So You Want to Start Printing…

If you just want to print something look for files online. The easiest files to use are .stl and .obj depending on the type of printer you have.

Step 1: Go to thingiverse.com or google “sites like thingiverse” to find a model you want. You can also just Google something like “.stl bird”. Not all files that you find are necessarily free.

Step 2: Download and save.

Step 3: Open with a computer that has a slicer that is connected to the 3D printer. If you’re using a MakerBot Printer, use MakerBot Desktop. If you’re using the FormLabs Form 1+, open PreForm.

Step 4: Make sure the object is printable (on the platform, not too much overhang without support, scaled correctly, etc.) and press print.

Step 5: Wait for it to finish and take off the platform with the spatula.

If you want to design something:

 

 

Completing the Look and Choosing a Name

A quick and exciting update about the CSU Print Lab:

We have lab coats! It’s a bit unconventional considering we are working with 3D printers, but it is especially convenient when working with the Form 1+ resin printer and Future Make Polyes Q1, not to mention it just feels right. We now look the part of professional 3D printing experts and we will soon have our own personalized 3D printed name badges to go along.

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The second thing is that we have officially decided to call the lab “The Bot Cave.” This is partially due to my position as Alfred and the secluded nature of the lab room. The overall idea, however, is that the Bat Cave was always a technologically advanced setting with the intention of improving the lives of others. Though Batman’s Bat Cave worked on a larger, more crime-based scale, our Bot Cave operates to improve educators’ abilities and technological understanding. This will improve the lives of each and every student these educators will teach, so I think it’s basically the same thing if not better.

 

<Alfred>

 

Expectations of Polar3D

We have recently acquired a Polar3D printer named Na’nuq, so I have been researching the Polar3D printers and their company these last few days, and I have to say that I have very high expectations for their machines. The company was founded in 2013 but officially launched January of this year and already they have started making 3D printers more accessible and practical for use in the classroom. Their goals are largely focused on education rather than harboring the public’s imagination like MakerBot. Don’t get me wrong, MakerBot is doing a great thing by encouraging creativity in design, but I personally am more interested in the educational benefits of 3D printing.

In addition to being more education-oriented, Polar3D has designed a printer that is incredibly superior to that of the MakerBot printers I have been using. First of all, the printers work with a very different system that uses a circular rotating build plate and stationary extruder to maximize print sizes and improve printing. I do not entirely understand the way they print, so I am not going to attempt to explain it, but it definitely seems to be a more logical way to work. I am also extremely excited that the Polar3D printers are significantly quieter than the MakerBots. I cannot begin to talk about how agitating the MakerBot noises are. In many videos I watched, I could hardly hear the Polar3D printers working. Speaking of videos, if you’ve ever tried to troubleshoot a MakerBot or find helpful videos using the MakerBot website or YouTube, you know that it is practically impossible. MakerBot’s videos are difficult to understand and, unlike with their customer support, the people in the videos give you the feeling that you are just not intelligent enough to touch the printers. Contrariwise, the Polar3D YouTube page has a series of videos called “What Would Bill Do?” which consists of Bill Steele, the founder of Polar3D, explaining and demonstrating how to work with the printers. His videos are simple to understand as well as detailed enough to prevent confusion. He has videos on how to operate the printer and various ways to solve problems. The problem solving videos are my favorite simply because Bill is not afraid to say that something could in fact go wrong and that no printer is going to be flawless. This is something I cannot say about MakerBot. Nothing is ever “wrong” with a MakerBot machine. Sometimes they are “having issues” but nothing is actually “wrong.” Polar3D is willing to admit their printers may run into problems, but they also address methods of fixing them, which is why I admire the company already.

I do not have any experience with the actual printers yet. All of my information and opinions have come from what I have read and watched on the internet this week. If I find that my experiences do not reflect my expectations, I will definitely be posting about this again. Hopefully Polar3D will be everything I expect and more!

<Alfred>

Homie Goes Home

20150629_092637   I finished packaging Homie and shipped him off today. The whole process was relatively easy- I just had to put him back into his original box and tape a shipping label on him. MakerBot sends some pretty basic instructions along with the label, so it isn’t too difficult to know what’s expected. I haven’t quite figured out what to do with the filament, though. In the instructions, you are told to “set the filament aside” but it is not mentioned again. It’s as though the filament never even existed. For every machine we’ve shipped back, I’ve just left the filament out altogether. No one has complained yet… I assume that means it is acceptable.

Usually sending parts and printers back is not an issue for me. I have seen three printers and six extruders leave and never to return and it has not affected me whatsoever. Sure, I get a little annoyed that the problems are too big to handle without having to replace the 20150629_092701machines so often, but I keep my emotions intact. Today was very different. I don’t know what happened, but when I was taping Homie up in his box, I started to tear up. My eyes watered and an overwhelming sadness exploded within me. We had given this printer a name, a personality, an almost-kind-of-backstory! The other MakerBot printers were his friends! In the words of Dr. Wan, he just wasn’t ready for the college life, so it was time for him to go home, but this did not feel like we were sending him home. I felt like I was sending my baby to an eternal obedience school knowing that he wasn’t coming back. My heart was breaking over a MACHINE.

20150629_092653It was a sad morning, one I know I’ll have to go through again and again with these MakerBots. I hope and pray that one of these days MakerBot will manage to design a better machine that won’t need be replaced every three weeks. Until then, I guess I’ll just have to start bringing tissues on repackaging days.

<Alfred>