We’ve been spending the last several months working hard to get our new warehouse and showroom ready to open.

On May 15th, 2016 from 10-4 we will be celebrating with an Open House and Maker Festival and YOU are invited.  Our showroom and the entire warehouse at 2850 Ogletown Rd, Newark, DE will be open to the public for this event!

If you want to help us know how many people are coming, please RSVP at event brite.  It is free. 

Printed Solid Show Room and Warehouse

Here is some of what we will have going on.

  • All the products you see at PrintedSolid.com will be on display.  Interested in Bronzefill, but haven't been able to convince yourself to make the plunge and buy some?  Maybe you think you want a shiny new BCN Sigma 3D Printer, but don't want to make the jump without seeing it in person.  This is your chance to check everything out.  
  • If the stars align, we'll have our a brand new Lulzbot Taz 6 sitting for your evaluation and to take preorders.  
  • DOOR PRIZES!  We'll be giving out a number of cool things including free class sessions and printed things.  
  • Free samples.  Our friends at colorFabb have donated free samples of NGEN filament to giveaway to attendees with printers.  

Meet some cool people at our Makers Festival

Special Visiting Guest:  Joel Telling from the 3D Printing Nerd YouTube Channel.

Joel has been a friend of ours for a while now.  When he heard we were going to be hosting this event, he wanted to be a part of it.  So, he’s going to be flying out all the way from Seattle to come for a visit.  Stop by to meet him and maybe get a 15 minutes of fame in the video he films of the event (or not if you are shy).

Learn about 3D Design

A representative from Morphi, the easy to use ipad 3D Design App will be present to give demonstrations.  Learn how you can easily create your own models for 3D Printing!

3D Printing in Education

We are huge proponents of using 3D Printing as part of education.  We've worked closely to help several schools in the region develop strong programs and have also helped many schools throughout the USA select the right material for student projects.  Josh Ajima, author of the excellent DesignMakeTeach blog will present some of his work.  Local educators will also be on hand to talk about how they use 3D Printing as part of their curriculum.  

 

3D Printing in Engineering Use

3D Printing has a huge amount of value in engineering.  It allows ideas to be quickly evaluated.  Some of the materials we carry with improved mechanical properties allow some users to even print parts of functional machines on their own printers.  Most of the time, these applications are proprietary to the companies doing the work, but competitive robotics teams can be great examples of this application. 

The Flaming Phoenix Robotics FTC team will be on site to demonstrate their competition robot.  They have made heavy use of 3D Printing on this machine. 

Another application is using the 3D printer to print other 3D printers!  This is known as reprap and is really the birthplace of all of the consumer grade machines we use.  John Abella will be on site demonstrating RepRap printers. 

 

3D Printing as a Creative Outlet

Alright, I’ll admit it.  A lot of what you’ve probably seen with 3D Printing and a lot of what we show at our table is simply things that look cool.  Hey, I'm a mechanical engineer and have spent most of my adult life working on functional things.  Part of what I love about 3D Printing is the ability it gives me as an engineer to produce artistic works that would otherwise be outside of my reach.  

We’ll have two 3D Printing artists on site.  Vicky Somma and Cole Hastings.  We’ll also be showing off some work from Chris Milnes.  Here are some examples of their work.

TGAW 3D

Creative works by Vicky Somma

Some 3D Printed Pop Art from Chris Milnes

3D Printing Medical Applications            

3D Printing has become very popular for printing prosthetic arms primarily for kids who quickly outgrow expensive purchased prosthetics.  Not only does this allow children who might not otherwise have access to prosthetics to have them, it allows for customization.  Our friend Aaron Brown is an active member of the organization E-Nable and has designed numerous character themed arms for kids.  Check out this Wolverine themed prosthetic (it's OK mom, the claws are only decorative).

wolverinehandx

In addition, 3D Printing can be used to help visualize anatomy to help doctors prepare for surgery. 

