Monthly Archives: August 2014

Prototyped Sign Build

I’m in the midst of doing a side project and I thought it would be a good example to show the process from idea to finished product. This particular prototype is perfect. I will be using several different materials as well as possibly a little wiring and basic circuits. No matter what the prototype is, the process is almost always the same.

I started out brainstorming what kind of sign I wanted to build. I knew that I wanted something multi-layer. I also had to take into consideration the raw materials I have available. I could have printed the majority of this prototype on plastic but, I wanted something that didn’t look like it came fresh off of the 3D printer. In order to do that I would need a combination of carful design and the use of a few different materials.

As of now I’ve decided to use Birch 6mm plywood, ABS, PLA and possibly some acrylic. The main structure of the sign will be made from wood as it will add to the overall rigidity of the structure. A combination of PLA and ABS will be used for all of the signs 3-dimensional lettering.
The Design Process
I decided to use Sketchup for the design of not only the lettering but, for the entire sign. It will give me a master set of plans that I can refer to throughout the build. Another nice feature in Sketchup is the ability to change the colors and textures of the prototype I’m building.

For this specific design I needed to come up with a simple logo as well as some stylized font for the lettering. To find a font that I liked, I uses a photo editing program on my phone. It offered up a font that was perfect for this build. I typed out exactly what I wanted to say. After that I saved it in black and white as a GIF file that could be imported into Sketchup.

Once I had it imported into Sketchup I used the available tools to make a water tight outline of all the lettering I imported. I made sure to take notes of what parts I wanted to be more “3D” than others. Once all the lettering was outlined I could use Sketchups push/pull tool to determine each parts thickness. Making some parts stick out further than others gave it a great depth of feel. I completed this process over again to create the logo.

Since I’m using wood for the base structure I needed to make a 2D pattern of the back plate of the sign as well as the front inset. I did this by looking at my design files that determined the overall size of the sign. I then transferred that using paper and pencil. This gave me a great guideline to use when cutting the wood on our scroll saw. After that it’s just a matter of taping the pattern to the wood and cutting it all out.

The Build
Now that I have a great idea of how everything will be laid out, I can start working with my materials. The first material used was the 6mm birch. I cut out both my front inset and my back pieces.

I then took the designs created on Sketchup and printed them all off. After printing they are all cleaned up and prepped for paint. I’ve found that acrylic paint works great on printed plastic. If you want the painted pieces to hold their color – I recommend using a clear coat spray paint on top of the acrylic paint. It works great, especially on items that will be outside, exposed to the elements.

Once everything is painted, it’s time for assembly. I used gorilla glue to adhere all of the pieces together as it works well to bond almost any materials together. Due to time constraints I decided to not add the flashing LEDs. I will save those for the next project.

New Search Option Available

You can now search through the vast archives of RepRap Squad’s posts. Located on the upper right side of the page – giving you the availability to search for what matters to you. We have tons of build logs, reviews, DIY, news, how to’s and just about everything else 3D related. Don’t miss out and search until you can’t search anymore.

ProtoLab – Models, Designs & Prototypes

Now that our new Prototyping Lab is almost finished being upgraded. We will have a new addition to the RepRap Squad team. I have chosen Brian to head up the Prototyping Lab. It will take him a little time to settle in but, we will soon see some very neat designs and prototypes.

The majority of his efforts will be to design prototypes for the 3D print industry but, he will also be designing and building parts for almost every industry out there. We wanted to have a platform available to share our models and designs. ProtoLab is perfect for this. We will share not only the models, but the design process as well.

You can also check out the ProtoLab page HERE or Tweet at: @REPRAPSQUAD_HQ

Loose Filament – Problem Solved

Loose filament and re-spooling it has been a problem probably as long as filament has been around. It loves to tangle and snap, which can turn into a headache quickly. Lots of different RepRappers have different tricks and methods for re-spooling loose filament. I have been asked many times, ” How do I put loose filament onto a spool without making a huge mess?”

I decided to toss some effort towards coming up with a quick and simple solution. I wanted to be able to create something using parts that most people might have laying around. I will also add files for those of you that find it to be very useful or you just want to build a very clean looking one.

For proof of concept, I gathered together all the materials that I thought I might need. Some of these parts I used are rather odd but, it goes to show you can make it out of just about anything. For the base I used an outer metal shell from a dismantled DJ light, (yes in my 2nd life I was a DJ.) Realistically you can use anything that you can slide a rod into – the rod will be mounted vertically.

