendly and i hope in the future they will be built into the printer itself to make them easier to use…

We will see…

But in the meantime it can be one of the stumbling blocks for a 3d printing.

If we take one of the most common slicers, cura, and look at what you can adjust – currently ( april 2020) there are over 200 parameters in expert mode with everything turned on that you can adjust….

I don’t want to think of the number of permutations of changes you can make, but it will be in the billions.

This is one reason for quick and dirty prints, i keep an old version of cura ( all the old versions are still available) with it’s simple interface ( makes it a lot quicker to setup and get the file for printing as well)

I am also looking at another slicer with interest called slic3r, which prusa used to copy and add their own mods to, but they have now gone in their own direction and i will explore that one as well in the future.

But getting a slicer that works well with your printer makes your job here a lot easier.

This is the point where you are combining your cad with the material and the printer parameters.

You setup the materials, the rate of flow for the material, the layer height, the speed of the printer, and a few other settings.

Then you press slice, and it takes the model and creates a stack of 2d layers for the printer to understand.

This is the reason you get that characteristic ridged surface on the 3d printed model.

One thing i really would advise you to do is to check your gcode file ( this is the output of the slicer to be passed onto the 3d printer).

If you open the gcode in a program, you are not printing blind.

You can see what the printer will do, where it will start layers, where it will travel between printing parts, what it thinks is an inside surface and an outside face.

In small areas whether it will fill in the details or it will miss parts.

All of these can be sorted in the computer, within the limitations of the technology.

And there will be less failed prints and frustration…..

It is quicker and easier to make changes to the slicer now rather than waiting for the printer to finish…

Once the file has been checked and looks ok on the computer it is finally time to get it out into the world…

3d Printing

These have been around for a while now, they are getting better and easier to use.

The printer is in effect a 3 dimensional robot which lays down

3d printed cloth vase
cloth vase
by Sashko- thingiverse

material when commanded.

So the gcode file the slicer creates is the one that needs to be loaded into the printer for it to replicate the original model.

This can be done with a computer interface ( making sure the computer doesn’t go to sleep as printing times can be quite long ) or it can be transferred to a sd card ( always my preference)

I do smile when i read in forums that the print got to 90% and the computer decided to carry out an update to windows…..

One way around this is to put your internet connection on a metered connection and windows will always ask to update itself……

So you heat the hotend, insert the material you want the model in, select the file for the model and wait…..

The heat bed heats up, the hotend stabilises…and the nozzle moves towards the bed…..

And with its familiar dance across the print bed it starts to lay down material.

And questions start to arise in your head from memories past.

Will it stick to the build plate, did i level the bed enough, when was the last time i cleaned the bed, will i have another power cut…..

But fortunately in this case you have learned that to have the nozzle a little too close to the bed is better than too far away…

And you can cope with the little bit of squish to trim off after.

I always watch the first layer to gauge whether the model will stick.

And yes sometimes it does go wrong, but if you are there for the first layer then you can abort the print, clean the bed and start again.

Maybe even leveling the bed a little before stopping the print….

I do normally pop back to see how the model is going – i am fascinated with seeing it ‘grow’ from the print bed.

As the nozzle and the bed do their dance to create material in the right place to form what has been programmed.

And looking at the screen and seeing 100% with the nozzle lifted away and silent always puts a smile on my face.

And with a sigh i take the scraper and starting at a cornertry to remove the print from the bed.

And move forward to the next and final stage of the 3d printing workflow…

Post processing

Getting the model off the bed is not always an easy job…

I have seen numerous glass plates with chips out of them where the model has stuck and pulled a piece of glass form the plate.

Or in my case with the paper tape on the metal bed, i have ripped up the tape to remove the model from the bed, only to not be able to remove the tape from the model.

But with the model removed you can now hold it up, turn it  around – start to examine it .

Does it look like what you originally conceived, has your mind vision been translated into physical reality.

