About a week ago I decided to tackle a project I’ve been thinking about for a while. I have a beautiful glass tabletop and thought it would be fun to 3D print a base for it.
Fun?! I like to go into a project thinking positively, but maybe that just set me up ….
Anyway, the first day of what would be a 5-day print went fine. It was when I had to change out the 5-pound spool of PLA filament on my 8-foot-tall Cerberus 3D Gigante 3D printer that things went terribly wrong.
The print paused normally, then I switched out the spool of natural filament and loaded up the new spool. When I tried to resume the print, though, everything went haywire. The printhead swung wildly out of position, and the print was lost.
I was ready to pull my hair out! A whole $100 spool of filament and a day of 3D printing had been lost. Not to mention the frayed nerves.
Then Steve Graber, the man who built the Gigante, told me about the switch ….
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When 3D printing first became popular for more general use – it’d already been around 20 years in industrial and scientific settings – “rapid prototyping” was the buzzword you heard everywhere. (After I started working with 3D printing and especially my 8-foot-tall Cerberus 3D Gigante 3D printer, I found this hilarious – there wasn’t much rapid about it.)
While I do create sculptures using 3D printing, I also use it for protyping. It’s really important when I’m creating a sculpture in CAD and then actually building it in metal to be able to see all aspects of the form.
A great example is a sculpture I’m just beginning, Schubertii. Based on the plant by the same name, this sculpture will be 12 feet tall. Seven feet of that will be the sculpture’s “stem.”
The stem is fairly simply to look at, but creating it in metal is going to be, well, challenging. Its round edges and flowing form will require me to use a combination of tools – air shaper, English wheel, maybe even the slapper (yeah, there really is a tool called a slapper) – to get the rounded form that is the opposite of how metal comes, in flat sheets.
To get the form right, I printed the stem maquette, or model, on my Cerberus 3D 250 desktop 3D printer ….
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It starts out so innocently …. Doesn’t it always, especially with 3D printing!
I wanted to print something using NGen_FLEX (usually called “Ninjaflex”) rubber filament on my 8-foot-tall Cerberus 3D Gigante printer when I got a “Runaway temperature warning” (right), and the printer shut down.
I checked the graph in Simplify 3D, the combination host and slicer program I was using, and saw the temperature spiking instead of its usual gradual climb.
I shut off the 3D printer, let it cool, and tried it again. Same problem.
I printed the same file with regular PLA and had no problem.
There was only one thing to do …
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When you’ve done something for a while, you start to take it for granted.
There’s nothing like talking to others about 3D printing – and, best of all, showing it to them – to remind me how remarkable this technology is for many people.
Recently, my wife spoke with a woman who had never even heard of 3D printing. That’s pretty mind-blowing.
Most of the people who attended the inaugural “Technology & Art: A Tinker Time For All Ages” on Saturday, October 21 had heard of it but never seen a 3D printer in action.
They have now….
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When I commissioned the creation of my 8-foot-tall Cerberus 3D Gigante 3D printer 3 years ago, I knew that the technology would change.
Of course, technology changes all the time, but in the fast-moving field of 3D printing, it changes as fast as you can type.
As chronicled in this blog, Cerberus 3D “mad scientist” and all-around cool guy Steve Graber and I made a lot of changes in the Gigante as we worked through the issues that arose when using the printer. Software, hardware and filament all demanded tweaking, and finally we got the Gigante running well.
There were still issues, though. The biggest was a tendency for the print to just … stop. The printer would freeze, and the computer would join it, stuck in some sort of limbo while I pulled my hair out trying to figure out why I’d just lost yet another print.
Sometimes it was simply that the computer, which is dedicated to running the Gigante, decided to update. I dealt with that by always firing up the computer well before I started printing. OK, that worked most of the time.
Finally, though, it became clear that the processor just wasn’t handling the information fast enough ….
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Sometimes you just have to get away. (Well, I do.) When I’m at home, I tend to work a lot, and that can lead to burn out. Getting away helps me clear my head, and often brings me new, fresh ideas I would never have had otherwise.
That’s one reason my lovely assistant (AKA The Voice, to those of you who watch my videos on YouTube, and wife of 25 years) headed to Australia recently.
We started out in Sydney, then drove the Princes Highway, which runs along the southern coast of Australia, to Melbourne.
We saw a lot of interesting things, including wild kangaroos and termite “castles,” as well as lots of beautiful seascapes and rolling fields of canola. We also enjoyed visiting the amazing Heide Museum of Modern Art in Melbourne (photo at right).
The last thing I was looking for was 3D printing ….
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Since I became a full-time artist in 2006, I’ve purchased and used a lot of tools. A lot of tools. If you took the recent video tour of my studio, you see many of them, and yes, I use them all. Using the right tool for the job can mean the difference between a job well done and one that turns out just OK, and the difference between spending hours and committing days to a single task.
Recently, I “moved up” in the world of metal working with a purchase of a Dynatorch Super B 4×4 Plasma CNC table (right). This tool allows me do jobs in an hour that would have taken me days, and does them better. It cuts out the metal accurately and cleanly – no more cutting close, then trimming or grinding to size!
The CNC table is a game changer for me, much like my 3D printers have been.
Interestingly enough, my experience with 3D printing helped me get up to speed on the Super B a lot faster than I would have otherwise ….
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One of the strongest intersections of art and 3D printing is taking place right here in Phoenix at Arizona State University.
I first encountered Dan Collins, who is a professor of Intermedia in the School of Art as ASU and a co-director of the PRISM lab, an interdisciplinary 3D modeling and rapid prototyping facility.
Dan has been involved in 3D printing for a long time. He was involved with TeleSculpture, which was held in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2007, in which artists would simply send in their designs, which would be printed remotely for the show, an incredibly innovative idea, one certainly ahead of its time.
(You can read more about Dan’s activities and involvement by clicking on his name above.)
What Dan and his team have done is amazing ….
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Although the buzz about 3D printing isn’t as red hot as it was, people are understandably still jazzed about this transformational process.
I see the reactions all the time, whether it’s at a gathering focused on how the process works, how I use it in my practice as a sculptor, or just a bunch of people who are fascinated by 3D printing. What I almost also invariably see is disappointment.
The dirty little secret about 3D printing is that you must have a file that you can print.
That’s easy enough if you are satisfied printing other people’s files, such as ones downloaded from Thingiverse. But what if you want to create something yourself?
Well, at this point in the evolution of 3D printing, you’d better know CAD (Computer Aided Design) software, or know someone who does. That’s what most people don’t realize: 3D printing itself is the culmination of a longer process ….
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Much is known about the capabilities of 3D printing. From living body parts to high end dining, researchers have developed ways to print a mind-boggling array of objects in the third dimension. But just how far can scientists and tech fans push 3D printing, and could it be used to print buildings, landmarks and other massive objects?
To find out, we tallied up the time and cost of 3D printing the world’s most celebrated landmarks, as well as other structures you’ll no doubt recognize.
Whether you want to erect Big Ben or the Eiffel Tower in your back garden, it seems 3D printing has a long way to go before it replaces traditional building techniques. That said, 3D printing technologies are emerging at an extraordinary rate, with new variations of the technology hitting the headlines every other day. And with each ground-breaking new development, surely we’re one step closer to printing our own pyramids, Death Stars and star ships?
Don’t forget, the above calculations were based on printing from a standard household 3D printer. Use a 3D printer like this one, and we reckon you could have your own Hogwarts in a fraction of the time – especially if you had two or three of them.
Provided by TonerGiant.co.uk