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.  :)

Friday, October 16, 2015

Updated Cubify Site is Amazingly Beautiful and Useful!

Opening up the Cubify Site this morning, I was blown away by the latest update.  I remember the first time I opened the Cubify web site and it seems a world and an eternity away!  It is amazing and gratifying to experience the evolution of the site over the years to the point where it is extraordinarily inviting to browse and use.

Most of the time I only have regular contact with the people that deal with hardware and app development.  So, I don't know who to thank for the progressively better web site experience that has burst forth in the last few updates.  So, if you are part of the team, consider this my Thank You!  I LOVE it!

New Filament Presentation

As I went to bed last night I was fretting that PLA appeared to be unavailable.  Not fun.  But, fortunately, I awoke to a completely different reality.  I'm having FUN again!

What a difference a few hours makes!

Every now and then, someone accuses me of being a stealth employee of 3D Systems.  But, it's easy to put that thought to rest by pointing out how many times I have not only been completely surprised by a new product or development; but, way behind in discovering it.  Fabricate is one of the glaring examples and the PLA availability confusion is another.

One of the improvements that I woke to this morning was the new presentation of the filament colors.  After years of flat swatches, we are treated to sculptured objects for making our colored choices.  Shadows are important when it comes to choosing a filament color and the new presentation allows us to compare not only the basic colors; but, the nuances of the colors as printed.  This isn't just a cosmetic update.  For users I consider it an important usability update.

Designs for USERS

One of the side effects of being as busy as I am actually doing and teaching 3D printing is that it leaves less time to spend catching up on what is being presented on the Cubify web site for users.  So, I fail to alert users to the free designs and other perks being offered to users on

I'll try to do better in this regard.  And, in the meantime, I'll point to the Cubify Halloween Page as the perfect example of 3D System's constant commitment to elevating the Cube experience for users.

The new Patterns Pages

 While not free, the new fabric patterns are reasonably priced and are a great way to become familiar with using 3D printing in fabric projects.  I was excited to see the patterns offering because it helps potential 3D Printer owners understand how to integrate 3D printed parts in fabric projects.  The fact that 3D Systems is constantly thinking about new and exciting applications for consumer 3D printing is very gratifying to me.  The patterns made it easier for me to visualize how to introduce Fabricate concepts to our cadets and I KNOW they are going to be VERY excited.

Way to go Cubify team!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Cube3 and Fabricate - Entirely New Horizons!

While I can't spend much time on it right now, I wanted to point you to the fact that 3D Systems continues to add value to your Cube3 investment by adding continuing to open up entirely new horizons for Cube3 owners.

Cubify Fabricate

I need to do a LOT more experimentation.  But, I cannot think of anything that adds more potential for the cadets that I teach than the all new Fabricate concept for blending clothing design and 3D printing.

Tonight's Project Runway's "avant garde" challenge featured the 3rd Gen Cube with the new Fabricate system.  Very Cool!

As soon as tonight's episode is online I will post the link.  In the meantime, check out the Cubify Fabricate link above... and let your minds go wild!


My experimentation will have to wait a bit.  None of the purchase links are live just now on the Cubify site.  Moreover, there are hints that this new capability might mean updated PLA cartridges.  While not a confirmation, I have to note that at the current moment, absolutely NO PLA cartridges are available on the Cubify site and users are being directed to consider ABS.

I will do my best to get better information on this situation.  But, if the two events are related. I will be patient and point you to other sources of filament for the Cube3 in the meantime.

Timing is EVERYTHING.  This morning, I woke to find that not only is PLA available; but, the new presentation on the web site is infinitely better at allowing us to assess the actual colors in real applications by adding images of the color as printed in actual 3D objects!

Apparently, it was a web site update issue rather than an actual availability problem. 

They have also updated

UPDATE #3 - Full Episode is up!

The Project Runway Cube3 episode is UP!  Here is the link.

I am VERY excited about Fabricate.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

3D Coat Experience "The Knight"

Hello friends
Continuing from the pawn we go into making the knight. the knight unlike the pawn needs at least 2 reference images we deal with that in this video. We also touch on saving models into the model library for later use. The pawn becomes our base model so that the rest of the set will have the same base contours. I took a little longer than planned in getting this video out due to a beta that kept crashing on me while recording. Now it is all set I went a little longer in this video than planned but it all works for the end result. let me know what you think.

I  am going to move onto the rook in the next video this mode will only need one reference image but will require some other skill that are needed to make the rook create symmetrically correct. see you then.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

3D Coat Experience "The Pawn"

Hello again!
I hope you are all enjoying 3D Coat as much as I am. In this video I am going to take some time and explain the reference image a little more clearer. I will do the same with the Lathe primitive tool too. We used the lathe tool quickly when we made the seahorse. this time I will cover the finer details of both of these tools.
 I have been making these tutorials with a completed model as my goal. I am soon to start a sister series that will shift focus from the end result to the tools and what they do. I am considering to keep both running side by side as long as their is an interest for them both.
 I personally like to watch other users make  complete projects, From watching those I am inspired to adapt what I learn to my own ideas and hope that is what these videos have been doing for you.

Let us know what you think.