If it is something to replace a broken part, now is the moment of truth….

Does it fit…..

A lot of time you do need to fettle (technical term for filing, cutting and adjusting the size) things like hole sizes, depending on whether you left enough tolerance for the print.

This is where you will learn what your printer is capable of at the moment and can go through adjustments in the cad program and forward in the workflow ( so reducing the amount of material extruded ) to get a piece you know the size of.

Do you want a smooth finish, does it need a little more curvature.

All these post processing procedures can be now carried out on your model.

Smoother finishes can be material off or filling in the layer lines.

Then spraying with a finish.

More curvature can be change the cad file, or in the case of pla…

Place in a up of hot water – leave for a few seconds – remove and gently adjust  -hold until cool.

But now to have something that a little time ago was just a thought in your head, or a broken article that now has a new lease of life.

With a file that can be shared with everyone around the world to make.

For me it is one of the more magical moments.

I have made a few pieces for childrens doors, and the looks you get when they see it for the first time is really priceless.

Making lithophane lamps, which portray their favourite characters when lit up.

Or giving to grandparents an image of the grandkids when lit from behind.

Finally…

There are endless possibilities to create and repair things with a 3d printer.

Once you have got bitten with the bug you may never stop.

And you may not stop at one printer.

This is mainly due to the time it takes to create the prints….

So one becomes two….two become three…..you know how it is…..

But this workflow is something you get used to.

It looks a lot, but  lot of the time you will download the model in stl format, so shortening the workflow.

It relly is worth checking the model for manifold, and then after creating the gcode to reduce the disappointment.

And keeping your printer in good working condition, rather than waiting for something to break before repairing it.

You can’t cover everything and they will go wrong or need parts replaced.

So keeping spares in stock reduces the frustration of not being able to print now….

But i hope this has shown you a little of the workflow of 3d printing and has inspired you to give it a go…..

What ….no 3d printer….are you going to let a little thing like that stop you…..

Nowadays you can design the 3d model and order one online from 3d printing shops.

The model appears in a few days through the post.

You can then see how close you are to your vision.

So no excuses and it might make you take up the hobby…..

Thanks for reading

phil

Institute of 3D Printing : Is the 3d printing world ready for training?

So you bought yourself a 3d printer ….

Anet 3d Printer

It’s sitting on the table over there looking at you…

Waiting to be used….

Now you have browsed through thingiverse ( if its up) or Yeggi to find a 3d model you really like.

Downloaded it – seen the proof that it prints online….

So you give it a go….

That blob on your build plate looks nothing like the model….

What the ….

Where do you start to find out what you now do to create what you want…

Ah…Facebook- plenty of experts on there….

And you get plenty of advice

‘Try tweaking the filament size.

‘What about your belts

‘Turn on coasting

‘Turn off coasting

‘Loosen your belts….

You know the routine….

What do you do.

Who do you turn to for sound advice .

Someone who has years of solid experience.

Someone who has put together some 3d printing training…

Introducing the institute of 3d printing

Ed Tyson

Created by Ed Tyson.

Who some may recognize as the starting Rigid ink – selling filament.

Also the creator of the first 3d printing summit in Dec 2019.

Institute of 3D Printing

He has now opened a learning portal where you can find out about the wonderful hobby you have started.

What’s inside

Once you sign up and log in then you are presented with a dashboard showing the courses across the top as a menu.

Don’t skip the safety training, thinking you know it all .

We all know it, but it is worth just reviewing it again.

Once that is done then jump into the core course.

You get 6 modules within this course .

With the first two open straight away and the others following along at weekly intervals.

Then there is the advanced slicer mastery.

Taking on the three main slicers of the day.

Cura, Prusaslicer and Simplify 3d.

Cura Slicer

Go in depth into each setting.

Get to know simplify 3d before you put your hand into your pocket

and buy it.

Do you like the interface, do you think you will get on with it.

Prusaslicer

See what your tutor thinks of it as she takes you through what each

element does and how it affects your prints.

