First prints with Ultimaker

I just got the Ultimaker 3 Extended set up a week before the holidays but I completed two prints before the break. 

The first print I did was a standard 3D printing benchmark, #3DBenchy.  It came out really well, much better than the one I’d made earlier with the Makerbot.  Here’s the Ultimaker 3 print (white) next to the Makerbot print (red), both in PLA:2016-12-29-14-46-42 2016-12-29-14-47-02

The Ultimaker print looks better in many ways although the comparison is a bit unfair given that white is pretty forgiving while glossy red isn’t.  Continue reading “First prints with Ultimaker”

Using the 3D printer

In this post we’ll describe the steps you’ll need to follow to get your print running on the 3D printer.  Before you can use the printer you’ll need to prepare your file using the info found here.  Below are the steps listed in the approximate order you’ll want to follow. Continue reading “Using the 3D printer”

File Preparation

Here I’ll walk you through the steps to prepare your files for printing in the Makerbot 5th Generation 3D printer.

You can either prepare your file on your own and bring it in on a USB drive or prepare your file on one of the computers in the Fab Lab and then transfer it using one of our USB drives.  Either way these instructions should help get you started.  If you’re doing it on your own then you’ll want to download and install the Makerbot Desktop software.  (The newer Makerbot Print software isn’t that functional with our older-model printer.)

To prepare your print you’ll need a obtain or create a .stl file of the object you’d like to print.  There are lots of websites where you can download already prepared .stl files of 3D-printable objects but you can also create your own .stl files from pretty much any CAD or solid modeling software (links to follow).

Once you have obtained or created your .stl file follow the steps below to prepare it for the printer.  Makerbot has a step by step tutorial you can follow but I’ll walk you through my workflow so you can know how we have been doing it here. There is also detailed help info available on the Makerbot website if you’re interested in learning more about the software. Continue reading “File Preparation”

Sources for 3D Printer Files

Many of the parts we’ve made on the 3D printer so far have been ones we’ve downloaded, not drawn ourselves. Given the huge number of 3D printer files available online it’s always good idea to check a few sites first to see if someone’s already gone to the trouble to make up a file for the part you want to make so you don’t have to draw it up yourself.

Here are a few of the many sites where you can find files to use with 3D printers. Since the 3D printers we have use .stl files look for that type of file first but it’s possible to convert other solid model file types (like files from Fusion 360 or Solidworks) into .stl files fairly easily.

  • Thingverse – I always check here first. Models usually work great on our printer.
  • GrabCAD – most models won’t be in .stl format but there are many more engineering-type models here than on Thingverse
  • MyMiniFactory – Haven’t used this much either but it appears to have some nice models
  • YouMagine
  • Pinshape
  • 3D Warehouse
  • 123D from Autodesk – Haven’t used this one but it appears to have a lot of models and might be worth some exploration.
  • Turbosquid – never used it but appears to have lots of models, lots aren’t free though
  • stlfinder – search engine for .stl files, uses above sites plus others
  • yeggi – another .stl search engine

Feel free to send me links to other sites you’ve used to find .stl files.

Makerbot Replicator 5th Generation

A faculty member on sabbatical has loaned us his Makerbot Replicator 5th generation 3D printer. We got the printer in June 2016 and have made lots of cool plastic parts with it. (Dec 2016 Update: over 500 hours printing so far!)

Here are some key specifications:

  • Fused Filament Fabrication(FFF)/Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) – filament is melted and extruded onto a build platform
  • Material – PLA (polylactic acid) plastic filament, single extruder (one color at a time, no dissolvable support)
  • Build Volume – 10″wide x 8″ deep x 6″ high
  • Minimum layer thickness – 0.100mm
  • File format – .stl (stereolithography) solid model
  • File transfer to printer – Many options, but we prefer USB flash drive

The printer is amazingly easy to use and has done a great job on the 20 or 30 things we’ve made thus far. I’ll be adding posts about file preparation and printer operation soon. The printer is open to anyone in the Reed community, contact me if you’d like to try it out.

Here and here are a few fun things we’ve made with the printer so far.

Science and Math 3D prints

We’ve used the 3D printer to make all sorts of things but the bulk of what we’ve made has something to do with science or math.

An older post discussed 3d printed meissner tetrahedra and I’ve made more of them but smaller and in blue filament.  The first photo shows them as they’re being built.  You can see how the printer deals fills internal space of a solid object with a certain amount of infill.  You can set the infill from 0% (open space) to 100% (solid plastic).  This is about 40% infill.

Tetrahedra under construction. You can see the raft they're sitting on and the infill filling the void inside the shapes.
Tetrahedra under construction. You can see the raft they’re sitting on and the infill filling the void inside the shapes.

Continue reading “Science and Math 3D prints”

Sources for 3D Printer Files

Many of the parts we’ve made on the 3D printer so far have been ones we’ve downloaded, not drawn ourselves.  Given the huge number of 3D printer files available online it’s always  good idea to check a few sites first to see if someone’s already gone to the trouble to make up a file for the part you want to make so you don’t have to draw it up yourself.

Here are a few of the many sites where you can find files to use with 3D printers.  Since the 3D printers we have use .stl files look for that type of file first but it’s possible to convert other solid model file types (like files from Fusion 360 or Solidworks) into .stl files fairly easily.

  • Thingverse – I always check here first.  Models usually work great on our printer.
  • GrabCAD – most models won’t be in .stl format but there are many more engineering-type models here than on Thingverse
  • Turbosquid – never used it but appears to have lots of models, lots aren’t free though
  • stlfinder – search engine for .stl files, uses above sites plus others
  • yeggi – another .stl search engine

Feel free to send me links to other sites you’ve used to find .stl files.

Meissner Tetrahedra

I was contacted by Prof. Kyle Ormsby in the Math Department a while back about a project he was working on with his new 3D printer, a recent-generation Makerbot.  The idea was to create a few “bodies of constant width”.  A sphere is the simplest body of constant width but it turns out there are others as well.

Here’s the requisite link to the Wikipedia paragraph on Meissner Bodies. There are lots of cool things about these objects and this video really sums a lot of it up.  The cool thing is that they can act like ball bearings even though they’re not round.

Kyle wanted to make a few of these objects on his printer but it turns out that drawing them up into a 3D model is relatively complex.  I’ve been using Solidworks whenever I have the chance to help visualize projects or assemblies and it turns out that it’s great for this application as well.

Unfortunately I haven’t had the time (and I’m not sure I’m even capable given my level of Solidworks competency) to draw them up but the internet giveth in the form of GrabCAD, a site that hosts lots and lots of free CAD models the people have drawn up and posted.  As you can imagine, someone had drawn up some surfaces of constant width and posted them.

MeissnerSW
Meissner Tetrahedron from SW file drawn by GrabCAD user that I opened up using Reed’s Solidworks License.

Continue reading “Meissner Tetrahedra”