Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Building and using the Prusa i3 MK2 3D Printer - Dad and Daughter Kit build

The Prusa i3 MK2 3D Printer

It's early September and I had a surprise delivery from none other than Josef Prusa. It was double the surprise when I realised - not only did Jo send me a shiny new fully assembled and tested MK2 i3 Prusa 3D Printer, but he also included a kit build of parts for the same machine too. Wow!

For anyone that does not already know, the i3 is a many-times evolved version of the RepRap Mendel (And a bit of the Mendel90 is there too), a design by Ed Sells that quickly got simplified by Josef Prusa, and then highly adopted all around the RepRap 3D Printing community - we are talking around 2010 ~ 2011.

After removing the assembled machine from it's well packed box, the first thing I spotted was a dual colour 3D Print Prusa logo fixed to the heated bed. It made me smile for many reasons, but mostly because it reminded me of the first time I met Jo. This was at the very first RepRap UK Masterclass in Bath University - the birthplace of RepRap.

This RepRap event turned out to be a rather epic meeting, organised by Adrian Bowyer (RepRap Ltd) and Jean-Marc from eMaker who had just had a successful crowd-sourcing campaign for the eMaker Huxley. You can read all about that event, and see what we did, but for me it was also just when I had first posted all about my attempts to do multi-colour 3D printing by selecting different layers. People had read about the post and talked to me at the RepRap Masterclass event. Jo has now done a really nice application (called colorprint < American spelling...) where you can also add colour changes, you can get that here, and that's why the Dual colour Prusa logo on the build-plate made me smile :)

RepRap Masterclass July 3rd 2011 - Bath university (UK) - Image (C) by Dr Andrew Dent.
RepRap Masterclass July 2011 - Photograph above is by Dr Andrew Dent (Faberdashery) - who I also met for the very first time at the build weekend, just before Faberdashery was launched.
I'm on the far left and Josef Prusa is front far right.

After looking over the machine and it's components I obviously asked a few questions, many had an interesting story attached and really highlights why using your own products in production makes for a much better product being sold.

Firstly the heated bed is really solid, but not heavy - it's not an Aluminium plate and it's also not the standard bendy PCB material you normally find fitted to 'i3 style' machines.

This heated bed is the thickest FR4 PCB material I have ever seen. It's ~3.6mm thick and during it's manufacture it has also been compressed - for flatness and to make everything more solid.

I work in electronics every day, so over the years I have used 2.4mm and 3.2mm PCB materials for special things, but this is still the thickest PCB I have seen being used as a heated build platform for 3D printing. I'm confident this is going to do a really good job of keeping the build plate nice and flat, even at temperatures well over 120 Degrees C.

The assembled machine was super easy to get working, just a few printed clamps to remove and a simple procedure to auto-level the printer build platform.

Then the warm-up and loading of filament, and a quick test print from the samples included on the SD Card.

My daughter selected a file called buddy...

And it printed an awesome Pug. We discovered, this was Jo's dog, buddy.

The pre-assembled Prusa i3 MK2 printer was ready to go right out of the box. Just download drivers, and Slic3r profiles and you are ready to print whatever you like.

We then printed many, many more things...

Many people are recommending this as a 'great first 3D printer'. I would go further than that. It's simply a great and very capable 3D Printer for a good price. (The pre-assembled machine is outstanding value for money - when you consider the time to build one yourself). That said I would always recommend the kit if you have the confidence to build it up. 3D printers do break and you will need to service them. If you can do Ikea, you should be able to build this kit.

I expect the team at Prusa Research is going to be constantly busy selling these machines, if you want to order one or take a look at the specification in more detail, please click here.

I will post more about the assembled machine and it's capability, but let's move on to the i3 MK2 Kit.

Dad and Daughter 3D Printer build - 

Anyway, back to the subject of this blog post. My youngest daughter  Sophia (now 8 1/2 Years old) is very excited to be building up her first 3D Printer. I'm going to document it and let you know how we get on with the Prusa MK2 Kit build.

