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Some links about me. Many of my 3D designs are free. I also post on Google+ and in another blog, oz4.us
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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Features and improvements for a would-be homemade Ultimaker 3D printer

How would I re-design the original Ultimaker?

Quite some changes on the back of
my Ultimaker Original (aka v.1)!
The Ultimaker 1 (aka Original) is a well-built printer. It is probably one of the oldest and still best designs as proved by its incredible longevity.

I bought mine two years ago and, still, I feel quite confident that it would compare favorably in many aspects against a 30K€ FDM printer that a client bought last month. Is Stratasys really serious with this beast? May be there are better properties (eg. less warp due to fully enclosed?) But it also features a smaller build volume, a ridiculously limited and exceedingly expensive printing set of material. They also solved warping ABS by printing on... ABS beds (just try to remove it now when you forgot the in-between support!). You bet they bought Makerbot: overpriced "serious business" printers ought to be past, crappy obsolete printers. Too bad they are polluting MKI with greedy business practices though, and not the opposite.

OK, back to our subject. The "UM1" is one of the few printers you can take around you and which will keep printing very reliably without the need for re-calibration. It is also the only one I still blindly recommend... once the user knows that it is not that trivial to 3D print something. The new UM version is probably better in this regard, but it loses some "hackability" that I am fond of...

Still, the Ultimaker printers are big and they sometimes do not suit all my needs. If I was to re-design a clone, there are a few cosmetic but also structural modifications I would make, especially to the original design. Actually, many of my designs are all about improving the printer. Time to summarize what I did and what I would like to do!

Fixing Cura broken linux packages (slicing fails silently)

How to build Cura's slicer "SteamEngine" from scratch

Cura releases for Linux are often broken, probably because the author better implements features than packages (which is a good thing!) and because supporting Windows and MacOS is already painful enough ;)

One of the last issues kept happening due to the linux package made only for 64 bit architectures, which is stated nowhere and not checked during installation. So slicing cannot run when your PC is running a 32 bit linux OS. The easiest fix is to rebuild the slicer, which is a piece of cake compared to 3D printing!

Update (jan, 2014): full instructions on how to build Cura from scratch (see the last chapter).

Friday, January 17, 2014

How to 3D print nylon and trimmer line reliably: do not dry it too much and glue your bed!

How to 3D print Nylon reliably, cleanly and hassle-free.

A well-printed and robust dual-head Nylon mount (check it here).

Nylon is flexible, slippery and incredibly tough when it is printed correctly.

For me, it is a cheap and very useful material to 3D print. It is my best choice whenever PLA is not possible, and the very reason I never use ABS (more about the materials in this post).

But the nice properties of Nylon are the ones that precisely make it difficult to print ! By the way, Nylon also produces toxic fumes when heated, just like ABS, so it better be used in well-ventilated rooms.

I tried many known and unknown techniques to print reliably, and it is time I share my experience because I am happy with what I found.  Read on for more!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Fixes and howto for the DIY Fabscan 3D scanner

The fabscan is cheap... but it can be made to work.
For my curiosity, I bought a DIY "Fabscan" to try scanning small objects cheaply.

Update (2016): this post is very old. Many bugs were fixed since and I was told most of the improvements I list below were made in between. So make sure to get the latest software and doc from the official website, even before reading. And better even: the project is still active!

And it proved to be cheap, in all the possible ways.
In my opinion, the most annoying thing was the totally unusuable FabScan Ubuntu Live CD software.

This post is mostly about how to get it to produce an STL with the Ubuntu Live USB distribution specifically made for the fabscan.