I’ve not posted for a few days now, because I was experimenting with my new printer. I came across this 3D touch printer from Bits from Bytes and it was the perfect tool to start experimenting on 3D printer while waiting for the Form1.
It’s a Fused deposition modeling type that can print ABS and PLA plastics. Like any technology there is usually no silver bullet and these printer are quite complementary to stereolithographic ones:
- Wild variety of printable materials, with different colors and mechanical properties. The main ones are PLA and ABS. PLA is a recyclable plastic made from corn than can be dissolved in hot water over the course of multiple days. ABS is stiffer and better for mechanical pieces but not as ‘green’. But you can find also ‘wood’ filament, nylon or even recently an elastic/flexible filament has been announced. From the way the extruder head works in this printer I don’t think I will be able to print this elastic filament.
- The printing materials are “cheap”, the starting price is around ~$30 for a spool of 1kg of PLA. Specialized materials/colors are of course more expensive but at least the basic material is affordable. There are also initiative to build/sell filament extuders so you can even recycle your own trash plastic. I would be worried about the fumes that some plastics are releasing while melting and wouldn’t try these apparatus with PVC for example (but maybe HCl is only created when the plastic is burned?)…
- With FDM you can print hollow or partially filled objects. The internal structure will add structural strength while keeping the weight down. It’s also a great way to save maters and produce cheaper parts.
- The printer can have multiple extruder heads, so an object can be made out of different colors/materials. It’s also possible to print supports in PLA and the main object in ABS, so once the print is finished, the support can be dissolved without affecting the object.
- The print accuracy & reliability can be difficult to reach. These printer are still not main stream and requires a lot of fiddling and tuning to get the best result. One of the main challenge is to have the first layers adhere to the print bed. If the temperature, calibration, surface state is not perfect the print will not work. Once the adhesion is working, the surface quality, over-hang and seams marks are some of the few challenges that needs to be cleared…
- The laser curing enable high accuracy and reliability
- The printer can have fewer moving parts, so it’s easier to calibrate/operate
- Cost of the resins, even with the Kickstarter preferential cost, the liter of resin has been announced at ~$120. The materials are also usually not really nice and a bit toxic when uncured. The choice of resins are also more limited in color and mechanical properties.
- With the ‘vat of resin’ design, it’s difficult to build an hollow object, unless there is an escape hole to flush the resin at the end. This will translate in higher cost of the final parts.
But enough talk, let’s have a look to my first prints 🙂 I’ve spend quite some time calibrating the bed to make sure it was horizontal to the head axis. The first print was one of the example given by BFB in ABS. While the layers were quite coarse, the end result is quite impressive, very sturdy and light.
For the second try I’ve selected the one piece Penrose triangle that I’ve put on Thingiverse.