Tag Archives: additive manufacturing

Evaluation of Preform 0.8.1

As I was explaining in my previous post, the form1 printer software is still a work in progress. Some bugs have been squashed with the 0.8.1, but some remains and I’d like to go though the some of the current challenges that a fellow formers might encounter. The first ones are the most critical in my opinions…

Object skin is not always sticking to the filling

[I’ve submitted this bug #1123 to the community board]

I’ve chosen the impossible heart brain teaser available in Thingiverse to see how very simple and smooth pieces would print… First it was not a brilliant idea to print it without supports. I had to use a clamp to pry apart the pieces from the platform and in the process damaged a bit the puzzle surface.

impossibleHeart_plateAndAssembly

But the real issue was, as some of the Reuleaux spheres in my previous post, the perimeters on some of the pieces didn’t stuck and I ended-up with a ugly result. What you see behind are the back and forth inside filling profiles. My hunch is, depending on the pealing direction, the perimeters might not be completely merged with the filling leaving a weak spot in the structure…

impossibleHeart_peallingPerimeters

If I was Formlabs, I would try to extend the filling paths so that it overlap at least the last perimeter to make sure everything is correctly glued together.

impossibleHeart_extendedFilling

[.form file]

25 microns prints non sticking to the platform…

This point a a bit a hit or miss. I’ve followed the advice in the community forum that using the “grey 25 microns” material profile was increasing the chance of sticking and so far I had 2 out of 3 prints working. The sticking might be affected by the location of the print on the plate and the orientation of the base platform. If you have a long platform, turn it so that the peeling starts on a small side.

To solve this it would be great to have more control on the laser, like being able to set the speed of the scan, the number of repetitions, the number of perimeters. That would open quite a few possibilities and for the most advanced users it could be a great way to experiment.

Overlapping supports are creating pockets of uncured resin

[I’ve submitted this bug #448 to the community board, and it’s marked as closed]

That one is strange but apparently it’s already fixed for the next revision. The problem arise when the software decides to place 2 supports so close that they are overlapping. In this case the internal filling back and forth of the laser is missing at the intersection. That will create a hole of uncured resin and I it’s safe to assume the support strength is gone…
[.form file to test]

supportsHoles

Peripheral loops are overlapping on very thin walls

[I’ve submitted this bug #1124 to the community board]

Preform is drawing 3 loops around perimeters. These loops are continuous and when the geometry has a very thin wall, these perimeters will get inverted and even create filling outside of the geometry… (Yes I know it’s not clear, just look a the picture to understand the issue…)
[.form file to test]

outsideFilling

That’s all for today 🙂 If you have any comment or extra bug to report on this release please comment I’ll investigate them!

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Giant 3D Printed dice!

Two weeks ago I helped my friend Tristan Convert present his crazy shape dice game called Dice Age at the Kubla-Con. This is a big board gaming convention in the bay area and we had the honor to be located in the lobby where everyone was passing. Explaining the rules tens of time loudly to cover the back noise was demanding on our voice but the experience was interesting.

RealSizeDice

Dice age is a fast pace (10~15 minutes), two player game were both player are using strange shape dice that represent fighters and effects to destroy the opponent castle. Tristan is currently molding and painting each dice by hand which is a herculean task. Participating at the convention was the best way to validate that the current set of rules was working and ready for the prime time. The short term goal is to find an industrialization solution to use plastic injection and mass produce the final product. While the game is interesting in its current form, we needed something to attract people eyes. So two weeks before the convention we decided to print a giant 300% set of these dice for the show.

3scales_theorem

You can see in the previous picture the real size dice, hand molded by Tristan and with the magic of 3D printer the giant versions of the same dice. The middle one was an error of “casting” as I made a mistake in the scale and got 200% instead of 300%…

green_with_support

Each of these dice was about 15cm side and took 8 to 12 hours to print on the 3D touch. I had to experiment to figure out what printing angle was the best to get supports that could get cleaned easily. My process was to use the free version of Nettfab to scale and rotate properly the original STL, then using Kisslicer for the slicing/supports/G-code generation.

GreenCleaned

In most of the case the supports are relatively easy to remove, provided you avoid large horizontal surfaces that needs to be supported. In this case a knife and patience are the only way to get rid of the support and the final surface finish is not really clean.

OrangeYellowRedLarge GreenDiceLarge

After a marathon print session were the printer was working 24/7 for more than a week and hand painting using standard acrylic paint, the result was a stunning set of 12 giant dice that did the show for us and attracted many players and photographs.

GlobalView

Next step is to use these printed dice as master to cast a foam version of the giant set 🙂

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3D Printing ecosystem

Today let’s have a look at the 3D printing ecosystem. In previous posts, I’ve covered specific points like online communities, 3D scanners and the evolution of manufacturing that led to 3D printing. This will be a global overview of all important actors that have stakes in additive manufacturing.

An Ecosystem, Really?

An interesting aspect of 3D printing is that it’s spreading everywhere. Individuals and businesses are exploring and using it alike. Individuals population is restricted right now to makers/hackers/doers but it will hopefully change overtime.

Speaking of makers, we went to the Maker fair this weekend in the bay area. And this year Formlabs was participating, and I have to say the quality of the prints was stunning! And this morning I just received the confirmation that my printer is being shipped so I’ll post update as soon as I get it.

Now let’s start with this ecosystem! I’ve split it in 4 areas with:

  1. The needs : why would you even consider it?
  2. The software : How to do generate the input data file?
  3. The hardware : Nature of the beast!
  4. The users : with a distinction between Individuals and the business side.

3dPrinting_ecosystem

1/ The Needs

For professionals rapid prototyping is a great way to visualize early in the development process any design. But in some case it ca also be used to manufacture one of a kind mechanical piece that would be impossible or too expensive to mold or machine from a piece of metal.

Because 3D printer are not yet main stream, right now only technical inclined individuals (doers/makers) will have the patience to tweak a printer. They will use it to create things like games, repair household, learning tools, arts or even print any crazy projects! Note that manufacturers are really trying hard to make these printer easy to use, so the population capable of using one will increase.

needs_pictures
Sources [1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6]

2/ Software

Without models, a 3d printer is not really useful. Professionals have access to complete CAD software or modelers that costs thousands and need an extensive training. They can also acquire a scene/object using 3D scanners.

Individuals have simpler and mostly free tools available, some of then browser base to create new shapes. Some services like 123D let them rebuild a geometry from a series of picture. Note that most of the pro software are available for free or cheap provided you are or know a student willing to lend his name 🙂

software_pictures

3/ Hardware

Now the range of printer available is only limited by your budget. Each printer can go from $100ks to a few hundreds for the cheap FDM kits.

Professional have access to cindering machine that can print metal/ceramic on very large volumes. The cheap printers are today limited to filament extrusion but there is a intermediate class of device (for prosumer) few $k offers very nice accuracy like the Form 1 stereolithography printer.

printer_pictures
Sources [1], [2], [3], [4]

4/ Users

As for the 3D printing world actors, there is a consolidation going on to group the resources.  Some R&D centers that have a printer for themselves but, like machine shops, it does not make sense (yet) for every business to have a printer in house. So website are proposing a printing service on a large selection of material. These website are even trying to attract casual/pro designers that can expose their creation and let people order them with a markup. Printer manufacturers are also creating online communities to let user upload design. Thingiverse is one of the biggest community and very useful to find preexisting models.

users_pictures

Here is my view of the 3D printing ecosystem, if you have any comments please comment!

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