My Duh Moment of the Day – Build Table in Simplify3D

A few weeks ago, I prepped a bunch of birds in Simplify3D and when it started, I noticed one of my birds was only half on the bed. It struck me as odd, because I thought I saw your bed size in the settings.

“You’d think it warn me,” I thought.

Since then I’ve been very conservative with my plating so as to make sure to stay well within my print bed.

Yesterday, all of a sudden I had a breakthrough moment. In my preview screen, if I check Build table under Show In Preview, there I have a lovely visual of my actual bed.

Simplify3D - Build Table Checkbox

And now that that’s on, when I got back to plating, that visual is still there.

Duh Moment of the Day - I can see my Build Plate in Simplify 3d

This is proving to be super handy. Now I’m able to fill my bed up to its full capacity.

In preparation of the craft fair, I have a goal of printing 10 items each weekday. If I’m printing birds, particular small birds like a chickadee or finch, BAM. I can meet my craft fair goal in a single run!

Print Diary – Experiments in Pumpkin Carvings

Occoquan Arts and Craft Show – September 26th and 27th!
First off, I’m in! My application to the Fall Occoquan Arts and Crafts Show has been accepted (with multiple explanation marks from the show director). It’s official– TGAW 3D is the show’s very first 3D Printing Booth! Hopefully, we’ll be setting a trend for future shows.

Even better news– our booth is going to be adjacent to my brother’s shop, which means we’ll have access to power. Weather permitting, Ryan and I will be bringing the MakerGear M2 down and have it running. We’ll also have our Kinect on hand in case anyone wants to get themselves scanned. :)

If you are in the area, stop by and see us!

Acceptance-Highlighted

Automating Pumpkins
My ultimate game plan with the Glowing Pumpkin Pendants is to take advantage of one of the great perks of 3D printing– customization. I want people to draw/design their own pumpkin faces. I have my base pumpkin model. I would just need to make their face into a model and subtract it from my pumpkin. Thinking ahead, I did some experiments. I grabbed a Sharpie, drew a face and scanned it as a black and white image.

3D Printing

Now what?

OpenSCAD?
Looking over the OpenSCAD documentation, it looked like I might be able to use the Surface feature to achieve my goal. It uses the greyscale values of an image to determine the various heights of a surface. Since my image was Black and White, it should give me a template to carve out of my pumpkin.

It did make my face surface as planned… but it had a bottom plane underneath it. No worries, I rotated it 180 degrees. At this point, all I would need to do is position it, size it, and subtract it from my pre-existing pumpkin template.

OpenSCAD-Surface

I got it carved out, albeit a lot smaller than I wanted. At this point, I had to abort. I do truly believe OpenSCAD could be a viable option. But the rendering times were sooooo long. And then anytime I wanted to scroll or examine my object, I would have to wait again.

Disclaimer- It very well could be my old laptop from 2010 that has dwindling harddrive space…courtesy of all my 3D modeling.

If you’d like to explore this option further, my OpenSCAD code is below for reference and you may also want to refer to CubeHero’s Emboss and Impress Images onto a Surface in OpenSCAD article.

module pumpkin_template()
{
    //This is me importing in my base pumpkin template
    //what I want to carve the face out of.
   import("C:\Users\Vicky\Google Drive\Personal\Blender\Pumpkin Pendants\template-glowing-pumpkin.stl", convexity=10);
}

//This difference command is me subtracting my
//face surface from my base pumpkin .STL
difference()
{
translate([0,0,-2.5])
    resize([37.275,0,0],auto=true)
    pumpkin_template();

//This is me making my surface file based on my PNG
//of my face.  I rotate it 180 degrees so the solid
//plane base is on top (and out of the scope of my carving
rotate([0,180,0])
    resize([30, 0, 5],auto=true)
        surface(file = "C:\Users\Vicky\Google Drive\Personal\Blender\Pumpkin Pendants\evilVampire2.png", center = true, invert=true);
}          

InkScape?
Inkscape seems to be a very powerful way of turning images, logos, and patterns into scalable vector graphic images that you can import into Blender or other modeling software. I’ve seen many people having success with it on the Internet.