We’ll be featuring an example printed arm as well as example printed anatomy. 

 

What are the kids making?

4 Youth Productions will be showing off some of the work they have done with kids in arts and technology.

Mike Carroll, author of the Dewey Mac book series will be on hand with books and Detective Invent kits.  

Facilities and Groups to Access More Making Tools and Expertise

Sometimes you have a project that is more than you can handle on your own.  Maybe you need access to expensive equipment, space, or expertise that you don’t have.  Or maybe you just want some camaraderie from other like-minded people.  That’s what Makerspaces are for. 

Wilmington based Barrel of Makers as well as Lancaster based Make717 will both be on hand for hands on demonstrations and to talk about what is available in their organizations. 

 

 

 

Fall is an awesome time for 3D Printing.  There are many great events.  One of the biggest for makers and 3D Printing is the World Maker Faire in NYC.  

The 2015 event will be held at the New York Hall of Science on September 26th and 27th.  There will be a ton of amazing Makers showing off their work and lots of hands on activities.  More info about the Faire can be found here.  

Printed Solid will be there in the 3D Printing Village with some cool things to show off and some cool things to buy.  

Last year, we introduced our gumball machine filled with a bunch of random 3D Printed things.  The idea for this came out of necessity.   At a previous event, we printed 100s of little giveaway prints figuring that they would last easily through the whole event, but they were all gone within the first hour!  So, we ordered a gumball machine to slow the rate that the sample go out.  It was a big hit.  Kids loved it.  But we noticed that everyone who didn't get a robot was a little bit disappointed.  So, this year, we will have the machine loaded up completely with robots in a plethora of cool colors.  The robot of choice this year is a remix of Cerberus 333's 2013 Big Red design.  We call him Little Red.  If you follow us on twitter, then you'll know we've been running the heck out of this stl for the last few weeks.

The gumball machine will be stuffed with mixed color bots as well as a few special bots printed in bronzeFill, copperFill, brassFill, Stainless Steel PLA, and rusted magnetic Iron PLA.  We will also have some of the metal filled as well as solid cast metal bots available for purchase.  

Robots in assorted colors.  The guy in the center was made in bronzeFill, tumbled, and clear coated.

Robots in ProtoPasta Magnetic Iron that have been rusted overnight in salt water.

We will have 3 shelving units fully loaded with all types of filament and supplies from our shop available at discounted prices.  Last year, we had people asking for bags.  Seems like kind of an obvious thing for a retailer, but we didn't think to bring any.  So, this year, we had the foresight to order up some cool bags.  We'll be giving out these drawstring bags with purchases.  Or, if you're a reader of the blog, just ask and we'll give you one for free :)

 We will have some of our coolest prints featuring different materials that we sell.  Stained and sealed WoodFill Groot and Stainless Steel / BambooFill Thor's Hammer are two of my personal favorite's

 

In addition to showcasing prints in all of our favorite materials, we'll have a streaming presentation going through the whole show with some information on basic filament properties.  This should be very informative for those attending without engineering or materials degrees.  It will list out some basic properties of materials such as strength, flexibility, and electrical conductivity.  Each property will be given a brief explanation, some filaments that are good for that property will be listed, and a visual example of the property will be shown.  There will also be a handful of objects printed to show differences in properties for the different materials.  When I am back settled in from the show, I will be sharing this information on the blog as well.

Of course, what will a Maker Faire be if we're not actually making during the event!  This year, the Printrbot Metal Simple will be our working machine.  This printer has a super small foot print and is very reliable, so it makes a perfect printer for shows.  We'll have a few for sale at a discounted price if you want to take one home with you from the show.  

