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3D printing...some random thoughts


 

Greetings...
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-


Automata Magazine
 

I think an automaton is defined by what it is, not how it’s made. People may have opinions — sometimes strong ones — concerning which materials and processes are “permissible,” but in the end it’s up to the individual to make his/her own choices. This is art, after all. —Marc


On Feb 10, 2020, at 9:58 AM, Jim Coffee <jim@...> wrote:

Greetings...
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-



Randy
 

As an old (67) woodworker I had some initial reservations about both CNC and 3D printing. I have great respect for the craftsmen that can create wood objects that I don't have the talent nor patience to make. Also being an engineer, I'm intrigued by technology and  while some may consider it a shortcut, these TOOLs allow me to create things, very challenging things, that I would probably give up on. Anyway, I got tired of wood dust and totally transitioned to 3D printing. I'm willing to accept the scorn of the purests, but for most people, they just appreciate the creative effort in my designs. I airbrush my work so the material, plastic vs. wood, is immaterial. To reiterate, I'm in awe of someone who can create a 40 tooth gear by hand.

There are two main types of 3D printers: cartesian and delta. A cartesian printer moves the base in the X and Y directions create the object. The plastic extruder moves up in the Z direction as layers of plastic are layer on. A delta printer has a fixed base and the extruder dances around in the X, Y, and Z directions. I've never seen a delta and that may be because they are definitely less popular than cartesian. I'm not saying they are inferior, but I do think that both the manufacturer and community support is less than cartesian. I own an Ender 3 cartesian printer. It is a simple $200 printer that works very well. I have added a few well documented tune-ups that makes it very reliable. I can discuss these if there is interest.

Regarding filaments, I've tried different types of plastic but have always return to PLA, the most commonly used printing material. For a stationary object without environmental temperature and humidity stress, it works just fine. I use Hatchbox white PLA. I have found that the manufacturer of the filament does make a difference. For design software, I use Fusion 360. This software is SO amazing. For a hobbyist, using it is free. This is industrial-strength software, so don't expect to be productive overnight. 


 

Hi Randy...
Thanks for your response.
I'm impressed that you've transitioned all the way.  Gives me further confidence in the 3D printing technology.
Neither you nor I have mentioned the resin printers.  I think that they need more time to mature.  Interesting concept though.
Regarding painting...you say that you airbrush.  What primer do you use?  You are priming plastics.
Thanks
-Jim-

On Mon, 10 Feb 2020 at 15:39, Randy <rglissmann@...> wrote:
As an old (67) woodworker I had some initial reservations about both CNC and 3D printing. I have great respect for the craftsmen that can create wood objects that I don't have the talent nor patience to make. Also being an engineer, I'm intrigued by technology and  while some may consider it a shortcut, these TOOLs allow me to create things, very challenging things, that I would probably give up on. Anyway, I got tired of wood dust and totally transitioned to 3D printing. I'm willing to accept the scorn of the purests, but for most people, they just appreciate the creative effort in my designs. I airbrush my work so the material, plastic vs. wood, is immaterial. To reiterate, I'm in awe of someone who can create a 40 tooth gear by hand.

There are two main types of 3D printers: cartesian and delta. A cartesian printer moves the base in the X and Y directions create the object. The plastic extruder moves up in the Z direction as layers of plastic are layer on. A delta printer has a fixed base and the extruder dances around in the X, Y, and Z directions. I've never seen a delta and that may be because they are definitely less popular than cartesian. I'm not saying they are inferior, but I do think that both the manufacturer and community support is less than cartesian. I own an Ender 3 cartesian printer. It is a simple $200 printer that works very well. I have added a few well documented tune-ups that makes it very reliable. I can discuss these if there is interest.

Regarding filaments, I've tried different types of plastic but have always return to PLA, the most commonly used printing material. For a stationary object without environmental temperature and humidity stress, it works just fine. I use Hatchbox white PLA. I have found that the manufacturer of the filament does make a difference. For design software, I use Fusion 360. This software is SO amazing. For a hobbyist, using it is free. This is industrial-strength software, so don't expect to be productive overnight. 