One of those people just isn’t me. : (

Inkscape - TraceBitmap in Action

I’ve tried using it for three different projects over the last 18 months. Each time, I’ve ended up with a model that is cumbersome to edit and full of mismatched face normals. It just seems like I have an awful lot of cleanup to do. And not fun, “I’m learning more about 3D modeling” cleanup– tedious, demoralizing cleanup (“What– now I have even MORE non-manifold edges? #@(*&$I*!”)

Disclaimer- This could end up being user error– something like I should export to a different SVG format instead of the Inkscape SVG.

ShapeJS
Interestingly enough, the tool I found I liked the most is Shapeway’s JavaScript-based library, ShapeJS. Just like OpenSCAD’s surface, you can upload an image and the colors in that image is used to make your model.

I stole code from their Absinthe Spoon example, uploaded my Black and White image and very quickly I had a model.

ShapeJS- Pumpkin Face

They have a Download 3D Model button, but I couldn’t seem to get that to work in Internet Explorer or Chrome.

My workaround was:

  1. Click on Upload & Print button.
  2. When the new Model details came up, I clicked on the Download button near the top and saved the file to my desktop.
    Shapeways - Export to x3db
  3. This downloaded a zip file, so I extracted the inside
  4. D’oh. This file was in x3db format. I wanted .STL. I had the free version of NetFabb Basic on my machine. I opened that up, added my x3db part and then went to Part->Export Part->as STL. (Hat Tip, StackOverflow!) NetFabb Basic - Export Part - as STL
  5. Yay! I had my .STL

Yes– that is indeed a lot of steps. But guess what– I found it still better than Inkscape cleanup. : )

If you wish to follow in my footsteps, here’s my ShapeJS code. To compliment the code, you’ll want to click on Add File Input at the top of the code editor and then upload the file you wish to use.

ShapeJS - Adding a File Argument

var voxelSize = 0.1*MM;

function makePart(path, width, height, thickness){

  var img = new ImageBitmap(path, width, height, thickness);
  img.setBaseThickness(0.0);
  img.setVoxelSize(voxelSize);

  return img;
}

function main(args) {
	//This argument (arg[0]) is our PNG file.
	//I add by clicking on the "Add File Input"
	//and then I upload the file I want to use
	var image = args[0];
	var a = 32*MM;

	dest = createGrid(-a,a,-a,a,-a,a,voxelSize);
	var th = 5*MM;
	var width = 20*MM;
	var height = 22*MM;

	var img = makePart(image, width, height, th);
        var maker = new GridMaker();
	maker.setSource(img);

	maker.makeGrid(dest);
	return dest;

}

3D Printing

Other Options
There are most definitely other options out there. I’m sure my learning and experimenting will continue. Last night, for example, I was just reading an article by Chris Gerty about using Online-Convert to do the same thing. H.G. Dietz’s Trace2SCAD looks interesting as well.

But for now, the ShapeJS method has served me well. My husband drew me two new faces that we were able to model and print quickly this past weekend.

3D Printing

Beta Testing OCQ Keychains and the Merit of Simple Designs

Okay, don’t laugh. Sometimes the simplest designs is what resonates with people. My breastfeeding pendant, for example. It’s such a simple model– I could make it in minutes now, but that doesn’t keep it from drawing the attention and appreciation from breastfeeding mothers. My favorite example is Erin (below) who I got to meet at the National Maker Faire. She bought a breastfeeding pendant from me right after pumping. : )

Two Breastfeeding Mothers at National Maker Faire

So, I made these quick little OCQ keychains to represent my hometown–Occoquan and maybe even raise some money for the Occoquan Historical Society (though they don’t know those aspirations yet). Super easy– I just adapted some OpenSCAD code I had for some Virginia Tech wine stoppers. I used white text on blue background to match our new stunning town signs. They looked nice, but design-wise, nothing ground breaking or special.

