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So finally, after many years of wanting one, I got a 3D printer for Christmas this year. This has much to do with the ever decreasing cost of them, especially the Creality Ender 3, which is what I got. This isn't so much about set up or using the printer (other than to say that Tom from Fat Dragon Games and his Tomb of 3D Printed Horrors made the whole process so so easy, his instructional videos on the Ender 3 made it all easy, and his Cura setup files for printing minis worked for me straight away) but the minis stuff I'm printing and (hopefully) painting. So, got the printer set up yesterday before going to a friend's for supper. Later got the bed leveled (ish) and printed off one of the free models Fat Dragon gave away this year with their newsletter. I used the stock print bed cover for this and it really stuck on quite hard. I later snapped the head off the halberd trying to get it off. Eventually had to heat the bed up to get it to come off. So this morning I switched the the glass bed I'd ordered with it and got that all leveled. Tested it out with another FDG skelly. Nova Corps colour scheme test guy included for scale (he was the only thing within easy reach). I'm looking forward to cleaning these up, slapping some primer on them and seeing how they paint, but expect that will be a few days. FYI, these skellies print out in a little over an hour. Now on to something a bit more complicated, to see how it comes out. This should make a 65mm talk bipedal "chicken tank". Design by Radek Szczepanczyk, available on MyMiniFactory for free. This will take about 8 hours to print.
Time for a little something different. I've now got a PLA 3d printer, and I'm enjoying it so far. Printed out a reindeer finger puppet and a die (and another after the first one failed at almost the end). Then printed out a reverse engineered dish washer handle cap. Then corrected the CAD model and printed out a second one. Then another correction and two final ones. Then corrected the CAD, but gave up on printing out new ones because it was close enough. Then I got into the meat of what I really bought it for. HOBBY. My first target was the Stone Troll that is from www.mini2print.com. Here's a link to the CMON thread that m2p started to announce it, in case you're interested in some other shots of it. I was asked on another Reaper thread how the material sands. And, honestly, I didn't know. But I've got two dish washer handle caps that are destined to be junked, or at least re-purposed as something. Prefect timing then. I didn't really think about photos until after I'd done all the testing, so I'll explain things as we go and you might have to look back every now and then. Let's start with the materials we've got. From L-R, Cap #2, the Stone Troll, Sir Forscale (Garrick The Bold), and Cap #1 And for what I have on hand to try a little finishing work: a felt disk, a grinding bit, and a poofy... thing. Cap #1 was an attempt at using gesso and milliput to fill in the lines and such. It's not working as the gesso wasn't thick enough and the milliput didn't cure, so we'll skip him. On to Cap #2! This was done in several stages, so I'll explain that first and you'll see the results of all of that in the above picture. The manual doesn't recommend high speed sanding. I haven't actually tried low speed sanding other than by hand. But that's stage 4ish. A google search of sanding PLA found me on a jewelry making website, and several there recommended cloth disks. I'm not sure that it's the same, but I used a felt disk on the right half of the above cap. And it worked. But I wouldn't call it sanding, but more of a blending. I think it was heating the ridges up to a plastic stage (go figure) and then smeared them. Which works. It's going to take a bit of practice if I want to continue to use that technique. It'll be interesting to try to go around curved surfaces, but for flat panels I think it's fine. At this point, I brushed on some brown liner from Reaper. That's what a lot of people are using to "prime" Bones, so figured it might work here. I think that PLA is a little more accepting of acrylic paint that Bones, so that'll be a plus. Then I did some actual sanding with some 180 grit foam sanding files, first on the right side and then on the as-untouched left. That got things really very smooth. It still has that badly mislaid layer, the dark line roughly a third up from the bottom. Now some fresh milliput might be able to fill in the crack. I'm also thinking about getting some liquid greenstuff. I may just go get some automotive putty, as the "mini" I'm planning on building, a true-engineered CAV drop ship, is going to be fairly large. I may wind up needing that much and don't want to break my wallet. One of the odd things is that the putty I apply will probably cost more than the PLA filament. I do have one more test to do, and that's the "low speed" sanding with a Dremel. I figure if I can learn to do it that way, it'll help out a lot, especially with the little surfaces. Speaking of which, let's look at what I'm facing on the Stone Troll. Below are the three major areas that I'm going to be dealing with. For reference, I did NOT print this at the highest resolution that I could, which is 100 micron layers (.100 mm, .004 inch). I did it in 150 microns instead, and I think I'm happy that I did that. That decreases the time for it to build, and thus the amount of time I have to babysit it. While it was building the legs, the edges of them curled up and the print nozzle would knock them each time. I think that's happened a few times, which results in it pulling the object off of the build tape. At that point, it's into the reject bin for it. Happened once on this figure, and on a die. As you can maybe see, there's a couple of layers that didn't line up right, similar to what happened on the dish washer cap. I believe the XY resolution is .150 microns regardless of what the layer thickness is. Those will have to be removed. There are curls and bubbles scattered amount, debris left from the print nozzle and/or PLA defects. Those are pretty common. The big thing I'll have to work out is the tail. It started to lean I think or perhaps was pushed by the nozzle. This made a big mismatch between the two parts of it. I'll have to green stuff that or something else. One thought is to remove the lower part of the tail entirely, and sculpt the remaining part into a stubby tail. That's probably the easiest to do, so may be what I end up doing. One last picture, and what will be one of the easier clean-ups. There's little hairs that form when the nozzle goes from one print area to another. The plastic hardens on one area, then is pulled like taffy to the second. Most of these I can just scrape off with a fingernail, so they don't concern me too much. Just a couple of parting thoughts. The 3D software I've got that sends the print to the printer threw a warning when I was first trying to print, which was at 100 microns. I didn't actually do that, as it was going to require 8 hours if I remember correctly. The warning was that there were some overhangs that exceeded 45Â°, and that was going potentially cause issues. When I went to 150 microns, that error disappeared. I'm not sure what would have happened had I tried to print at that resolution. I suspect two things: 1) that it'd be knocked off the tape due to the closeness of the object to the print head, and 2) those overhands would wind up needing a lot of repair. As I continue on this, I'll update this post, along with the video that I made. It's not going to be a regular series, which I try to do every Tuesday, with little success lately, as I don't want to feel pressured to have to work it. That'll come with the CAV KS Ace package shipping out sometime this next week. I've volunteered to paint a couple out that set and post it online. It's what I'm planning to do on Tuesdays once I get it. Video basically stating everything I've said above is below behind spoiler tags, although I do buff the base actually in the video. Hard to see the result, but it's there. EDIT: Moved the pictures to a different photo album on PhotoBucket, so had to update the links.