Moving to WordPress, NanoBlock, H4 extruder...
February 14, 2016
So while trying to update the site, I started to realize the limitations of Blogger, and I decided to move the entire site to my own hosting with WordPress at the back end. Although much more work than I originally intended, I think the pros outweigh the cons by a huge margin. Not only can I host my own files myself, I can add a forum or a store in the future if need be. Also the layout of the site will be much more attractive and easier to navigate and read. On my end, the biggest change will be getting rid of the horrible post editor in which I'm writing these lines. :)
I've already set up the hosting and WordPress theme, currently work is being done on the site layout and migrating what little content there is here to the new site. There will be some content changes as well. For a long time now I've been wanting to add some of my other areas of interest to this blog, but I didn't really want it all to intermingle, thankfully the new layout will allow for automatic separation into categories so it doesn't all get jumbled up.
The things I will also be writing about are (in no particular order) 3d graphics in 3ds max (focused on architectural visualization - which is my day job), Allegorithmic Substance Designer, various other graphics software (like Photoshop, Illustrator etc.), my attempts at scripting in 3ds max via maxscript and so on.
So it's going to be more interesting I think, and hopefully will also allow me to post more frequently and provide you with better content all around. I am also discussing some guest appearances so stay tuned for that too.
Work is being done on the new and revamped 'How not to buy a 3d printer' guide which will be much more thorough than the last one and hopefully will cover more ground making it easier for newcomers to jump over the possible pitfalls, which was the intent of the first one as well.
Also, a lot of people have been asking me in the last year what's up with my extruder projects, so I have some news on that part too. The NanoBlock is almost done, has been for a long time now, but I really haven't had any time to work on the design lately. That being said, I'm (again) waiting for some new motors, and I've been at work for a long time trying to bring you the world's smallest and lightest fully featured extruder. I've had some problems with custom parts which are hard to source, and I would really like the final design to be easily made by anyone so I'm trying to deal with that. As I've stated elsewhere the current iteration of the extruder is 4.5x4.5x4.5 cm and weighs around 124 grams all included. I think I can do better, we'll see. :)
As for the long awaited update to the H3, I've decided to start from scratch and make a new bowden based extruder. I need to get my machine printing, and since the NanoBlock currently installed on the machine is in a constant state of redesign, that leaves me without a working printer most of the time, so I'll be fitting it with the H4 as soon as it is done.
I'll still be posting to this page until the migration is complete, and if everything goes smoothly, all the old links to the posts will redirect properly to the new site after the move.
February 08, 2016
If you're seeing funky stuff on the blog... that means I'm trying to wrap my head around on setting up a custom theme and stuff.... Shouldn't take more than a few days I hope. Sorry about that! Expect weird titles and glitches in the meantime... :)
Sifting through the features or 'The Guide to Not Buying a 3D Printer'
August 27, 2014
UPDATE 11.2.2016: So it's been more than a year, and this post (and the blog) is getting an update. New version is in the making, but will take a while. In the meantime I'm trying to get a grip on modifying a custom blogger theme and stuff like that. So this post is currently semi readable due to various formatting issues! Sorry about that and stay tuned!
UPDATE 29.8.14: Yesterday while writing this post, I wasn't aiming for anything special, I was just a bit irritated how misleading most of the information about 3d printers currently is. I published it and went to bed, expecting my usual few hundred pageviews in the morning. What happened was just insane. Somehow, this post spread like wildfire... reddit, twitter, G+, and featured on hackernews! I was welcomed by 15000 pageviews which turned to more than 35000 by the end of the day. I really don't know what to say except -
THANK YOU PEOPLE!
Especially since 99% of all comments I saw were really encouraging and positive. There are always people who disagree, which is absolutely fine, and even those comments were polite and respectful, and that is one of the reasons I love the 3d printing community so much.
To all the people who found a problem with my stance towards Makerbot, I will explain my position in a future article in detail. I wasn't even dreaming this would reach such a wide audience, therefore I didn't really find necessary to explain every single detail, and while I try to cover as much ground and explain as well as I can, in the 40-60 minutes it took to write this thing, many things were simply forgotten. This was called a "Guide" more as a pun, but as it seems, turns out to be one anyway. :)
If nothing else, by the response it seems there is a need for such a guide (but definitely more detailed) and I will seriously consider expanding on this further.