What will we be printing?  Well, we will definitely be printing with the new Proto-Pasta Coffee Filament for some of the time.  This is not yet available in our shop, but will be soon.  It gives off a slightly burnt coffee smell while printing (perfect if you like dark roast brews like Starbucks) and has a nice brown color.  It also offers a unique functional aspect.  The material can be post treated to create a higher temperature tolerance.  So, you get a filament that smells like coffee AND can be used in your hot car.  Sure beats having to smell nasty ABS!  Alex from Proto-Pasta will be stopping by at some point to present information on their materials and to give out samples.  

 Then we'll also be spending some time printing with Algae Filament.  

Product image and print by Walter Hsaio 
Bucky Ball (Fredbartels) / CC BY-SA 3.0

 

We'll also bring back the Garage Sale filament that we had at Midwest Reprap Fest 2015.  As a filament reseller, we order a lot of different things just to try.  Some make the cut.  Many don't.  Sometimes they don't make the cut because they are just terrible materials.  Those go in the trash.  However, a great many are OK enough, but just not quite up to our standards.  These are our garage sale filaments.  We'll have about 30-40 spools ranging from unopened 250g spools to opened with only a bit used 1kg spools.  We'll have these available for $5 each or 5 for $20.  If you're looking for a great deal, hit us up early.  These will not last long.  

Also...  Just in! 

We'll have some special guests.

Gordon LaPlante and Anna Lee, cofounders of Gcreate who make the awesome Gmax series of printers will be stopping by.  You might have also seen some of Gordon's awesome designs featured on thingiverse and 3dfilemarket.  They will bring some of these enormous prints with them to show off at our table!  All are printed in fabulous colorFabb PLA/PHA.

 

 

 

 

 

One of the most simple, yet frustratingly difficult things to get figured out when you are learning about 3D Printing is how to get and keep your prints stuck to the bed. People have all kinds of tricks.  Bare clean glass, borosilicate glass, plate glass, PEI, buildTak, aluminum plate, circuit board perf material,  Painters Tape, Kapton Tape, Glue stick, hair spray, PVC film, higher temperature, lower temperature, etc.  The list goes on.  There is science behind this and there are reasons why some materials work better than others.  There are also factors associated with the environment you are operating in and your technique that are difficult to control.  As things often are on the internet, everyone thinks their method is the absolute best and that all of the others don't work.  Don't worry about them too much.  If you've got a build surface that works well for you, stick with it (pun intended).  If you're curious, we typically use either painter's tape or glue stick/PVA on glass for most materials with a bed temp of 50-70C or Room Temp if I'm using a printer without a heated bed.  On the rare occasion when we run ABS, we use hairspray on Kapton at 100C.  We've played with bare acrylic and PEI but haven't been too impressed. However, of all of these build surfaces, none of them will work if you don't get that first layer right. Over on the Robo3D forum, we've got two amusing terms that have become part of the vernacular. 'Check your Skirt' and 'Throw your nuts'.  The second term is pretty specific to the design of the first version of that machine, but the first is particularly useful for anyone new to printing who is trying to figure out how to get that first layer to stick. Here's the idea. Get your bed cleaned / primed and leveled to the best of your ability. For all prints, run a skirt that is at least a few nozzle widths wide. Run the print speed relatively low during the skirt printing so that you can clearly see what is happening. If possible with your machine, you can adjust your bed level / tram and nozzle gap during the skirt printing to achieve the desired criteria. If you get a nice clean skirt that meets the criteria I am going to describe, then let the print continue.  If not, stop the print and restart. Here's the criteria.  Your skirt should look pretty similar to the one in this picture:

Photo Courtesy of Jeff Janes.  This picture shows a good first layer.  The multiple skirt lines have cleanly merged together and appear to be a single line.  Note the changes in height towards the center are due to the operator adjusting extrusion ratio as a demonstration. 

