Category Archives: 3D Printing

Print Diary – July 24, 2015 – Fun with Sharkz!

My intent when I woke up in the morning was to do my reprint of the Mobius Strip USB Holder. As I perused reddit over my morning coffee, however, I found a delightful little tangent– Sharkz from Thingiverse user Murray Clark. It’s a small object, so it is a fast print. It prints without supports and it moves. It can function as a little bag clip…or clothes hangers…or I even saw one maker using them as clip on earrings.

Sharkz - Thingiverse Screenshot

I have a four year old and a two year old and imaging their faces playing with the Sharkz was just too tempting to resist. The four year old in particular. He’s a Sharknado fan. : )

Simplify3D Settings
My print settings were really straight forward. Nothing fancy at all. In fact, I pretty much stole everything from the Thingiverse Instructions tab. They recommended 4 perimeters and an Infill of 60% to give the Sharkz a sturdy bite. They also recommended a layer height of 0.2 mm. Easy peasy.

  • Under the Layer tab:
    • Layer Height: 0.20
    • Infill: 60%
    • Outline/Perimeter Shells: 4

    Sharkz - Simplify3D Layer Settings

  • Under the Other tab:
    For my bridge speed, I used some tried and true settings I originally got from Ed Nisley’s blog when he printed the Bridge Calibration test.

    • Bridging Speed Multiplier – 125% (This should come out to 6000 mm/min which is 100mm/second)

    Sharkz - Simplify3D Bridge Settings

Confirming Bridging Settings
Since bridging was going to be key to the Sharkz’s jaw movement, I used my little hack to make sure my bridge settings were going to take effect. I temporary set my Bridging Speed Multiplier to 600%. I did a preview. The preview color codes by the print speed, so that made my bridge areas bright red. I changed it back to 125% and printed away.

Simplify3D - Bridge Hack on Sharkz

Sharkz = Fun
The bridges worked well and our little sharks do have quite a bite. They proved to be fun for the whole family, including my 69-year old mother.

3D Printing - Sagan and Sharkz 3D Printing - Dyson and Sharkz

3D Printing - Anne and Sharkz

A fun, quick little tangent.

Give Up and Use Supports?

I’m a web programmer by trade and back circa 2007 and 2008, Cascading Style Sheets were becoming mainstream… and had their learning curve and their fair share of frustrations. There was a website that poked fun at the struggle of trying to do your page layout entirely by CSS. It was aptly called The site is long gone, but thanks to the Way Back Machine at, I can still share a visual. They recommended after 47 minutes you:


I was reflecting on my support-free bridging efforts with the Elements of Harmony Dice. I knew the print could be done without supports, which is why I kept up my experiments. But I do foresee sometime in the future, there will be a need for me to:


Future Experiment – Filament Coloring

I seem to have a never-ending supply of things I want to print and try. Here’s another one for my formidable list!

Today I read a Make magazine article entitled “Automating a Filament Colorizer to a 3D Printer” (via the 3D Printing reddit). As soon as the article loads, you see a lovely piece of 3D Printed art by Tom Burtonwood that is sporting gradients of multiple colors.

Make Screenshot - Automating a Filament Colorizer to a 3D Printer

I marveled at the piece, scrolled down and was shocked to see how he did it. He used Sharpies! We have a ton of Sharpies in the house! I’m quite familiar with their vast array of colors as I have to routinely confiscate them from my four year old (and try my best to convince him he wants to use “kid markers” instead).

And although I once doodled with a Sharpie on a 3D Benchy print, it never occurred to me to take that Sharpie to the filament before it goes through the printer. It’s an interesting notion. I might have to give it a whirl one day.

One day. : )

Print Diary – July 15, 2015

Amateur Hour
My morning print could be aptly described as “amateur hour”. I decided to make another stab at my two color cardinal. I had a busy workday, so the print wasn’t my top priority and I did note my filament had come uncoiled as I put it on the machine, but I didn’t think much of it. I got the print started, confirmed the first layer was going well and then I directed my attention to some programming projects.

All of a sudden I noticed the infill of the cardinal, which is usually quite smooth, was very much NOT so.

3D Printing Cardinal Amateur Hour - What's Up With That Infill

It was shortly there after, I noticed that all those loose coils had worked themselves in a nice, extruding-thwarting, knot.

3D Printed Cardinal Amateur Hour - Knot in my Filament

I was able to undo the knot and the print resumed. Now, I have seen first hand how the quality and quantity of the infill can impact your top layer.

I was printing at 0.10 mm layers and at this point, I knew I had enough layers for my bird to recover. I felt that he would still end up with a smooth body and head. And I was right! Sure enough, layer by layer, the surface smoothed out and was looking rather fine.

But then…. ANOTHER KNOT.

Seriously! I let the exact same thing happen AGAIN. You would never guess that I spent 10 years working on Quality Control Software. You would never guess that I have heard of phrases like “corrective and preventative action”. : )

Anyway, at that point, I was just two layers away from one of my visible surfaces. I knew the bird would not recover.

But I let the print continue.