I did just add a chapter about filament cartridges I completely forgot about, and thanks a lot to Daniel Gentleman for reminding me!
Well, a person looking to buy a 3d printer nowadays will have a larger choice than ever of manufacturers and models. Literally hundreds of them. Alas, of those hundreds maybe 5% are actually worth spending money on.
As with any emerging technology, it didn't take long for people to start inventing catchphrases, wrapping completely trivial features into mysterious techno babble, and generally exploiting everything they can think of to sway a non-suspecting onlooker into buying their product.
There's ample proof of this on almost any 3d printer product page on the web. If I could take a random sample of those product pages, it would probably take hours to find one which doesn't have any such stuff.
Time to call bullshit!
"...Its self-adjusting clamping device ensures the right contact pressure of the filament to the feed roll."
(GermanRepRap.com about their DD-2 direct drive extruder)
[pic will be back soon]
Self-adjusting clamping device you say? In reality it's a spring. I know. Revolutionary. There are many such revolutionary inventions lying around. If you find some good examples please let me know, I'll add them here. :) I must add here that GRRF guys aren't a bad bunch AFAIK. It's just a really poor way of describing your product. I may be too hard on them because it's not their native language, but still, I'm allergic to stuff like this.
"Open Source 3D Printer that anyone can use."
(From every crowdfunding campaign ever)
First of all, everyone wants to jump on the open-source bandwagon. I have no problem with that, I love open-source! And given that the 3d printing community is sensitive to closed source printers (and with good reason, since most of them use stuff directly taken or derived from advancements in the open source community), most printer campaigns put their open source badges on their foreheads, so to speak - it's the first thing everybody mentions. To clarify, a machine is not better because it's open source. It's a philosophical question, nothing to do with actual performance.
As for the "anyone can use" part, that's probably still the biggest myth going around. There is no printer anybody can use. Never was. Not even among the professional super expensive ones. I could elaborate that on a thousand levels, but suffice to say there are people who can spend their whole lives not learning how to assemble a PC, while in reality almost anyone could do it given the right parts. It's around a hundred times easier than dealing with a 3d printer of any kind. I can explain to a complete noob over the phone how to assemble a computer (which I did on numerous occasions) but I couldn't explain in a week to a person knowing nothing about 3d or electronics how to properly use a 3d printer and get consistently good results. Getting good prints out of a printer is a skill you learn with time, if you are willing to invest said time. Whoever tells you otherwise is lying to your face.
Take a look at the support forums of ANY 3d printer and you will see thousands of threads started by those very same "anyones" who are lost trying to get their printer to work at all, let alone properly.
Properly using a 3d printer requires specific technical knowledge due to various technological limitations, and honestly I don't see that situation changing very soon (at least not until HP comes around and makes it all work like an inkjet printer, I suppose).
(although 3d Systems would like you to think so, this is not a print, it's CG,
see an actual print here
My all-time favorite. There is so much wrong with this I don't even know where to begin. If you look at my
post, or the
post, you will see examples of that. A 3d rendering intentionally made to look like a 3d print. There are at least two possible scenarios when this is used, both of them just plain insulting:
1. The people trying to sell you a 3d printer have either never actually built a working prototype, or
2. Their printer is so crappy they don't want you to see the actual results.
Either way, it's outright cheating so avoid at all costs anything that smells of CG imagery of prints. If you suspect somebody of showing CG prints, but are not sure, let me know, CG is my bread and butter and they can't fool me. We'll add them here as an example. :)
Still in development, will be awesome...
On the other hand there are always those cute campaigns where people actually show you their crappy prints, saying how it's all in development, and in time it will be awesome. Avoid that too. If it doesn't have a HD video at the end of which is a print of acceptable quality, don't give them money. Pictures can be (and often are) faked. There is no way of knowing where the item on the photo was printed.
There is no excuse for putting an unfinished machine on kickstarter, whatever people may think. If you believe in your idea invest some of your own money to build a working prototype to show to the world. A printer is made of parts, not promises.
Another favorite of mine. I've mentioned this before but did you notice that if you compared all those comparison tables (inception alert), in each one you will find one category that appears nowhere else, and somehow every single time the printer in question is the only one delivering on said category. Usually those comparison tables offer no useful info at all.