“I want one,” my mother said as I sprayed some gloss on my day’s prints out on the deck.

Out of all the things I’ve printed, I believe this is the first time she’s wanted something for herself.

“I want one,” she repeated later as I stacked and counted prints on the dining room table. She even volunteered to take one of my rejects. “The one with the weird C.” So I gave her one (ahem… the one with the weird C).

She promptly put it on her keychain and it fit perfectly. And there you have it. Sometimes simple designs can make people happy.

3D Printing - OCQ Keychain - Anne's New Keychain

For those so inclined, my OpenSCAD code is below:

//
// This is our module that will create a base
// cylinder which we stretch out for aesthetic
// purpose.
//
// We pass in the dimensions and a flag whether
// we want an embossed outline outside of the cylinder
//
module base_cylinder(x,y,z, withOutline)
{
resize([x,y,z])
rotate([0,90,-90])
difference()
{

cylinder(r=30, h=22, $fn=100);

//If we want to do an outline, we are
//going to subtract out a smaller
//cylinder so we have an inlay.
if (withOutline==true)
{

//front
translate([0,0,17])
cylinder(r=28, h=5, $fn=100);
}
}

}

difference()
{
union()
{

base_cylinder(50,3,30, true);

//My OCQ Text
translate([-18,-1.5,-5])
{
rotate(a=[90,0,0]) {
linear_extrude(1.5)
text("OCQ", size=12, center=true);
}
}

}

//Keychain Hole
translate([-20,1,0])
rotate(a=[90,0,0])
cylinder(r=2, h=5, $fn=100);
}

 

Print Diary – August 11 – Archilochus colubris

Ruby-throated Hummingbird
On Tuesday, I welcomed Archilochus colubris (Ruby-throated Hummingbird) to my 3D printed aviary. He was designed in Blender (based off a Creative Commons photo by my husband) and printed in the MakerGear M2. I used four different Simplify3D processes to print four colors– White, Traffic Red, Mint Turquoise, and Black.

3D Printing - Birds - Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

Overthinking the Color Order
Originally, I was printing Red, White, Green and then Black. My thought process was I wanted that White directly underneath the green, so it could be as bright as possible. I was worried if I printed green right on top of the red, it would appear brown.

So I did Red, White, Green and Black…. and I found myself very distracted by the Red outlines to the whole bird.

I switched them up. I printed White, Red, Green and then Black. With the first layer, it does look like my worse fears are realized– the bird is a pretty icky brown.

3D Printing - Birds - Green on Red Doesn't Look So Good...At First

But I have four layers of green (at 0.10mm each) and by the time it finishes all those layers, the green layer looks just as green as it does over the white. It made no difference whatsoever… for my ColorFabb Mint Turquoise. It is possible my translucent filaments from MakerGear (Grey and Orange) may be a different story.

Multi-processes to the Rescue!
I discovered that running Simplify3D’s multiprocesses one at a time are good for more than changing colors. It does give you an opportunity to recover should a mishap occur. In this case, one of my hummingbirds came unstuck to my bed. My attempts to glue stick him back on failed, so every time my extruder hit that blank spot it was making a nice spaghetti mess of filament (Side note– it is impressive to see how little filament actually goes on a layer– no wonder why my filament spools last forever).

3D Printing - Birds - Lost Hummingbird

Luckily, since I was running multi-processes, once my base layer of White finished, I had the opportunity to go into Simplify3D and remove the troublesome hummingbird (being VERY careful not to hit that Center and Arrange button). I exported my new processes to my SD card and that allowed me to not have to waste any more time on the MIA hummingbird.

