Archive for delta 3-D printer

3D-printed sculpture storms Tucson

A visitor to the Sculpture Tucson art show watches a Cerberus 3D 250 3D printer printing - Kevin CaronOK, maybe I went a little overboard in the headline, but I’m still really jazzed at the reception of my 3D-printed sculpture at the recent Sculpture Tucson show in, yes, Tucson, Arizona (is there another Tucson? Hmmm, I’ll have to look that up ….)

The turnout at the show was incredible. Preliminary estimates say that 4,300 people came through in just 2-1/2 days April 6 – 8.

Although the show was outside at Brandi Fenton Park, I had my Cerberus 3D 250 running the whole time. Amazingly enough, it only failed once when the wind got the best of it, but overall, it performed beautifully.

It also fascinated people. A few people who came by knew about 3D printing, but most visitors had never seen a 3D printer running before. That meant I did a lot of education, which is how it usually goes when I have the printer running at an event.

We actually apologized to the artists around us, who had to hear the spiel over and over and over again. The challenge was always explaining it like I’d never said it before, but what I would say seldom varied (“… start in CAD …” “… the filament comes down from here …” “… like a big glue gun …”) ….

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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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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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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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3D Printing Mystery Continues…

Troubleshooting - Kevin CaronWouldn’t it be awesome if things just worked?

Yeah, they do sometimes, but especially in these early days of 3D printing, there are so many variables and things change so quickly that it seems there are myriad things that can and do go wrong.

Lately I’ve been battling a problem with both of my deltabot 3D printers, and I still haven’t figured out what is causing it.

The result is ugly: they just stop printing. For no apparent reason. Everything is going well, and then the hotend just stops moving.

Aaaargh!

I can’t just give up – it isn’t in my nature.

So I’ve been doing what I always do when troubleshooting any problem ….

I work through a process of elimination, testing and ruling out various possibilities.

Here’s what I’ve done thus far:

  1. Confirmed that it isn’t on just one 3D printer. It seems that I’m having the same problem with both deltabots.
  2. Confirmed that it isn’t Windows 10. That’s because it’s also happening on a computer that is running Windows 7. If it were just Windows 10, that’d be one thing, but the other computer hasn’t had an update in years and ran just fine.
  3. Confirmed that it isn’t the host program. I’m having the problem with both Repetier – two different versions of it – and Simplify. I’ve checked Simplify’s log and see it says the firmware is unresponsive, which brought me to my latest hunch (below).
  4. Removed the host program from the equation altogether. I put the file directly into the Gigante (yes, I used a ladder to do it). Same problem.
  5. Confirmed that it isn’t a power problem. One of the computers is plugged directly into the wall, while the other runs through an uninterrupted power supply.
  6. Ruled out the file itself. This has happened with several files, so it isn’t the design.
  7. Made sure it isn’t a filament bulge problem. It’s happened with various filaments, including two different diameters (3 millimeter and 1.75).
  8. Noted that it has happened shortly after the print started and just before it finished. If it were related to the file length, you’d think that would be more consistent.

At this point, I’m thinking it might be the controller board. I believe both 3D printers have Smoothie boards, so that might be it.

So I’ll just keep poking around on forums, talking to people, consulting my expert, and eliminating problems, hoping that one of them is the solution that gets me back up and 3D printing again.

And if this is just a test of my patience, I hope I have already passed!

 

Taking a tumble: burnishing 3D-printed bronze

The Point, a 3D printed bronze sculpture - Kevin CaronMany sculptors work in bronze, but in my more than 10 years as a professional artist, I have worked in everything but. I have mostly fabricated in mild steel, but have also worked with stainless steel, Cor-ten (weathering) steel, aluminum, brass and copper.

Finally, with 3D printing, I have my first bronze! Well, it’s 80% bronze and 20% PLA resin, but the resulting print is clearly a different breed than the ABS and PLA resins I usually print in.

For one thing, it’s noticeably heavier. Seeing as I’m printed just two or three layers thick, it’s amazing how much heavier these bronzes are than if they’d been printed in the resin I usually use.

(Of course, that gets my mind going … if I could print a solid bronze, how much would it weigh? How would it compare to the weight of a traditional poured bronze? And we’re off and running through the grassy fields of my mind ….)

One of the big differences is that the sculpture isn’t done once the printhead rises ….

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3D Printing Bronze Brings New Challenges

bronze filament from Colorfabb - Kevin CaronI’ve been drooling over all the different kinds of filament out there, from the luscious translucents I’ve used on several of my sculptures, to rubber – Steve Graber gave me a cool “vase” printed in a single layer of rubber that’s a huge hit at events – to the new transparents.

Some of them aren’t really available to me for the Gigante, which uses 3 millimeter filament but for which I like at least 5 pound spools. (My company policy is to order at least three 5 pound spools at a time for the Gigante just to make sure I have enough in the same color lot to do a 4-foot-tall sculpture. Yeah, I have a lot of filament in my supply closet!)

Others, like wood, don’t turn me on.

