Category Archives: FAIL

Plunger Fail

Lately there’s been a proliferation of 3d printing failure blog posts percolating around the twitterverse. I’ve got plenty of these on the blog already, so I’m dropping another one in the spirit of mutual commiseration.

Plunger Fail

I’ve been printing dozens of bloxen in preparation for Maker Faire NYC lately, and finally managed to wear out one of my delrin plungers. I had two or three days of intermittently failing prints before I figured out the problem.

I printed a new one, but printing a replacement plunger while using a faulty plunger leads to interesting results.

Ultimately I held my filament in place manually while the replacement plunger printed. It’s a quick print, about five minutes, so it was a good time to put a little dent in my Netflix queue.

Quality Control

I recently released a Magic: The Gathering Snake Token into the wild, but many iterations of the model got left on the scrap heap before the final slithered off the build platform.

Here’s one that made it all the way to the light tent before I realized the many problems it had. Sometimes you don’t see all the problems until you really dig into a macro photograph.

Snake QC fail

  • overhang: violations of the 45° rule. Not terrible on this one.
  • scrubbing: the model’s too thin here. ABS or a cooling fan might help.
  • nickeling: not enough geometry to make a smooth curve in the body
  • schmutz: really should have filed this off before painting.
  • I can forgive a little bit of overhang on a model. Sooner or later some 3d printer manufacturer’s going to lick that problem for us. Scrubbing is a technical issue too, and schmutz removal is a time-honored pre-photography process that I was just too lazy or preoccupied to do on this model.

    It is the nickeling that I shan’t abide.

    I come to 3D modelling from a video games background, where realtime constraints force model efficiency. When I was a lad with an onion tied to my belt, which was the style at the time, we designed characters with 150 triangles and we liked it that way.

    So every now and then I forget that I’m not living in 1997 anymore and I can be a little more luxurious with the poly count. It still feels dirty though.

    So Ms. Cobra went back into the Forge, got subdivided again, re-posed, edited, tweaked, and was reborn as the final product you saw a day or two ago.

Penny Ballista Fail


download Still using the demo spool of recycled ABS supplied to me by Filabot. When this print doesn’t fail it creates a Penny Ballista that’ll easily launch Abe across the Oval Office.

I left my Replicator1 unattended for a few minutes and came back to this. This fail isn’t due to any flaw in the filament– if you look closely you can see that the texture of the filament’s very even. Unfortunately, robots don’t do what we want them to do, they do what we tell them to do, and the slicing step of this print went to Wallyworld at some point.

I’ve been having this problem with some models sliced in MakerWare lately; it doesn’t seem to want to add a solid bottom layer to some prints. So I hopped back to ReplicatorG and it sliced just fine; see my previous post.

Annals of Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

Nozzle Fail

When cleaning a clogged extruder nozzle with a power drill, do not, I repeat, not have Pussycat Dolls videos playing on YouTube in the background.

For that matter, you probably shouldn’t try to clear a clogged extruder nozzle with a power drill under any circumstances.

Usually I leave my nozzles in a shot glass full of acetone for twenty minutes, then use the drill bit by hand to snake out a bit of cruft. Then back to acetone to soften up the newly exposed plastic, then drill, then acetone, then drill, then acetone yada yada yada until the cows come home.

This time I said to myself, “Zheng, old chap, this is awfully slow. You should apply a tremendous amount of torque to this expensive part while not paying attention. That will resolve this problem with minimal downtime.”

+1 Counter Fail: Ditching Etsy for Shapeways

+1/+1 Counter Fail

For some reason– bed leveling, quantum kapton fluctuations, ambient temperature, butterfly effect, I dunno, I was getting something like a 70% failure rate on printing these Magic: The Gathering +1/+1 Counters.

downloadFinally I ABSynthed the build platform and started producing reliable prints again. Still, the trouble these guys caused prompted me to stop selling these on Etsy and move them exclusively on Shapeways instead. Life’s too short to be frustrated by DIY production problems when the big guys seem to have it figured out.

Give it a go yourself by downloading the models from The Forge.

