Monday, July 20, 2015

Keeping Bits & Pieces Out of The Side Vents

We've discussed this before; but, it's prudent to bring the subject up again now that we will be using both print jets and the purging strategy just before printing is different between the Infinity supports and standard PLA.

In my earlier post that discussed a way to keep filament out of the side vents, I had used a rubber band.  I believe that it was Eric Albert that mentioned that he uses the type of plastic used as sheet protectors or transparencies.

I've pursued the latter strategy and have come up with a pattern that can be printed on either inkjet transparency material or laser transparency material.  I am now using the shapes cut out from the pattern in all our printers and it works to keep the bulk of the filament bits and pieces out of the vents and in the trays.

While you will end up with a Word document, I will simply post the .PNG file on this page that you can use to create your printed page.

Vent Guard Pattern

Download this .PNG file and insert it into Word.  Open the "Size and Position" properties for the graphic.  Set the position to  "In Front of Text" and the size to 5" x 5".    If the margins are set to .25" all around, then there is room for two patterns on a page.

Print the patterns to transparency film.  BH Photo carries both inkjet and laser transparency materials,

Once printed, cut out the pieces making sure to cut the slots at the top creating 5 sections.  Tape the cut out shape to the back of each side tray.

It's difficult to see clear transparency held in place by Scotch tape.  So, I have printed a blue paper version and used white tape to demonstrate how the vent guard is mounted.  The vent guard is held in place securely once the tray is clipped into place.

Vent Guard Attachment Demo

The transparency material is thin enough not to interfere with the snapping connectors that hold the tray in place.  And, it is flexible enough not to interfere with the travel of the print jet housing.

It does NOT keep all the bits and pieces of filament and supports from dropping down into the printer.  But, it DOES prevent it from going down into the vents themselves, where it is tougher to remove.

This is a good idea even if you are not planning to use Infinity Supports; but, it is DEFINITELY a good idea if you ARE using the new supports. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Rinsing Infinity Supports is Not the Only Removal Strategy

Any reader of this blog should know by now that there was no love lost between me and the old style supports.  I hated them with a passion because (1) removing them was likely to draw blood and (2) it was nearly impossible to use supports with marring the printed object.

So, why do I now LOVE supports?

Well, it's not just because the Water Soluble Supports dissolve in water.  In fact, I only use water when the part makes it absolutely necessary.  Take this part, for example.

Dial Indicator Holder

This part was designed to hold a dial indicator for checking the level of the print jets.  It was printed in a signle piece oriented as exactly as it is being used, upright.  It required a fair anount of support material.

Infinity Supports - Front View

Infinity Support - Bottom View
The supports literally surrounded the part and were even iside the clips that hold the part to the print table.

Yet, I didn't have to use a bit of water to easily and quickly clean the supports from the part.  I simply broke them away in the traditional fashion.  Because of the unique characteristics of the new supports the materials separated quite easily using a pick, a spade, the palette knife and pliers.  It's amazing.

If the part is designed so that supports are easy to access, then there may be no reason to use water to remove them.  But, it's great to know that there is more than one strategy for removing these supports and that both methods work very, very well.

As a side note... this was printed on my early vintage Cube3.  It's my understanding that the waste trays and rubber wipers have been redesigned since my printer was released.  So, that may be why there are bits and pieces that end up on the part and print table.  Fortunately, they do not seem to negatively affest the print.

But, there was a marked increase in the material getting down into the vents on each side behind the print trays.  It's an old issue (I wrote about this issue very soon after my Cube 3 arrived.); but, it seemed to me that the support material increased the incidents.  So, taking a hint from Eric Albert, I created a cutting jig that allowed me to create some plastic 'fences' to keep the material from getting into the vents.  The fences, may, however, be dlipping material onto thr print table.

I will post about it after I have tested alternate plastic sheet sources.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

3D Coat Experience - The Rocking Horse Textured

Hi Cubify Fans!

    I am back and bringing you another video in the 3D Coat Experience. This time I take our last model and texture it in the paint room.

    I took a little time out due to a small trip some surgery (hernia repair) and some rest. But I am back in full capacity now and ready to continue in this series. I got to meet Tom during the trip that I took and it was as if we had known each other all along. Wish I had more time to sit with him and just enjoy each others company however am glad for the time we did have. We talked a lot about shared ideas and interests in 3D modeling and  Printing. I believe we have decide to create another series that will run alongside this series. It will be more focused on the actual teaching of the software in depth. Not as much about an end result persay. The videos will be to the point and focused so as not to lose anyone who wants to learn 3D Coat,

    Last video was long and perhaps for some too long I am going to try and shorten them some perhaps when needed post them in parts. This video takes off where we stopped and takes the Hobby Horse and textures it for a much more refined finished model.

    I am just amazed at the simplicity at which you can color and texture a model in 3D Coat. I have played with many demos only to walk away frustrated. Not so in this video you will see how to make the model look as it is in the image at the top. keep watching and soon you will be making things with ease.  The image below is from my experimenting as well things are starting to get fun.

    Thanks for watching let me know what you think. I would love to know what direction you would like to see the 3D Coat Experience go. So take some time and add a comment at the bottom.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Infinity Supports - Getting Ready

I know that some of you jumped right on the opportunity to try out the new Infinity Supports.  And, you are right to be excited about it.  Words escape me as I try to wrap all the positive feelings I have about this new product.

