3D Printing, The Experience (Part 2)

By January 8, 20153D printing, 3D World, My Life

Welcome to the “Part 2” of the three piece article on my 3D printing Experience at UMC Rostock. In case you missed or forgot what I was talking about in the “Part 1” please go Here. Let’s get right back into the story. At this point we were waiting on a specific piece of software to be later used as a DICOM – STL conversion tool. But a lot had to be done, learned, trialed and tested before we moved on to the “real stuff”. So I figured, the best course of action until the software would be available, is to 3D print various objects of different complexities and characteristics. From simple objects of various shapes and sizes, to more complex objects, where one has to consider the orientation of the model on the build-plate in order to optimize the usage of materials in supports, but more importantly minimize the chances of issues during the process (under-extrusions, holes in layers, skipped layers, the nozzle tipping over the print mid-print etc.).

3rdphoto

For starters, a photo of comparison between my first 3D print (the Ultimaker robot) and the 3D printed object that I received with the UM2 right out of the box. The Ultimaker company always includes a test print (the red object on the photo) as a show of what your specific 3D printer can do. Why doesn’t the printer achieve the same quality (as the red part) right out of the box, is a mystery to me – but let’s assume it’s because the printer gets shaken up during shipping and NOT (wink, wink) because Ultimaker just wants you to learn everything the HARD way (which I prefer by the way).

Needless to say, I was a bit disappointed with the first result, well the upper two thirds of it at least. But seeing and hearing a 3D printer hum and print away for the first time wiped that disappointment instantly, as I knew I was hooked on 3D printing and would enjoy learning and trial&testing for years to come.

I went on to print two more objects at a much better quality as the initial one, which I was able to achieve by playing around with a few settings (like print speed, cooling fan starting time, retraction etc.) Both models were downloaded from Thingiverse – an online library owned and run by Makerbot. The library is well stocked and you can find some really interesting and useful objects on it. I feel I have to, at this point also mention Youmagine.com which is Ultimaker’s answer to Makerbot’s Thingiverse. My personal opinion on both companies, their pros and cons I might publish in a different post, but for now back to the story.

thepikachu
The Pikachu in Traffic Red.

therabbit
The Low-poly Rabbit in Ultimaker Blue.

What I’ve quickly learned on this second an third print (the pikachu and bunny) is that the final quality of print depends on so many factors not just the obvious ones like layer resolution, print speed, leveling of the print bed (hugely important and crucial to be checked every few prints and releveled if necessary, glue or no glue on the print bed, Kapton tape or no Kapton tape etc.

To name a few, how the model was made, was it prepared for printing (for models published on 3D printing libraries one would expect all of that was taken care off however…), is it clean (does it have any holes, are the faces all turned properly or are any of the faces turned inside out) or “water tight”. Trust no one, always check, clean and prep the model on your own before going to print instead of blindly trusting modelers, wasting time + material which equals wasting money. Was the scaling done properly, when modeling for 3D printing (or any other 3D modeling actually), scaling or sizing is extremely important, are the print bed (if heated) temperature and nozzle temperature adjusted properly and much much more…

In the “Part 3” of my “3D Printing – The Experience, I will wrap up my experience with 3D printing at UMC Rostock with images of my final 3D prints (as no, I didn’t go there to print cartoon characters and funny bunnies), which on a very tight deadline and in the last days of my stay there, proved to all of us that it CAN be done. Based on those results I will continue developing this project further.

I will also put together a list of things to consider when buying a 3D printer, things to watch out for in all 3 major stages of 3D printing (preparation-stage, printing-stage, postprocess-stage) based on my personal experience and knowledge.

If You, the Reader, have any questions in connection to 3D printing, I will happily answer them and help You out in any way I can… (leave a comment don’t be shy :) or contact me directly). We need to share the knowledge, experience and the Love for 3D printing and connect the Makers.

Looking forward to my next stage of the 3D Printing Journey.

To be continued...

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