Archive for delta 3D printer

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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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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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.

Tinkering and tweaking: 3D printers today

3D printed prototype failure - Kevin CaronWhen 3D printers were first developed, they were called “rapid prototypers.” (As we’ve discussed before, “rapid” is relative.) In addition to creating original sculpture (you can see my latest here), I do use my 3D printers for protyping.

Sometimes a prospective customer just can’t visualize a piece, and sometimes I just want to see how a form comes together or balances before I either create a full-scale 3D printed sculpture or a metal version.

For prototypes, I usually use my Cerberus 3D 250, which is a desktop 3D printer. Lately, though, it’s been starting to print fine, then stops extruding before the print is done ….

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