When I lent my services to a collegue who was working on a film about 12 years ago, I was introduced to the world of cnc. I remember watching this huge machining centre milling out a slab of mdf and turning it into a fantastic set of gears. I knew that it would have taken me hours to achieve the same thing with traditional power tools. I decided then that I would invest in a cnc router for my own business Oxenham Design. At that time I could turn on a computer, but even to check email seemed like a crazy set of operations. I persevered and learned every piece of relevant software I could get my hands on. I am now fortunate enough to be using Vectric's ASPIRE software, and Techno cnc routers, which has helped us to create some amazing projects, both in part, or in full. I thought that this blog would be a great place to share "behind the scenes" adventures with the software, materials and equipment we use, as well as the projects we build.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Our first In-House Print! TAA-DAA!

The other reasons for us to choose the KNP-3D printer was it's ease of use, dual extruders, and heated build plate. Maybe 10 years ago I would have loved the challenge of tweaking settings, adjusting variables, etc. But today, I just want something that sets up easily, and is pretty straight forward to use! I'll save the mental workload for the actual project, not the equipment that makes it!

The printer came VERY well packaged, with an extremely easy to follow set-up guide. There was actually not much to do before using it! We had this printer running a file within 20 minutes of unpacking it. The slicing software that KNP recommends, and supplies on their downloads page, is the freely available Slic3r program. There is also a small, dedicated little converter program to convert the G-code from Slic3r to the X3G file format that the printer reads. I will be totally honest, I used Slic3r for about 2 hours after I ordered the printer last week, and immediately started an on-line search for a better piece of software. Not that Slic3r is bad, but I was very aware of it's limitations right from the start. So I purchased Simplify-3D. Now this is the way 3d printing software should be. Plus, Simplify 3D wrote a post processor specifically for the KNP printer, and had it back to me right away! I won't go into depth on the software, because it's pretty easy to find all the info you need on-line. But, for the additional $140, it would be silly not to buy it. If this was a hobby machine for us, and I just wanted a new toy, I probably wouldn't have purchased it, but as we will be using this for work projects, it was a no-brainer!

One thing about FFF 3d printing is it's kinda slow! Not the machine, but just the whole concept of the way it works. Granted it's still faster to a degree over hand fabricating a full 3 dimensional character, but it's a little slower than you'd think!
We wanted 2 different kinds of 3d printers for the shop. An FFF machine for larger parts, as well as a high resolution 3d printer for very small objects that need an incredible amount of detail.

Having 2 different printers, as well as 2 cnc routers, and a laser cutter should cover all the bases of everything we could possibly have to make!

For our first print, I downloaded the Lara Croft 3d model from Thingiverse. http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:256452, as it was pretty much print ready.

The color change was a result of using flash on the camera.
The head I printed at 200 microns layer thickness, and the body I printed at 100 microns so I could compare the two prints. The Simplify 3d software prints a unique style of support structure based on a network of pillars. The software will also allow you to set the percentage of pillar offset. This determines how easily the supports can be removed. All of the above supports pretty much peeled right off the model in one piece, with very little effort!

 I also printed these from ABS styrene, because I might try the acetone post processing of the prints. Plus, everywhere I have read, ABS can be more difficult to print with, so I figured I should start with that! All said and done, I am VERY happy with the print quality. This printer does a great job, and is super easy to use. I think that combining 3d prints with laser cutting and cnc routered parts, will make our projects better, and easier, and that's how I like to roll!

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