Randy
 

Resin prints are good for high detail. I made a rack several years ago with very small teeth and it came out great. The cost, messiness, and environmental issues with the resin keep me from considering purchasing a printer. My local library has one if I should ever need to print something.

I airbrush with DecoArt Americana acrylic, commonly used by artists. I dilute it 50% to make it sprayable. I initially thought I would need to use a primer but the PLA print surface is abrasive enough to allow the paint to "grab" on. I usually apply two coats. The available PLA colors are limited so being able to paint over white PLA gives me unlimited flexibility on selecting colors. I apply a protective coat of Deft clear satin lacquer to seal the print.


 

Hi Randy...
I'm moving slowly ahead.  Thanks for the Fusion 360 recommendation.  I've downloaded it and am now working through the tutorials.  Yes...it is certainly industrial-strength.  I'm looking long term...so an investment of my time into this software seems reasonable.
I'm also working with TinkerCad and believe that I will put some effort into Blender.
Investing in a 3D printer is a big step for me because it is much more than a 3D printer...it is a whole world that includes software (and related learning curves) and filament (and related learning curves), not to mention the machine and it's learning curves.  I can see how it would be easy to want to do everything with the 3D printer.  I don't want to do everything because I enjoy working with my tools and different materials...but I can see that a 3D printer will give me capabilities that I do not presently have...and I find that exciting.  And I also find it exciting that I will be able to do things that I presently cannot envision.  As I learn the tools other opportunities will come into focus.
Cheers
-Jim-



On Mon, 10 Feb 2020 at 15:39, Randy <rglissmann@...> wrote:
As an old (67) woodworker I had some initial reservations about both CNC and 3D printing. I have great respect for the craftsmen that can create wood objects that I don't have the talent nor patience to make. Also being an engineer, I'm intrigued by technology and  while some may consider it a shortcut, these TOOLs allow me to create things, very challenging things, that I would probably give up on. Anyway, I got tired of wood dust and totally transitioned to 3D printing. I'm willing to accept the scorn of the purests, but for most people, they just appreciate the creative effort in my designs. I airbrush my work so the material, plastic vs. wood, is immaterial. To reiterate, I'm in awe of someone who can create a 40 tooth gear by hand.

There are two main types of 3D printers: cartesian and delta. A cartesian printer moves the base in the X and Y directions create the object. The plastic extruder moves up in the Z direction as layers of plastic are layer on. A delta printer has a fixed base and the extruder dances around in the X, Y, and Z directions. I've never seen a delta and that may be because they are definitely less popular than cartesian. I'm not saying they are inferior, but I do think that both the manufacturer and community support is less than cartesian. I own an Ender 3 cartesian printer. It is a simple $200 printer that works very well. I have added a few well documented tune-ups that makes it very reliable. I can discuss these if there is interest.

Regarding filaments, I've tried different types of plastic but have always return to PLA, the most commonly used printing material. For a stationary object without environmental temperature and humidity stress, it works just fine. I use Hatchbox white PLA. I have found that the manufacturer of the filament does make a difference. For design software, I use Fusion 360. This software is SO amazing. For a hobbyist, using it is free. This is industrial-strength software, so don't expect to be productive overnight. 


Randy
 

Jim,
There are a lot of Youtube tutorials around on learning Fusion 360. It's a unbelievably powerful tool and has been the best investment of time that I've made into a software package. I recommend watching Kevin at https://www.youtube.com/user/TheKHaug/videos. He does a great job with beginners and I still go back and watch a few of them to brush up on some techniques.

-Randy


 

Thanks Randy...
YouTube tutorials can be wonderful.  Appreciate the recommendation.
-Jim-

On Tue, 18 Feb 2020 at 05:56, Randy <rglissmann@...> wrote:
Jim,
There are a lot of Youtube tutorials around on learning Fusion 360. It's a unbelievably powerful tool and has been the best investment of time that I've made into a software package. I recommend watching Kevin at https://www.youtube.com/user/TheKHaug/videos. He does a great job with beginners and I still go back and watch a few of them to brush up on some techniques.

