I’m back in full beauty!
As I might have said at some point back in the days of this ageing blog, there is a workshop for a different device every Wednesday evening at the happylab I “belong to”.
After a 2-week workshop break because of…. to be honest, I don’t know why and I don’t really care.
Back on topic: This week, it was the 3D printers turn to shine and I am about to tell you what I got out of it.
The presentation started with a disclaimer which went something like “We just assume that you already have a 3D printable .stl-file, because explaining how to model stuff would make this presentation go way overboard.”
That’s cool. I still don’t really have a clue how to design now, but I do not think that this is going to be a huge problem with all the know-how floating freely on the Internet!
So we went right down to the technical stuff of what our cute “Dimension BST” can do. Let’s go then, shall we?
First of all, it is one of those that prints ABS-plastic and a support material for printing overhangs.
It prints by ejecting a molten string of plastic on a building plate and doing so layer by layer (for the other types of printers, check here http://making-a-maker.com/3d-printers-right-now/ ).
At our Fab-Lab, there is 2 of those, one is a bit older, and the other one is it’s straight upgrade.
Now finally for the technical stuff.
The “resolution” of the newer printer is 0.17 mm, which means that it ejects plastic strings with said thickness. This is actually quite good, but don’t expect printing anything where you cannot feel the ripples.
It also has a smart system where it puts the support material under any overhang your 3D Model might have, so you can’t really fuck it up yourself.
If you want to spend the least money possible on a print though, try flipping your file in a way so it needs the least support material (there is a function for that in the software too, but it is apparently not that reliable).
There is no way to use no support material at all though, because it is always going to put a thin layer on your building plate so you can actually get the bloody thing off it afterwards.
And there we are, the building plate! There is quite a surprising thing about that one, too (surprising for me at least).
The thing is that you cannot print on the same spot twice, if you tried doing so, the build would fail horribly.
You can choose a spot on the plate that has not been used yet, the driver let’s you do that, but you have to watch out for the remnants of some other model because the print head could get stuck on it.
Another important limitation is that you cannot really print anything reliably that is less than 0.7 mm thick (at least not if it has a height too), and that the build room is limited to 20x20x30 cm.
Last but not least, the cost. The cost of the material is measured in cubic centimetres and one is about 80 cents with the new printer, and around 50 cents with the old one. The way they handle this from an organisation standpoint is by making you fill out a form on how much your print is going to use BEFORE you start the print (you see it in the software), because you cannot bring your own material for the printer.
These prices don’t really sound like much (or maybe they do to you), but it is actually quite a bit. There are some options to reduce the material used though. One of them is the option to not completely fill the insides of a solid print with the material, but rather make a honeycomb-structure inside of it. This uses less material, makes the print lighter and still gives it most of its stability.
Well, I hope this wasn’t too boring, but I wanted to forward that information to you because I have been looking for it on the internet too, and didn’t find anything.
I think this wraps up the “lecture” on 3D Printing =)