Friday, November 29, 2013

3D Printing Tips: Ways to Help Give You Better Results on Your First Print

If you're new to 3D printing, you may need a few 3D printing tips to make that first print turn out perfect. As amazing as 3D printers are, glitches in the end results can sometimes happen if you aren't using the printer equipment correctly. In those rare cases, an object you're trying to print could end up buckling and turning into an amorphous blob of layers stuck together.
Here's some things you should be aware of when buying any price-ranged 3D printer and while you're waiting during the printing process.

Save a Block of Time
3D Printing is not for the impatient. Put aside a large portion of your day aside to experiment with your 3D printer. Depending on the 3D model you are printing, even the smallest projects can take 3-4 hours to print. Your first 3D Print is unlikely to be a masterpiece right out of the gate. Inevitably some modifications and adjustments will need to be made. Start very small and simple, and download a digital file from free sites like Thingiverse for your first attempt. Hours often pass like minutes, so it's best to not be too ambitious for your first experiment. As the technology evolves, printers will inevitably become faster and more efficient in the future. For now, be patient and be prepared to spend some time learning about this new and exciting technology. CAUTION, once you have successfully printed your first masterpiece, you might just become addicted to 3D printing.

Objects Lifting Off the Platform
3D Printing Mishaps
If you are just diving into 3D printing, you've probably figured out that it requires a certain amount of experimentation and tinkering before you can start printing that adorable 3D minion or cell phone holder. If your machine is not calibrated properly, your 3D objects are not going to come out as anticipated. If your extruder is too far away, your object will start to lift off the platform. The distance between the extruder and the platform, is often no thicker than a sheet of paper (varies by model). If you see your object or raft starting to lift, save the time and hassle, stop your print, and re-adjust your calibration.

Parts of the Object Can Cool too Fast
The cooling of some of the early material layers in a print can sometimes end up deforming that part of the object while printing. One way to help solve this problem is to adjust the temperature of the heating bed, says When printing larger objects requiring more time, sometimes turning the heating bed off briefly and then on again for the final layers can help keep a more consistent temperature. This helps the object stay heated for proper melting so the object's 3D form is consistent.
Also be aware of your room temperature when printing. Any cool air that suddenly comes in can end up cooling your 3D object too fast and create the same problems as above.

Slice Thickness
You may be printing an object with layers that are a little too thick for your printer to handle. This is going to vary depending on what model of printer you use and the features. Overall, though, you should try reducing the slice thickness of your object as a precaution in avoiding glitches. The printing software you use sets up the object's dimensions by displaying what the object should look like.

Glitches in the Software
What software you use above can also make a difference in your 3D printing results. Sometimes a request for a specific thickness to each slice isn't adhered to if you have a software that isn't working correctly. Be sure to buy or download the best 3D software you can find on the market. In some cases, you can download 3D design software for free, like Google SketchUp. For commercial printing purposes, the line of AutoCAD 3D printing software is top of the line and helps you refine your concepts as well as being able to share your designs with other clients.

These tips are some of the most common, though other things can potentially happen. If you need more information, be sure to keep reading us here at Mwave3D for more tips in the future. Contact us if you have any comments or requests on anything related to 3D printing or scanning. We're here to be the most comprehensive 3D scanning and printing source you'll find on the net.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Types of 3D Printers - Using everything from Filament, Powder to even Play-Doh

The types of 3D printers on the market today have been in slow development for quite a number of years. But what may be old to 3D printing engineers is still awe-inspiring to the general population in seeing how these printers work. Take a look at some of the common printer types that are available on the market right now. While they're all expensive, some are cheaper than others based on the particular materials used in the printer.

Filament Printers
These printers come in the most affordable varieties, though also come in high-end models. They use a plastic filament to create basic 3D objects, and you can buy those filament rolls online as the equivalent to buying ink for inkjet printers. Tom's Guide shows some of these filament printers and how affordable some of the basic models are. Some even go as low as $300. Cubify puts out some of the most recommended filament 3D printers currently on the market. However, those run close to $2000, despite being able to create some amazingly useful things out of plastic. With only two types of plastic used in filament printers (ABS and organic PLA), there might be a few limitations here if you want to print with other materials.