-Randy


veeracer@...
 

I would also recommend this guy for fusion 360 tutorials
https://www.youtube.com/user/cadcamstuff


 

Thanks very much.
Both of these seem more user-friendly than the actual Fusion 360 tutorials.  I appreciate the links!
-Jim-

On Tue, 18 Feb 2020 at 07:40, <veeracer@...> wrote:
I would also recommend this guy for fusion 360 tutorials
https://www.youtube.com/user/cadcamstuff


 

Hi Randy...
You say that you have totally transitioned to 3D printing... I've been thinking about that and wonder what kind of tools you use that you consider essential.  For example...in my shop I consider a drill press, a scroll saw, a disk sander, and a bandsaw essential.  Many small tools, different glues and fasteners...I could go on and on.
What, in your 3D printing shop, do you consider essential?  
And a side question...is there dust?  In my shop wood dust is a factor that I need to consider.  In a 3D printing environment is there dust, or odor?
Thanks
-Jim-

On Mon, 10 Feb 2020 at 15:39, Randy <rglissmann@...> wrote:
As an old (67) woodworker I had some initial reservations about both CNC and 3D printing. I have great respect for the craftsmen that can create wood objects that I don't have the talent nor patience to make. Also being an engineer, I'm intrigued by technology and  while some may consider it a shortcut, these TOOLs allow me to create things, very challenging things, that I would probably give up on. Anyway, I got tired of wood dust and totally transitioned to 3D printing. I'm willing to accept the scorn of the purests, but for most people, they just appreciate the creative effort in my designs. I airbrush my work so the material, plastic vs. wood, is immaterial. To reiterate, I'm in awe of someone who can create a 40 tooth gear by hand.

There are two main types of 3D printers: cartesian and delta. A cartesian printer moves the base in the X and Y directions create the object. The plastic extruder moves up in the Z direction as layers of plastic are layer on. A delta printer has a fixed base and the extruder dances around in the X, Y, and Z directions. I've never seen a delta and that may be because they are definitely less popular than cartesian. I'm not saying they are inferior, but I do think that both the manufacturer and community support is less than cartesian. I own an Ender 3 cartesian printer. It is a simple $200 printer that works very well. I have added a few well documented tune-ups that makes it very reliable. I can discuss these if there is interest.

Regarding filaments, I've tried different types of plastic but have always return to PLA, the most commonly used printing material. For a stationary object without environmental temperature and humidity stress, it works just fine. I use Hatchbox white PLA. I have found that the manufacturer of the filament does make a difference. For design software, I use Fusion 360. This software is SO amazing. For a hobbyist, using it is free. This is industrial-strength software, so don't expect to be productive overnight. 


Randy
 

For finishing the prints, you need sanding files for removing sharp edges. I buy manicure files in bulk for this purpose. I only use black or white PLA filament so I consider my airbrush essential for painting over the white prints. Metric dimensions are primarily used for 3D printing so a set of metric allen wrenches and metric screw taps are useful. I use a lot of M2.5 and M3 screws for fastening - very little glue. Fusion 360 allows you to design and print threaded holes for screws which is useful. The screw taps allow you clean up the holes.

No dust or odor when using PLA. I've heard that ABS filament smells. It's a clean hobby. My spare bedroom is my shop.


autopilotjim
 

I highly recommend Fusion 360. The gear design function is a breeze and conversion to a 3D printer format is a snap. The gear shown printed in about 15 minutes and the PLA filament cost was probably less than a penny. I use a Creality CR 10 printer. There is a very large an active Facebook user group. Questions are usually answered within minutes. I don’t know if it can be considered automata but I designed and printed the kinetic tornado in the video below. It has over 200 parts. Fun project. I could have never done it without the printer. It has many gears inside which would have cost a small fortune to buy. The tornado rings spin in both directions at 4 different speeds  


 