I used a rod that is about 18 or so inches long. An 8mm (Dia) threaded rod is ideal, especially if you want to add bearings to easily rotate your spool. If your base has a large flat surface, you won’t need to add the black plastic that I used. The flat surface on the bottom is used to hold the un-spooled filament during the re-spooling process. A second set of nuts can be used at the top of the threaded rod to hold the empty spool on the top. I printed a set of spool hubs that can be found on Thingiverse by searching for, “Printrbot spool hubs.” If you have spools from different companies, I recommend Thingiverse.

Once you set the loose filament on the lower flat surface, you can cut the zip ties or whatever is holding it together. After that you will find the end of the filament that is closest to the top and thread or tape it to the spool. You can either spin the spool or manipulate the filament with your hands in order to re-spool it. I find that doing it by hand is the easiest.

It may start to tangle when you are re-spooling but, it won’t because of the rod being in the middle of the spool. Sometimes the filament that is sitting on the lower surface may need to spin and should do so by itself as long as there are no obstructions. On occasion you may need to help it along.

Using this setup is both easy and saves your filament from getting broken or tangled. I plan on making a better version but it will function the same. The only difference will be the aesthetics. I will update with the new version as well as files for any printable parts I design.



The Low Down on Dual Extruders

Good news in the way of dual extrusion is here. Repetier knows the importance of making multi extrusion more user friendly. They recently released Repetier Host V1.0.0 which has a ton of dual or multi extrusion add ons. For the cost of a few parts and an app you can download Repetier Informer. It will send free push notifications to your iPad or iPhone updating you on the status of your printer.

Repetier’s New Layout

Slic3r has also gotten in the game with all kinds of new options for multi head extrusion. You can now switch nozzle size on your extra extruders. It also has an option to put a larger nozzle on and use it for quick infill. This dramatically saves on print time. CuraEngine is also included along side Skienforge.

Slic3r 1.1.7 stable us out or for the guy who has to check out the newest tech – Slic3r 1.1.2 experimental is also available. Find both versions as well as past versions by clicking HERE
A lot of the issues described below are
One of the most annoying problems with the dual extruder printing is the plastic leaking from the idle extruder. It is especially noticeable with PLA that flows easier than ABS. Lowering the temperature of the idle extruder while it is not needed and restore it when it is time to start printing with that extruder again helps to deal with leaking. It is tricky though since leaking has to be prevented during the teperature changes.

Slic3r has an option to help prevent oozing. It will lower the temps of the unused extruder slightly to help eliminate this issue. They have come a long way in battling the issues involved with the idle hotends. Other options that are usually considered to battle these issues are wiping stations and using a “Parking place.” Both techniques are described below.

The technique being used with the current generation of the RepRap X2 printers (S/N: 020*) is to print a “parking space” besides the actual object. That “parking space” serves two purposes, one is to plug the nozzles while the temperature changes and the other is to “prime” the extruders (i.e. establish the consistent flow of plastic) before printing the actual object after the temperature change.

Wipe Station Idea
I think I have said this already but event the big boys have a wipe station in the back left corner to wipe ooze from the unused extruder. That is a rubber and wire brush wiper at a set height. I suppose that would cut some area out of the bed, hmm… Others have suggested a wiper mechanism on the extruder. Not a cap where pressure would build up but a little wiper.

Multiple Extruders – Slic3r Setup
As new versions of Slic3r setting may change slightly.

If you have a dual (or even more than two) extruder setup, Slic3r can be used in several different ways:

You can print a normal single-material object by assigning different features to different extruders: for example multiple colors for perimeter/infill/support material; You can print a multi-material object by assigning each material to an extruder.

How to make a multi-material file
If your CAD program is not able to export a multi-material AMF file, Slic3r provides a convenient way to merge multiple STL files, representing material regions of the same object, to a single AMF file. The STL files must share the same coordinates and origin, of course. This feature is easily accessed by using the Combine multiple STL files… item from the File menu item.

You can also explore “ditto printing,” depending on your extruder spacing. This is less common due to the required extruder positioning which limits the size of your ditto prints.

Dual and multi head extrusion has come a long way since I first started to explore it through Printrbot’s Dual Extrusion Beta program. The hardware side had made leaps and bounds but, it always seemed to be too far ahead of the software side. Repetier and Slic3r have now caught up. By caught up, I mean way up! This helps to bring more usability to multi head extrusion. It’s still something for more advanced users but, if you have determination – you too can master multi extrusion.

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