Category Archives: Dual Extrusion

MiniMaker Software Lets Kids (or Adults) Easily Create 3D Printable Action Figures

We recently had the opportunity to try out MiniMaker, a new software program from Digimania. MiniMaker makes it easy to create 3D printable action figures with just a few mouse clicks.

productsheet01

MiniMaker is fun and easy to use. It’s a great tool for introducing kids to 3D printing because it makes it easy for them to create action figures that are completely customized to their liking.

Each aspect of the figure can be customized, including:

  • Hairstyle / hat / helmet
  • Facial expression
  • Glasses
  • Clothing (upper body)
  • Clothing and shoes (lower body)
  • Accessory being held
  • Platform type
  • Positioning of figure

muvizu_minimaker

All of these options can be controlled with simple mouse clicks and drags. Positioning can be controlled with a simple slider, or by rotating individual control points in any direction.

muvizu_minimaker2

Once the figure has been customized to your liking, you can generate a 3D printable .OBJ file with a single click.

muvizu_minimaker3

For only $49.99, you get two versions of the software – one for creating boy figures and another for creating girls.

The resulting action figures require supports for 3D printing. While traditional supports can be used, this software really excels when paired with a dual extrusion 3D printer, like the Ultimaker 3. With the ability to use water-soluble PVA supports, you can produce nice, clean prints, like these:

img_2001

img_2011

Check out our video demo to see the software in action:

 

To purchase the MiniMaker software, please visit: https://shop3duniverse.com/products/minimaker-software

To learn more about the Ultimaker 3, please visit: http://www.3duniverse.org/2016/10/18/introducing-the-ultimaker-3-and-ultimaker-3-extended/ 

Introducing the Ultimaker 3 and Ultimaker 3 Extended

Today, Ultimaker launches their new Ultimaker 3 and Ultimaker 3 Extended desktop 3D printers. Some of the key new features are as follows:

1. Dual extrusion → Ultimaker has introduced an ingenious new method for producing clean dual extrusion prints. A mechanical switch lifts one extruder so that it’s out of the way when the other extruder is printing. This opens up a wide range of possibilities for printing complex geometries using PVA water soluble filament, as well as dual color printing capabilities.

2. Swappable print cores → With the Ultimaker 2+ there used to be only swappable nozzles. With the Ultimaker 3, the user can now replace the entire print core to easily switch between materials in seconds.

3. Connectivity → The user can start prints through the network, update firmware and easily integrate with printer networking solutions.

4. Active bed leveling → The new Ultimaker 3 can compensate for minor bed leveling issues by automatically adjusting the amount of filament extruded for the first several layers in the appropriate parts of a printed object.

5. NFC (Near Field Communication) → There is a chip on the filament holder and a reader on the spool holder of the printer that identifies which material is being put on. Cura, the slicing software, adjusts the settings automatically to the best settings for this material.

6. Built in camera → The user can now watch your print through Cura when located on the same WIFI network.

7. USB → If the user does not want to start prints through the network, they can load gcode onto a USB stick and print from there.

Check out our video for a comprehensive tour of all the new features in the Ultimaker 3 and the new and improved Cura software!

You can purchase the Ultimaker 3 here: http://shop3duniverse.com/products/ultimaker-3

And you can purchase the Ultimaker 3 Extended here: http://shop3duniverse.com/products/ultimaker-3-extended

An Experiment: Using Dual Extrusion to 3D Print a Plastic Object with a Bronze Shell

I just ordered some of this new bronze filament. It is made up of 80% real powdered bronze. It prints on normal FDM type 3D printers, but after polishing, it looks like actual bronze, as you can see in the photo below.


http://www.3dprinterworld.com/article/bronze-age-colorfabb-bronzefill-3d-printing-material

It looks beautiful, and I can’t wait to try it, but I do have to say – it’s pretty expensive stuff! A 1.5kg spool of it, including DHL shipping to the USA from The Netherlands, was $130. I’ve calculated this to be about 11 times as expensive as an equivalent amount of ABS.

