3D printing...some random thoughts


As I mentioned in a prior post I'm exploring the purchase of a 3D printer.  Here are some of my random thoughts.
Is 3D printing "legal" in the automata world?
I've sort of worried about this.  In the end, I conclude that if this technology had been available in past centuries that it would have been used to create automata (or anything else).  But I also think that there is an art to keeping the 'old character' of automata.  Not saying that automata needs to look old because I don't think it does need to look old.  But I do think that there is an art to how automata is created and how it looks.  Each of us has h/her own artistic values.  
For example, I am in the process right now of completing an automata machine.  The next step in my process is to convert this machine to a story.  To me, it is the story that is important.
At the end of the day, I think that there is room to "either use 3D printers or not".

What will I do with a 3D printer?
As I contemplate the purchase of a 3D printer I am trying to real-world think about what I would use it for.  Here is a short list:
  • Gears and pulleys
  • Spacers
  • Mounting plates
  • Frames
  • Bipeds (this is a big concern of mine)
  • Marble track (runs)
  • Pedestals
  • Fancy things that would be hard to create from something else.
  • etc.
There are many more things that I am considering.  Bottom line...I feel that I have enough justification to purchase the 3D printer and to climb the relevant learning curves.

Which 3D printer am I considering?
We live in an interesting day and age.  Before we make important purchases we are easily able to investigate and compare thoughts and experiences from around the world.
There are some important printer features that should be acquired:
  • Extruder heating temp of 260-270 C.  If you don't have high enough temperature there are certain filaments that you will not be able to use.
  • Bed temp of 100 C or so.
  • Manufacturing volume, larger is better than smaller.
  • Footprint.
  • Forum and support.
  • Company credibility.
  • Reviews.
At this time the machine that I am most favoring is the FLSUN QQ S Pro.  This is a delta style printer.  It will cost in the neighborhood of $300.

More important than the machine is the filament:
It has been interesting looking into the filaments.  A lot has changed in the few years since I last investigated.  Bottom line...I believe that the filament materials available today are very capable of printing those things that I will be creating.  And the frosting on the cake is that the filaments will continue to become more capable.  At this time I am focused on the PETG filament.  After I learn to print with PETG I will want to learn nylon.

I am pleased to see that there are also filaments that are composed of wood, copper, brass, bronze, aluminum, steel.  Of these, I would like to learn wood, copper, and bronze.  I'm wondering how strong they are.  And I am hoping that I'll be able to patina the copper.

It's Plastic!
I know.  Part of me is repulsed by plastic (I'm an old guy) but another part of me is intrigued by plastic.  It is true that our human society has not learned how to properly integrate plastic into our environment...but it is also true there is progress being made.  In 100 years we will probably be using very different materials and those materials will be more successfully integrated.  We are learning to live with plastic...just as we have had to learn to live with different races, with lead, with petroleum, with a lack of knowledge.  You get the point..things evolve.

The Software
To 3D print there are two software steps.  First you must create or download a 3D model.  And then secondly you must slice the 3D model into layers that are sent to the printer.
After I made my list of what I would use the 3D printer for I decided to try to create the parts in software.  Thus far I'm happy with eMachineShop.  I've been able to create parts and it's been a pleasant learning experience.  Is this the software that I'll be using in two years...I don't know.  For now, it's fine.
For slicing I've focused on Cura...which seems to be an industry standard.  It's very capable and it is free.  One of the fun things is that it will tell you how long it will take to print the part.  For example...one of the little pulleys that I created will take 3.5 hours to print.  It also tells how many meters of filament will be used.

The Story is what is important
At the end of the automata road, it is the story that is important.  We all tell the story our own way.  That is one of the things that makes the world of automata so interesting...we tell our stories differently from each other.  There is no firm recipe for automata.  Automata is an art form.

To be continued...
I'm not ready to purchase this month.  I've got more to research and more to become aware of.  I'll most likely purchase in March.  After a bit of time I'll post the next chapter of my 3D printing experience.

Sorry this post has been so long...I'm hoping that someone will find value.

Cheers from San Diego
-Jim Coffee-

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