Tuesday, 27 November 2012

What can I do with a 3D Printer?

The two Up! Plus 3D printers arrived in the workshop last week and now that I have had a chance to play around with them I am reasonably pleased and I think they will be very useful (once I get the hang of designing 3D stuff on the computer).

As with the 5 Axis Milling Machine, I have initially started by finding files only to practice with. A great resource for 3D files can be found at Thingiverse.com. I have printed several files from there over the last week, and generally they have given very good results.

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The 3D printers we have bought are not high end machines, they are called the “Model T” of the 3D printing world, by their manufacturuer. However, compared to the 3D printer that I used around 10 years ago, they come out very favourably (at least, the print quality is very similar, and that was a much more expensive machine). These machines are certainly not of a high enough quality to produce 28mm miniatures, with anything like the level of detail that would be expected of production figures. However, I can see a use for building larger creatures (or figures), and using them as a starting point ready for detailing and finishing. Also they will be ideal for producing equipment, vehicles and possibly architectural pieces (which is after-all what we actually bought them for).

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In this photo the tree frog is about a quarter built. This was the first model I ran, and it was interesting to see that it could cope with quite a good overhand where the legs ran up to join the body, without adding any support material.

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As we are got these machines for architectural model making it seems appropriate to try out a building. The ground floor turned out exceptionally well, as did the roof.

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However the first floor warped a little (a common problem with ABS 3D printers apparently). I hadn’t fully read the manual, and I don’t think I had pre-heated the bed of the machine enough, so hopefully I can avoid too much of this happening in future!

The building is quite small, the doorway on the photo is about 15mm high. So suitable for 10mm gaming, or it may be be possible to get away with 15mm…

Finally I have produced this mobile phone stand.

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Not elegant, but a nice little test of the mechanical properties of the ABS and the 3D printed form.

Oh and as for the tree frog, my sons painted a couple of them up over the weekend!

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4 comments:

  1. The future is now! Fascinating stuff.

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  2. The finish on the tree-frogs looks a darn-sight better than the Panzer on eBay, posted on John's Toy Soldiers the other day...
    Hugh

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  3. This is great. I need a Plastic card printing machine for home use. Where i can get the best one?

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