3D Printer

A Table Top Factory

The Mustache and Monocle on a Stick is a huge hit with family and friends, so I have chosen to send those out as start up gifts.

This becomes a significant test for what I hope will be a production capable machine. How many things can it make before it needs to be calibrated or taken apart to fix?

I have a long list of simple wisdom that I have accumluated and more often ignore. High on that list was advice from when I worked for ArtsMarketing Inc of Toronto. They told their new Campaign Managers to document the events of each day at the end of each day, or at least the week, so they'd be fresh in your mind and wouldn't loose detail.

Yes, I already forgot something important from 2 days ago.

When I went to print out the Mustache and Monocle on a Stick again, the extruders went right off the build area! I had the same problem the first time and had sized it down 80%. Sigh. I sized it down again and printed one off. It was perfect. I saved that file and changed the filename to reflect the change.

This left me wondering why that happened, the full size build appeared on the virtual workspace fine, and when it printed it seemed shifted far to the right. I loaded up the full sized file and tried just moving the model to the "left". This print failed again, exacty the same way, so moving the model made no difference. OKay, that's fine, I'll fiddle with that when we start learning about the 3D modeling software later.

I decided that if 80% downsize was good, 90% might be enough.

The print started out great, but the end of the stick started to lift off the build area, it was warping! Sure enough the extruder head knocked into it and the whole thing popped off and skittered sideways. While disappointing, I just loaded the 80% file again and printed another funny piece, but I also change the print color! I was working my way through the 5 colors I had, and so far only the black had any trouble printing.

What do you call a group of Mustache and Monocles on a Stick? A gaggle of geese, a murder of crows and a Parade of Mustache and Monocles on a Stick.

Yes, I am going with that.

I took this opportunity to document the material costs for the Mustache and Monocle on a Stick. The spool of ABS is roughly $50 at 1 kilogram, so that's 1000 grams at 5¢ a gram (Thanks Math!). And the cost, minus the $2k machine and 30 minutes of time is...


By this point I had the chance to test out some more challenging designs. I found these tiny chairs and thought that would appeal to a different audience than, say, a tiny, wind-up TARDIS. (Which is very hard to photograph due to the Perception Filter.)

I loaded up the file and watched in amazement as the tiny chair was built with a shocking amount of detail. It wasn't perfect, but it did get a great response from the intended audience. And it is quite cool. I didn't notice right away, but at the very end of the build the chair back seemed to slump sideways a bit. It was so tiny, I didn't see that until later when showing it off. This is important because I had set up the printed to make another blue mustache and monocle on a stick while I was out.

(Never leave your MakerBot running unattended.)

When I returned I found this.

It actually comes across pretty adorable in the photo, but in real life this is a horrorshow.

One question had been answered. It was 3 days of future tool bliss before something went wrong.

I spent the next hour trying to redo everything, I leveled the build area, I calibrated the extruders, I ran the Startup Script again (which levels the build area and calibrates the extruders again. Sigh.) I even tried to tighten the X-Axis pully.

It just kept putting out janky builds that look like a meth addict fighting with a herion addict over a needle full of melty ABS plastic.

I was quite disheartened, despite knowing full well that this was bleeding edge hobbiest territory, I was pretty upset that I couldn't figure it out.

I unplugged everything and gave it the night to sleep on it.

Posted: Thursday, July 19, 2012

Past Articles - 3D Printer:
A Day Full of Fail - Friday, July 20, 2012
A Table Top Factory - Thursday, July 19, 2012
Building More Things... - Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Our Adventure Begins... - Tuesday, July 17, 2012

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