But bronze? Yeah, I’m a sculptor, so bronze definitely interests me.

So I bought some bronze filament from ColorFabb ….

 

My Cerberus 250 runs 1.75 millimeter, but I wanted to use the bronze in my Gigante, so I bought some spools, even though I had to settle for 1,500 kilogram ones.

The bronze filament is more expensive than all of the other filament I’ve bought, and it’s heavier, too. That’s because it’s 80% bronze and just 20% PLA.

First I printed a small version of the form I call The Point that’s just 11″ tall. I was happy enough with it that I printed a 26″ tall version.

The Point, a 3D printed bronze sculpture - Kevin CaronWhat I didn’t anticipate was how much time and effort it would take to burnish them.

When they print, they look almost like wet clay. That is not the look I am going for – I want these sculptures to, obviously, look like bronzes. Yeah, I know they are bronzes, but I want them to look like bronzes, too!

I started out with steel wool and realized quickly I needed to start with something rougher. I grabbed some Abranet, a sanding material my brother, a wood turner, introduced me to. I used finer and finer grits and even tried wet sanding, which I’d read about online with 3D printed bronze, but it didn’t seem to help.

I kept working my way finer and finer in grit until I was back to using steel wool, then worked my way finer and finer in its versions to a very fine steel wool.

After trying various ways to hold the sanding material – wrapped around a pencil, a railroad spike, etc. – I figured out to put it on a simple metal rod with a piece of tape to hold it on. I put that into my drill, which I then used to burnish the sculptures.

I ordered some brass wool from Rockler and tried it on a test piece, but it didn’t do anything. Back to the steel wool.

I spent about 10 hours on the small Point, and 16 hours on the large one.

The biggest success, though, was when I put the small Point into my 100-year-old burnisher. Wow! It gave it an incredibly cool gleam.

I’ll share more about the burnisher in an upcoming post, but suffice it for now to say that I can’t fit the large Point into it. While the finish on it is OK, I see more hours of hand polishing in my future to get the look I want.

Next, I think I’ll order some copper filament ….

Art show puts spotlight on my 3D printed sculpture

Endless Line art show of 3D printed sculpture by Kevin CaronI’ve had my 3D printed sculpture in a number of shows, but thus far it’s either been in an exhibit with other people’s 3D printed work, like the Shemer Art Center 2014 show “Materialize,” or as just pieces in an art show, like last year’s  show at MonOrchid, “Ten Modern Abstract.”

Finally, it was time for a show dedicated to my 3D printed sculpture.

I’m deeply fortunate that I was approached by Robrt Pela, the highly talented curator, writer and critic to do a show – well, actually two shows, but that’s another story altogether.

This one, called “Endless Line,” would feature the largest single exhibition of my large and small format 3D printed sculpture, really putting my work out there for comment and criticism ….

 

For the 3D printed sculpture show, Robrt chose the Walter Art Gallery, which is part of Walter Productions, a maker space that features, among other things, a brewery, artist studios and the gallery. Most famously, it’s the home of Walter the Bus, which many people know from the Burning Man festival.

Displaying and lighting these sculptures was a real challenge. First, most of them are in a single, saturated color. That meant they had to be placed carefully so that each sculpture complemented the others. Fortunately, they had enough space to place each sculpture so it could be circumnavigated. That is invaluable with any sculpture. Lighting was tricky because some of the sculptures are printed in translucent filament, like the luminous Sunscraper, which had actually sold before the show even began.

Copper Cuff, a 3D printed sculpture by Kevin CaronSome of the sculptures, including Glance and Copper Cuff (right), have patinas on them, but the majority have the shiny surface of filament, which made it challenging to not just reflect a glare from them. Lighting master Todd Grossman finally settled on making the light work best at night when the opening and closing receptions were held.

I brought my Cerberus 3D 250 deltabot 3D printer and set it up to print a small sculpture. We had my jewelry set up for sale, too.

Everything was ready by the time of the opening on Friday, February 5. Our hosts were even nice enough to bring Walter the Bus out and turn on his undulating neon lights to welcome visitors.

And come they did.

It was fascinating to watch people, listen to their comments and answer their questions. Many of them didn’t yet understand how 3D printing even works when they came in the door. After explaining the process to hundreds of people over the last few years, I think I was able to explain it to them in such a way that most of them got it before they left.

Others were fascinated by the filament. I overheard someone flicking Sunscraper with her nails. I only cringed a little.

Some preferred the patinated pieces. No one, at least that I heard, was turned off by what they saw or denied this was art. In fact, most of them were blown away, which felt great. I also overhead conversations about 3D printing in general – what people are already doing and what the future may bring.

I think I gained some new fans with this show, and I know we educated a lot of people. I came away more confident than ever that people understand that 3D printing may be new and, for now, novel, but that it’s simply another tool in artists’ quivers.

The closing reception for the show is Friday, February 26 at 6 p.m. at the Walter Art Gallery, 6425 E. Thomas Rd. in Scottsdale, Arizona.