Hypersonic print speed
[Image courtesy of
It's always funny to see the advertised print speeds of various printers. Besides usually being outright impossible to achieve, this info is also useless to you. Why? As anybody who ever printed something can tell you, you'll spend most of your time in the 30-60 mm/s range. And most of the printers are capable of that. Some of them can go faster, but the resulting prints will not be something you will like to look at. A well tuned printer (and that takes time and knowledge) could deliver good prints a bit faster than that but not too much, as it also depends on the materials used and various other factors. Plus, travel movement and extrusion movement are not the same thing. Travel speed depends solely on the gantry, while with extrusion the material feeder and hotend (aka. the extruder) must also keep up with those speeds.
The almighty positional accuracy.
Positional accuracy in 3d printers is basically the resolution at which they are able to move the printhead around, the limiting factors being the choice of motors, microstepping, and belts and pulleys. Now manufacturers will quote various micron sized values for how their printer is positionally accurate. What they won't tell you is that this number is theoretical, and derived from the specifications of the chosen components. In reality it depends on much more than that, because no machine is perfect (I'm talking about DIY printers here, for you engineering buffs, not a HAAS processing centre :P), and there are better and worse gantry designs, and more or less quality manufactured machines. Theoretical accuracy isn't so crucial to the end user. It's just another term at which you are supposed to say "Whoooooa!". Ignore it. Repeatability on the other hand is a much bigger factor, ie. when you tell the machine to get to point A, then B, than A again, how much will it be offset the second time, but that's not something you will usually find listed.
Revolutionary, patent-pending, groundbreaking
Be on the lookout for keywords like that. Usually (and usually does not mean always) indicates crappy printer. It's the same like all that "as seen on TV" stuff. Example: http://3dprint.com/11553/3d-gence-printer/
Open source is of course one of the main features but lo and behold: "The pressure control system of the nozzle is not the only patented feature which has been used within the design of the 3D Gence. Additionally, there is a patented system put in place for the quick removal of printer heads. No unscrewing, loosening of bolts or clamps is required." So they patented the fact that you can remove the printhead with a latch. That's so innovative I just might cry a little. How does open source work with that? It doesn't. Out of the four highlighted features on the promo picture one is "OPENSOURCE" and the fineprint says it operates on open source software. Nice move there. Take from the community but keep yours for yourself. A model of nice behavior there. Also note the all present keyword PRECISION, and the fact the whole printer is just a render. A render that costs 1999 Euro.
On the subject of patents VS open source, while it may be perfectly legal to make a printer and patent some of your solutions, and still use it with open source software, it doesn't make you a good guy in my book. Patents hinder innovation and are ultimately bad for everyone, especially for the end user
(Just to note that while pressure control in the nozzle is something I've seen discussed quite a lot, and would really be a welcome improvement, no proof of 3dgence's claims exists AFAIK, so for now it's just a buzzword.)
Cheapest ever, high quality-low price and similar nonsense
The Pirate3d Buccaneer
- the printer that started the super low cost boom)
While a 3d printer, due to it being a relatively complex piece of machinery, is definitely more than the sum of its parts, it can only be that much more. You cannot source quality components for a whole printer for $50. Printers which come assembled and cost $300 always have some sort of catch. If you want a solid machine, be prepared to A) pay for it, B) pay less initially and then tinker, upgrade, modify or C) source all the parts yourself so you have absolute control what goes into your machine. Do note that of course, vice-versa is also true - quality parts do not make a good printer by themselves.
This excellent article by Daniel Brown
explores in detail why the super cheap kickstarter 3d printers are in general destined to fail.
Easily one of the most misunderstood things on this list. Contrary to popular belief, filament cartridges are not easier to use, or better for you. A filament catridge is in essence a spool of filament encased in plastic (which you pay for) and a chip (which is there so you can't use non proprietary filament). They lock you to a single filament supplier, which is probably the worst thing that can happen, since major progress is being made on the materials front by great companies like
and others. So cartridges mean missing out on that progress completely. Also, the cartridge system has one true purpose only - and that is to sell you filament for more money than it's worth. Companies like Stratasys have been selling filament for years at prices which are many times higher than what it's actually worth just because they could. The advent of DIY printers finally showed how much filament is realistically worth. So, please don't be fooled there is actual value for you as a user in cartridges. Even with your standard ink-jet cartridges, EPSON recently proved home printers
can work just as well using refillable containers instead of cartridges.
I'm not directly comparing this to that here, just saying it is obviously possible.