Here’s my math on that:
(Note: I’m not great at math, so let me know if you see anything I missed)


ABS Plastic Filament (1.75mm):
Density: 1.04 g/cm^3
Volume: 960 cm^3/kg
Price per kg, including USA shipping: $30
1.75 mm filament length for 1 kg spool: ~ 400 meters
Price per meter, including USA shipping: $0.075 (7.5 cents)

PLA Plastic Filament (1.75mm):
Density: 1.25 g/cm^3
Volume: 800 cm^3/kg
Price per kg, including USA shipping: $30
1.75 mm filament length for 1 kg spool: ~ 330 meters
Price per meter, including USA shipping: $0.091 (9.1 cents)

bronzeFill  Filament (1.75mm):
Density: 3.9 g/cm^3
Volume: 256 cm^3/kg
Price per kg, including USA shipping: $87
1.75 mm filament length for 1 kg spool: ~ 106 meters
Price per meter, including USA shipping: $0.82

Based on weight, the bronzeFill is only 2.9 times more expensive than ABS. But because the bronzeFill is so dense, a 1kg spool only has about 106 meters of 1.75mm filament on it. So when it comes to how much you can actually print with it, you need to compare cost per meter. Based on that, we have a cost difference of about 11x.


A Bronze 3D Printed Prosthetic Hand??

I personally don’t mind the price if this stuff performs like I hope it will. I’ll just need to use it sparingly.

But I have a special purpose in mind. I know a young lady (in her 20’s) whose dream is to receive a metallic version of a Cyborg Beast 3D printed prosthetic hand (she was born without most of her fingers on one hand) and has always had self-confidence issues as a result.

Before coming across bronzeFill, I was looking at ways of 3D printing a Cyborg Beast in ABS and then applying some kind of metallic plating to that after printing to achieve the look she wants. Now, I’m thinking that maybe I can use my dual extruder FlashForge Creator X to print the shells of the parts in bronzeFill and print the infill and supports in PLA (plastic).

I use Simplify3D software, which is one of the few programs that makes this possible. I can choose which extruder to use for the outlines (the shells of each object), the infill, and the support.

I have no idea if this will work, but the bronzeFill seems to be based on a PLA material, so I’m guessing it’s going to be able to stick to the PLA in a dual-extruded print. Even if it doesn’t work, it’ll be a fun experiment!

While discussing the bronzeFill material, someone in the e-NABLE volunteer community recently asked how much it costs to print a Cyborg Beast (how much filament it takes), and how much it would cost if bronzeFill was used.

OK, let’s do some more math…


What does it cost to 3D print an entire Cyborg Beast prosthetic hand?

Assumptions:

  • Using 150% scale (for sizing the parts)
  • 30% infill
  • 10% support infill

ABS Plastic Filament (1.75mm)

Hand parts:
Filament length: 41.6 meters
Material cost: $3.12

Gauntlet (Frankie Flood’s short gauntlet design):
Filament length: 26.4 meters
Material cost: $1.98

Cost for an ABS Cyborg Beast print: $5.10
Total cost with assembly materials: $50.10

PLA Plastic Filament (1.75mm)

Hand parts:
Filament length: 41.6 meters
Material cost: $3.79

Gauntlet (Frankie Flood’s short gauntlet design):
Filament length: 26.4 meters
Material cost: $2.40

Cost for an PLA Cyborg Beast print: $6.19
Total cost with assembly materials: $51.19

bronzeFill Filament (1.75mm)

Hand parts:
Filament length: 41.6 meters
Material cost: $34.11

Gauntlet (Frankie Flood’s short gauntlet design):
Filament length: 26.4 meters
Material cost: $21.65

Total cost for a bronzeFill Cyborg Beast print: $55.76
Total cost with assembly materials: $100.76


As you can see, when we factor in the cost of assembly materials, we find that a hand printed entirely in bronzeFill would only cost twice as much as one printed in ABS. Not too bad…

However, a hand printed entirely in bronzeFill will weigh close to 1kg, which is way too heavy for a prosthetic hand. That’s what gave me this idea to try printing the shells in bronzeFill and the infill and support in PLA. I’m hoping this will result in a nice bronze outer shell, with the lighter weight PLA material filling in the inside of the parts. I’m guessing this should reduce the overall weight significantly (compared to an all bronzeFill print).

Hopefully, the bronzeFill will arrive soon, as I can’t wait to get started with the experiment! Regardless of the outcome, I’ll post again with the results, including photos and videos.

