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.

Preparing the printer bed

Starting your print

Removing your print

Changing the filament

Preparing the printer bed

  • To prepare the bed you’ll need to first remove it from the printer.  Grab it underneath the red MakerBot lettering and slide it toward you until it’s free from the support arms. 2016-10-05 10.27.22
  • Remove any leftover tape that is on the bed and then, using an isopropyl alcohol wipe (found in the black toolbox), wipe the bed clean making sure to clean the whole area where your print will sit.
  • Once the alcohol has dried (a few minutes) apply a single layer of blue painter’s tape (either next to the printer or in the black toolbox) to cover the area where your print will sit on the bed.  Be generous, it’s better to cover more area than less.  Try to minimize spaces between pieces of tape and make sure not to overlap them either. preparing the sled
  • Using a piece of flexible plastic such a ruler, credit card, or piece of acrylic, smooth the tape on the bed.  Use a razor (toolbox) to trim any tape that overlaps the sides of the bed.preparing the sled
  • Reinsert the bed into the printer.  It should slide in smoothly if properly aligned.  Occasionally the edges will not sit flush with the support arms so you’ll need to “snap” the edges of the arm around the bed to ensure the surface remains flat.
preparing the sled
Improper bed placement; see how it sticks up above the support arm on the right side.
preparing the sled
Much better!
  • When you’re done the bed should look like this:

preparing the sled

Staring your print

  • Make sure the bed is properly prepared and the USB drive with your prepared file is inserted into the printer.
  • Using the rotating scroll wheel navigate to the Print tile in the display and then press the scroll wheel to select Print. print makerbot
  • Navigate to USB Storage and click the scroll wheel to select. It may take up to a minute for the printer to load the files from the USB drive so be patient.

print makerbot usb

  • Navigate to your file and click to select.

print makerbot project

  • Once your file is selected you’ll get a small preview and some other info related to print settings. Select Print and the printer will begin heating the extruder.

print makerbot project

print makerbot getting ready

print makerbot heating

  • It will then move to the center of the bed and touch off to locate the bed height. After that, it heats to final temperature, lays down a bead of material near the front of the bed, and begins printing.

print makerbot move to position

print makerbot move to position

print makerbot final heating

  • If you selected to print with a raft (generally the way to go) then it’ll start with that and, once complete, commence with your actual print.
print makerbot sled making
Starting to print the raft
  • Unless the raft is huge then we recommend you stick around to see that it completes the raft and begins laying down your print. It should only take 10-15 minutes for it to complete the raft and, if there were going to be issues, they would likely arise during the raft printing.
  • Once the raft is done and it’s printing away you can check the display for an estimated print time and percent completion.

print makerbot

Removing your print

  • Congratulations, your print finished! At this point you’ll need to get it out of the printer.  Start by removing the bed from the printer.  2016-10-05 10.27.22
  • Make sure the bed is on a stable, flat surface.  Insert one of the edges of the print removal tool (red and black handle) under the raft on your part (but above the tape) and begin to wiggle it back and forth to work it further under.  Don’t force it all at once, just slowly wiggle it under.  Do this in a few spots around sides of the raft. 2016-10-05 10.24.252016-10-05 10.24.50
  • Once you’ve gotten the edge of the tool a little bit under the raft (1/4″ or more)  you can lift the tool up which will start to dislodge the print from the raft.  Be careful here as PLA is fairly rigid and may break if bent too sharply.  Do many small lifts to fully dislodge your part, it should snap free after a few tries.  2016-10-05 10.25.19
  • With your part free you just need to remove the raft from the print.  The raft can be broken free without any tools.  Start pushing the edge of the raft back from your part and work your way around.  It should start to break free and then will snap off quickly.  Again, be patient and work all the way around the part before applying too much force.  2016-10-05 10.26.17
  • The tape will likely get damaged in the process.  After your part is free just peel off and dispose of the tape and insert the printer bed back into the printer for the next person.

 

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”