Good morning Jim...
Thanks for your response.
Yes, Fusion 360 does look good.  I've got it loaded up and I work with it occasionally.
Covid-19 has caused a delay in my printer purchase.  I had been planning on a FLSun delta but as time went by and I became aware of online support, etc. I've changed my mind.  At this time I think it's going to be a Creality 3 V2.  We'll see.  It's a moving target.  The actual decision will be made just before I purchase it.  
Would you mind explaining the basic mechanical concept of the Tornado?  In my mind's eye, I see vertical shafts side by side that counter-rotate, with geared collars at each blade that capture one direction or the other and perhaps modify speed?  Am I close?
The 3D printing world is very interesting.  And I love the filaments!!!!!!!!! 
Cheers
-Jim-

On Mon, 15 Jun 2020 at 20:21, autopilotjim <jim7485@...> wrote:
I highly recommend Fusion 360. The gear design function is a breeze and conversion to a 3D printer format is a snap. The gear shown printed in about 15 minutes and the PLA filament cost was probably less than a penny. I use a Creality CR 10 printer. There is a very large an active Facebook user group. Questions are usually answered within minutes. I don’t know if it can be considered automata but I designed and printed the kinetic tornado in the video below. It has over 200 parts. Fun project. I could have never done it without the printer. It has many gears inside which would have cost a small fortune to buy. The tornado rings spin in both directions at 4 different speeds  


autopilotjim
 
Edited

Yes. Very close. I switched phones and lost pictures of the guts. There are 4 vertical shafts each spinning at different speeds, using a single DC motor in the base. There are 25 spinning rings. Each one has an offset hole and internal gear. Gears on the 4 vertical shafts mesh with the internal gears on the rings. The real ‘magic’ is not in the shafts, gears or rings. The center tube is made up of 25 different sections that interlock top and bottom. Each piece of the tube has a gear protruding through a slot in the side to meet up with the internal gear on the ring. I believe I have the drawings and will at least post a picture.


autopilotjim
 

Please forgive me if this post gets duplicated.  


 

Jim...
This is all very interesting.  
Tell me, when 3D printing a project such as this...is it a tedious process?...or do things simply print correctly?
If in the end, you needed 50 parts...how many parts do you typically need to print?  50?   60?  ??
And I think you said PLA.  You must find it strong enough for drive trains?
Thanks in advance.
-Jim Coffee-


On Tue, 16 Jun 2020 at 16:04, autopilotjim <jim7485@...> wrote:
Yes. Very close. I switched phones and lost pictures of the guts. There are 4 vertical shafts each spring at different speeds, using a single DC motor in the base. There are 25 spinning rings. Each one has an offset hole and internal gear. Gears on the 4 vertical shafts mesh with the internal gears on the rings. The real ‘magic’ is not in the shafts, gears or rings. The center tube is made up of 25 different sections that interlock top and bottom. Each piece of the tube has a gear protruding through a slot in the side to meet up with the internal gear on the ring. I believe I have the drawings and will at least post a picture. 


