Sunday, May 6, 2012

Cube Printing - Tools you May Find Useful

I'm writing this without a clear understanding of how differently the Cube handles the "Raft" and support materials from the way the RapMan 3.2 handles them.  I'm assuming that while there may be some differences, those differences will not be so huge as to negate the value of the suggestions in this post.

One of the first things you learn in 3D printing is that while the printer ADDS material to create an object, it is up to YOU to SUBTRACT material to see the object as it was designed.  That is because the 3D printer must sometimes add material to support elements of the design.

In a single extrusion system, like the upcoming Cube, tools are required for that job.  This first set of tools is dedicated to removing raft and support materials.

At least in most 3D printers, the raft material can sometimes be stubborn to remove from the print bed.  I have found that the large Liquitex Free-Style palette knife (bottom item), found in art and craft stores if excellent for removing the raft while being as gentle on the print bed.   The primary benefit over other raft removal tools is that it can be rocked back and forth to work itself along.

The smaller version (second from bottom) is also useful.  And, this may be enough for the Cube.

For removing the raft and support materials from large flat areas on objects, the Husky paint scraper is an excellent tool.  It's not needed often.  But, there are times when it comes in really handy.

The top item is some wet & dry fine grit (100-120) sandpaper glued to a paint stirring stick.  This is used to keep all the other tools sharp and to smooth out imperfections.

There are other tools helpful for removing support and raft materials in this next group.

Among the most useful tools is a good set of needle-nose pliers, preferably with a bent nose.  A small set of pliers is probably better than a large set and the sharper the tapper of the nose, the better.

But, above all, the most useful tool is a small flathead screwdriver.  There is usually a small gap between the object and the support materials.  A small screwdriver lodged in that gap is very helpful to lossen support material.

This funny looking deburring tool is usually used for plumbing to remove burrs from cut pipe.  It can be purchased for under $10 at home improvement stores in the plumbing department.  It does exactly what its name implies... it deburs the edges of the object where the raft was attached and smooths out the edges.  Very helpful.

But, tools for removing support aren't the only tools that make life easier.  I don't know if we will have to manually set gap between the extrusion head and the print bed.  On the Cube that may be set automatically.  But, if it isn't then this next tool is going to be very, very helpful.

It's usually used to set the gap in spark plugs or valves in automobiles.  But, I have found it to be invaluable in setting the gap between the RapMan's extrusion head and the print bed.

Finally, the is this tool.  It has little to do with the Cube itself.  But, I doubt is I could be as productive with my design software without it.  It's a digital caliper from Harbor Freight that can cost as little as under $10.00.  It is able to measure both outside and inside distances.  I probably use this tool at some point in every design, if only to visualize sizes.

All of these tools can make your Cube experience a bit easier and more productive.  And, the good news is that they are easily found locally or on the web.  I can't imagine not having them with my RapMan.  And, for the most part, I expect to need them with the new Cube when it arrives.

Which is VERY soon!

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