Alex Roman's Personal Page

A 3D printed odyssey

save-me-now

Hello everyone, a lot of time has passed since I last posted, in fact I haven’t posted a lot here, and for a good reason, I have been 3D printing for most of this time, and I can only say it’s been a blast, but not without issues down the road, let’s look at them now, take a seat and grab some popcorn because this is truly a great tale and it includes all the elements you could possibly think of.

Oh shit, I now want a 3D printer.

I have to admit, the idea of 3d printing is one that has been in my dreams forever, back in the day I learned how the source engine model compilation process worked to be able to port models I found online to Garry’s Mod (and Source Filmmaker, the leaked 2007 version, later the 2012 one) and mess with them, I never really made anything with them, I just loved to play with and as my favorite characters from games and TV shows and I sometimes even kinda solo roleplayed with myself, it sounds weird but keep in mind I was 10-12 years old at the time.

Fast forward to 16 year old me, I rarely use the SFM now, but I still enjoy it as much, now there’s an actual 3d printing community and people are actually printing models and that just makes me happy, this was the point where I realised I truly wanted a 3D printer.

Chosing the printer to buy

When your budget is 400€ the choice is kind of obvious, and we’ll get into that later, but I also thought that maybe I could get one for even lower, the Anet A8 seemed like a good choice, the Anet A8 is a very inexpensive prusa-i3-like 3d printer that has a very big community, it can be bought for around 150€ which is not too much, but I ended up chosing a more expensive printer, the Wanhao Duplicator i3, because it required no building (just a bunch of screws) and because it has superior build quality out of the box and because it’s also made out of .

Getting the thing to work

save-me-now

I bought my machine from 3DPrima, and it arrived on time (although the filament arrived on Friday and the printer arrived the next monday, which made me a little sad), I pulled the machine out of the box, built it leveled the X axis by eye and got it printing the demo print.

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… And it came out well, this was truly amazing, I then printed a pikachu, which came out not so good, mainly because i printed it faster and I was still getting the thing dialed in properly in cura, but it worked, and that was nice.

Clogs, leveling and adhesion

My printer clogged, so I had to take out the nozzle and the PTFE tube and soaked them in acetone, after a few minutes I was able to clean off the PLA manually.

I also had leveling issues, which got fixed after I leveled my X axis again, I also had adhesion issues, which I fixed with a combination of lower speeds and a glass bed.

The gift

There was a “special person” I knew, but I just ignored my own feelings because I suck at pretty much all human relationships and at making gifts, the first could be fixed the second couldn’t, but then I realised: “Holy shit, I can make cool gifts now!”, this gave me the courage to go ahead and ask her out with an interesting gift that could mean a lot to us, but this was very early in my 3d printing days, so I printed a subscale model of it to be used as a testbed, Machiko by Fantasygraph and tried some painting techniques on that.

cosas

I tried with pastel chalks and acrylic, and they both sucked, I asked my local paint expert, Amadeuss, and he suggested a plastic primer spray, which worked beautifuly on my testbed in combination with acrylic paint and an airbrush, I still have the testbed.

The actual gift

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I was going to get more experience with printing before attempting the real thing, it’s a really big print, but one morning I had the courage to hit the print button and it took 19 hours in total, there was a terrible issue though, the base of the right leg had dettached, so I taped it down to the bed and it came out like this, it also had a lot of issues with overhangs because I did not have the new cooling fan in yet.

I fixed it with epoxy.

Painting

La imagen puede contener: una o varias personas, calzado e interior

I painted the print with my trusty airbrush that uses custom piping, I started with a few layers of white.

La imagen puede contener: una o varias personas, personas sentadas, calzado e interior

For the actual colors I painted the bigger parts with the airbrush with the help of painter’s tape, and the smaller details with a brush and a toothpick.

La imagen puede contener: una o varias personas

This was the end result, kinda shitty in some aspects, but it could be worse I guess.

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I then realised valentine’s day was coming up, so I waited a bit until that day instead of giving her the gift right ahead, unfortunately I didn’t see her that day, but I did wait until the next day, and because of that extra time I decided to throw in a fox too.

It truly was one of the only times I set myself a challenge and did it quickly and better than I expected, I was quite happy with the result.

Moving on…

Alice

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Yet another part done without a bloody cooling fan, it broke too so I don’t have high res pics.

The cooling fan

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I finally got one, the difference was astonishing.

Family photo

La imagen puede contener: 1 persona, interior

Around that time I made a pic of all the things I had printed until now.

Z-Braces, glass

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It was around this time that I also added Z-Braces to my printer, they allowed the thing to vibrate less (because of it’s design the Di3 vibrates a lot), I also added a glass bed, which made first layer adhesion astonishingly good and made the bottom of prints look injection molded.

Another fantasygraph print.

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Support experimentation

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I then experimented with meslab’s supports which are quite a sight to behold, I’m not a fan of meshlab because it’s proprietary software, but it did it’s job fine, I don’t think i’m going to use it a lot, since slicing stuff in pieces seems like a better idea anyways.

Annie

La imagen puede contener: interior

I then printed a figure of Annie from league of legends, I don’t play the game anymore, but she was my favorite character to play (as a support) and I wanted to print a big figure I found online, I sliced her into parts after having issues printing it all in one piece, and it came out great, I’m going to give her a layer of single color paint to hide the connections though.

The future

My long term plans consist of testing as much stuff as I can in my wanhao for my future Prusa i3 MK2 build, mainly the extruder and electronics.

  • Upgrade my extruder to an E3D v6 that uses the same extruder parts as the MK2.
  • Replace my Melzi board with a RAMPS.
  • Get a prusa i3 mk2 frame laser cut in alumium, and maybe the Y-Carriage (I might end up getting it in carbon fiber instead).
  • Replace the wanhao alltogether with a prusa i3 mk2, reusing the motors, electronics, extruder and possibly the heated bed until mk42s become widely available.

Final thoughts

Thanks to everyone that has ever helped me in my learning process, I have enjoyed every minute of the last three months and 3D printing has become a really great hobby, seriously, the community rocks.