To purchase bronzeFill, please visit:
http://colorfabb.com/bronzefill

To purchase Simplify3D, please visit:
http://shop3duniverse.com/products/simplify3d-software

To purchase the assembly materials for a Cyborg Beast, please visit:
http://shop3duniverse.com/products/e-nable-hand-assembly-materials-kit-cyborg-beast-edition

Shopping with 3D Universe helps support our charitable work, making free 3D printed prosthetic limbs for as many people as we can.

For more information about the e-NABLE volunteer community, or to get involved, please visit:
http://enablingthefuture.org
https://www.facebook.com/enableorganization

Using Slic3r with a FlashForge Creator, Creator X, or Creator Pro

The FlashForge Creator family of printers are great printers for the price, but over the past several months, I have had to solve a number of problems and research a lot of answers in order to get everything working as I wanted. Some of these answers were easy to find, but others don’t seem to be addressed anywhere. I intend to summarize here the results of my testing and calibration, which will be most useful for those using a FlashForge Creator, Creator X, or Creator Pro.

My setup:

  • Flashforge Creator and Creator X (dual extruder models)
  • Sailfish firmware v7.6
  • Windows 8.1
  • Slic3r v1.1.7

Note: While this post shows how to set this up on Windows, I’ve posted a video tutorial that shows how to install on Mac OS X.

As outlined in a previous post, I spent a good deal of time testing out various slicing software. I was having a few issues with Slic3r (all of which were eventually solved and will be addressed here), so I went on to try Makerbot Makerware. The latest version does seem to handle the latest Sailfish firmware okay. Overall, the results were good, and I started to shift to using Makerware as my default software for slicing and generating the x3g files needed for printing. But after lots of further testing and careful comparisons, I became convinced that Slic3r has a more elegant slicing engine and produces higher quality results at better speeds, giving you more control along the way. It also produces more effective support material than Makerware. So, determined to use Slic3r, I went back to solve the problems I had run into previously. Hopefully, the following will save others with a FlashForge Creator or Creator X from having to invest as much time in this process as I did.

I recommend first installing the latest Sailfish firmware and following the Sailfish installation, setup, and tuning guides.

 

Setting Up Slic3r for a Flashforge Creator, Creator X, or Creator Pro

Download and install the latest stable version of Slic3r. Make sure you’re in “Expert mode” (File, Preferences).
Use the Configuration Wizard, or manually configure the printer settings. You’re going to want at least two printer profiles – one for single material prints and another for dual material prints. This is because we’ll use different Start and End G-Code to handle the appropriate number of extruders.
Choose “Sailfish (Makerbot)” for “G-Code flavor” and set the print bed dimensions (X=228, Y=150).
Set the number of extruders to 2.

Custom G-Code (Single Material Prints – Right Extruder)

Under “Custom G-Code” in your single material printer profile, try using the following. I like my G-Code to be well-documented for later reference, hence all the comments at the beginning.  Feel free to remove any line starting with a semi-colon.


Start G-Code:  start_gcode_single.txt
End G-Code:  end_gcode_single.txt
This Start/End g-code incorporates fixes for a number of issues I was having that seem to be related to the particularities of a Makerbot type printer.
In summary:
  • Slic3r’s default g-code wasn’t setting temperatures properly for my machine. This g-code uses the proper M-commands for the FlashForge and utilizes the Slic3r variables to fill in the temperatures you have set for the first layer.
  • Note the use of the “[first_layer_temperature_0]” variable. I couldn’t find this documented or addressed anywhere, but I tried something and got lucky. The variable seen in all the documentation and the Slic3r .ini files is “[first_layer_temperature]”, but on my dual extruder printer, that was returning two numbers separated by a comma. So the resulting g-code would be M104 S225, 225 T0 (which doesn’t compute). On a whim, I decided to try “[first_layer_temperature_0]” and found that yes, this will return just the value for the first extruder (and “[first_layer_temperature_1]” is for the second extruder).
  • The default Start g-code used a simple purge routine to extrude some plastic in a corner of the build plate before starting the job. I found that sometimes, especially if there was some oozing plastic already hanging on the extruder nozzle, the blob of plastic created by this initial purge routine would get caught on the nozzle and would then get dragged along, interfering with the first layer of the print. I greatly prefered Makerware’s approach, which extrudes a thin line of plastic along the front edge of the build plate before starting a job. It has a tendency to wipe off any oozing plastic that was already on the nozzle so you get a nice clean start to each print. I analyzed some g-code from Makerware and incorporated the appropriate bits here, with some modifications (i.e. it uses Slic3r’s “[first_layer_height]” variable.)

