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I won't promise any earth shattering revelations here. What I will be trying to do is post some new products as I release them, share some thoughts on gaming and show some pics of games and other stuff that I enjoy. So come in and make yourselves at home.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

More 3D Printing Tests

    Several months ago I started exploring 3D printing for prototypes. My first experiences with Shapeways were educational and time well spent, but the end product was not of sufficient quality to send to a mold maker for reproduction. After months of interruptions with conventions, backlog commissions, deaths, births and wedding plans, I was finally able to send the original trash can model off to another company for a test sample.

    The printing process there is different than the one at Shapeways. Rather than build in layers of powder that give some support to the model, this machine extrudes layers of resin that build upon themselves. Designs had to be tweaked to allow for support from the ground up.

    Here is the set of 4 cans with the sprue supports and connections. They are upside down to show them more clearly.

     I sent the file off and less than a week later I received the finished product.

    I was surprised to see the additional supports that had been added. I examined things a while, called the printer and had a good discussion about what was going on with the build. Evidently I only need to add sprues if I actually want them to be part of the final production cast. That provides a good bit of design flexibility. I can also have several different parts printed in the same build as long as they all fit within the machine's design parameters. Cool.

    The quality of the print is impressive. I can see every face of the object I modeled. Round sections like the sprues are round. And even the smallest details are crisp and sharp. This is definitely something I can send to be reproduced.

    When you compare the Shapeways print to the new one you can see the difference. The material is much smoother. The details are sharper and cleaner in the new build. I also noticed that the Shapeways model is about  0.5mm taller than the other and the overall proportions are different. I still need to examine the computer model to see which one is more faithful to the drawing.

    All in all, I'm pleased with the new printer. I'll probably still have to learn to tweak the files a bit to get exactly what I want. But, hey... it's all a learning experience.


Allison M. said...

Interesting experiment with a nice outcome. And I think Shapeways is popular because it's easy to use and accessible, not necessarily because its products are of the highest quality/finest detail. Not sure how prices would line up but some Shapeways stuff seems wildly expensive to me, especially if you use anything other than the basic material (WSF?).

Rodrick Campbell said...

Shapeways is indeed easy to use. The whole upload-to-product process is pretty slick and intuitive. It's also the cheapest I've seen.

The latest 4 set of models cost about 3 times what I paid for the set of 12 cans. Definitely not a solution I'd use for anything but prototypes.

Brother Joseph said...

Hey Roddie, I am using Moddler for my 3d protos.

I got my little set of 8 human blanks done there for $80 including shipping.