Slime Counter Fail

Slime Counter Fail

I had an Etsy store order come in and I just couldn’t get one of my slime counters to print properly. Tried everything; adjusting layer height, slower print speed, re-leveled the print bed.

Turns out one of my Z-axis shafts had worked its way loose, which made the platform wobble during the print. A little bolt tightening and I was good to go, but not until I’d already made a dozen or so failed slime counters.

The original slime counter is here, free to download.

Leaping Rat Fail

I’m working on a pack of rats, five or six different poses all based off my Magic: The Gathering Rat Token. There’s only so many ways you can pose a rodent before they start looking the same, so I thought I’d try something more epic in my latest rat.


rat fail

This little fella hasn’t gotten past the low-resolution test print stage on my Replicator yet. His only points of attachment to his base are the tip of his tail and his feet, which form fulcrums for the rest of his body. Invariably around 40% of the way through the print, right at the hips, the stress of being wiggled by the extruder head detaches part of the model.

I’ve tried all kinds of wily 3d printing tricks, slowing down the extruders, increasing the number of shells, etc.

I have a gallery of Lovecraftian rats-but-not-rats in the scrap bucket. Here’s what he should look like.


leaping rat

I might give it one more go with slightly thicker legs that are less likely to break off. Stay tuned.

You can download the model here and give it a shot yourself. It’s not Forge-worthy until it can be verifiably printed. This looks like a job for a non-FDM machine like the mUVE 1, Form1, or b9Creator. Have at it, bots.

MakerWare 2.1.061 Review

TL;DR summary: MakerWare is rapidly maturing, and while the UI is easier to use than ReplicatorG, I had a lot of difficulty getting anything more than a basic print out of it. I’m hopeful for the next version, but in the meantime I’m sticking with ReplicatorG.

This is my third review of MakerWare. The first. two. reviews showed the software to be promising but beset with enough problems so as to be unusable. Some problems persist, but the usability’s taken a big step up.

The biggest change I’ve made to my setup is upgrading the Replicator Dual’s firmware to the most recent version. This fixes the MakerWare connectivity problems I was having a month ago, and also makes the Replicator quieter and faster. I jumped from 5.4 to 7.2, and frankly I’m kicking myself for not doing it sooner.

I’ve started aiding the printerless by offering prints of some models on Etsy. A recent order for a set of three Magic: The Gathering +1/+1 counters prompted me to download the new MakerWare to try printing multiple models with a dualstrustion printer.

MTG +1/-1 Counters

downloadThese are small models and they should print quickly, which makes them ideal test subjects. (These counters are available in The Forge, so go ahead and print some for your local Friday Night Magic game. Tell ’em Zheng sent ya.)

Launching MakerWare shows me a familiar interface, including the NYC skyline that I’ve maligned in the past as an unprofessional distraction to the process of 3D printing. I have it on decent authority that this image is the view from Brooklyn, which makes sense given that MakerBot’s HQ is there.

MakerWare Launch

The story of the Brooklyn Renaissance has progressed from interesting to beating a dead horse with a twee-stick. I’m sure it’s great to live in a land where the streets are paved with locally-sourced artisanal chutneys, but give me the option to turn the image off, please. I hear enough about how awesome Brooklyn is from reading Gawker. Or replace it with a truly iconic skyline, like Chicago’s. OH, SNAP. Yes I did, New York.

Back to the review: I reach into my Bag of Holding, withdraw an STL, and MakerWare puts it in the center of the build space, defaulting to white plastic for the build material.

first import

I Command-C/Command-V twice, and now I’ve got three +1/+1 counters. This little feature is far and away my favorite improvement MakerWare makes over grizzled warhorse ReplicatorG. The GUI’s very easy to use when it comes to duplicating and arranging objects on the build platform.

Three counters

Minor feature request: I’d like to be able to select multiple items and group them the way I can in Illustrator, so that I can click one and rotate/scale/translate the group around a common origin. This functionality is kinda-sorta of implemented with a drag across multiple items, but there’s always a chance you’ll grab something else on the build platform by accident.