The video below is looking at the Kit components and preparing to start the build with my daughter.

My oldest Daughter is now 11. Last summer she also built up her first 3D Printer. That was a RepRapPro Fisher Delta printer (yes, one day I will post all about that build too). It's done a fantastic job, but now I think they are both ready for a machine with a heated bed and greater build area.

Take a look at the unpacking and first thoughts on the fully assembled machine in the video below. Or you can watch it directly on YouTube here in HD.

Looking at the assembled Prusa i3 MK2 3D Printer

Thanks for reading. Join us next time where we build up the rest of the Prusa i3 MK2 3D Printer kit.


Friday, 16 September 2016

BigBox Duet Wifi Upgrade and Polyalchemy Elixir PLA filament testing

BigBox Duet Wifi Upgrade

During the summer I decided it would be good to upgrade the electronics in my E3D BigBox. I had already made some modifications adding extruder expansion to the RUMBA and experimenting with a over-complex automatic tool-changer system... more on that soon.

I was about to order a new electronics set, when the Think3D-Print3D team contacted me to see if I would be interested in looking at a beta version of their new Duet Wifi 32bit ARM RepRap electronics.

Obviously I was thrilled to take a look and I had an ideal machine in the BigBox to test it out.
Not only that but I also got the chance to try out the full colour 7" touch-screen for the DuetWifi too.

7" Full colour Touch screen interface - with it's own microcontroller, so you don't get any slow-down or drop in performance of the electronics by using it.

You can also watch this video over on YouTube in HD - you can subscribe to my channel too :)

At the same time I was contacted by Polyalchemy to see if I could try out a new type of 'modified' PLA called Elixir. That was also good timing as setting up any new electronics, firmware and mechanical system will use plenty of material in calibration and tuning for quality and speed.

Quality packaging, well sealed and Made in China.

Standard Spool size with 1Kg of filament (1.75 or 2.85mm)

I get asked to look at 'new' filaments and materials all the time. If it really is something new or different I'm happy to take a look and feedback print results and compatibility etc. The one thing that I find disappointing is when I work out the filament is just re-branded from an existing supplier or labelled up as a 'new', 'special' or 'eco-friendly' product when it's just the same as already on the market. There is nothing really wrong with this, apart from when people don't tell me - after I directly ask. I do try to look out for materials that have had some of their own development or innovation - or just people who genuinely want to make something good for the 3D printing industry and not just to cash in. Polyalchemy were looking to make something a little different - and for it to be very silky.

I was sent various test-sample grades and colours of the Polyalchemy Elixir filament over the summer, testing and feedback allowed some final tweaking and they have now released the first of their filaments for sale - natural white, you can get it here. 

Just to make it clear - I have no connection to Polyalchemy, I just found the material to be interesting and different from the everyday colours and finish of normal PLA. I tested it out on every machine, and had no problems with any of the different extruder systems or hot-ends from various manufacturers. It prints like normal PLA - I found a little extra heat would improve extrusion speed -I normally print PLA at 195 Degrees C. I ended up using Polyalchemy Elixir at around 208 to 215 Degrees C.

Some 'experimental' colours - very nice to print with.

If you need something with a very smooth and silky finish then this may be a good material for you to try out. I can genuinely say that many of the parts I have printed in this material now have prime locations all around my house. It's been one of the only filaments that my entire family have all wanted to be on display. They look less like plastic prints and more like artwork or quality made products, for that alone I am delighted.

I'm going to keep an eye on what Elixir colours are released next. As you will see below and in the video I have tried out a few, some are nicer to look at than others, but the natural white is a very good starting point for beautiful looking and artistic 3D Printed models.

Back to the BigBox Duet Wifi upgrade - 

My first task was to get the BigBox into a similar condition to my Steampunk BigBox - this involved a new heated bed, various modifications to the print carriage - now using my quick-fit version.

I only had an old style E3D Volcano heater block, so a quick modification to drill a new hole - added support for the new temperature sensing cartridges (therm / PT100 etc.)

