Archive for 3D printing

Back to the future: up and running

Amethyst City, a large format 3D printed sculpture - Kevin CaronThe last six weeks have been a whirlwind. That’s part of my life as a sculptor, especially at this time of year.

I attended the Codasummit in El Paso, Texas, in early October, sharing more information about my work with large-scale 3D printing, then geared up for the 2019 Camelback Studio Tour, for which I really needed to have my 8-foot-tall Cerberus 3D Gigante running.

The 6 weeks the Gigante was down just prior to that was a bit heart-stopping.

My backup plan was to bring out my Cerberus 3D 400 and have it running during the 3 days of the show, but it wouldn’t have been the optimum. I was on TV a lot (Channels 3, 5, 7 and 10 here in metro Phoenix) to promote the show, and the 400 just doesn’t have the visual impact of the Gigante! That proved true as a number of visitors came just to see it running.

I printed 3 sculptures during the show, one each day. Two made the cut, while one had a weak start – the filament drooped unattractively – so it didn’t survive, but the other 2, Solar Conundrum, a translucent yellow of my solid style, and Amethyst City (right, in a temporary photo), a spectacular new piece in my new “cubist” style, came out beautifully.

But that’s not all! … Read More →

My 3D printer heads to the hospital

I STILL haven’t been able to enjoy my upgrades because one of the motors decided to not count all the steps. It counts them one way, but not the other.

Three hundred bucks later, the new motor doesn’t want to work. It could be firmware, or … who knows!

Accordingly, mad scientist Steve Graber took my Cerberus 3D Gigante, which he built, to his own shop where he has all the right tools and the number for tech support.

While this mystery still doesn’t have a conclusion, I hope you enjoy watching them carry this huge printer out the door ….

‘This has never happened before’ yet again ….

Since my last post I’ve gotten this much printed:

Yes, nothing. Nothing except frustration and fails.

3D print fail - Kevin CaronAfter many days and hours of troubleshooting – Steve Graber was here so many hours (15? 20?) over 5 days that I offered him our spare bedroom – he and I narrowed down the problem to a bad motor.

Yes, of the 3 motors that run the Cerberus 3D Gigante, one had decided to no longer count steps, one way only, though.

Our first, oh, dozen or so hours of troubleshooting didn’t even touch the problem, which was causing every print to thin out one one side. At first we thought the bed wasn’t level, but after several attempts at leveling it using 2 different probes, it became clear that wasn’t the problem.

Finally we heard a slight variation in the motor sound when it neared one particular side. We also remembered that the last print I’d done, the large version of my 3D printed sculpture Ruby, had printed oddly at the bottom. It wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t use the print, but I knew I’d have to account for the lopsided bottom when I printed its base. I just couldn’t get that base to print, though.

So the problem had preceded all the work and improvements I’d just spent a lot of money on.

Steve rewired the motors to see if it could be the wiring, proving that it was indeed the motor.

Well, it better be: a new one just cost $300. Steve notified the motor manufacturer, who said, “We’ve never heard of this.” (They have now.)

It’s now been a month since I’ve been able to print, but I think we’ve got it.

Nonetheless, pray for me, and the printer! And stay tuned ….

Mad scientist performs 3D printer brain transplant

mad scientist!Wouldn’t you like to see that headline in your newspaper or favorite news Website? It’d be at the top of mine, because that’s just what happened recently with my 8-foot-tall Cerberus 3D Gigante 3D printer.

The Gigante is 5 years old now, which is like 50 in 3D printing years, especially with the rapid changes in the field. I’ve been suffering through a lot of 3D print fails, and the last large-format 3D print I completed somehow printed at an angle.

Even Cerberus 3D’s Steve Graber, the mad scientist who built the printer, couldn’t figure out how that happened.

Multiple problems with chattering and fails led Steve to recommend replacing the Gigante’s brain.

We last did this 2 years ago, updating to a new Smoothie controller board, which is, in essence, the 3D printer’s brain. This time, though, he prescribed a totally new type of controller board …. Read More →

All that is old is new again: Updating 3D printers

Makerbot 3D printerIf you buy a 3D printer “off the shelf,” say a MakerBot or Lulzbot, you get what you got.