I import a new item (the -1/-1 counter) and it shows up at the origin, which I guess is to be expected but I have trouble selecting it because another very similar item is in the same spot. I try to move it out of the way and I end up screwing up my placement and I have to start over.

This time I import a single instance of each counter. There is no snap-to-grid option that I can find, but there is an Auto-Layout feature that easily separates the models and places them independently on the platform. Very nice.

Auto Layout

Next. I want to print the -1/-1 in black, and the +1/+1 in red. This is pretty easy to do. Click the instance you want to change and then click the Object button. Select the extruder you want to use. In my case I’ve preloaded the Replicator Dual with black on the right and red on the left.

There’s a color swatch in the Object popup, but clicking on it doesn’t bring up a color picker the way I’d expect it to. Instead I have to go to Preferences, which seems like a weird place to change an object’s settings. I guess if you’re thinking that you’re setting the preferences for the bot it makes sense, but I prefer to think about the object I’m building rather than the tool I’m using.

Object Color

It’s easy to make the +1/+1 counter red, and now I’ll just copypasta the pair of counters and I’ve got three of each. So far, so good.

Ready to Print

I click the make button and get a bunch of well-organized settings, but I’m going to pretend I have no idea what I’m doing and just accept most of the “High Quality” defaults.

I’ve never managed to get a print to work on a Replicator Dual with lower than .18 layer height, but the High Quality settings default to .1 layer height. Either that’s a theoretical minimum that better geeks than me have reached, or it’s a minor oversight in the software. I change the layer height to .2 just to be safe.

My first print fails due to an off-kilter build platform and I have to cancel it from the bot. This isn’t a MakerWare-specific problem– it can and does happen with any software.

Feature request: It’d be nice to have a “try” again button, because now I’m waiting for the slice to finish again. It seems odd to me that MakerWare isn’t caching the most recent slice operation so I can try again quickly. Failed prints aren’t exactly rare as hens’ teeth, and this slice-fail-repeat pattern is really slowing me down.

I re-slice, wait, and try again. This time, it turns out the left extruder head is slightly higher than the right. The first layer of red counter goes to la-la-land, crashes into the emerging black counter, and the whole print goes kablooie. I cancel, get out a wrench, and adjust the hardware while the extruder nozzle is still warm.

This is frustrating, but not unexpected in the world of home 3D printing. So I try to keep things simple, and go back to printing a single color print of a single -1/-1 counter with Make it Now. Success.

Success

I need to print two more of these, so I Make To File and export the gCode. The gCode file is ready in a few seconds.

Export to File defaults to .x3g, so if you’re not poking around in there or haven’t RTFM’d you won’t even know gCode’s an option. You can’t print an .x3g file directly from MakerWare, at least not in this version.

I choose File->Make It from File (this really should be an option under the Make button) and a dropdown appears. I click Make It and the build fails before it even gets to the printer. It tells me to look at the log to see what happened. I see a bunch of cryptic errors in the logs that I’m unqualified to troubleshoot. I’m abandoning this method for now, and I’ll just print two more single copies of the -1/-1 counter, slice delay and all.

I’ll also need some red +1/+1 counters, so in the interest of keeping it simple I import the STL, change the color of the instance to red, and discover a bug shortly after I hit the Make It button. This version of MakerWare doesn’t like single-extruder prints with the left nozzle for some reason.

The Replicator goes through the motions, tracing an empty line on the build platform, but the extruder’s not heating up. It’s got residual heat from a previous attempt, but it’s not getting hotter.

doesn't heat up

But. Both extruders work just fine if I try a dualstrusion print again, now that I’ve leveled the HBP and made sure my nozzles are both at the same height. They work just fine in that they manage to extrude plastic, but they do that job just a little too well.

Both prints have these filament morgellons sticking out of them. Close observation during the print reveals that a little bit of filament continues to seep out of the nozzle as the machine switches colors. That tuft of filament catches on the print the next time the extruder sweeps over the top layer. Maybe this could be fixed in gCode by running the extruder drive motors in reverse for a bit in-between colors. I dunno.

morgellons

This is more cleanup than I want to get into. Probably better to print one color at a time.