This picture shows a good first layer. The multiple skirt lines have cleanly merged together and appear to be a single line. Note the changes in height towards the center are due to the operator adjusting extrusion ratio as a demonstration. Photo courtesy of Jeff Janes

 

Here's a little more explanation if you like the details.  Note that some of the details here (specifically the wagon track) vary with nozzle geometry, but it's good general guidance.   _filamentcross  

We highly recommend giving this method a shot if you're struggling with getting your prints to stick and/or getting a good first layer.  This is an excellent quick and dirty, but very effective method.  Advanced users going for high z-axis precision may prefer to us a more technically sophisticated method of setting nozzle gap with precision shims or a dial indicator. Full credit for the 'check your skirt' idea and the pictures used go to Jeff Janes.  Check out some of his models here:  Tesseract

 

As you've seen in some of my previous posts, I've spent a fair amount of time experimenting with using an acetone vapor bath to smooth 3D Printed parts. Recently, I saw this cool make of a Moai head posted by thingiverse member Shapespeare.  He used acrylic cement to manually smooth the PLA printed part with a really great result.  This looks awesome, but I don't want to deal with a bunch of little jars of acrylic cement and I'm not sure about the full list of chemicals contained. That got me thinking back to vapor polishing PLA and other materials.  I've read about using THF as a vapor to smooth parts, but have also read concerns about storage of the chemical.  It's also quite expensive.   I've also read about people using DMC.  This is a standard industrial vapor polishing solvent, but is hard to come by and really should only be used with a vapor recovery system for safety. So, on a whim, I tried out some 'MEK Substitute'.  According to a closer read of the label, it is Ethyl Acetate, which is used in some acetone free nail polish removers, processing of some food products, and is generated in the wine fermentation process according to the always accurate wikipedia.  It's sold in the paint aisle of hardware stores as a replacement for MEK, which is harder to come by and more potentially harmful to your health.

I decided to use the Cute Octo model for this experiment.  My daughters really like carrying these around so I figured it wouldn't hurt to have a few more laying around.  It also has enough minimal detail to judge effectiveness of the polishing, but not so much that the detail is ruined. I printed up 5 Cute Octos in the following materials. 

Here is a picture of the 'as-printed' octos.  These were printed on an Ultimaker with a modified 0.8mm nozzle (future post coming about why I love my 0.8mm nozzle) using a printing profile that was primarily optimized for woodfill with adjustments made only to temperature and cooling for the different materials.  Layer height was a fairly beefy 200 um to make the smoothing more obvious.

2014-03-20 18.38.04

I then poured a little of the Ethyl Acetate into the bottom of the trusty vapor polishing machine (a deep fryer), set the octos in the basket, and turned up the heat.  As soon as I saw vapor condensed on the tops of the parts I turned off the heat and removed the basket. **Note:  If you are performing this process, use appropriate safety precautions.  Breathing mask, safety glasses / goggles, solvent gloves, and a well ventilated area are all a good idea.** Here are the results.  As you can see, most of the parts smoothed very well.  There are still visible printing lines, but just barely.  The parts do feel quite smooth when you run your fingernail across them.  I'd conclude that this process works, but more is needed to really nail down time and temperature process settings.   The XT definitely did NOT clarify like I have seen with my past acetone experiments, but it smoothed extremely well.   The woodfill seemed to just bleach out.  I wouldn't recommend doing this with woodfill.  

2014-03-21 18.16.28

2016 update:  Since writing this blog post, I've found the MEK substitute I purchased is no longer available.  I've heard from other users that they've tried different brands of MEK substitute as well as just straight Ethyl Acetate with varying levels of success.  This tells me that there was probably something else in that MEK substitute that helped with the smoothing.  If I learn more, I'll share.

 

A few nights ago, I printed a thin walled part with colorFabb _XT.  It was very tall and unstable.  Essentially a 4 inch disk standing on end.  I used a brim, but that wasn't really enough.  As the part built up higher and higher, it became less and less stable.  As such, I ended up with a pretty low quality print and had a few layer delaminations. I tried brushing on a little MEK based plastic solvent weld (Plastruct Plastic Weld).  To my surprise, it worked quite well and the material clarified nicely where it was brushed. colorFabb XT disk with a clarification from a brushed line of MEK solvent. colorFabb XT disk with a clarification from a brushed line of MEK solvent.