Simplify3D - Saving Filament

Occoquan Craft Fair Preparation
I also got my application in for the Fall Occoquan Arts and Crafts Show on September 26th and 27th! I’m hoping to be their inaugural 3D Printing booth. Although I have no reason to worry about my acceptance into the show, meh, I still do worry a little bit, so I’ll be happy to hear back from the show director.

In the meantime, we are still preparing. My entire family is pitching in. Ryan is locating a tent and table and getting us a credit card processing solution. My brother, a small business owner, has been helpful in the business side of things. My Mom, as always, is a huge asset. Even my children are helping! They help with “Market Research” and young Sagan has mastered preparing my filament for color switches. : )

3D Printing - Sagan Preps Filament

3D Printing - Birds - Dyson Plays with Birds

3D Printing - Glowing Pumpkin Pendant - Sagan Helping Me Decide

On my end, an entire wall of my office is covered in Post In Notes of ideas and action items. My evenings are spent modeling and slicing, so I can make sure the MakerGear M2 has stuff to do while I work during the day.

3D Printing - Craft Show Planning Wall

And our dining room table is currently a staging area of potential products.

3D Printing - Craft Fair Inventory

It’s going to be a busy fall. :)

Print Diary Catch Up – Business Trip

Phew. I was on a business trip to Wisconsin last week and I returned home to a two year old with strep throat. Needlesstosay, 3D Modeling and 3D Printing were not on the forefront of my mind. But here’s what I’ve been up to:

Business License!
I got my business license from the Town of Occoquan. The Town Clerk confirmed my suspicion. I’m the first 3D Printing business in Occoquan. : ) Now to submit my application for the Fall Craft Fair!

Etsy
I’ve slowly been getting an Etsy site ready to go. My goal is to have everything I’m selling at the Craft Fair, also on Etsy. This is probably going much slower than necessary. I suspect I’m being overly picky about pictures. :/

Glowing Pumpkin Medallions
I have this awesome moving part product on Shapeways – The Dial-O-Lantern. It prints assembled and allows people to configure their Jack-O-Lantern face. It was a hit with children at the Maker Faires. And six children got to design faces for the Dial-O-Lantern (via a contest).

National Maker Faire - Army of Dial-O-Lanterns

The price point is super high though ($50), particularly for children. I want to do something specifically for children at the Craft Fair. I grew up in Occoquan. I remember being a little girl perusing the vendor booths looking for kid stuff.

So I tried to brainstorm something that would be fun for kids at the craft fair at a much lower price point, a kid-friendly price point. I came up with glowing pumpkin medallions.

3D Printing - Glowing Pumpkin Pendant - Sketch and Final (Far)

Without moving parts, they don’t need the fancy SLS printers of Shapeways. I print them on my MakerGear M2. The bottom in green, the middle in ColorFabb GlowFill, and the top in orange. The facial features are carved out of the orange, so the GlowFill shines through in all its glory. I could print a whole plethora of face combinations and still invite kids to customize them at the Craft Fair. It would be easy to have them draw faces and carved them out of the pumpkin.

3D Printing - Glowing Pumpkin Pendant - Standard Face - Before And After

Best part– I think I can price it in the single digits and still make a good margin. : )

Redwing Blackbird (Agelaius Phoeniceus)
A fan of my Baltimore Oriole requested a Redwing Blackbird. I managed to model that during my business trip and print it when I returned home.

3D Printing - Redwing Blackbird

Print Diary – July 31st – Process Improvement and Cyanocitta cristata

Tethered by Filament Change
First thing in the morning, I started a print run of some coasters. This time I was etching in this lovely Creative Commons Celtic Dragonfly by blah_59. After the first 2 millimeters, I was going to change colors for the top. It was after the print I realized……

Starbucks Day

On Fridays, I usually take my kids out to breakfast at Starbucks. The timing of my filament change was totally going to muck up Starbucks Day. I wanted to be around to pause my print and switch colors.