At this point my effit-o-meter’s in the red zone, so I give up and go back to printing with ReplicatorG. It looks like MakerWare is sufficently advanced to handle a simple import-and-print operation, but for more complicated operations I’d prefer software that allows for quick and easy print iterations.

Verdict: Still waiting for MakerWare to live up to its potential. I’m looking forward to the next version, but for now the software is a perfectly cromulent way to troubleshoot away your Saturday morning.

I Can’t Print This On My Replicator


Fused deposition modeling (or fused filament fabrication, if you want to avoid a nastygram from the legal eagles at Stratasys) is the process by which Makerbot Replicators, Afinia H-Series printers, Cubify Cube 3Ds, Repraps, Rostocks, and too many homebrew printbots to enumerate turn STL files from electrons into objects.

In FDM/FFF printing, the device lays down a layer of melted plastic, moves its build platform downward a tiny bit, and then repeats the process until the model’s completely built.

I’ve had my Replicator 1 for about a year now and I think it’s safe to say that I’ve put it through its paces. I’m pretty good at 3D printing with this particular FDM printer. I understand and work around its limitations, paying close attention to the 45-degree rule. FDM printers generally can’t print too large an overhang from one layer to the next; gravity interferes and the print fails with often hilarious results.

A few months ago I designed a model that I knew had no real hope of ever printing on an FDM printer. I wanted to see what Shapeways was capable of printing for under 20 bucks, so I built a Voronoi Seej bloxen and sent it over to them. A few days later this showed up in the mail:


You’re welcome to give it a shot yourself: just download the model. I’d be interested to see your results.

A cutaway view demonstrates why the Voronoi bloxen fails on an FDM printer. Most of the model’s OK, but it violates the 45-degree rule in a big way right at the top of the block.


The print at the top of the post was my first try at printing this bloxen on my Replicator. Those tiny Voronoi cells on the bottom of the model make it really hard to keep the bloxen on the platform. If any one of those little filament loops should detach from the platform, it’ll eventually get caught on the print head and catch another loop, and another, and another, and once your model is touched by His Noodly Appendage, it’s done for. Ramen.

Those little loops need to stick fast to the HBP So it’s back to FDM Printing 101: using a raft.

After a new slice, the Replicator had no problem keeping the base of the bloxen on the build platform.


A few minutes later it looks like the Voronoi pattern is holding up well. The mortises on the bottom of the bloxen are printing just fine. I’m starting to think this print might just succeed…


…aaaaand the 45-degree rule rules its ugly head and the print starts to fail as predicted right at the top of the bloxen.


As fails go, this one isn’t spectacular. Enough filament fell into the gaps to provide a scaffold for the top layers. The bloxen is still a fairly solid print, certainly usable in a Seej match.


So. Another failed print. But there’s still hope for those of us who haven’t been able to secure $30 million in venture capital funding. I’ve been corresponding with Dean Piper, inventor of the mUVe 1 printer. Dean took up the challenge of printing the Voronoi bloxen, and his resin-based printer knocked it out of the park:


I feel like home 3D printing is in the VHS vs. Beta stage of its history. On one side we’ve got superior market penetration of FDM printers, but resin-based machines like the mUVe are going to be the bots to watch in the next few months.

Erk. Almost forgot: this post is the latest in my continuing one-man crusade to make “Voronoi” the word of the year for 2013.

Beast Token Fail

beast_token

Failure of a Magic: The Gathering Beast Token. Off to the scrap bucket with you, buddy.

This model has become something of a 3D printing torture test for printer companies attempting to show off their new hardware’s abilities. Afinia managed to do it, and while this print failed above on a Replicator1, I’ve gotten dozens of these guys printed since. It’s like a beast farm ovah heah.

So if you think your kit’s up to the challenge, Download the model, give it a go, and tweet or email it to me. I’ll post it here.

こんにちは、日本! ここでは、このモデルをダウンロードしてください!