Some other changes included a change to 400step motors on all axis and some hand-modification of E3D Volcano heater-blocks to hold the new style thermocouple cartridges.

Wiring needed to be modified for the Duet Wifi electronics, but most of the changes were to remove the RUMBA and replace.

The Duet Wifi board has been a joint development with Think3DPrint3D and also Escher3D - David Crocker at Escher3D also designed and manufacturers the Infra-red bed sensor's used on the BigBox Printer. David has also designed the PanelDue LCD touch-panel screen for the Duet board. I found this LCD screen was a very nice upgrade indeed!

I'm going to order another set of DuetWifi electronics. The firmware is soon to get dual independent extruder control so I'm very tempted to replace the BCN3D Sigma electronics with the DuetWifi system.

This is one where it's good to watch the video, so please let me know what you think and I'll share more about the BigBox Duet Wifi Upgrade if anyone is interested.

Thanks for reading, let me knwo what you think and if you are interested in also usign the Duet Wifi or testing out Polyalchemy Elixir PLA?

Until next time, thanks for reading.


Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Training - Mastering Desktop 3D Printing with Simplify3D - O'Reilly Media

Hello everyone, and many thanks for reading.

I had a short break from blogging and YouTube over the summer months, but I was still very busy with all things 3D Printing - Lots to update you with over the coming weeks, but first -  

I had a rather busy summer planning and recording a training series about 3D Printing for O'Reilly Media - Safari Books OnlineInfinite Skills.

The first series of screen-cast training about using Simplify3D has now been released here.

Screen-cast training is essentially using and performing a step by step tutorial of the software package or activity. With this I had to cover both the software and physical aspect of making objects with a 3D printer.

You can also watch this in HD over on Youtube - YouTube Channel RichRap

If you have ever wanted to support me and my ongoing adventures with 3D Printing, then using this training course is a really great way, you may learn something new and any feedback you can give me will help with future content for this and my Blogs & YouTube. 

I don't enable any advertising in any of my 3D Printing blog, YouTube content or file sharing sites, so if you ever feel the desire to support my efforts, using media like this O'Reilly series will allow me to invest more time and effort into all my 3D Printing content and ongoing developments. Thank you.

This was the first time I had adventured into screen-cast training, and it's really quite a challenging but powerful way to demonstrate learning and provide real-world advice about a subject or application.

Okay, I know this is a self-promotional sales pitch, thanks for following my ongoing 3D Printing adventures and I hope this training is useful to you. 

O'Reilly asked me to write and record a 3D Printing training program for their Infinite Skills website. They had very little content on the many processes of 3D Printing. Plenty are already available on 3D modelling, but as we know a 3D model is not always suitable to be 3D Printed.

I decided to first focus on one of the most significant and challenging aspects of successful 3D Printing, and that's the Slicer and it's many settings. After much thought and a a realization that covering all the different open and closed source slicers would be almost impossible, I decided to focus on using Simplify3D. This has been my slicing program of choice for the last year+ and I have been really delighted with the control you get and support the Simplify3D team provide, to both their users and the wider 3D Printing and maker community.

If anyone has seen a screen-cast either live or recorded on YouTube you will often get frustrated watching someone mumble, make mistakes and generally jump around the program interface. That's not what the O'Reilly Infinite skills team expects - they have a very high standard of professional presenting. It was a lot of work, really good fun learning how to plan, script and produce an on-screen training series.

Okay, one last sales pitch + a chance to win a Simplify3D license

You can get my complete 3+ hour Simplify3D training package here - I can tell you this was a lot of work to put together so I hope it is useful and provides some good advice for both using the slicer and with improving your 3D Printing results.

If you want to check out my training style first, then do look at the introduction and setup sections where you can see if this course may help you.

This video should give you a taste of the training style, to see if if may benefit you. I go from a basic understanding to quite a high level of tricks and tips in later lessons

The entire table of contents is shown below, feel free to ask me any questions about it.

