3D printer: advice?

  • Poser Ambassadors

    I'm considering buying a 3D printer and so I am seeking advice as to what to get, what to avoid, etc.

    An example of what I want to do would be to print a TinkerBell standing (as when she landed on Wendy's mirror), using a clear high-Fresnel plastic (like Lucite). I would have a cavity for an LED at the base, so that I'd have a glowing TinkerBell night light! 0_1526382619221_hug-Pb.gif

    I've heard that it is more cost-effective to buy components and assemble it oneself.

    I can make meshes "watertight" and export in .stl format.

    So, who has experience with 3D printing?

    What type(s) of printer would you suggest? Cost estimates?

    Is the clear acrylic material feasible?

  • Unless you somehow polished the model afterwards, I don't think a clear "lamp" object is doable. Yet. 3D printers become better and better and cheaper and cheaper, but the ones I've seen still "render" the object layer by layer, building it up in slices. And those little slices tend to be juuuust a bit jagged. I've seen almost-slick surfaces, but usually you can tell the little layers, even on the ones that print in high dpi (or whatever the term is there)

    But GOD I want a 3D Printer :D

  • Poser Ambassadors

    @trekkiegrrrl Good thought, @trekkiegrrrl . I did consider the laminated issue, but I think it would work for purposes of dispersing the light, albeit not as nicely as it would if smoothed.

  • @seachnasaigh I have a friend who has been messing with them for a while now. He's been trying to make chocolate molds and jewelry molds with the prints. The larger printed models are hollow, I think, and need a lattice-work of support structures inside to make them sturdy.

  • @seachnasaigh my recent acquisition is a Cucoon Create Touch
    which ALDI supermarkets have regularly released on special, in this case AUD299 plus 1kg spools of PLA filament for AUD25. The printer is a rebadged Wanhao Duplicator i3 plus with heated build plate, which has had plenty of positive reviews and is excellent value for money (about US$224. Given that I've had it for less than a month, and only have PLA filament to test with, I can't show you an example of clear filament printing, yet.

    The slicing software recommended is Ultimaker Cura, which is free and quite flexible and extensible. There are a veritable plethora of online resources and reviews, so searches for clear filament should be productive.

    Here are a few samples of recent prints: an Air Gimbal (blow on it and the rings spin freely)
    A planetary geared fidget spinner (printed intact and can't be disassembled)
    A pythagoras cup and my first Poser model export (V4 Catgirl - unfurred)
    The V4 figure was exported as an obj from Poser with no special treatment and required scaling in Cura to 20000% (It defaulted on import to 10000%, which was useful, but a bit too small). I used one of the available Cura plugins to reduce the supports required to print overhangs, so the model printed at a strange angle (rather than lying flat on it's back as in Poser). At that size it was still a bit fiddly to remove the supports cleanly (probably a lot easier at a larger scale), and the finest details (finger and toenail claws) were omitted from the print completely. I suspect that they were A) below the minimum thickness tolerance for reliable printing and B) actually separated meshes from the main figure. Option B might be irrelevant, if I scale the model up again and eliminate option A, as I have seen other models with fine details which were visible in the Solid representation in Cura but invisible in the Layer view, yet printed successfully on a scaled up version.

    My biggest caveat for this printer is that it does not have automatic build-plate levelling, and prints can fail (detach from the bed and waste metres of filament if not detected) if this is not done diligently before each print. Yet I could not think of a better entry level printer to get your feet wet. Printing with PLA has none of the odor issues I've read of being associated with ABS filament, but it's early days, and I'm still having fun :-)

  • @seachnasaigh I've seen some references to exposing ABS prints to acetone vapour to smooth them, which seems quite successful. There is also PETG filament available in a transparent (everything is relative) form (essentially recycled drink bottles). That might be an inexpensive test path for transparent figures.

    You would probably want to print your figure in vase mode (just an outer shell with no infill) though you will have to be careful to select poses which don't require lots of support.

    The other option to investigate, if you really want good transparency is resin printers, which cure epoxy resins with UV light. The downside of them is handling extremely toxic chemicals. (Not that I've done any more than dip my toe and watch a bunch of youtube clips from experts).

    I should add that I made the mistake of printing the Pythagoras cup on its side with supports, so the rough areas where I've attempted to remove the supports are still obvious. I have a second version printed at 150% scale upright and without supports that looks much better.
    Torture Egg (three rotating layers)
    Vase (pencil holder)
    Voronoi Torso (originally a Poser figure exported and decimated in 3DS Max by someone else)

  • @seachnasaigh I thought you might be interested in the printed V4 figure prior to removal of it's support structures.
    The Cura plugin which minimised the supports did a good job of leaving the back of the figure very clean. I made no effort to edit the supports, as this was a first attempt, but were I to print it again, probably larger, I would try to reduce the supports around the head, as the hair details are very difficult to distinguish from the supports, which although they come off relatively easily around the larger areas of the models, require quite a bit of care to be taken around, for instance, the tail, which is quite thin.

    Overall, though, I'm extremely pleased with how well this model printed, and how much detail is still evident.

  • @seachnasaigh here's a link for a "Clear" filament, which might be suitable for what you want:
    Taulman T-Glase

    Final result of what was on the 3D printer in the original photo:
    Needs a bit of sanding where the supports were (they were an absolute b@#$%er to remove. Every one of those narrow slots had a concertina of thin material to be crunched out with needle nose pliers.
    This is the sliding drawers model that appears on the Cucoon website promos and box, yet it took me ages to find on Thingiverse. Presumably many people must have complained about how hard it was to print or remove the supports, so they removed links to it and didn't supply it on the bundled SD card. Weird!

    I guess that if I'd printed it upright, it wouldn't have needed all the difficult-to-remove supports, as the slots have rounded ends which should be printable as is. I suspect, though, that an upright print would need supports in completely inaccessible places, rather than just difficult to get to. Oh well. Still learnin'. ;-)

  • Poser Ambassadors

    @anomalaus That T-Glase appears to be high-Fresnel, just what I'll want. 0_1526477974197_thumbsup.gif

  • Depending on how big you want your prints to be you could look into the moai resin printer. Its around 1000$ but does very precise, detailed, and smooth prints. Biggest drawback is the build volume is only 13cm or so. Also youd want to research what is involved with resin printing, a bit more of a process than fdm.

  • Poser Ambassadors

    @KittyBrown The size limitation is a factor, but that could be moderated by printing the doll in parts.0_1526481889798_idea.gif

  • @seachnasaigh I have a CarveWright CNC machine , think it may be able to deliver what you want, the only limitation is a 6inch depth, 13inch width... unlimited length. Wood, aluminum, plastic, lexan are some of the materials you can carve.

  • Poser Ambassadors

    @JAFO That has definite potential. For my purposes I would want the optional rotary jig, and add a dust collector system.

  • @JAFO CNC rocks. I'd use it for building guitars.

  • I havent used mine for about 5years(downsized living quarters and expenses for retirement) don't really have room , I had an extended waranty on the machine and got a replacement that I tested once on a project that ran a couple hours and havent touched it since... 'rosity message me if anyone's interested.

  • Oh my!!! I want that more than a 3d printer!!