Failures in life (and 3D Printing) can also be “Learning Opportunities”. In this case, I wanted to see how my wing detail later in the print would look. It didn’t matter how shabby the rest of the bird looked. I would still be able to assess whether my “peeks of black” were going to be effective in the wing. The overall print would be a fail, but I would still gain some knowledge.

Experiments with Wing Detail
Later in the afternoon, I decided to give the cardinal another whirl. This time I made sure I wasn’t sloppy with my filament. And to keep the learning going with the print, I decided to play with the print lines in the wing.

I remembered seeing the “Owliver Belt Buckle” by Shapeways Designer Michael Mueller in Grey Polished Steel a while back. One of the things that really struck me about the design is how amazingly the print lines added to the feather effect.

Although I was working in plastic, it occurred to me that perhaps my feather detail could also benefit from some changes in the print lines. Perhaps instead of the straight lines on the wing, something like concentric lines that followed the contour of the feather/wing would look nice. But I wanted to keep the body-as in. I wanted to keep the diagonal straight lines there.

This experiment was easy to set up in Simplify3d. For more detail instructions, I suggest referring to their Different Setting for Different Regions of the Model Tutorial.

Quick synopsis – You use the Cross Section View to determine the actual height of where you want to make setting changes. Then you set up multiple processes (aka Settings). In the Advanced tab you can define the scope of the settings– where they should begin and end.

MultiProcess-FindingTheHeight MultiProcess-StopHeight

Quick note– I didn’t test it out in Simplify3d v3.0.0, but in v2.2.2 I had to be careful to turn my fan on for the first layer in my second batch of settings (because it isn’t actually a first layer– it just thinks it is)

Another multiprocess note- I have seen a bug with these multi-processes and rafts. I have not tested to see if it is corrected in v3.0.0

With my wing settings, under the Infill tab, I changed my External Fill Pattern to Concentric.


When the print was done, I was able to decide which External Fill Pattern I liked best in the wing.

Playing with Print Lines - Rectilinear
3D Printed Cardinal Amateur Hour - Rectilinear Wing Infill
Playing with Print Lines - Concentretic
3D Printed Cardinal - Amateur Hour - Concentric Wing Infill

Conclusion: The original! I liked the original rectilinear better. Does that mean I wasted my time? Nah… at least now I know*. : )

*I’m paraphrasing Barnacules Nerdgasm here (from his BronzeFill polishing experiments).

Print Diary – July 14, 2015

M2 Lubrication
Today I did something scary (for me). My comfort level is more in the modeling and the software side, but the MakerGear M2 was due for some monthly maintenance. According to the documentation I received with the printer, I needed to:

Clean the X and Y linear rails, and the Z leadscrew, of grease, then apply a fresh coat to each – a dot of white lithium grease in each of the long grooves on the X and Y rails, and a dot in four consecutive troughs of the Z leadscrew; once applied, move that axis through its full travel multiple times to spread the grease.

Okay. So first step. I needed to confirm what I thought was the X and Y rails and the Z leadscrew was accurate. With that, I did some poking in the M2 Assembly Instructions. My conclusion seemed accurate (I’m happy to consider evidence to the contrary).

M2 Lubrication - Rails and Leadscrew

The M2 What’s in the Box manual that shipped with my printer helpfully had pictures of the Lithium Grease and the Applicator, so I knew exactly what supplies to use.

M2 Lubrication - Supplies

I did my dabbing.

M2 Lubrication - Z Leadscrew M2 Lubrication - Y Axis

Then I opened my Simplify3D, went to Tools->Machine Control Panel and then clicked on the Jog Controls tab. I used the various X, Y, and Z movements to move the printer around to spread the grease.

M2 Lubicration Process Via Simplify3D

It turned out to be pretty easy and not very scary at all.

Cardinal Progress
I did a test run of my two-color Cardinal. With a item like this, the point of focus is going to be on the top, so when I slice in Simplify3d, I give some scrutiny to the my top level (As opposed to say a 3D scan of a person– there the top of the object isn’t the center of focus). I noted with my cardinal there was an oddity in the top.

Top Layer - Cardinal - Why This Section

Even though that section was going to be all red, I didn’t want that odd texture in the mix. I wanted a nice, smooth surface for viewing pleasure. I’ve seen this issue before and I knew what I was up against– I didn’t have a completely flat surface where I wanted one.

I opened my modeling software back up (Blender) and the issue was I had a number of vertices that weren’t exactly the same as the others of that level. In the example below -0.00933 instead of 0. This caused the surface to not be exactly flat and when it came to slicing time, the printer has to translate that into layers. To adjust for the non-flat surface, part of the cardinal’s chest did not go as high as everything else.

Top Layer - Vertices

I adjusted my vertices to make them exact and make a nice flat surface. When I sliced again you can see the difference.

Top Layer - Much Better

My test print is coming along. The cardinal is cute, though this doesn’t represent my vision. He’s supposed to have red on his wing with just snippets of black poking through. I had a lapse of concentration during the last filament change to red and ended up mucking up the exchange by going the wrong way on the Z axis.

3D Printed Birds - Chickadee Has a Pal
The Chickadee and His Friend

Live and learn! Tomorrow is another day and another print. : )