Saturday 2 December 2017

Christmas Advent 3D Printing 2017 Day #1 - Intro, update and print advice.

During December I'm going to be 3D Printing a NEW advent calendar - modular Christmas tree and giving some 3D printing & materials advice along the way. 

Anyone who has been involved in 3D Printing for a while, may remember that in 2012 a wonderful advent calendar popped up on Thingiverse from Peter Leppik. See below, and please read on...

This December printing is not just about a set of 3D models, I'm going to try and make it a useful adventure - you may learn about a different 3D printing material, setting or top-tips.

Along with a lot of people, I also printed out this original modular design in 2012, each December day with my daughters, in a variety of colours and materials. -Also using a few multi-colour-layering techniques on some of the models, you can see below. It was a lot of fun for all of us at home and in the wider 3D printing community.

My full blog post about the original 2012 design by Peter can be found here.

The original 3D Printed Christmas Tree from Peter Leppik (Printed during December 2012).

Almost every year since I have thought about making a new advent calendar, but never found the time to invest in the design and creation.

This year I'm really pleased to say that a new modular advent Christmas tree has been designed by Tom Van den Bon  With some help for each day by the South African Makers team.

The new remixed modular advent design can be found here on Thingiverse, and will have a new model released each day of December.

You can print out all of the tree straight away, but maybe think about how you want it to look when finished. You can see my print above had a lot of different green filaments (my favourite colour).

Image by Tom Van den Bon

The first model for Day 1 is by Shaun Nadan - Fire for the fireplace.

Before we dive in - 

Let's maybe take a little look at the current state of  'fun/consumer' 3D Printing and the future -

Why do this? isn't it just a waste of plastic? - Anyone that follows me will know I not a fan of wasting plastic/packaging, especially with so much ending up having such a negative impact on our environment, for decades to come.

I really don't like printing objects just for the sake of it, it's one of the reasons I have mostly been doing practical 3D printing projects, and using 3D printers as a useful tool for real needs this year.

Many users of 3D printers now churn out a constant stream of whatever the must-print model this month is. I'm trying to limit my random output to testing materials, printing useful objects, models I want to display or use, and the occasional showpiece.

In 2018 I want to be back designing many more my own models/objects and printing them for innovation, development and further adventures in this wonderful 3D printing journey, I hope you carry on following and share the ride with me. I do not intend to waste plastic/materials printing 'stuff'.

So, back to why I'm printing this new Christmas advent calendar. Well, the original set of 52 3D jigsaw prints is used every single year as a focal Christmas decoration, it has started many conversations with people about the good, bad and hype around 3D printing. And it's still loved by our family.

With this new set of advent models, I intend to test out some of the 3D printing filaments I have not had time to look at, and many materials I like using because of their unique properties, look or feel. I hope you find it useful, and do please ask questions - ideally over on Twitter if possible @RichRap3D

I'm also continuing to test out both the original Olsson Ruby nozzle V6 0.4mm and the new Olsson Ruby high flow nozzles (V6 Volcano compatible) in 0.4mm, 0.6mm and 0.8mm versions.

This is a really good test set of objects for the Ruby nozzles as it's going to cover many different machines, materials and settings over the next ~25 days.

Day #1 - 

First up, the lower sections of the tree (trunk) - It's got to be a wood filament really, and one I have not used for a while is Fillamentum Timberfill (Cinnamon)

Printed on the Prusa i3 MK2 (original) with a V6 0.4mm Olsson Ruby Nozzle.

What settings did you use? - Go slightly lower temperature than a normal PLA, I use 180 Degrees C for Timberfill (may need to go even lower with some other wood filled materials).
I often use 0.2mm layer height (It helps the wood-grain look) and a 0.4mm nozzle or larger - don't use really tiny nozzles under 0.4mm, they will clog.
Use a higher number of top/bottom solid layers (I use 5 @ 0.2mm) to give a good finish.
Print speed - it's good as 30-90mm/sec - Not so good at really low speeds (under 15mm/sec) because it likes to expand and ooze out of the nozzle - many wood and 'filled' materials can do that at lower speeds. You can combat some ooze by lowering temperature, but watch out for lower layer bond strength or weak extruders jamming (use a good extruder, geared preferably).
16% infill and two perimeters for this model.

Why use it? - It's an easy to print wood filled filament, looks good and can be sanded, drilled, tapped, even stained after printing. I think it also looks the most 'woody'.

Is it strong? - When printed it has good layer bonding strength, it's slightly weaker to handle than normal PLA and be careful with the filament - especially in 1.75mm it can snap if not handled carefully and spooled nicely into the machine.

Is it easy to use/print - Yes, you can use a lower temperature PLA settings to start with, then tune retraction distance and print speed v temperature depending on what sort of model you are printing - big/small.

Do you have to dry it before/after use? - Yes/No - Keep it dry and sealed in the bag, it will take on moisture and that will affect print quality, fine angel-hair like stringing, gaps and generally more ooze if it's not dry.

Do i need a 'special' nozzle? - No, it's not abrasive, just remember to use a 0.4mm or bigger nozzle. It will work fine with Stainless, Hardened steel, Copper, Ruby or Brass nozzles. Many filled filaments can tend to collect debris and runny material around the nozzle, so clean before and after use.

Does it smell when printing? - Yes, like MFD (wood fibre board - when you cut it) I unfortunately don't like the smell at all.

Does it come on a eco friendly spool? - No, but it is marked ABS with a Recycle symbol - foil bag and cardboard box.

Conclusion for Fillamentum Timberfill - Good, wood like finish, no problems or failures. I always clean the nozzle after using filled filaments (especially wood), inside and out with a section of Nylon at a higher temperature. It will have some resin-like sticky residue after printing, so get it cleaned ASAP.

Day 1 present - This is a nice flame model for the fire, it's just asking to be printed in at least two orange/red?/yellow colours.

There are so many nice orange shades, but since I used Fillamentum Timberfill for the base, I have selected two more Fillamentum PLA's to compliment the Day 1 gift -

PLA Extrafill "Melon Yellow" and PLA Extrafill "Luminous Orange"

For this we will pause the print after the fire background is printed in Luminous Orange and insert the Melon Yellow, then continue the print. Most 3D printers should allow you to pause a print and change colour. If yours does not you may be able to cut the filament and manually feed in the next colour during the print, it's a little risky and some extruders may not like you doing this, but it can work well.

The Prusa i3 also has the option of using 'Colorprint' to set points in any model to automatically pause and allow a material or colour switch.

Settings for most PLA's are really quite standard now, 190 Degrees C with a 60 Degrees C heated bed. 0.2mm layers and 0.4mm nozzle with 0.9mm extruder retraction on the Prusa i3 MK2.

Day #1 Completed. I think it turned out nice, feels warm and inviting. This is going to be a big tree...

Join me next time for Day #2

Thanks for reading.


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