Here at Zheng Labs we are busy, as always, working on the Next Thing. The Next Thing is our white whale. It is our golden hind. Our Sisyphus’ boulder. Our El Guapo. It is all of these, and more.
And for us there shall always be a Next Thing, until we are from this earthly womb untimely ripp’d, and the Next Thing, still unfinished, taunts us as we rage against the dying of the light.
And so it was the pursuit of the Next Thing that caused the recent lack of posts at Zheng3.com, and we failed at achieving the Next Thing anyways, and so the Next Thing has become a Last Thing, consigned to the Hopper of Good Ideas That Must Unfortunately Be Backburnered, and we’ll move on to the (next) Next Thing.
The (last) Next Thing involved lots of voltage dividers and photoresistors and lasers and conduit. Too bad it didn’t work out.
But before we approach the (next) Next Thing, which of course involves parrots and neodymium, we must address an issue that’s been subordinate to the (last) Next Thing for some time. To wit: 3d-Fuel’s Algae-Fuel PLA.
Some backstory: some time ago I ordered a roll of ColorFabb yellow PLA/PHA from PrintedSolid. Nice folks that they are, PrintedSolid threw in a short sample of algae-based PLA for me to test, presumably with the expectation that I would do so posthaste.
Alas, PrintedSolid failed to account for the siren song of the (last) Next Thing, and test prints with Algae-Fuel were unfortunately delayed while I was repeatedly punched in the face, neck, and liver by the (last) Next Thing for the better part of two months.
Pros for Algae-Fuel: it’s compostable, biodegradable, and, best of all, sustainable. The feedstock (algae! will wonders never cease?) can be grown without using huge tracts of land.
Cons: Typical of filaments with infused particles, it can be a little stringy if you’re not tweaking your print settings from regular PLA.
Take a gander at this photo of The Beast. The beast is designed to print without support on an FDM printer, though it didn’t seem to care much for Algae-Fuel.
UPDATE 7-11-15: Upon receiving some advice from PrintedSolid, I dropped the temperature of my print from 220°C to 180°. I’m almost out of Algae-Fuel at this point, so I designed a little stringing test STL and gave it a go. Here’s a side-by-side comparison.
The results are definitely improved. Still a little stringing, but nothing like what we saw printing the Beast at 220°. Now back to yesterday’s post.
Other cons: It’s more expensive than your typical PLA’s, and it smells a little funky.
Algae-Fuel is better used in prints without so much open space, like this owl from Thingiverse:
You’ll see a little bit of stringing between the owl’s ears and around the beak, but overall the print’s looking pretty good. The final texture is slightly rough, like very fine sandpaper. It’s quite pleasant to handle.
What does algae at 220° C smell like? Strangely enough, like burnt coffee beans. It’s not unpleasant, but it’s definitely noticeable. Ventilate your makerspace well and passers-by will think you’re running a semicompetent java house.
You can purchase Algae-Fuel at PrintedSolid.com.
#staytuned for updates on the (next) Next Thing. Soon.