So fact .1: Cartridges = less choice, more cost
As for the ease of use, it's not really that hard to take the end of the filament from a spool and stick it in a PTFE tube, is it? And the filament inside the cartridge is no better than the one you can buy on a spool from a reputable manufacturer. And it could very well be worse. Besides, on some cartridge systems you have to pull the end of the filament and stick it in the guide tube manually anyway. And there's another great feature in cartridges too, they tell you how much filament there is left. But not really, they tell you how much is supposedly left, they are usually not transparent so there is no way to know, and there is a chance you will throw some away in the end. (To be honest, I don't have proof of this, but it's an educated guess). On the other hand, is it that hard to look at a spool to see how much is left?
Therefore, fact .2: Cartridges easier to use? Not necessarily.
Somebody somewhere mentioned the
XYZ Printing daVinci
as a good choice for non-tinkerers, because it's all cartridges and buttons,no-nonsense easy to use. Okay, let's look at that one a bit. First of all, the actual vs. print volume of that printer is just ridiculous.
And as for the ease of use and quality this video is an awesome example
, since it's completely honest. And here's a HD screenshot from said video which best illustrates my point:
This shows the excellent quality you can get with such an easy to use printer, I mean the guys just took it out of the box and it worked, right? Yes, in the sense you can put wooden wheels on your car and it will still drive. This print is beyond horrible. Which brings us back to my point there is no easy to use printer. If the daVinci can even print decent objects (and I have no idea if it can), it will obviously require tinkering. Tinkering in which the community won't be able to help you so much because it's all pro and closed, so you will rely on their support. And we all know how technical support works (very rare exceptions aside).
Fact .3: Better quality? Not necessarily.
To sum up, you get less choice and pay much more, for something that is not necessarily easier to use, not produces better quality prints. I'll let you decide if that's a smart thing to do.
Features VS quality? Always quality!
I've said it before but I'll say it a thousand times more if necessary. The first and foremost important feature of a 3d printer is the quality of the prints. That's what it's made for. It's not made to connect via WiFi, tweet when the print is done, change LED colors while printing and make coffee. It can do that, sure, but that's not its primary purpose, now is it? When I look at some of the currently offered printers it's like someone trying to sell me a car, with all the bells and whistles, for a crazy low price, and it's not that ugly actually... but sadly the only thing it doesn't do is drive.
To future printer builders who might stumble upon this: when designing your printer get your priorities straight and please make sure it does its primary purpose as it should, before worrying about the cosmetics.
So how DO I buy a printer then?
A fair question to be sure. Well, here are some pointers:
1. Educate yourself
Each minute you spend learning about 3d printing and 3d printers before you commit to buying one will save you a nerve or two in the long run. Don't fall for the catchwords.
2. Listen to the experts
There's a vibrant community on Google+ about 3d printing. Lots of them to be exact. And also a lot of very good blogs. There's a good chance that when a suspicious printer appears some of the bloggers will react and warn people.
are some of the people you should follow. It's amazing how much good info you will get from these guys.
3. Read the forums
RepRap forums, Ultimaker forums, Printrbot forums... there's lots of places with knowledgeable people willing to help.
4. Find reviews
The best way of knowing if something is worth your money is to see the other users' experiences with it, free of all the corporate and marketing BS.
5. Don't take news portals seriously
While 3d printing news portals like 3ders.org or 3dprint.com are a good source of latest info, think of them more like the celebrity pages in the papers. They will usually publish whatever info they get from manufacturers, without checking the facts or offering any critique, so not a good place to find crucial information on how to best spend your money. Every printer seems really cool and packed with features if you read about it on those sites. All in all - good to stay in the loop, but to be taken with a grain of salt.
6. Avoid Makerbot
My final piece of advice - do us all a favor and do not give Makerbot your money. They are the exact opposite of what the global 3d printing community stands for and works towards.
(If the thing about Makerbot confuses you, I will be elaborating on that in the future, stay tuned for that)
Now that you're done with this take a look at
Jeremie Francois' excellent rundown of what you'll run into when you do buy a printer and try to do something with it
You disagree with something here, or I missed something? Let me know!
BTW I am fully aware I tend to write a bit on the harsh side sometimes, but being polite all the time is boring and I absolutely despise being politically correct. So there you have it. :)
The mailman always rings twice...