Get the same stl files to slice and print – see what differs between what they get and what you do.

See you progress across the bottom as you complete each module.

Simplify 3d slicer

If you need faster help then there is the ‘ask an expert’ – where you can ask an expert for help on specific printing problems.

Show off your finished print – show the difference between what you started with and what you ended up with and how you got there.

Find the friendly community of like minded 3d printerers who want to improve their prints.

Take a deep dive into the monthly masterclasses.

New topics and more indepth step by step methods of getting there.

Or download the podcasts, to listen to while traveling to work, on your lunchbreak or just a bit of downtime.

Get to know how the experts do it and their tips – put these into action and see your results improve.

Download the free resources – the ultimate beginners guide to 3d printing and the ultimate 3d print quality troubleshooting guide.

Both very valuable resources.

And finally sign up for the monthly newsletter.

This will keep you up todate with any news, success stories , what’s happening – so you don’t miss out on anything within the institute.

And that about covers it.

But i hope you will agree that there is a tremendous amount of information available within the institute.

 What did i think

Ed sent me an offer for a two week free trial.

So i thought about it and decided to sign up.

The clean interface with the drop down menu give you quick access to the courses you want to go to.

Going through the safety training video reminded me to start a maintenance log.

Ad to check that all the connections were still tight.

Would i get a fireball extinguisher , i tend not to leave the printer unattended so not at the moment.

Watching Adam go through the basics of the 3d printer and then onto bed leveling was interesting.

A good explanation of 3 point and 4 point leveling – reasons for and against.

There were stl’s to download and try out for bed leveling – this way you can go back to them and ask questions knowing that they know what you are printing.

There were only a couple of extra lessons within there at the time i joined and i hope that there will be many more very quickly.

Each of the lessons with downloadable resources were about 20 mins long.

So you won’t be having ‘that look’ as you come back into the family room.

Going through the advanced slicers course i chose Cura to start with – as that is the one i use most often.

Ed has chosen to focus on three of the main ones – cura, prusaslicer and simplify 3d.

I am sure as requests come in there maybe more added to the list…

Susan, you tutor takes you through each of the menus and what they mean to your prints.

I did pick up a few tips to improve my printing – so thank you Ed, Susan and the team.

Even if you don’t use the other slicers it is worth going through the training to see what they are like – especially simplify 3d.

If you like what you see then you may be able to justify it a bit more.

As they go through lessons you will pick up tips on how to change the quality of your prints.

Again there were a limited number of modules and they are still releasing them.

I don’t remember going through the prusaslicer training or it wasn’t available but i expect it will be up to the high standard of the other two.

The rigid ink mascot does get moved around the bed a lot within these videos – but it is one that can be used as a test piece.

Shame i didn’t see a download for it.

I didn’t try the ask an expert, but seeing who the experts are – the trainers, i can feel assured that the answers would have been correct or at least would move me a lot closer to getting my print quality where i want it.

And you can go back, with the continuity of them knowing what you have been doing…

The podcast wasn’t available, but after watching the 3d printing summit late last year I am certain that the visitors or the information given will be of high value and worth listening to.

Who would I recommend it for

3d printing is still in it’s infancy.

I cannot go on a 3d printing design course ( i may be proven wrong).

Learning about the rules of design for 3d printing- it is normally left to the individual to find the rules and apply them.

I did find a few years ago a cad program dedicated for 3d printing, but it was a paid for program and soon disappeared, unfortunately.

In the meantime learning about 3d printing consists of reading the help from the slicer programs and trying to interpret what they mean.

Sorting out whether the printing problem you have is due to the slicer or a hardware problem is again down to you – or asking the FB experts…

Now what you have is someone who has put together a learning platform for beginners through to experts.

Where they can all ask an expert and know that the experts have practical knowledge.

Learn the terminology of 3d printing and find out how to apply it to your printing.