Of course, based on the number of units sold of these machines, you can assume they are of some quality. You also know the capabilities of the printer, the kind of filament it can handle, its footprint, and, well, pretty much everything about it.

And you also have, in most cases, an established company you can go back to when things get squirrelly.

But the way 3D printing is evolving, just like computers, the minute you buy it, it’s obsolete. The newer printers can handle more exotic filaments, create larger and better prints. But you have the same 3D printer.

That’s one of the advantages of having a printer that’s built by a small company or even open source ….

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Cerberus 3D 400 3D printer opens a world of filament

When my first 3D printer, a 3D Systems CubeX, apparently died (more on that in a moment), I lost the ability to work in anything but PLA filament.

3D Systems CubeX 3D printer - Kevin Caron

That mattered to me, because I have one design in particular that seems to prefer ABS.

I had tried repeatedly to fix the CubeX, ordering and installing boards, but it became clear that I needed to consider another direction ….

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The CubeX is dead; long live the 400

My first 3D printer was a 3D Systems CubeX. I found out about it through the company that makes Alibre, the CAD software I use most often. I figured, “If they recommend this machine, it must work well with Alibre.”

3D Systems Cubex 3D printer

It took several months to get the machine, and I jumped right into using it. Although it could supposedly print in three colors, I never mastered that. I did, though, get a lot of use out of the CubeX, especially using ABS filament ….

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Fascinating finishes – 3D printed surface a blank slate

Twilight, a 3D printed fine art sculpture - Kevin CaronI love the strong colors 3D-printed resin creates. I really geek out on the translucents, of course – check out my 3D-printed sculptures to see how many times I’ve used translucent yellow, red, blue and purple filament because I love how they interact with light.

Yet I’m not afraid to cover the surface of a 3D-printed sculpture.

I did just that with Oculum, which has an antique brass patina. In that case, I had to address the sculpture’s surface because the design required supports during printing, and I have yet to figure out how to remove all evidence of them. That led to some “body work” (shades of my days as a mechanic!), which I then covered with the patina.

I’ve painted my 3D-printed sculptures, too. A good example is Night Sky, for which I just used rattle can paints.

But lately, I painted a couple of sculptures with a new finish that really excites me ….

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Metal filler works wonders with ABS filament

An as-yet-untitled 3D printed fine art sculpture by Phoenix artist Kevin Caron.Since I moved my 3D Systems CubeX 3D printer down to the studio, I’ve been able to play with it while I’m in the office cooling down – Arizona summers are really brutal when you work with fire and wear heavy protective gear. The CubeX gives me another way to play that keeps me under 1000 degrees.

One reason I hang onto this old 3D printer – it was the first one I owned – is that it prints ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) filament (the same stuff used in Lego bricks), which is petroleum-based. Although I mostly print in PLA (polylactic acid), ABS lets me do some things I can’t do with PLA.

In particular, it lets me print the two forms shown in this post, which my deltabot printers’ software just can’t seem to handle. The CubeX software can handle the thin edges better and print pieces without supports, which means much far less clean up. It also lets me use a filler that PLA probably wouldn’t put up with.

Accordingly, I decided to create these two forms for an upcoming show. I knew they wouldn’t print perfectly, though, so some body work was in my future ….

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The greatest weapon in the 3D-printed gun debate is FEAR

3D printed gun partsAny time I show my 3D-printed sculptures or jewelry or have a 3D printer running at an event, I inevitably get asked about 3D-printed guns.

It’s exasperating, because the fear of these guns – which is currently unfounded – taints 3D printing.

This topic has come up before, but it’s back in the news as the people who want to put plans for 3D-printed guns online are back at it.

I cannot explain or understand why they think this is a good idea, and I’m someone who has owned and used guns, so I’m not a gun-hater by any means.

There is just a time and a place for everything, and this issue is frustrating on many levels, not the least of which has to do with 3D printing itself.

As I explain to people who ask – so we can get back to discussing all of the wonderful things 3D printing can do – most mere mortals, like me, cannot afford a 3D printer that can print in metal…. Read More →