Suffice it to say, I’ve been away from the blog awhile. It hasn’t been for lack of 3d printing. Though my Lulzbot Taz 5 has presented me with numerous challenges, I am completely satisfied with my purchase. I have a relentless designer desire for perfection welded to my soul and my attempts to achieve perfection have gotten me a step closer to pretty good.
Let’s start by saying, MatterHackers did a great job of answering my pre-purchase questions and delivering my Taz 5, multiple rolls of filament and the Flexy Dually Extruder quickly. They have excellent customer service. Upon receipt, everything went really well. There are videos of the Taz 5 being unboxed and my experience is no different. Fast and easy with more documentation than I needed to get up and running. The manual and materials from Lulzbot are professional and well written.
I printed the Lulzbot Rocktopus with the recommended Lulzbot Cura Slicer and Controller and found it both easy and of relatively high quality given the “out of the box” nature of my setup.
Fast F0rward Almost 4 Months
At this point I have done the following:
- Printed almost a roll of ABS, 3 Rolls of PLA and tested printing Taulman 618 Nylon for an evening with decent success.
- I have used Cura, found it missing some of the attributes my anal tinkering nature requires and quickly went back to MatterControl, back to Cura, then tried Kisslicer and finally Slic3r with an Octoprint/Raspberry Pi printer controller setup I built which seem to be working well… for now.
- I have printed misc items such as a Raspberry Pi case and camera arm for my Octoprint setup, a gnat trap, some small sculptures and pounds and pounds of test prints.
Here’s what I’ve learned so far at a really high level:
- Print Slow and steady - why rush if you wind up with a mess
- The first layer is your best friend or closest enemy. It’s not just sticking it like a Pommel Horse dismount - but making sure it’s perfect… or as close as you can get.
- LEVEL THE BED. And when you have it almost perfect… do it again. Getting it perfectly level is imperative to having a great first layer and ultimately good looking print.
- ABS is not my friend. I really want to print in ABS, but I’ve found that PLA is much friendlier when you are in a room with slight drafts, don’t have an enclosure to keep the heat and really don’t like the fumes.
- Don’t skim others good advice. Something Michael Hackney of Reelsmithing.com is all to familiar with.
I’m sure I could think up dozens of things I’ve learned over the past few months, but these really stood out.
Where Am I At Now?
Currently I am just over 13 hours into what is setting up to be a 20+ hour print. I am printing the body and top plate of the TerraPin 120 Film Pinhole Camera by Schlem. This isn’t my first pass at it but like I mentioned above, I have printed literally pounds of test prints including versions of this camera to finally fall upon some settings in Slic3r that are working well. And I’m printing apparently extremely slow. When I left for work just before 7am this morning, I asked my son to keep an eye on the camera body I was printing. He sent me a text update over 6 hours later and it looked like it had just started. But I’m crossing my fingers and without jinxing myself with a comment, I’ll let you be the judge of the quality… as I said, 13+ hours later:
For anyone interested, here is my current config for Slic3r.
I plan on going into more detail regarding my Pinhole Camera project later, so I thought closing with a very helpful resource would be of more value.
Mhackney - creator of an excellent 3d printed fly reel. He has two really good guides on the Lulzbot forum regarding Obtaining Great Prints and Resolving Print Artifacts. He is always diving in on the Lulzbot forum with good advice, conversation and reminders of the basics - I recommend looking him up and checking out a few of his comments and posts.. And checkout his site, The Eclectic Angler, and download his 3d printed fly reel stls - really great work. I suggest making a purchase there as well if you’re happy with them - I bought a book on making fly lines and it is something else.
Currently I am unable to print his reel - my settings aren’t providing parts that fit. My work on the pinhole camera has everything fitting really well, so I’m guessing it’s the way Slic3r is interpreting the Stl when creating the tool paths. I’ve tried Mhackney’s Kisslicer config and tweaked my Slic3r settings until I was blue in the face. I’m not sure where I’m going wrong, but I keep trying. Somehow I think this may be the true definition of insanity. That and printing several pounds of calibration test prints.