  1. Introduction
    1. Welcome To The Course 01m  26s 
    2. About The Author 01m  40s 
    3. How To Access Your Working Files01m  15s 
  2. Setup And Configuration
    1. Setup And Orientation For Simplify3D 08m  05s 
    2. Using The Configuration Assistant 05m  17s 
    3. Setting Machine Size And 3D Printer Profile04m  49s 
    4. Setting The Machine Firmware Type05m  49s 
    5. Machine Control Panel Interface05m  08s 
  3. Importing And Preparing 3D Models For Printing
    1. Importing 3D Models, Positioning, Scaling, And Rotation05m  48s 
    2. 3D Model Errors And Types Of Model Repair05m  00s 
    3. Rotating Parts For Strength, Mirroring, And Infill Levels06m  29s 
    4. Models Imports For Dual Extrusion 3D Printing06m  10s 
  4. Configuration Of Essential Print Process Settings
    1. Manufacturing Process Settings06m  13s 
    2. Setup Of The Extruder And 3D Printing Tool Head12m  20s 
    3. Layer Heights, Perimeters, And First Layer08m  25s 
    4. Additions And Settings05m  23s 
    5. Infill And Settings06m  03s 
    6. Support - Using Support Material06m  39s 
  5. Configuration Of Further Print Process Settings
    1. Temperature And Settings05m  29s 
    2. Cooling And Settings07m  17s 
    3. G-code And Machine Configuration Settings04m  06s 
    4. Script Settings And Examples04m  54s 
    5. Other Settings09m  22s 
    6. Advanced Settings07m  02s 
  6. Dual Extruder Machine Settings
    1. Setting Up Dual Extruders - Multiple Material 3D Printing04m  47s 
    2. Additions And Infill08m  09s 
    3. Support Material Settings04m  33s 
    4. Temperature And Tool Change04m  13s 
    5. Advanced Settings05m  08s 
  7. Generating 3D Print Files, Verification, And 3D Printing
    1. Generating G-code For Single Extruder04m  02s 
    2. Generating G-code For Dual Extruder02m  03s 
    3. Support Structures For Single And Dual Extruder Printing05m  05s 
    4. Viewing The Tool Path And Various Print Features02m  59s 
    5. Using The Machine Control Panel Interface For 3D Printing09m  43s 
  8. Thank You
    1. Wrap Up01m  30s

While this training does focus on using Simplify3D as an application, it covers many aspects of setting up your 3D Printer, what to watch out for before, during and after printing. Improving settings and using different materials for both single and dual 3D Printing. Even if you don't currently use Simplify3D you can still get a lot of useful advice and information to improve your 3D printing skills, whatever slicing package you currently use.

If you are not interested in the training, you can also donate directly to me via my paypal.me, if you would like. I really appreciate any support you can give, even if that's just reading the blog and being happy enough to come back for more next time.

Win a Simplify3D License - 

The wonderful people at Simplify3D are also providing some software license giveaways - This is in conjunction with E3D. All you need to do is Follow E3D and Also Simplify3D on Twitter and then send out a tweet to both of them saying what you want to do with 3D Printing, or what project you are working on that involves 3D printing. That's it and you may win a Simplify3D License.

While I remember - Daniel Noree - is having a competition - if you miss out, then check back with me for more chances to win a Simplify3D license.

Until next time (and that won't be long) Thank you all.


3D Printing and support material processing of the Steampunk Octopus

More about the Steampunk Octopus 3D Print.

Many people asked for more details and information about printing and processing the Steampunk Octopus, so here it is.

This was originally an experiment designed to test out settings for Simplify3D on the BCN3D Sigma 3D Printer, but that quickly also transformed into a project I could do with my daughter.

Since this had a large and complex both to print, the support material settings could be tested, and because this model also has many, many separate segments we decided to test out printing the leg parts of various different 3D printers, with different hot-ends, extruders and cooling requirements for the different materials being used.

I have to say a big thank you to the designer of the Ball-joint articulated octopus
model - Ellindsey. It has some different head options and they are a lot of fun to print and build up.

You can also watch this and many more of my video's in HD over on YouTube here.

