Latest Stories3D Printing
    Testing the Form 1+ 3D Printer

    Norm visits New York to check in with Tested's 3D printing columnist Sean Charlesworth, who has been testing the new Form 1+ 3D printer. Unlike 3D printers like the MakerBot and PrintrBot, the Form 1 uses a laser-based resin curing system that can produce prints up to four times the resolution of FDM printers. But as Sean explains, this printer was a bit challenging to get working properly.

    Print the Mystery Object: Who Said That? - 10/17/2014

    The Printrbot is still in play, but we've returned to the original camera angle, mounted on the plate. What did Will print? Post your best guesses in the comments below! And if you'd like to check out the full, 4k version of the mystery build, it's here: http://youtu.be/X99sWKcD1mE

    Bits to Atoms: 3D Printing Quicksilver's Stereobelt

    Remember a few months ago when I spent time obsessing over Quicksilver’s audio gear from X-men: Days of Future Past? I thought that exploration was enough to get it out of my system--until my friend Hadley told me that she would be cosplaying as Quicksilver for New York Comic Con. Without missing a beat, I proclaimed that I had to build her an accurate Stereobelt prop. And so my obsession began anew.

    Prototype - designing multiple parts - more work for better results

    To recap: the Stereobelt, a little-known predecessor to the Walkman, predating Sony's portable cassette player by seven years and cobbled together from existing tech. Only one picture and a patent document of it can be found in all of the interwebs, yet the savvy production designers on Days of Future Past based Quicksilver’s unit on the Stereobelt, therefore giving him probable audio gear for 1973.

    Setting out to create my own Stereobelt, I ran into an immediate problem: a lack of good reference material. Other than the magazine cover of Quicksilver, which showed only one side of the belt, I was unable to find any good reference of the other side or back. At this point, the Blu-ray hadn’t been released and unlike every other Marvel movie, there was no “Making-of” book. So, I started work on what I had reference for, figuring that I may have to improvise the opposite side and revise it when I could get ahold of the movie. I didn’t have a lot of time to build the Stereobelt, so my original intention was to keep it simple and print it as one solid piece. The front and back caps would cause some print issues since they were both tapered and would have to use supports to print as one piece. The caps would also print better if the slopes were oriented upwards, so I decided to compromise and print the body and caps separately and assemble using simple square pins and glue.

    Solid body with caps connected via pins.

    Unlike the Hellboy Millenbaugh Motivator, for which I took meticulous measurements using Photoshop, I totally eyeballed the size and proportions of the Stereobelt on paper. Once it looked right, I started building in 3D and quickly realized another issue - if I built this as one piece, painting and finishing would be difficult since it had a lot of trim pieces. I also liked the idea of being able to print this out in two colors, assemble with no painting and still have it look good, so I decided to break it up into more pieces.

    In Brief: Check Out This Amazing 3D Printed Samus Armor

    Before you do anything else, go look at the finished pictures of this amazing Metroid armor 3D printed by RPF user Talaaya. Go on, I'll wait.

    If you want to know the story behind such an incredible build, head over to her blog, where she shows a bunch of in-progress photos, including the project's origins as a pepakura build, the process for finishing the prints (she and Matt Serle used a pair of Zcorp 450 printers and did tons of finish work), painting, and using EL wire to create the appropriate accents. I hope I get a chance to see this incredible costume in person someday.

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    In Brief: Arduino Announces $1000 3D Printer

    Arduino today announced its Materia 101, a $1000 pre-assembled 3D printer that will debut at Maker Faire Rome early next month. It also will be sold as an $800 kit. The 1.75mm PLA printer was designed in collaboration with ShareBot, and looks like a rebadged ShareBot running an Arduino Mega 2560. The printer has is 31cm x 33cm x 35cm large, and its print bed is 14cm x 10cm x 10cm. Not too big, and it doesn't look like it'll be upgradable, either. This announcement comes shortly after the unveiling of Dremel's new desktop 3D printer at Maker Faire New York, though the Arduino model doesn't look like it's bringing more to the table than you could get building an established kit like the PrintrBot.

