Tuesday, March 14, 2017

10 'New' Cube3 Cartridges - 7 Defective... so far

As most of you know, I know, and like, many of the engineers and support people at 3D Systems.  So, I'm generally slow to be critical.

But, unfortunately, what I feared most about the withdrawal of the Cube3 from the marketplace, out-dated cartridges, seems to have come true.

We just purchased 10 'new' cartridges for our Cube3 printers.  I've opened and tried to use seven (7) so far.  And, all seven have had the very same issue.  The filament has broken at the entrance to the extrusion housing.

Seven out of ten... so far!

Now, I have been dealing with these cartridges for a number of years now.  So, I know HOW to fix a cartridge if I have to.  But, having to fix more than a half dozen if no fun at all.

Calling support to alert them to the problem, the response I got wasn't encouraging.  The last four digits of the batch numbers were 2916.  This meant that the cartridge was built in the 29th week of 2016.  That would be the week of July 10-17, 2016.   Apparently, 3D Systems assumes that filament, in the protective bag and sealed box, has a shelf life of at least one year.  Yet, our filament was opened in March of 2017... less than 9 months later!

My guess is that filament packaged in the winter month might actually be OK for 12 months.  But, filament packaged in the humid months of summer may not last quite as long.

This is a serious issue for owners of cube3 printers.  Even if one knows how to try to rehabilitate a cartridge, it takes a lot of time and aggravation.  Plus, it's difficult to do just using the purge function of the Cube3.  The heat cycle does not last long enough and we have no way to control the duration of optimal heat at the tip of the print jet.

While I have resisted publishing 'hacks', I am coming to the conclusion that we have no alternative in order to be able to use our Cube3 printers on demand.  While I have some sympathy for 3D System's situation... having to stock multiple colors of filament for a diminishing number of users... if we cannot count on them for good filament when we need it, we are forced to try to come up with alternatives if we can.

Even with the tools that I have purchased and designed to help me restore a broken cartridge, it takes at least an hour to fix one.  And, some, will take even more effort.  Fortunately, I have some empty cartridges from which I can steal the guide should I not be able to use the original quide in the broken cartridge.  I think those old cartridges might come in handy!

If I'm ever able to complete the project for which the filament was purchased, I start searching for 'hacks' that might help us out in the future.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Final Hours of M3D Pro KickStarter

At the time of this writing, there were only 18 hours to go before the M3D Pro KickStarter campaign ends.  And, I just got another update that shows great things are happening with the M3D Pro development.

As part of the email, they sent two images, which I have combined in a short video.

This is just a small sample of the major advancements in FDM 3D printing that are delivered in the M3D Pro.  Here is an updated video demonstrating the new "auto-correction" capabilities. 

Now, you have to admit.  THAT is very cool.

There is so much more to say; but, I will simply send you over to the "Final Week Update" to see the rest of the story.  :)

I can hardly wait to get my hands on one,  And, you can bet I will be breaking out the microscopes to test, for myself, the ultimate print quality.
NOTE: there is one thing that I hope to be able to improve on and that is the nature of the first layer which uses rather wide lines for adhesion.  (See the above link.)   I am hoping to be able to achieve a super-smooth bottom layer and that might mean using a 3rd party slicing application.  We'll see.

What is most refrshing for me is the candor of the Michael Armani and the M3D team as they develop the product and part of that is allowing KickStarter contributers to make requests.  Being able to define the first layer will be among my requests.  
I am hoping that many of my fellow Cube users will take a serious look at the M3D Pro as their next 3D printer so that we can grow together with that platform as we did on our Cube journey.  And, speaking of that, I have created a Cube Software Dropbox folder that should contain all of the various version of firmware and client software just in case you might need it in the future.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The M3D Pro's Error Recovery Demonstrated!

I know this is a Cube oriented blog.  But, our Cubes won't last forever.  So, it's important to see some viable options.

I just finished watching the M3D Live Stream which offered a Q & A session for their Pro KickStarter backers and potential backers.

During the session, they provided a link to a YouTube video that only lasts for a very few minutes; but, speaks volumes!  It's an early proof of concept test;  but, they clearly can achieve a self-aware 3D printer as promised.

Here is a link to the Error Recovery Test

We work with at-risk students and the ability of a 3D printer to recover from something like being deliberately stopped has some very real appeal! 

M3D Kickstarter Live Stream

Today, September 8, 2016 at 8:00PM, M3D will be testing Kickstarter's new Live Stream capabilities to communicate directly with people interested in hearing about their new Pro 3D printer.

I don't exactly know how the streaming, which is in beta, works; but, there is a sign-up for participating on M3D's KickStarter Page.

It's an excellent opportunity to ask questions of the M3D team.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

A Glue that works with PLA

For years I have sought a glue that would work better than fingernail polish for attaching PLA.  In the quest to find a clear coat to protect 3D printed objects painted with alcohol marker ink, I think I have found it.

It's called Loctite GO2 All-Purpose ink and it does, in fact, bind PLA pieces together. 

Loctite GO2 Glue

When dry, it is flexible, much like silicone glue.  The drying time to set is about 30 minutes and the full cure time is 24 hours.

The great news is that it can do double duty.  Not only does it glue; but, it makes for an excellent clear coat that does not appear to smear alcohol marker ink.

Here's a more complete story on the IdeaRoom3D blog.

By the way, while most of the projects in the IdeaRoom3D blog are printed on an M3D Micro, the mini-blackboard project in which I create a personalized 3D printed chalkboard was printed on a Cube3.  The chalkboard paint from Rust-Oleum covered the PLA very well.  I tried it with a primer and without.  I prefer not to use a primer in the future.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Making Excellent Progress with Colorizing 3D Prints

In the short time that I have been working with the eCraft eBrush using Spectrum Noir markers, I have learned a LOT and enjoyed it even more!

This is the latest result.

Surfboard Colorized
It was printed on an M3D Micro in ABS-R and prepared for painting using a flap wheel sanding tool by Dremel and coated with Tamiya Fine Surface Primer before being painted.

The complete story on this process is in 2 articles on my IdeaRoom3D blog.
  1. Preparation
  2. Final Painting
Because the markers are dye based, the process should work equally well with 3D System's PLA, normal ABS and Nylon.


Yesterday, I received two emails communicating the progress of the M3D Pro development for those who are participating in the Kickstarter funding process.  I will be writing about this latest news later today, or tomorrow, after I have time to assess the many ramifications of the innovations that will be included in this new M3D 3D printer.  But, I can tell you now that M3D definitely gives Cube owners something to consider as their next 3D printer.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Another Step Testing Colorization

I continue to explore potential methods of adding value to 3D prints through colorizing them.  For now, I am focused on using the eBrush airbrush system and Spectrum Noir markers.  I will get around to testing these with PLA from the Cube; but, for now take a look at the results using flexible Tough 3D Ink from M3D.

Colorizing a 3D Printed Face

This is definitely showing some promise.