autopilotjim
 

That's a great question... I wouldn't say that printing is tedious, but learning Fusion 360 gave me fits. I have used it for over a year and still consider myself a novice. There are plenty of youtube videos that will help and an active user community. The actual printing is typically error free. You can expect two common problems with any printer.  1) Bed leveling which in my mind is the most crucial step. Some expensive machines have a self-leveling feature, but mine does not. A level bed is not critical on small parts like the gears but it is very important on large parts like the bigger tornado rings. Leveling the bed takes maybe 5 to 10 minutes, but you won't know if it's necessary until your print fails!  2) bed adhesion: The first layer is critical. It must adhere to the bed. Otherwise, your print will fail. Sometimes, poor adhesion is caused by an un-level bed. Other times it is related to the print service being either too perfectly clean or too dirty. There are two common cures to poor bed adhesion. I use kids glue sticks. Before every print (while the bed is heating) I spread a thin layer of glue on the print bed. On the center of the bed, typically. Others use cheap hairspray, but I have never tried it. If you skip this step, the bed may be too clean and the first layer will not stick.  Two suggestions: Hang out next to the printer when you start every print. Stay there for up to 10 minutes and closely watch the first couple of layers. If there are ANY flaws or poor adhesion, corners rolling up, etc, then stop the print, scrape off the bad material, clean and level the bed, then add a bit of glue. Restart the print and wait again. Over time, you will learn how to spot problems early. I have printed at least 200 parts. Maybe one in 10 will fail to adhere early. Not a problem, since an early catch has used pennies worth of filament. I have had only two that failed mid-print. Both of those fails related to filament tangles. It is extremely important that you never let the end of the filament roll hang free or partially unwind. I can't stress this enough. In the 3d print community, nearly everyone would agree that tangled filament is a user error. If a tangle develops, your print will fail. My worst fail was 23 hours into a 30 hour print. This wasted maybe 25% of a roll, about $5 or $6. If you change a roll before it's all used up, you must hang on to the end and keep the filament tightly wound on the roll. It doesn't seem possible, but if you let go of the end, a tangle may develop several feet into the roll which you will discover when your next print fails. One other suggestion is that you set up an old cell phone or baby monitor so you can view your print remotely. 

Hope this helps. 

Jim


autopilotjim
 

I have only ever used PLA and it is strong enough for moving gears.  


 

Good morning Jim...
Thanks for the info.  Your post makes me more comfortable with my pending purchase.
Yes, Fusion 360 is complicated...but it's capable of most anything...so worth the investment.
I'm a photographer.  For years I avoided using Photoshop because it's complex.  Then I bit the bullet and am now a comfortable photoshop user.
Thanks again.
-Jim in San Diego-

On Wed, 17 Jun 2020 at 18:26, autopilotjim <jim7485@...> wrote:
That's a great question... I wouldn't say that printing is tedious, but learning Fusion 360 gave me fits. I have used it for over a year and still consider myself a novice. There are plenty of youtube videos that will help and an active user community. The actual printing is typically error free. You can expect two common problems with any printer.  1) Bed leveling which in my mind is the most crucial step. Some expensive machines have a self-leveling feature, but mine does not. A level bed is not critical on small parts like the gears but it is very important on large parts like the bigger tornado rings. Leveling the bed takes maybe 5 to 10 minutes, but you won't know if it's necessary until your print fails!  2) bed adhesion: The first layer is critical. It must adhere to the bed. Otherwise, your print will fail. Sometimes, poor adhesion is caused by an un-level bed. Other times it is related to the print service being either too perfectly clean or too dirty. There are two common cures to poor bed adhesion. I use kids glue sticks. Before every print (while the bed is heating) I spread a thin layer of glue on the print bed. On the center of the bed, typically. Others use cheap hairspray, but I have never tried it. If you skip this step, the bed may be too clean and the first layer will not stick.  Two suggestions: Hang out next to the printer when you start every print. Stay there for up to 10 minutes and closely watch the first couple of layers. If there are ANY flaws or poor adhesion, corners rolling up, etc, then stop the print, scrape off the bad material, clean and level the bed, then add a bit of glue. Restart the print and wait again. Over time, you will learn how to spot problems early. I have printed at least 200 parts. Maybe one in 10 will fail to adhere early. Not a problem, since an early catch has used pennies worth of filament. I have had only two that failed mid-print. Both of those fails related to filament tangles. It is extremely important that you never let the end of the filament roll hang free or partially unwind. I can't stress this enough. In the 3d print community, nearly everyone would agree that tangled filament is a user error. If a tangle develops, your print will fail. My worst fail was 23 hours into a 30 hour print. This wasted maybe 25% of a roll, about $5 or $6. If you change a roll before it's all used up, you must hang on to the end and keep the filament tightly wound on the roll. It doesn't seem possible, but if you let go of the end, a tangle may develop several feet into the roll which you will discover when your next print fails. One other suggestion is that you set up an old cell phone or baby monitor so you can view your print remotely. 

Hope this helps. 

Jim