3D PRINTING - A NEW ADVENTURE!

This is scary stuff - my series of trials and experiments with my 3D printer have finally turned into useful accessories (below) and I now have the potential to make almost anything I can imagine - and at the moment I can imagine a lot!


I'm going to run this page as a diary so the newest posts are at the top but if you want an explanation of what 3D printing is and to see a gallery of more items I've made, click on my new 3D PRINTING BASICS & GALLERY pages.

ADDED: 07/10/18

What a difference two months makes! (to coin a phrase!)  Since I last added to this page I have spent the summer working on commissions, and I have been designing and making 3D printed items to go on them. The ornaments I made for the Europa Fireplace (pictured below) have to be my favourite! but more about this later...

 

I have been really busy on the technical side of the print process too -  I have changed printing materials from PLA to ABS which is stronger has a finer finish and melts at a higher temperature - making it suitable for use with LED electrics (more on this later). 
   This of course came after a lot of trial runs and spoiled prints - as the character of ABS is completely different from PLA, so I had to start from scratch on the printer settings  (again!)
  One interesting thing I did find out over the summer was that the temperature I thought I was printing at was nowhere near what it actually was! My hubby has a nifty bit of kit and we took measurements after another failed print with all the indications of it being too low a temperature proved it.
   From that point I started to get a handle on the settings and after having done hundreds of prints over the summer I can condense my learning about ABS into the following points:

Best not to print too many things at once (larger ABS items are printed two or three at a time although packaging and stoneware can be done in around 12's)

Rafts and supports are vital as ABS is not great at sticking to the build plate (Rafts and supports are exactly as they sound, a raft 'floats' on the print bed making a larger footprint for the piece to be printed and so less likely to come off and supports are great for overhanging or wider than the print base parts.)

Each print is best assessed individually rather than printing everything on the same setting, some items need to be solid, some can be 'honeycombed' inside (and the percentage of filling you choose can also affect the print) some print better slower and some better with a thicker or thinner layer. 

This took quite a while to work out over the summer, but in between this I was making commission orders to which I always like to add that like extra to, and so was learning as I was making so things which are now or will very soon be Dee-Daw stock products.

As mentioned earlier, the ornaments I made for the Europa fireplace have turned out so well I will be adding them as a set of accessories soon - this should compliment the Baroque clock at the centre which I already offer by itself.

 
 Below: The table lamps I made to go on my new dining tables (Limoges Dining room set pictured below £99) turned out so well they will be available separately soon at £24 per pair
 
 Below: Famille Rose Buffet - not only are the statues 3D printed, but also the plates!

 

ADDED: 07/06/2018

As I've just written on my DEE-DAW DIARY page my Spring/Summer show season is now over and I finally have some time to concentrate on 3D printing (as well as commissions!)

The last few weeks have been a bit bumpy on the printing front. As I mentioned in my last post, the original filament which came with the printer ran out, I decided to buy some branded top quality filament from a UK supplier so that I could repeat buy with consistent quality. However I could not get the new filament to work. I spent weeks running tests with horrific results  (see below - and these were the better ones!)

 

In my novice panic I couldn't get my head around what the problem was.  We (my hubby) had the machine in pieces, checked all the mechanical things even changed the printer head. We then decided on a methodical approach to the print settings. I set up an excel sheet on my computer to log every test, what settings it ran on and the results.

I have a very basic print set up with basic software (a computer programme to translate the design into something the printer can understand) - so compared to a full professional set up I have considerably less adjustments I can make to the printer settings. Theoretically this means there are fewer options to explore and I could find an answer sooner rather than later!

Experience (so far) has taught me successful printing comes by getting the balance right between a number of things -

Extruding speed: how quickly it extrudes while making an object

Travel speed: how quickly it moves between objects

Temperature: hot enough to melt the filament but not enough to make it too runny (or not hot enough!)

Infill: generally used to avoid printing solid pieces and to reduce the amount of filament and print time - usually a geometric pattern - I use a honeycomb

Shells: form the 'skin' of the honeycomb filled shape or the walls of a hollow one

layer height: how high a layer to print - higher layers produce a less detailed print.

By starting with settings that had worked before and didn't with the new material, and then researching on the help pages of some good 3D printing websites to find the cause of the poor result and doing the suggested tweaks I finally got back to where I was before I started using the new filament!  I only had to do 44 print runs to finally get it right!

This was just days before York show, and I was determined (as it was my last show before September) to produce some accessory sets to show people. I had to run some prints overnight to get them done in time  but they made it to the show and almost completely sold out!

I'll add some more tomorrow on my printing plans for the summer.


ADDED: 15/05/2018

Just back from Kensington, but need to get stock into the web shop before I start and wax lyrical about what I've been doing with the 3D printer. I was surprised how many visitors to the show had heard about it and were interested in it. The new accessories on the kitchen storage dressers proved a hit and I will be bringing forward my plans to produce sets of finished accessories as well as DIY sets. 

I have had a few ups and downs with the printer recently as the roll of filament (ink equivalent in a home printer for photos) that came with the printer ran out and it has been a trial finding new filament and getting the settings just right for the printer to produce the quality of print needed.  I don't want to jinx things but I think I am almost there and will hopefully resume printing and new product development later this week.

 

ADDED: 09/05/2018

Its really exciting to be at the stage when I can do 'production' runs of Dee-Daw designed items. At the moment I'm starting small (ha-ha!) with accessories and I'm so pleased with the results I am looking at selling sets of them separately later this year.

I will add more after Kensington show - but in the meantime take a look at these...

 

Above: A few of my new 3D printed exclusive kitchen accessories which now feature on my dressed kitchen furniture. Later this year I will be selling loose mixed sets like these.


Below: A print run in progress on the printer - you can see the honeycomb effect in the centre of the pieces which stabilise the structure without using a huge amount of plastic.



Below: A full print bed of large cans, large square tins, small square tins, jewellery boxes and a few books for a test - looking forward to doing my next bookcase desk now!
 

 

  
Above: A finished jewellery box