But, to get the most out of the new supports there are some things you should know and some things you might want to pick up locally to help you clean up the supports.


The supports are water soluble.  And, presumably safe for our plumbing systems.  But, I'd rather be safe than sorry.  Even though most of the material completely dissolves in water, I have noticed clumps can remain.  And, when these clumps dry they solidify.  So, I have taken to dissolve the materials in a bucket and stir the water until I see no more solids.  Only then do I send it down the drain.

Moreover, I just purchased two items I want to test from Harbor Freight.  One is a parts washer that is essentially a bucket that circulates water and the other is a tool that shakes parts more aggressively than does my ultrasonic bath.  It's usually used to polish items; but, I plan to modify it to agitate water to see how it might work on supports.


working with Infinity Supports is a bit like being a dental technician.  And, the tools that are most helpful are very common in the dentist's office.  They can be purchased locally in hardware and hobby stores.

Tools Helpful with Infinity Supports
I'm fortunate that my daughter is a sculptor that works in clay who has purchased a ton of tools over the years.  One of the most helpful tools I've stolen from her is #4.  It's a curved spade tool that allows me to dig into the supports and pull them away from the PLA.  The picks, #5, are next most useful tools in that they can get into tiny crevices to clean out th little bits that might remain after the bulk of the supports have dissolved.

Of course, having a long tip pair of tweezers is also helpful.

The more of these tools you keep handy, the faster the job of removing the support material will be.


Your strategy for removing supports is dependent on how long you want to let the supports soak or sit under running water.  In some cases, it's faster to just get the supports slightly wet and simply grab portions of the support with the spade tool or the tweezers.  In this case, having paper towels ready helps to remove support material from the tools and dispose of the solids.    As I mentioned earlier, as the solids dry, they return to a hardened state.

I might also add that if you light the speed clean method, I'd drag a trashcan close for the same reason.  Wipe the tool with the paper towel and dispose of the solids in the trashcan.  But, remember, if you can be patient, 90% or more of the supports will dissolve on their own simply sitting in the bucket of water,


The best comparison I can come up with when describing the supports is cheese puffs.   The supports are laid down a bit like french pastry, with lots of air in the layers.  At this point in the evolution of the software and firmware, sometimes the supports can crumble and some bits and pieces might fall off the print table on into the printer.  A pair of long tweezers is helpful to grab these errant bits out of the printer.  I suspect this is a temporary situation as the developers and users learn more about the support characteristics.  But, it is something for which I think you need to be watching.


As most of you know, I HATED to old support system with a passion.  But, this meant that sometimes things had to be oriented in ways that made critical features weaker.  For instance, I might print a bolt standing on it's head leaving the shaft of the bolt weak as the layers were 90% to the shaft.

Not any more.

I can now orient a bolt sideways with the longitudinal layers adding to the strength to the shaft of the bolt.

Think about what that means to making our parts more useful in real world situations as we have the freedom to orient for maximum strength rather than for avoiding the need for supports.


Try printing the following part without supports. 

Orientation of the printed parts

It's impossible.  And, with the old style supports it would have been a nightmare to clean.  But, it prints beautifully with the new Infinity Support system.  And, yes.  That is EXACTLY as it was printed on the print table, with the bulk of the base ABOVE the print table.


The new Infinity Supports mean we do not have to perform gymnastics to print the items we scan with our Sense and iSense scanners.  This means we can print human shapes just as we scanned them!  I haven't had time to revisit some of my old scans for new print opportunities as yet; but. I certainly will.


Infinity supports require two print jets concurrently.  This means we must do our best to ensure that our print jets are evenly leveled relative to the print table.  Those with early machines will be mostly affected by this requirement.   While we have previously written about techniques to perfectly align the print jets, we will address the topic again should the need arise.  The part pictured above was created to hold a dial or digital indicator to test print jet alignment and it works beautifully.

I hope that all of you that have ordered the new support material will let others know of your experience through the comments on this blog.  And, I trust that you will be every bitas excited and happy as I have been.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


This is no smoke & mirrors deal.  This is the real thing.  Infinity Support material is available for both the Cube3 and the CubePro series printers.

It only works with PLA.

It is, to me, the biggest breakthrough in FDM printing and when you combine it with the firmware and software improvements that accompany the new Infinity Supports, no one single word fully describes the experience.




You bet it is!


You have no idea just HOW groundbreaking it is.

I could go on; but, suffice it to say that this is, to me, the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT development for consumers, designers and artists since the introduction of the 1st Generation Cube.

I has fundamentally changed my printing strategies and expanded my horizons exponentially..

But, I do not know exactly what I can or cannot say at this time.  So, I will have to be released to fully explain the entire process.   All I can say right now is be glad that the Cube3 has two print jets and order your Infinity Supports right away!

Chow - Created by Peyton Duncan

NOTE:  This was printed with one of the earliest Cube 3 printers delivered.  The latest versions of the Cube3 do an even BETTER job!

I've printed the Chow, above, with regular supports and the Infinity Supports.  What a nightmare with PLA supports and what a DREAM with Infinity Supports.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015