Custom G-Code (Single Material Prints – Left Extruder)

Start G-Code:  start_gcode_left.txt
End G-Code:  end_gcode_left.txt

 

Custom G-Code (Dual Material Prints)

Under “Custom G-Code” in your dual material printer profile, try using the following:
Start G-Code:  start_gcode_dual.txt
End G-Code:  end_gcode_dual.txt
And for Tool-Change G-Code:  tool_change_gcode_dual.txt
In summary:
  • Same use of temperature variables as discussed previously. Note the use of both “[first_layer_temperature_0]” and “[first_layer_temperature_1]” for the first and second extruders, respectively. These temperatures are determined by the material you’re using, as defined in the Filament profiles within Slic3r.
  • The same improved purge routine dicussed above, but modified so that it is repeated for each extruder. The second extruder uses a Y value that’s +1, so it lays the filament down right next to the filament from the first extruder.
  • Tool changes for dual extrusion prints weren’t working for me. When I looked at Slic3r’s g-code, I found that it was using “M108 T0” or “M108 T1” to change extruders. Looking at g-code from ReplicatorG/Skeinforge, I saw that the Makerbot type printers seem to be looking for a simple “T0” or “T1” and don’t seem to recognize the M108 commands. Using the above “Tool-Change G-Code” takes care of this issue by inserting the appropriate commands before each tool change. The M108 commands are still in the g-code, but they just get ignored by the printer.

Converting from G-Code to .X3G Using GPX as a Slic3r Post-Processor

You can download the GPX utility from here. Place it in a directory of your choice.
I found that if you just place the GPX executable into the “Post-processing scripts” field in Slic3r, it doesn’t work the way I want it too because Slic3r doesn’t let you pass command-line arguments to the script (for security reasons). To get around this, I created my own little Perl script to call GPX with the options I want.
If you don’t have a Perl interpreter installed, you can get one here.
In Slic3r’s “Print Settings” under “Output options”, I use the following for “Post-processing scripts” (modify according to where you have Slic3r installed):
D:\Slic3r\run-gpx.pl
run-gpx.pl is as follows:
#!/usr/bin/perl -i
use strict;
use warnings;
use File::Basename;
use Win32;
my $fname = $ARGV[0];
my ($name, $path, $suffix1) = fileparse($fname, qr’\.[^\.]*’);
my $shortname = “$name$suffix1”;
my $shortpath = Win32::GetShortPathName($path);
exec “D:/gpx-win32-1.3/gpx.exe -g -p -m r1d $shortpath$shortname D:/Dropbox/3DPRIN~2/$name.x3g”
You’ll need to modify the last line according to where you have gpx.exe and where you want the .x3g files placed.
This will call GPX, tell it that we’re using a Replicator 1 Dual (which is basically what the Flashforge Creator is), and tell it where to place the .x3g file. I like having all of the resulting .x3g files go into the same directory so they can then be easily copied to the SD card for printing.

Closing Comments

During testing, I discovered a couple of minor software bugs. I reported them to the developer, and he had them fixed within a few days!
Slic3r is excellent software, and has been released to the community free of charge. If you find the software useful, I encourage you to make a donation to support the hard work Alessandro is doing.
Have a Flashforge Creator or Creator X and know a better way of doing anything covered here? Post it in comments.
Good luck!

Dual Extrusion Rhombic Dodecahedra Chain

Rhombic Dodecahedra

This was a very cool print… This object is designed specifically for the Replicator 1 Dual printer. The individual segments of the object are spaced exactly as far apart as the two extruders on the printer. This means that if you load one color into each extruder and then enable ditto printing (which causes both extruders to do exactly the same thing at the same time, rather than working one at a time), then it prints out exactly as shown above. Kudos to Emmett Lalish, who designed this object!

The model can be found here: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:31151 (model credit: Emmett Lalish)