3D Printers with Cheaper Materials
Despite plastic being more durable in the 3D products made above, you can find even cheaper 3D printers print with clay, plasticine or even Play-Doh. This can create some interesting things, and some people prefer the elasticity of plasticine for certain items.
that use alternative materials. Whether you think those materials are less durable or not is a matter of opinion. Hyrel is a leader in 3D printers and provides an option of being able to

Stereolithographic 3D Printers
These printers are very high end right now because they use a laser and photosensitive resins. At the moment, they run well over $3000 and may not become mainstream for a while. Regardless, once they do, households will be able to print objects in more perfect clarity. It's a technology that's been in development since 1986 to prove how long it's taken for it to finally get into the mainstream.
If you're searching out a stereolithographic 3D printer, try one from Formlabs and their Form 1 as a current industry leader. There was a successful Kickstarter campaign to get this to market over a year ago.

Powder 3D Printers
Using fine powder to create 3D objects with unique texture is still a growing technology. Right now, some of the few printers on the market that can do this are ones from ZCorp and their ZPrinter series. A laser melts the fine powder so you can create objects with different colors unlike any other 3D printer. These also work well with other materials like glass and metal that we'll see employed into 3D printers down the road.
Yes, variety already exists in 3D printing, and the most basic models can provide some true usefulness. If you want to keep up with future developments on 3D printers, come visit our blog at Mwave3D where we're always up on the latest news.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

3D Printing entire neighborhoods?

A program director at the University of Southern California is developing a 3D Printing process that could build entire houses.
The process is called Contour Crafting, basically giant 3D printers that create walls, doors and windows. 3D printing could conceivably also do the electrical, plumbing, tile and finish work on a house. 

Image Credit:

The concept involves large-scale 3D printers that use nozzles spraying a dense high-performance concrete. Similar to a small-scale printer, Contour Crafting would create the walls layer by layer from the ground up. To save on materials, the walls are hollow. But by contrast, the walls themselves would be rated stronger than traditional homes. The team at USC is currently building a printer that could create a 2,500 square foot house in as little as 20 hours. 
NASA is sponsoring the project in hopes of using the large-scale printing technology to produce structures on the moon. But Contour Crafting could easily create entire neighborhoods. The creators hope to be able to use the printers to build affordable homes in impoverished areas. Each could also be completely customized before building, meaning low-cost housing would not necessarily have to be track housing. 
And instead of eliminating building jobs, the team at USC believes the new process would lead to job creation, just in a different way. They liken it to the industrial revolution wherein fewer people became farmers, but food production didn't suffer. The farmers that remain are now more involved in production than physical labor. The Contour Crafting team believes printing homes would follow the same logic. 

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Thursday, November 7, 2013

3D Scanning Apps: Will Microsoft Make 3D Printing Common in Every Household?

3D scanning could become a household activity in the next few years if Microsoft ends up dominating the market with a particular app. Yes, we're really living in the future when it may be possible to scan something in 3D right through our smartphones and then print those images out later for awe-inspiring uses. But the question is whether Microsoft will actually get their application out there to the marketplace soon before others win the race.

Microsoft's Demonstration
Microsoft Research recently demonstrated their app that can successfully scan anything in 3D and then print out the same way. The demonstration took place recently at Innovation Day 2013 in Beijing, China through the Asian division of Microsoft Research. The demonstration appeared to be successful and showed just how fast 3D scanning is developing. It also showed how we could soon start scanning virtually anything in the real world, then print them out as a 3D duplicate.
Before 3D scanning was fully developed, most people were taking 3D images from websites and printing them from there. However, Microsoft Research notes how passe that's becoming and gave a stunning picture of what their 3D scanning app could do.

Printing Out the World Around Us
Imagine being able to go into a store, scan something, and then print it out in real size to see how that product might look later in your home. While this could lead to complicated copyright issues down the road if abused, private use in the home would help us be able to shop much wiser.
Photo for illustration purposes only.
In addition to that, artwork in general will become much more realistic. Even if some people might consider a 3D face on an object to be eerie, most people would love to have a 3D representation of loved one's face on a card or perhaps a mug. On the emotional side, it could also prove to be comforting when a loved family member dies and a 3D representation of their face can be kept by the family for preservation.

Predicting When Microsoft Will Debut the App
Being Microsoft Research, this app may not see the light of day in the immediate term. This tech wing of Microsoft is always working on amazing technology that sometimes never gets released to the public due to imperfections. Right now, there's one available 3D app called Autodesk 123D that works fairly well in scanning 3D images and allowing you to print.
In the meantime, Microsoft predicts within five years, we'll all be doing 3D scanning. The thought of it is very exciting when seeing the world around us with a third dimension potentially gives new insight into reality. When it can be applied to the real world, it likely won't be a fad, unlike 3D in the movies.

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