As you will see from the video, support material removal can be quite a challenge. For some models you just can't use the same material as the main model.

We had fun making this up, and as you can see in the video it's also a good learning experience - thermoplastic softens with a heat-gun or hairdryer and that makes it easier to fit leg segments together.

After a few different test prints, all the leg segments were printed without using any support material.

We spotted that many of the leg segments did not require any support material at all. When using a slightly bigger nozzle size of 0.6mm, you can get a really good overhang greater than 70 degrees.

Water soluble PVA material - make sure you keep it really dry and do not run at temperatures over 200 Degrees - Stick to 195 Degrees C and do not leave it in the hot-end for extended time at temperature without extruding.

I'm currently doing some further testing on a soluble support material from E3D called Scaffold, more info about support material removal in this post here.

Scaffold - Soluble and PVA based but modified to work with more materials and changes to viscosity. Available from E3D.

I have also used PVA based support materials and various other solutions - one being PolySupport from Polymaker (Many thanks for the sample filament roll Ben @ Hawk3DProto).

Polymaker Polysupport - an easy to remove support material - works well with many types of material - not soluble.

Ideally we would all like to use an easy to remove or even better, a water soluble support material that is compatible with many different 3D Printing materials.

The next time I get a tricky to print 3D model, I will compare and challenge these support materials and let you know how I get on.

Thanks for reading, please pop back again soon and catch up with me on the following -

Twitter - @Richrap3d
Google+ - RichardHorne_RichRap3D
YouTube Channel RichRap

Until next time, happy printing.


Tuesday, 13 September 2016

E3D Scaffold - soluble support material testing and 3D Printing model challenge

Testing out Scaffold - Soluble Support Material from E3D.

The team at E3D recently sent me some production reels of Scaffold, the soluble support material for desktop 3D Printing. It's now almost released and should be available soon on the E3D website

I'm testing it out and also seeing what's been changed from the Beta release earlier in the year.

Sanjay at E3D said it has had a few modifications to the viscosity and also compatibility with materials. It's tuned to work well with Edge (PET based) and Nylon materials, but will also work with PLA and ABS.

I proposed a scaffold challenge in the video below, and E3D responded. They have kindly offered some £40 discount vouchers for their webshop as a prize for the most interesting or challenging ideas.

If you have a 3D model that you believe would challenge Scaffold (it's mostly aimed as a dissoluble support material) but can also work well as peal-away support, then let me know in the comments below, over on YouTube or on Twitter @Richrap3d

Also feel free to tell me of your experience with using support material - either using the same material or as a dual extruder setup with a secondary material as support.

Give me some time and I will report back with success or failure and hopefully some print advice or tips for using Scaffold in different 3D Printers.

I'm going to also test it out with some models I have struggled to 3D Print over the years, I'll try to do that on a selection of printers, nozzles and extruders too.

A really good support material is still a major goal for desktop 3D Printers, so it's exciting when a new product becomes available, I'll be sure to let you know how I get on. Maybe this is the one?

I'm already seeing some really great suggestions, thank you for posting - One that really jumped out was a collection of Knots gathered up by Richard Caunt - Very Knotty can be found here.

And if you want to see what a pain removal of support material can be - then take a look at this recent update post and video on printing the Steampunk Octopus.

Thanks for reading, I'll be back soon with more 3D printing.


Twitter - @Richrap3d
Google+ - RichardHorne_RichRap3D
YouTube Channel RichRap

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Project Snowflake - A 3D printed LED Light sculpture

* Project Snowflake *

This project started Christmas 2015. Whilst searching with my daughter's for some nice models to print out during the Christmas break, we found the great Electra modular origami by Auntdaisy. That seemed like a good challenge.

Below is a video about Project Snowflake, you can also watch on YouTube in HD and subscribe to my channel if you like.

