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3D Printing and my experience with it

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  • Member

I have a bit over 2 years in 3d printing technology. Mainly the FDM type as I own one.

The industry is full of hype. Like the 3d printing of guns which is not practical for any low end desktop 3d printer. 

Here on my gallery page I have a few things I have created: http://www.fx-creator.com/gallery.html


Ok now to the good stuff. 

The 3d Printer I own is an Airwolf3D 5.5 printer. This printer can print up to 12 known materials. I have used PLA, ABS, TPE myself. The process depends on your tools. I use a variety of tools such as 3d-Coat, Softimage and Repetier-Host. There are mesh clean up tools like Meshlab etc.. 


The main thing people have to understand more than the 3d modeling tool they use is how the model is constructed and the resolution you are interested in printing. 

Some of the tools that create the G-code will choke on a valid STL file. What is most important is this. The lower the resolution the more simplified the model should be. So you can use a low poly mesh for a standard .4mm height printing. All should work fine. The more detailed model the higher you can push your model. You can run a higher resolution model with low settings and it will work however it will take longer to process. Most people just throw a 5k to 10k poly count model for say like a character at these applications. The program is designed to just process the model and will fail when it runs out of ram or if you set a setting that is in conflict. 


G-Code creation and tools like Slic3r or Skeinforge.

These are 2 of the main opensource slicing tools used. There are probably others but the focus is not on which tool you use. What is important is understanding how the 3d printing process works. All 3d FDM printers are like a hot glue gun with several computer controlled features. There is a couple of ratio calculations that are used for determining how fast to feed the filament and the speed of the extruder moves. Most of these ratios you do not have to worry about. Skienforge does force you to be aware of them and there are over 50 independent settings too. So knowing how the machine works will help in your settings. It takes a while for a novice to be able to print with any good quality as each different machine has quirks. You will have to just experiment. If your serious then you will create profiles and label them. Keep a log of what settings you did and the outcome. 


A friend of mine bought a Solid Doodle 3d printer when they were first released. These printers are not for a novice as you are set up with Skienforge. Skienforge has a lot of different settings and my friend was not aware of how to set them. His first attempt at printing he crashed the head. The design of the 3d printer does not allow for the head to give a little in case of sending the Z axis too far. Now I helped fix his printer and replaced the head. I also gave him some instructions on how to use the 3d printer. The Solid Doodle can print very good once it is set up properly.  Those wanting a good 3d Printer need to do a good amount of research. I am not going to say buy what I have but after owning one the best thing for me was support. The people there are nice and will make sure  you get a working product. You can get kits or buy the thing fully assembled. Read the reviews and talk to them. Take tours if your close by. Most important do your homework and understand not only the machine but the process. 


If anyone has any questions relating to the process I use or in general post a comment below and I will respond if I know the answer. Also if I do not know I will try to find someone who does.  ;)

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Wow Steve !


ty for take your time sharing this, Very useful.


A step by step narration will be nice to begin, not to mush detailed but... how was used every app in the process.


i want to know -ifs possible- a more detailed description about 3DC implementation and how helps your work


Ty again :)

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  • Advanced Member

Thanks Steve,

Very useful.


I have 3d printed through Shapeways and other companies but I get my very own 3D Printer (the Zeepro Zim) in early June and am looking forward to starting my adventure.

I am sure I will run in to a few obstacles but it is good to have a 'heads up' on what to look for. 

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  • 3 weeks later...
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I just went to the specifications page. 

Depending on what you want to spend. This is a very low end. It only has a 20x20x20cm bed. This is a very small footprint. 

Also it does not use the common extruder gears. If they are not Herringbone gears then you will get some backlash in the extruder when you are printing. 

Also it only allows you to print 2 materials. ABS and PLA So it seems it is not versitle. The printer I have can print 12 different materials. More as time progresses. 

Do some research, outline what you want, then depending on those factors and your budget will determine what you get. Do not follow the hype.

for $800 its not really worth it. It has a very small footprint and is not very accurate. a B9 Creator would be better as it has the same footprint and will do much better detail.However it costs 3-4 thousand. So assuming that your on a budget check out this page for price and features: (notice the Airwolf 3d printer is 4th in the list. I do not own the HD printer, however I have worked there and with Erick Wolf who is the owner. He will do everything he can to make you happy and ensure you get a quality product.) 



I also want to point out that working with a 3d printer will take a lot of time and trial/error to get good at it. There are no one stop solutions under 10k. Sad but true. 

I would not buy the Velleman due to its small footprint and its not even on the reviews of the top 10. So I would save your cash and work towards a 3d printer that you will be happy with and most important make sure they will support it.

In my opinion the FDM is like medium quality and the liquid light based ones are higher. 

Can you post what you want to print with yours?



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Thanks Steve I will give the Velleman a miss ,not sure about metal PrintrBot Simple though.
I just want to be able to print out some sculpts and to familiarise myself with 3D printing,
I am a bit of a tinkerer.
Ideally I'm looking to spend around £700 ($1200)to print out reasonably recognisable sculpts
am I being realistic or optimistic.  :)







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