Archive for Cerberus 3D printers

Alien forces invade 3D print

As-yet-untitled 3D printed sculpture - Kevin CaronCrazy things happen with 3D printing, especially with my 8-foot-tall Cerberus 3D Gigante 3D printer.

As Steve Graber, who built this monster, has said, whatever this printer does, it does spectacularly. That definitely includes surprises like the “slubs” on my sculpture Love and Marriage, which are explainable, and recent moments like the time the print head decided to print a foot to the left of the print bed.

The most recent and as-yet-unexplainable oddity – or, as it’s called in the art world, “artifact” – is what it did to a print I just finished ….
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Switch cuts out 3D printing problem

3D printed table base - Kevin CaronAbout 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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Seeing in 3D – Using 3D printing for prototyping

3D printed stem of Schubertii sculpture - Kevin CaronWhen 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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The mystery of the 3D print fail

Overheat screen for 3D printer - Kevin CaronIt 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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Tinker time for all ages: event turns on young and old

3D printing at Arts & Technology event in Surprise, AZ - Kevin CaronWhen 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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3D Frankenstein: Gigante 3D printer gets a new brain

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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Art takes 3D printing seriously at ASU

3D Systems ProJet 660 3D printerOne 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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Sharing 3D-printing possibilities

Some artists hold their processes close to their vests (where did that expression come from? Who wears a vest anymore? Sorry – mind wandering ….).

I’m not one of them.Arizona Artists Guild logo

I have a large and active YouTube channel with more than 450 videos in which I share metal fabrication and 3D-printing tips. I also have held many events for other artists at my studio and at my home, where I have my 3D printers (the studio is just too dirty – I make dirt there!). I’ve even held events for other artists at my art shows.

So when the Arizona Artists Guild asked me if I’d do a program for the organization’s sculpture group, of which I’m a member, I was glad to do it.

But this time, I decided to do it a little differently ….

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Stick this! Adhering a 3D print is key during printing

3d printing-lifted corner - Kevin CaronOne of the challenges of 3D printing that I think – knock on wood – I’ve finally worked through is adherence to the print tray.

There’s nothing more frustrating than having a 3D print come loose from the tray while a print is underway, and it’s something that’s happened to me far more times than I even like to think about.

The Cerberus 3D Gigante’s large format prints are particularly prone to this problem – I have a few large prints the corners of which have “flipped up” slightly because they cooled faster than the rest of the print. See an example to the right – fortunately in this case, it works with the concept and theme of the sculpture!

Sometimes, though, a lifted corner ruins the print altogether.

Other times, on any of my printers, a 3D print simply comes loose from the print tray – then it’s game over.

But I’ve learned a few things and updated some to improve my quality and finish rate ….


My 3D Systems CubeX came with some sticky stuff that I used on that 3D printer until I got my Cerberus 3D machines, when I learned about using hairspray. Yes, hairspray. (I’m sure they wonder at the grocery store when I buy three or four cans of Suave Extreme Hold hairspray. I just smile.)

Suave Extra Hold Hair Spray - 3D printingI still use hairspray – more on that in a moment – but I’ve gotten away from using blue tape. That was the other trick I learned when I got my Gigante. I’d apply painters’ blue tape – the kind that is supposed to release easily – to the print tray, pressing down just as hard as I could. It worked sometimes, but not always. Also, not all blue tape is created equally, apparently.

I don’t like the blue tape because

  1. It is hard to get off the tray
  2. It’s especially difficult to get off the sculptures
  3. It doesn’t always seem to work.

What seems to work best is a heated tray. That’s why I added one to my CubeX and another to the Gigante. 3D prints adhere much better with heat! I don’t think I’ve had a problem with large format prints lifting up since I installed the heated tray on the Gigante.

Of course, you don’t just use heat. Before I start a 3D print, I also clean the print tray well, then spray it liberally with hairspray before I start printing.

Of all the challenges with 3D printing, I think – THINK – I have this one licked.

What I don’t need to do when 3D printing

Artist Kevin Caron standing beside his Gigante 3D printerDuring my recent art show when I had my Cerberus 3D Gigante 3D printer running, several visitors asked whether I just pushed “go” and walked away while printing.

After I finished laughing, I’d explain that running this printer is like having a 3-year-old. You can never entirely take your eye off of it, and sometimes it requires extra care, other times it needs discipline. (I haven’t spanked yet, but I’ve sure thought about it.)

All of that is to say there is plenty to think about when a print is under way.

A few months ago, my business manager asked me if it would make sense to keep a log of my prints. For instance, she thought maybe I could note when I started the print, when I changed spools, etc. I could even track when I turned on the fan, what speed I was running at for how long, and other such details.

“That’s probably the last thing I want to do!” I replied ….

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