For some background this project started because of a great modular Origami system called Electra. Designed by AuntDaisy - Link >  Electra Modular Origami by AuntDaisy

Below is an extract from the Thingiverse page for Electra - For further information about Electra or more models by AuntDaisy, follow the link above -

MakerHome blog showing how this model was created - see - http://makerhome.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/day-327-saturday-guest-auntdaisy-and.html

For more information on David Mitchell's origami design, seehttp://freespace.virgin.net/dave.mitchell/galleriesmodulardesigns.htm or his latest "Paper Crystals" book, http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0953477495 (with lots of other exciting models.)

For this project we used a string of waterproof WS2811 LED's from China for under $20US

You can cut the chain or add more. Each led has a Red, Green and Blue led, along with a driver and shift register - that also does clock reshaping, so in theory the number and length can be rather a lot of LED's. In reality I would stick to under 200 per chain as the current needed to drive them an the length starts causing issues.

If you need more, just use two strings and control the sequence on the Arduino.

And it's very simple to drive these LED strings with just one Digital output from any microcontroller (5v I/O recommended) - see the adafruit library or use my daughter's example code as a starting point (it's based on the adafruit examples).

The adafruit Uberguide to Neopixels is really all you need to get going with these great little LED's

Many different displays are based on these great LED's - Just search eBay for WS2811 or WS2812 for lots and lots of options.

Wiring is straightforward - 

You need an Arduino compatible board - The adafruit flora or gemma is great for experimenting with Neopixel's and if even has one already fitted to the board.

Neopixels like a 5V digital I/O signal, so a good option is the Arduino Nano.

The Arduino micro can also be used but you will need to also add a 5V regulator - 

If your voltage regulator has a tuned output, then make sure you set it to 5V before connecting it up to the Arduino mini (or any other Arduino without an on-board regulator) - or you will fry it.

The LED string we used runs on +12V so with the Nano we can connect the +12v directly into the power input.

 The Nano can be bought in 3.3v and 5v versions, do check you buy the 5v model.

The Nano is a great little board, even with an onboard USB connector for programming.

Also make sure your power supply is +12V at around 2Amps or more.

Also it's a very good idea to add a 100uF capacitor (rated at +16V or higher) to the Power supply Output, then you can connect that to the power input on the Arduino Nano.

The only other component we need is a 220Ohm to 560Ohm resistor (the one above is a 510Ohm)

You can accidentally damage some Neopixel style WS8211/12 LED's if you don't fit a resistor in series with the first LED. It needs to be connected to the output pin (here we are using Digital 8) and then into the Input of the WS8211 LED string.

The string of LED's run one after the other, Blue is ground, Red is +12V and the input and output is White. Make sure you connect the output of your Arduino Digital 5V I/O pin (D8) into the Input (shown on the left in the image above).

Then you can fit each LED into the 3D printed modules, if they are a little tight, heat the plastic slightly with a hairdryer - they should click in and stay firmly fitted.

It's best to route them in a spiral, you can only really do it one way making sure all 30 holes are fitted.

Leave as many other LED's as you like in the chain, they would look cool hanging down or up if you are going to hang the sculpture from a rope for example.

We had a chain of 35.

This was a great learning project for and with my Daughter (10 years old).

Last year she assembled a RepRap Fisher Delta 3D printer, so this was an natural progression, Doing the 3D model design in Freecad.

Then building up the electronics and wiring the modules.

And finally programming with the Arduino IDE.

She really enjoyed it, and is already doing more projects, and investigating more uses for 'Neopixel' style LED's.

That's it!

All the files are over on Youmagine here, along with the model file to 3D print and example code for the Arduino nano to drive the LED's and some other files to experiment with the adafruit Flora.

I almost forgot to mention, I found a really great plastic filament from Excelvan for using LED's - Light piping and diffusion - it's really nice to use and perfect for any sort of LED based projects.

Please watch the video if you want to see it in action, and if you have any questions just leave a comment, or ask me on Twitter / G+ or YouTube.

Twitter - @Richrap3d
Google+ - RichardHorne_RichRap3D
YouTube Channel RichRap

Until next time, happy printing.

And if you decide to print out Project Snowflake, please let me know.