Dr. Scott M. Baker

3D Printer Resources

by admin on Dec.31, 2018, under How-To

This page contains various 3D printer related resources and information that I’ve found while getting started with 3D printing.

Videos

Useful Stuff to Buy

  • Silicone E3D Socks. This fit around the nozzle on the hot end / extruder and prevent filament from getting stuck to the hot end on extruder. I found them useful, particularly with PETG, which would occasionally get stuck all over the extruder when something went wrong. Note that many reviews say that while these fit genuine E3D hot ends well, they may not fit clone hot ends as well.
  • Print removal tools. These are like little spatulas. They have numbers on them, so I think they may belong to some kind of set, perhaps a set of putty knives or similar tools. They’re very useful for getting 3D prints off the bed if they’re stuck.
  • Nozzle cleaning kit. This is a set of small diameter wires, and some nice tweezers. I have not had to use the wires yet, though I do commonly use the tweezers. You might be able to find the tweezers cheaper separately.
  • Cleaning Filament. Useful to use in between PETG and PLA, to clean the higher-temperature PETG out of the hot end before using the lower-temperature PLA.
  • Windex (your local grocery store). This works great as a release agent for PETG.
  • 91% iospropyl (your local grocery store). Useful for cleaning the bed between PLA prints.

Filament Experiences

  • Prusa Silver PLA. This came with the printer. While not my favorite color, it seems to print fine.
  • AmazonBasics PLA. I’ve tried purple. It prints well with the same settings as the Prusa PLA filament.
  • AmazonBasics PETG. I’ve trued Orange, Yellow, and Black.
    • I feel the orange prints very well, and looks good when printing extra parts for the printer. Not quite a perfect match for the Prusa Orange, but close enough.
    • Black is either not printing quite as well, or just shows off flaws more than the Orange.

Useful first prints

  • Prusa Logo. It’s a good quick test print. Print a few and write down the live Z on the back, use it to calibrate the live Z in the future.
  • Buddy the dog. Toddler likes to play with it (under supervision!).
  • Frog. Printed him in purple, looks good.
  • Flex-a-Rex. Awesome, everyone is amazed by Flex-a-Rex

Printer accessories to print

Glue experiences

Sometimes you need to glue 3D prints together. See video at the top of the page, I evaluated the bonding of several glues when used on PETG and PLA:

Glue PETG PLA
JB Weld Poor Poor
Weld-on #16 Poor Good
Hot-melt Good Poor
Cyanoacrylate Super Glue Good Good

Cyanoacrylate superglue performed well on both PETG and PLA, and will probably be my glue of choice.

Software

Sketchup Make / Sketchup Pro

This is a very popular program, but I personally found it to be ill-suited to designing models for 3D printing. For example, when working in millimeter units, there will be occasional problems applying operations to models. Asking about this on forums, I was told to design objects in meters instead. While it really doesn’t matter, to me it’s an indication the software isn’t really intended to be used for what I’m trying to use it for. I also found the program to be lacking in CAD-related workflows that I am used to. For example, being able to position objects at precise numeric coordinates seems to be an afterthought. Certain useful features (DXF import, solid tools) are lacking in the free version, and only available in a Pro version, which is very expensive for someone who is merely a casual non-commercial 3D printer enthusiast. On the positive side, Sketchup Make seems to have an active forum with users who are responsive and helpful. My questions were answered very quickly, I was often asked to provide a model, and given specific focused advice. There is also a significant assortment of plugins/extensions available for Sketchup, with these extensions often providing functionality that seemed lacking in the program itself. The current free version of Sketchup Make is only offered as an online product, though older versions may be downloaded as an executable.

Tinkercad

Tinkercad I found to be extremely intuitive and easy to use. Rulers allow easy placement and sizing of objects with numeric precision. The solid and hole object types allowed easy unioning and differencing of objects in an intuitive, easy to follow manner. Tinkercad succeeded in performing a subtraction operation that I was unable to do verbatim in either Sketchup or Meshmixer. I was able to quickly learn Tinkercad and use it both for modifying (“remixing”) models I found on the web, as well as designing models of my own. Tinkercad is an online product.

The best Octoprint Extensions

Octoprint (and its distribution Octopi) allows you to control your printer from a raspberry pi. There are numerous advantages to this, including no longer needing to run an SD card back and forth between your PC and printer. Octoprint has a robust and strongly embraced by the community extension architecture and many people have written extensions for it. Below are several of the ones I found useful.

Octolapse

Octolapse takes timelapse images. Obviously, you must have a camera connected to your octopi in order to make use of this extension. The advantage of Octolapse over Octoprint’s built-in timelapse feature is that Octolapse automatically homes the extruder before taking each picture.

Print History

This addon keeps a history of your prints, times, and filament used. Once you start printing a lot of things, you’ll quickly lose track of what you printed and when, and this addon is the perfect solution.

PrintTimeGenius

This uses timing information embedded in the gcode to generate accurate time estimates, much better than Octoprint’s build in estimation feature. It helps to know how long something will take before printing it, and to get accurate time remaining while something is printing.

Telegram

Telegram is a popular messaging application with a focus on security. This extension allows your Octopi to send out notifications by telegram and to respond to rudimentary commands via telegram. This facilitates being able to remote access a printer, without having to either punch it through a firewall or setup a VPN. The disadvantage is that the user interface is somewhat cumbersome, resorting to typing in text commands into a chat window.

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