    Norman 7
    MakerBot Mystery Build: For Ice Cream

    Friday marks the return of the mystery 3D print, and this week's build takes some effort from Will to get working. You know the drill: place your best guess as to what's being printed in the comments below!

    Tested In-Depth: Desktop 3D Scanning and 3D Printing

    We've been experimenting with home 3D printers for a while, but we now finally have a desktop 3D scanner at the office too! We test the new Matter and Form 3D scanner that digitizes any small object, generating a 3D model and file that we can then send over to our 3D printer. Here's what worked well and what didn't--let's see if we can replicate Norm's head!

    Tested In-Depth: 3D Printing with Printrbot Simple Metal

    After building the Printrbot Simple Metal a month ago, Will takes it home to tweak and test its printing capabilities. We sit down to discuss the current state of home 3D printers, best practices for getting good prints, and several modifications and add-ons to make the Printrbot even better!

    Setting Up a 3D Print Server for the Printrbot Simple Metal Using Octopi

    Last week, I shared my experiences getting started with the Printrbot Simple Metal. Once I was happy with the quality of my prints I was getting, I wanted to try something a little different. I set up a print server for the printer, which would allow me to control and monitor it remotely, anywhere that I have power and a Wi-Fi network.

    OctoPrint provides a web interface for the printer that replaces Repetier. It lets me send gcode to the printer, adjust settings like temperature, zero the axes, heat up the print head, and change filament. It's free, open-source software, to boot. Instead of dedicating a PC or laptop to the print server, I wanted to use a Raspberry Pi. The Raspberry Pi is a $30, credit-card sized PC that uses a SD card for storage and has an Ethernet port and a couple of USB ports. Rather than set up Linux and then configure Octoprint myself, I was able to use a pre-configured version of Linux designed to run on the Raspberry Pi that includes Octoprint called OctoPi. Clever, right?

    I also picked up a few accessories for the Raspberry Pi, including a USB Wi-Fi dongle (so my print server will work where I don't have Ethernet), and a Raspberry Pi Camera Module (so I can watch the prints when I'm far away). After looking at the power available from the printer's motherboard and deciding that it probably wouldn't be sufficient to run the Raspberry Pi, I scrounged up an old USB power brick to power the Pi and found an unused SDcard in the same drawer. I already had an older Raspberry Pi revA around, but even if I'd bought a newer Raspberry Pi revB, along with the camera, a longer cable for the camera, and the Wi-Fi dongle, it would have cost less than $70.

    MakerBot Mystery Build: A Fast One!

    Friday means it's time for another mystery object to be printed from our trusty 3D printer! This week, Will sets the MakerBot to build something that we actually need to use on a regular basis for Tested production. Place your best guess as to what it is in the comments below!

    3D-Printed Daft Punk Helmet and Ducati Bike

    Here are two really awesome 3D printing projects that were brought to my attention today. Noe from Adafruit sent over their latest DIY guide to making your own 3D printed Daft Punk-inspired helmet, equipped with LED lights. The helmet shell is actually one solid piece, which you can download from Thingiverse and scale to your head. Printed with translucent PLA, Adafruit chose the visor color for their filament, and painted the gold around the outside for the helmet frame. The visor can also be outfitted with LED light strips and a control board for programming animations. It's not exactly a sculpted and cast Volpin piece, but would be fun to try out!

    Sean also sent me a link to this mind-blowing 3D-printed Ducati motocycle, posted to Ultimaker's blog. Effects artist and 3D printing enthusiast Jacky Wan used photo references to create a 3D model of the bike, then broke it down into pieces with meshes optimized for printing. He ended up with 40 individual pieces, many of which were designed to print with minimal or no support structures and could snap together. Painted and assembled, the model is a gorgeous testament to the ability of modern FDM printers. More photos of the bike here, and all of the STL files are here. Now that would be an awesome project to build!