Keep up to date with changes in the slicers and know what are gimmicks and what will improve the quality of your prints.

And there is even a short course on using meshmixer to manifold your models and manipulate them.

Seeing dink with a dragons arm is an interesting concept, but shows what can be accomplished.

But i would say it really doesn’t matter at what level you are at – there will be something to improve your print quality or print process.

As there is no contract and you can sign up and leave when you need to it is worth keeping their site in a bookmark – just in case you come up against a problem you think ‘i need to have a rational conversation with an expert to solve this’, rather than all the noise you get on social media.

And you get to go through the latest training…

So seriously , check it out – see if the two week trial offer is still there, if not signup for a month and see what you think.

I will be dipping back in in a bit…

Maybe see you in there….

Anet a8 upgrades : Adding Led Light to See Your Prints

What Anet A8 upgrades have you done?

Buying a 3d printer is exciting.

Putting together an Anet A8 can be frustrating but rewarding.

what are we prinitng
what are we prinitng?

Printing with it is brilliant.

But one problem is that you cannot see what you are printing! Continue reading Anet a8 upgrades : Adding Led Light to See Your Prints

Anet A8 problems – Are They Real?

Anet A8 3d printer – A fire hazard out of the box?Anet A8 problems : Anet A8 3d printer

There has been a lot of talk on the internet about the Anet A8 problems.

I disagree that it is in itself dangerous.

The Anet A8 printer has sold in its thousands and is continuing to sell.

There will always be problems selling a product in this quantity and due to the fact you put it together there is another factor at play.

I have one of these machines and at the moment it is working fine.

The areas that are of concern are :

  1. The power supply is not up to the job.

  2. The mosfets on the main board for the bed and nozzle are not up to the job.

  3. The connector for the heated bed is not up to the job.

  4. The frame is not up to the job.

With all of these known problems it is a wonder that it sell in the quantities it does! Continue reading Anet A8 problems – Are They Real?

Ups for a 3d Printer: Do you need one?

Why would you need a UPS for a 3d printer?

UPS for a 3d printer can be useful to prevent interruptions (#amazon link)

Why do you need a UPS for a 3d printer?

Let me describe the scenario…

You have spent a lot of time on your 3d printer, adding this and that mod, improving the quality and repeatability of your prints. So now you can slice a model and print it knowing that it will be as good as it can be.

Ok, now for the big one. The 100 hour print,the one you keep putting off knowing it will tie up your printer for over 4 days – but it will be worth it. Continue reading Ups for a 3d Printer: Do you need one?

How to smooth PLA prints

Smooth PLA prints – how to achieve them

Have you ever wondered how to smooth PLA prints – if so read on…

You have invested money into your printer, and time if you have built it yourself.

You have got to know how it works and are happy that you can download and print within its capabilities.

But some days you look at the prints and think why is there not a vapour bath for PLA as there is for ABS?

Well I’m not here to tell you there is a safe bath available for PLA, but that there is an easy way to get your models to look polished.

As most of you are aware the finish of your model will depend on the layer height you select when you slice it.

But as with most things there is a downside to picking the smallest layer height you can – time and lots of it.

You can quickly go up from an hour to 5 hours or more by going down in layer height. Continue reading How to smooth PLA prints

Where to place your 3d printer for the best results

person shrugging

So you have bought yourself a 3d printer- excellent, now- where to place your 3d printer for the best results.

With the helpful hints in this post you can be sure that if you follow them you will get the best results from your 3d printer. Continue reading Where to place your 3d printer for the best results

3d printing ideas for students

3d printing ideas for students

Teaching students is an excellent career, you can use your skills to bring to life your subject – to get the student enthused in your area of expertise.

Being able to stand in front of a class of student and to try to keep 3d printing ideas for students: classroom

their attention for more than 140 characters must be extremely difficult.

Nowadays you have an advantage, by using technology you can get your student engaged in their learning. Continue reading 3d printing ideas for students