Adventures in 3D Printing!

Glen Burnie Regional Library’s 3D printing journey began in August of 2016 when we received a LulzBot Mini printer with about six weeks to gain enough proficiency to use it for public print jobs. Terrifying and exciting all at once. Really, the only way to learn how to use one of these is to just start using it. 

Well, use it we did! We learned to use Thingiverse, an online community for discovering and sharing 3D printable designs, to find print jobs to set up and practice. The twofold benefit here, we learned to use the equipment, and we learned Thingiverse, which we recommend to our customers on a weekly basis. 

A white figurine of a rhino that was printed on the 3D printer at the library.Photograph of a bright yellow octopus figurine that was created using the 3D printer at the library.This photograph shows the gyroscope figurine that was printed on the 3D printer at the library. Written on the gyroscope is the time the print job took (3 hours), the mass (51 grams), and the price ($12.75).

Our most complicated job to date was a catapult. It had to print in three or four separate jobs because only so many parts would fit on the bed. The customer homeschools her children, and this project taught them a bit of history and a bit of physics (potential energy). I taught her boys that if you lick the marshmallow before launching it, it’ll stick to the wall. Mom thanked me profusely for that bit of advice ;) 

One of the most interesting jobs we’ve received was brought to us in February — a gyroscope! It was designed by a young man and set up to print in a single job. We explained that we do not refund failed print jobs. He understood and said go for it. It worked! I was totally convinced the hinges where it spins would be seized up by the molten plastic. By the time I removed it from the printer bed all of the hinges had snapped free and it rotated in multiple directions at once. WOW. We were all very impressed that the customer had designed this himself. Thankfully, he gave us permission to keep a copy and share. 

Three of us are particularly dedicated to the printer and several others are rapidly gaining confidence. Things have not always gone smoothly. We’ve had a few failed print jobs. In one case, a customer wanted small figurines to use while gaming. Out of nine pieces, three were troublesome. Taking it personally, I decided to change the print settings, which fixed the problem for two of the figures. That left one. A zombie with his arms outstretched. I tried everything, even laying it down. No luck. So I found another figure and substituted it. I was able to do this since I knew how the customer was going to use them. The end result was a happy customer who got what he needed. 

For all the fretting we went through before opening this to the public, it really is easy to use. Every print job is an opportunity to learn, and if one fails….it’s an even better learning experience. We are glad to be able to offer this technology to our customers. 

This is the type of equipment that promises to make a big impact in the world around us. In the news, there have been articles about the use of this technology in medicine. Prosthetic limbs are being printed, as well as dental appliances. Research is currently being conducted on printing artificial hearts, kidneys and livers, as well as, other major structures. Clearly, the future is now!  

3D printer parts by GreatThreeD

This is a piece I made to stabilize my 3D printer manufactured with extruded aluminum 2020 as the Tarantula Tevo or Flsun i3.

You must use an M4 x 8 mm screw with a washer and a T-nut to secure the frame to the 2020 frame and two wood screws of appropriate length to secure the bracket to a plywood or something else but not the kitchen table. ..

Happy printing.

Printer:

mini fabrikator V1

Rafts:

Doesn’t Matter

Supports:

Doesn’t Matter

Resolution:

0.2mm

Infill:

65%

3D Print Remote Support Engineer

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Thermwood tests 3D printed carbon fibre-filled PPS panels without coatings

Thermwood has taken a major step toward its goal of 3D printing autoclave capable tooling from high temperature carbon fibre filled thermoplastic materials.

The manufacturing company 3D printed 50% carbon fibre-filled PPS panels on its LSAM additive manufacturing machine, maintaining the part’s vacuum to an industry-standard level, without coatings. Testing of the part was conducted by the Fleet Readiness Center, located at MCAS Cherry Point, NC, under a previously announced Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) partnership. The results met FRC-East acceptance criterion that the bag must not lose than more than 2 in Hg over five minutes.

As an added benefit, Thermwood believes it will soon be capable of producing moulds and tooling that function properly under vacuum in a heated, pressurized autoclave, also without the use of any type of coating to seal the printed tools.

Previously, other unaffiliated companies have tested actual tools printed by Thermwood from 20% Carbon Fibre-filled ABS and have also found that those tools held vacuum to an acceptable level without the use of any sealer or coating; however, the ABS material is not suitable for high temperature applications.

Yet, several parts have been made from those tools under vacuum at room temperature and at slightly elevated temperatures. Thermwood has also already printed a 50% Carbon Fibre-filled three dimensional PPS mould which has not yet been tested. Thermwood’s goal is to produce moulds that will be used in a production autoclave, moulding finished parts suitable for actual end use.

Thermwood’s additive printing process differs fundamentally from conventional Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) printing. Most FDM processes print parts by melting and extruding a relatively small bead of thermoplastic material onto a heated build plating that is contained within a heated chamber. The heated chamber keeps the extruded material from cooling too much before the next layer is added.

Thermwood machines print a large bead at such a high rate that a heated environment is not needed. It is basically an exercise in controlled cooling. Print speed is adjusted so that each layer cools to the proper temperature just as the next layer starts to print resulting in a continuous printing process that produces high quality parts. Thermwood believes this fundamentally different approach produces superior parts.

One other feature that Thermwood engineers believe helps produce solid, void free parts, is a patent pending compression roller that follows directly behind the print nozzle, flattening the bead while fusing it tightly to the previous layer.