    Bits to Atoms: Building the Millenbaugh Motivator, Part 5

    After three months of work, the Millenbaugh Motivator has been completed and the parts have been delivered. As Adam has demonstrated before, finishing is extremely important and he immediately got to work on the Motivator parts in order to detail and finish it along with his Mecha-Hand for Comic-Con. There were some difficulties with the crankshaft due to tight tolerances and the addition of paint, but I’m working on a revised version for him to use later.

    Adam's painted Motivator.

    Now that I delivered everything to Adam and am back home, the only thing left to do is the finishing work on my own Motivator! And to be honest, this is the part that I’ve been kind of dreading. This goes way back to when I was a kid and built a lot of models. I would be super meticulous on all the details, get to the very end, and ruin the final paint job--every time. This has stuck with me and almost every time I work on a project, I get to the end and often peter out, leaving it unfinished for long stretches (or sometimes forever). In hindsight, I just didn’t have the right tools or know the right techniques for finishing work. I’d spray paint when it was too humid, too cold, too windy, too dirty, using crappy paint or my really bad airbrush setup. I had a subscription to Fine Scale Modeler magazine and would constantly try higher-level techniques before I understood the basics which almost always ended poorly. In the end, I just thought I was really bad at painting and finishing and it subconsciously kept me from finishing or even starting many projects. I still haven’t fully painted the Stormtrooper Blaster I made five years ago!

    My still unfinished Stormtrooper Blaster - weathering would really help.

    I decided to not screw around with the Motivator and just finish it, but I wasn’t sure how. On the trip to San Francisco, I’d hope to do some painting and finishing with Adam but we ran out of time. I did pick his brain about it and we tossed a few options around. Early on, while I was still building the Motivator, Adam was seriously considering metal plating the whole thing and asked me to look into it. I called just about every place in NYC and surrounding area and didn’t have much luck. Coating plastic, or electroplating, is done all the time--it requires the plastic to be coated in a conductive paint, which the metal plating will adhere to. It seemed like most of the places that do this work usually plate metal and they either didn’t do plastic at all or were reluctant to do so and they didn’t really want to do small jobs such as the Motivator. In the end, Adam decided to move on and figure out a different approach.

    3D Printing Material Mimics Balsa Wood Strengths

    "Materials scientists at Harvard University have created lightweight cellular composites via 3D printing. These fiber-reinforced epoxy composites mimic the structure and performance of balsa wood. Because the fiber fillers align along the printing direction, their local orientation can be exquisitely controlled. These 3D composites may be useful for wind turbine, automotive and aerospace applications, where high stiffness- and strength-to-weight ratios are needed." More info here. (Thanks, Sean)

    Getting Started With the Printrbot Simple Metal

    Norm and I kicked off July by building a 3D printer, the Printrbot Simple Metal It was the third printer we’ve built, and it was interesting building a printer with a metal frame, but once we got it assembled and did a couple of test prints, we didn’t have time to touch it for a month. I’ve spent much of the last week dialing in the printer, figuring out its nuances, and getting decent prints out of it. We’ll do a Tested In-Depth video with it at some point in the future, but in the meantime, here's what I've learned so far.

    First, in the time since we finished the build, the instructions for building the kit version of the Printrbot Simple Metal have been updated. The kit’s assembly instructions have been completely revamped, addressing many of the issues we had during the assembly. Along with good pictures, the newest version of the instructions provides written instructions for non-obvious steps.

    I love that the Printrbot makes it easy to make slight Z-axis calibration changes in software rather than hardware.

    The instructions for calibrating and making the first print are quite good, and I love that the Printrbot makes it easy to make slight Z-axis calibration changes—a common cause of bad prints—in software rather than hardware. It took two or three false starts, but we were able to print a fan shroud that was good enough to work in two or three tries. Because of the way this type of 3D printing works, it sometimes takes a few minutes for failures to become obvious. To give context, when we built our first printer, the original Makerbot Cupcake, it took almost a week of tweaking to get usable prints.

    Once you get past the first print, configuring the software gets a little hairy.

    MakerBot Mystery Build: Soft Boiled

    Will's back from vacation and that means it's time for another mystery build with our MakerBot Replicator. This week's build is something for typography nerds. Place your best guess as to what's being printed in the comments below!