That got me thinking.  If the MEK solvent works, then can I vapor polish it in acetone?

Turns out the answer is YES Before going further, I should mention that vapor polishing can be dangerous.  It is highly flammable and there are both acute and long term exposure risks.  Make sure you understand these risks and use appropriate safety equipment and ventilation if you vapor polish. I took a Stretchy Bracelet (emmett) / CC BY-SA 3.0 that I had made and tossed it into an acetone vapor bath for a very brief exposure.  The material clarified nicely.  It also became noticeably more flexible.  Here is an overall picture of the bracelet and a closeup of it pressed to my finger.  Notice that you can clearly see my finger print pattern through the bracelet without distortion.

Emmett Stretchy bracelet printed in colorFabb XT on an Ultimaker at 100micron step height.  Polished briefly in acetone vapor.  Emmett Stretchy bracelet printed in colorFabb XT on an Ultimaker at 100micron step height. Polished briefly in acetone vapor.

Closeup of Emmett Stretchy Bracelet link.  Notice that finger print lines are clearly visible through the link.  Closeup of Emmett Stretchy Bracelet link. Notice that finger print lines are clearly visible through the link.

WOW! So, acetone vapor polishing in a very brief exposure clarifies single shell wide colorFabb XT material.  What happens to thicker parts with longer exposures?

I chose the model Crystal Do Dad (cerberus333) / CC BY 3.0 to try it out.  I scaled it down to 80% to ensure that it easily fit into the vapor bath.
I printed up a model with 3 shells and with 1 shell then polished.  My objective here was to evaluate how well the surface actually smooths, but I also learned some other things.
First, here is a pic of the 3 shell model printed with XT on an Ultimaker at 200 micron layers.  As-printed, no vapor polishing.
Crystal Do Dad.  3 Shells.  200 micron.  As-printed. Crystal Do Dad. 3 Shells. 200 micron. As-printed.
The clarity of the material makes it somewhat difficult to see the surface well.  So, I made an impression with some play-doh.  You can see the layers fairly clearly.Impression of 200 micron printed part in play-doh. Impression of 200 micron printed part in play-doh.

Then I took a previous attempt at this print, same settings, and put it in the vapor polish for about a minute.  {As an aside, this print failed due to a break at the bottom of the model just near the brim.  With XT, I've found that if you don't get the nozzle fully purged of PLA prior to starting the print, you get really weak brittle material until the nozzle is purged.}

Vapor Polished failed print Vapor Polished failed print

You're probably thinking, that looks LESS clear than the original.  You're right.  At longer exposure to vapor, the part becomes cloudy and internal layering lines become more exaggerated. However, look what happens to the impression!

Impression of 200 micron vapor polished part in play-doh.  Look ma, no lines! Impression of 200 micron vapor polished part in play-doh. Look ma, no lines!

The lines are GONE.  GONE GONE GONE! This gets me really excited about using this material to print positives for investment casting and mold making! Of course, you can do this same thing with ABS, but the XT has the benefit of being tougher and printing with no warpage. Before I end this, I just wanted to highlight one additional effect.  After vapor polishing, the material becomes extremely flexible and durable.  I took a single layer XT printed part, vapor polished it for about a minute, and then shot the following video the next morning.

 

9/9/13 Update. Turns out you lose some of that flexibility after the part has had some time to sit. Five days after polishing, the bracelet is still extremely flexible, but there is no way that crystal do dad is going to be crunched into a ball again without breaking. Still, a pretty impressive trick to show off, no? 

2014 and beyond update:  Since this blog post was originally written, colorFabb has reformulated XT.  Sadly, the newer version doesn't polish quite as cleanly with acetone, but we've had some success with MEK Substitute.