The Makerbot Replicator 2
Whether you consider it a tool or a toy, 3D printers are incredibly interesting. I’ve recently acquired one and here are my first week’s impressions!
So what did I make? A bunch of the test items that came with MakerWare, tons of items from thingiverse, and finally a few from scratch pieces.
Neuroshima Hex base holders.
We have a large following of board game geeks in SF and we love Neuroshima Hex. However, it can get a bit complicated and some of the bases can fade with all the confusion. I’m a firm believer in everyone should know the facts – you don’t win by obfuscation, and teaching a new person without pointing out their range guy actually misses their intended target if placed there is just wrong. I understand tough love if they keep on doing it, but its important to point out what they are doing wrong and how the layout works. To that goal, I made hex tile holders that slightly raise the bases up and make it easy-peasy to see. The current shot is all using red, but a quick paint job can have them matching their team colors.
Originally, I wanted to create unique base prints and life counters for each team (See pic). I started with Moloch but quickly realized these prints would make the game more confusing not less. Still, its very useful to see how much detail you can get in a print that small!
I released them on thingiverse.
Mobile Frame Zero dice holders.
The few times I have played MFZ our limited amount of dice would be grabbed from across the table accidentally losing individual frame’s stats. So I created little dice caddies, complete with 2mm nubs to attach directly to uh,… whatever hobby building thing you use.
There are a few different types here. A slot of three for Attack, Defense, Movement/Spotted. It seemed overkill to have all four as you usually move your movement immediately after rolling – and not everyone will be spotted.
For those of you who just want a computer to do it all for you – check out this dice sheet.
And the deer.
Oh my, yes, the deer. I’ve printed out 4 of these so far, following an urge to cover an entire wall. They take 10hours and 15minutes to print and have some SERIOUS support structures to cut away once done. I’ve had only one of the four not lose a piece of its antler while applying pressure. Luckily, super glue seems to fix PLA breaks quite nice!
A few scares:
MakerBot accidentally shipped an SD card with old .s3g files with my new Replicator 2 (firmware 7). While it didn’t take long to scour the internet and find out I should only be printing .x3g files, my first few prints were indiscernible whorls of plastic and even worse, my machine was violently shaking itself apart. The violently shaking might make you think you want it to slow down, so you disabled acceleration. NOPE! This will just make other prints (x3g and straight from MakerWare ) fail spectacularly loudly too. [question for the masses – when WOULD you want to turn off acceleration]
An interesting note:
A bunch of sites/print examples recommend lowering the default temperature from 330c to 325 or even 320. I did this when I had prints peeling up on the sides and could not exactly see a difference. Whats more, this video and a few others show the actual temperature of the nozzle already stepped down some. I would love more input on this, but am currently keeping the default temperatures. NOTE/QUESTION* does this have anything to do with multiple prints having strings to each other (nozzle extrudes more than intended because its so hot OR printed plastic is so hot its easily taffy pulled.
Parametric = Customizable. They are just saying you can set variables to change attributes of the print. I’m clarifying this cauz EVERYTHING I saw that said parametric was also just symmetrical. Drove me crazy.
I know that PLA biodegrades, but I don’t have a real understanding or time-frame. As a very rudimetery test, I printed a chain link and dropped it in water on the first day. Here is a picture one week later.
Looks like we don’t need to worry about rain/humidity ruining a print that quickly.
Finally, on software:
I’m very comfortable with Autodesk 3dsmax, so I use this as my main tool. Rhino and Blender are also on hand. For those that don’t know they are a) free and b) awesome but I honestly never quite got their UI down. Too many all-nighters staring at 3dsmax make its workspace more usable for me.
So far I uses MakerWare exclusively to print. From quick skimming of posts when I had issues, I’m starting to believe that replicatorG is probably more advanced. However, their front-end user experience needs help so I’ve avoided it thus far. That will change soon, with my main goals being 1) optimize support structures not brute force them 2) see what this whole skein forge thing is all about 3) create connector pieces that can be customized with a few lines instead of a bunch of 3dsmax resaves.
I see a bunch of openSCAD people out there (this initially confused me since I went to Savannah College of Art & Design). The basic idea is you write a program that compiles the output of a 3d model, allowing you to do variable changes to get new results. Great for customizable prints like iPhone cases and, uh, anything “parametric”. Heh. This is interesting on a mass production angle and open source angle. However, since everything I am doing has its hand held through the process I haven’t found a reason to go poking my nose into it. Also, i’ve always thought of PYTHON as the 3d modeling scripting language and would hate to not finally learn it.
Is it legal?
A very good article on the legal details of 3D printing can be found here, at NPR.
As an artist, this is nothing new to me. As Mark Twain said, “It is better to take what does not belong to you than let it lie around neglected.” As Pablo Picasso said “Art is theft.” We are constantly taking ideas, reduxing them (if we are good), and re-releasing them.
Still. You will notice above I never said the word “Lego”. And I’m not saying it now.