Wednesday, November 25, 2015

3D Coat Experience "The Rook, King and Queen"

Happy Thanksgiving to each of you!

This time we will be posting two videos the first one will show us how to go from a pawn to a rook. We will use the radial mirror to cut the top of the rook for the castle look. After the Rook is made you will have all the basics for making your own chess set. perhaps in a future video we will make a chess piece with a human type face. For now these are more classic type pieces.

After the Rook is made we will continue in The next video showing how to go from the rook into the King and the Queen. Again the Radial mirror is helpful in creating the crowning type tops. Chess pieces can be very contemporary or as classic as you desire. These videos should set you on a great start no matter what way you choose to go.

The next Project I am hoping to take on is a winter / Holiday theme. It will be used to make a render that could become a Christmas card or a frame for a family holiday photo. Perhaps print out your own winter display / ornament this season..

Until then have a great Holiday.             

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Post Processing: Step 1 - Obtain Test Items

The more I research the various ways people are post-processng their 3D prints in ways other than vapor treating ABS, the more I realize that getting it right is going to take some serious repetition and experimentation.  After all, for the most part, we are using equipment and smoothing material that are designed for rocks and metal parts.  So, to some extent we are in uncharted territory.

So, I am going in three different directions... epoxy coating, rotary tumbling and vibratory tumbling.

Smooth-on XTC 3D Print Epoxy Coating

I've ordered the Smooth-on XTC.  It should arrive in a day or two.  The total cost, with shipping was around $38.00.  I also called Smooth-on to try to establish some contacts that could give me quick help if I run into difficulty.  I don't want to be unfair to a product due to my own inexperience.  I managed to get through to technical support right away which was encouraging.  So, it seems we are off to a good start with XTC.  But, I will need to purchase a better mask before working with it.

Smooth-on XTC 3D Print Coating

Harbor Freight Rotary Tumbler

If tumbling works, it's probably a good idea to purchase a more robust rotary tumbler.  But, for now, the Harbor Freight dual tumbler is on sale for under $55.  The double tumbler should allow me to test two different media at the same time for the same time, allowing for better comparison.

Harbor Freight Double Rotary Tumbler

Harbor Freight Vibratory Tumbler

Harbor Freight offers both a 5lb version and an 18lb version.  I have purchased the 5ib version at under $55.  Shapeways uses a professional vibratory tumbler for smoothing nylon parts.  While I'm not sure that trying to use a tiny tumbler will perform anywhere close to the monster they use, it was certainly worth exploring.

Harbor Freight Vibratory Tumbler

Starting Materials Selection

Since I'm starting this process from a completely ignorant position... my usual starting place for such adventures, I've simply picked up the most easily available materials for the first tests.
  • Medium Ceramic Abrasive Polishing Tumbler Media
  • Rust-Cutting Resin Abrasive Tumbler Media
  • Rock Polishing Abrasive Set
  • Ground Glass Abrasive

  • Petco Mini White Aquarium Gravel

We'll discuss each material type as we test them. 

I will start the first preliminary tests today.  But, I don't expect to report anything until I know that I am using the right proportions for each tumbling method.  For instance, rotary tumbling usually involves water.  But, how much is not so easily determined by searching the web. The vibratory tumbler that I purchased is NOT intended for using with water.  But, is it still advisable to put the pieces into the tumbler in a wet state?  Again, it's not clear from the little research I have done.  So, I don't expect great results any time soon.  All we can promise is that we're going to give it a good try.

But, it would be VERY helpful if you have any experience at all to share it.  :) 

An Additional Test Item

I should also mention an additional product that I will be testing with Infinity Supports.  Frankly, I'm still not comfortable with washing off the supports directly in any of my sinks where chunks of support might be washed down the drain.  I am more comfortable with ensuring that the Infinity Supports have been thoroughly dissolved first,  I've been using a bucket for this purpose.

But, at the same time that I picked up the vibratory tumbler, I picked up a  portable parts washing station at Harbor freight.  

 It's not at all clear if this is a good solution or not.  But, at under $50, it is certainly worth exploring if it helps us avoid unintended and unexpected issues down the road..

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Turning Our Attention to Post Processing

While the blog has been silent for a while, it does not mean that the interest in moving our 3D printing experience forward has been dormant.  But, sometimes it's difficult to write when time is spent in exploration and experimentation.

I have spent a great deal of time experimenting with the Infinity supports for both the Cube3 and the CubePro.  In addition, I have been exploring printing with Nylon with the CubePro.  Then there is the effort put into building our 3D ThinkLink Lab at YouthQuest.  Soon I will have great news about that.

I've also been experiment with a system that stabilizes the print table even more solidly when printing with two print jets.  It's very promising and the brave among us can print their own to attach to the print plate of the Cube3.  I don't want to release the STL file until it's been tested thoroughly over a lot of removal and insertion cycles.  Even then, it will include a warning then one MUST be very careful to ensure proper seating each time the plate is returned to the printer.  For me, however, the improvement in Z-Axis alignment is worth it.  More later on this, too. 

But, the primary reason for writing this blog post is that I think the next area of improving our 3D printing experience not only has to do with new materials like Infinity Supports and Nylon; but, with developing techniques for post processing our prints.

For this reason, I have purchased some equipment and materials with which to experiment.  But, I also found a product that promises to help all of us that print in PLA who wish for a smooth surface like that achieved by vapor processing ABS.  I don't have any as yet; but, hope to have some soon.  It's called Smooth-On XTC-3D High Performance 3D Print Coating, an epoxy coating designed especially for 3D prints.  Fortunately, Smooth-On is a very pro-active company when it comes to providing online training for their products.   So, if you go to the link above, you'll be treated to some very useful information.  Here is just one sample...

Can you imagine how nice the print would be had it been printed with Infinity Support material?  :)

But, of course, I am interested in first-hand experience when it comes to products like this before giving it a whole-hearted endorsement.  Look for my review in the next few weeks.  In the meantime, it's inexpensive enough to give it a try for yourself.

One of the first things I plan to test with it is custom Cube3 & CubePro printed phone cases.  Frankly, the ones I've tried recently haven't held up well over time.  But, I'm thinking that an epoxy coating will not only give them a better overall feel; but, improve ruggedness.  We'll see.

So, please be patient as the post-processing experiments work their course.  Whether they fail or succeed, you will hear about it.  :)