August 25, 2014
Or in this case he will ring many, many times. :) Lately I've started to work a bit more on my projects again. But I soon realized I'm missing many parts and various stuff, so I had to order a bunch of things. Yay!
There's a lot of stuff incoming including but not limited to some PTFE tubes (for various reasons), nylon air hoses in various sizes (for the
), some new tiny motors and a new worm gear set (for the next iteration of
), and finally a new belt pack for my Poor Old Ultimaker(TM). That is if the
crew ever decides to ship them. Funny how I ordered all the stuff AFTER I ordered the belts, and everything is well on it's way here, but the belts haven't been sent yet.
Ultimaker please work on shipping things faster!!!
3D scanner is in the mail too, so expect a thorough review with pictures (and maaaaaybe a video) when it arrives.
In the meantime I scrapped my DD-1 lasercut direct drive project in favor of
Nick Foley's motor corner
, which is a far superior design, I must admit. But alas, I wouldn't be me if I didn't redesign it to my liking.
You can find my version
The main difference is that this version should have less potential flex and be a bit more tough all around, and it prints supportless, but spends more material and takes longer to print than Nick's. Print with 25% infill at whichever layer size you want. I use 0.2 for mehanical parts mostly.
My lasercutter is up and running again, thanks to a new focusing lens. The last one exploded while cutting OSB boards. Have I shown you my laser cutter yet? No? Well, here's me and my girlfriend next to it after we installed it in the garage. :) Quite tiny, eh?
PRO TIP: Never laser cut OSB boards, the epoxy that binds them together acts like a mirror for the laser beam and your laser will literally cut itself. A lesson I learned the hard way.
Now when I mentioned the
, I'm happy to say I've made significant progress in the last two days. It was a true eureka moment, and I suddenly found myself spending a whole day rethinking everything I've done with it so far. The results look promising and I have already assembled a prototype, I'm just waiting for the new motors to arrive so I can test it out.
It turned out even smaller (40x40x27mm without the motor), lighter (I expect the complete assembly with the motor to be around 120-125 grams), and much sturdier all around than before. It also features a completely new spring-tensioned idler based on... err... cigar cutters! Yes, you read that right, it uses the same simple concept.
Since I just accidentally dropped it three times in a row, I can safely say it's tough enough. It has one small printed part and the rest is laser cut, unlike the previous prototypes which were mostly printed. The reason behind this decision is twofold: at the sizes I'm working with, printed parts are just too fragile, so I waste space making things thick enough they don't break, and laser cutting is SO much faster. I takes 1 minute to cut all the necessary parts. Also this new revision resulted in something which can be assembled in two minutes (which is really different from the previous versions which were usually a bi+c# to assemble).
Now, I know I've been quite cryptic about it in the past, but I'm preparing a big post about how it came to be and where I'm at with it currently. I always want to improve it even further so never seems to be a good moment when I'm ready to show it to the world. But I promise, (after this test, for better or worse) I will explain it in detail.
I'm also planning to cut a new frame for my Poor Old Ultimaker(TM) since the original one looks like swiss cheese after all the holes I drilled into it. Which of course is an excellent opportunity to do some changes to the design of the original UM frame! (What can I do, I just can't resist it...)
Keep your fingers crossed the new
works and I'll see you soon. :)
May 09, 2014
But wait! Robin was right, my thermistor DID explode yesterday. How you ask? I have no idea.
What happened is that I printed stuff throughout the day and on the start of the god-knows-which print I extruded some filament to prime the nozzle. I wanted to remove the excess filament before the Z axis reached home with a pair of tweezers, so that it doesn't stick somewhere it isn't supposed to. I do that all the time.
But this time, as soon as I touched the brass nozzle part of my UBIS hotend with said tweezers, the thermistor exploded like a firecracker: flash, bang and all...
I had no clue that was even possible, and know even less about how/why it actually happened. For starters, I'm pretty sure the thermistor isn't supposed to be electrically connected to the brass nozzle in any way, and it must have been for this to happen. I'm guessing some static discharge ended it's life, I see no other reason why it would happen so suddenly.
The moral of this short story is: yes,
thermistors can explode, so watch out how you insulate the leads
Currently this blog is undergoing maintenance. I'm installing a new theme, setting things up, cleaning up posts and stuff. Expect oddities and glitches. :)
Sifting through the features or 'The Guide to Not Buying a 3D Printer'
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