Compromise. My oldest son and I ran to Dunkin Donuts and picked up a special breakfast and brought it home. I was deprived of my weekly Flat White, but boy, the kids didn’t care one bit. They loved eating Dunkin Donuts on the deck.

All was well and I ended up with my glowing Celtic Dragonfly Coaster.

3D Printing - Glowing Celtic Dragonfly Coaster (Green) - Before After

But it was a sign that I needed a better process. I’m a working mother. It isn’t going to be sustainable for me to be tethered to the printer waiting for the exact moment to change my filament.

3D Printing Nerd to the Rescue
I thought my solution was going to lie in adding custom G-code, but it turns out I don’t even need to do that! I just so happened to watch the latest video from the 3D Printing Nerd that very same morning. He also does a lot of creations by switching filament colors and he also uses Simplify3D. I mentioned yesterday and we saw it before with some experiments with the cardinal wing that I do use multiprocesses to change my settings for different sections of the print. Well, I never thought about the implications of running those multiple processes one at a time. I had always let them run as a single print run, meaning I still would have to monitor and pause my print when I wanted to switch colors.

The 3D Printing Nerd’s video showed me to run them one at a time. So when the printer finishes one color it stops and then waits for you to take the next steps…on your time.

I gave it a test run on my new Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata). It worked splendidly. I ran the white. I ran the blue. I ran the black. Wonderful! This is just what I needed to keep my sanity and prepare for the Occoquan Arts and Craft Fair.

The latest bird from the MakerGear M2- Cyanocitta cristata (American Bluejay). #3DPrinting

A photo posted by Vicky Somma (@vickytgaw) on

I did notice one tiny best practice for the future. When I start a new color, the print runs through it usually start up process (which I can change if I want). It squirts out some plastic off the side of the bed and then it swipes the nozzle clean on the bed. When I ran a bed full of bluejays, I did notice I put one a little too close to that swiping action. He was just barely getting knicked by the nozzle as it passed by. So either I not place things that close to that section… or I change my start up G-Code.

3D Printing - Swipe Collides with Bird

I’m really excited. A HUGE thanks to the 3D Printing Nerd for helping me improve my process. It’s really going to help as my collection of birds continues to grow!

3D Printing - Blue Jay, Monarch, Goldfinch, Cardinal, Chickadee, Baltmore Oriole

Print Diary – July 30th – Taking the Plunge!

Going for the Craft Fair
My town has an annual craft fair every September and June. After much discussion with my husband, we decided we are going to try to do the fair’s very first 3D Printed booth this year. If anything, we will be testing the waters for future 3D printing vendors. I applied for an official business license with my town. Yikes! : )

My prints today were some items in preparation for the faire– orioles, coasters, monarch butterflies.

Process Improvement
I did improve my bird printing process. Previously, I was printing all the birds at 0.10 layers. This allowed me to get more layers in of colors so they filled in better, but keeping the overall detail small.

Well I realized the backing of the bird didn’t need to be that short. In Simplify3D, I added an additional process where I printed the bottom of my birds at 0.2mm layers and then decreased down to 0.10 when I got to my color switches.

The result– it’s now quite fast to produce out a full bed of birds!

3D Printing - A Whole Slew of Chickadees

Science-Themed Pendant by Rosie Campbell
I did also try out the Science Themed Pendant by Rosie Campbell. It’s lovely and licensed Creative Commons (with commercial use). I like it, I’m satisfied with the print. I can see myself wearing it.

But…

Man, that hole is awfully small. It could be done— but you might need one of those needle threaders to do it.

3D Printing - Science Themed Necklace by Rosie Campbell

Nonetheless, it’s lovely!

Print Diary – July 29th – Monarch Butterfly and Glowing Cthulhu

Victory with the Monarch Butterfly
As I mentioned yesterday, I was having some trouble adapting the Public Domain Monarch Butterfly model by Liz Havlin. Although I have been 3D modeling for about 18 months, I was having some trouble achieving what I wanted– I wanted the holes of the butterfly to not be holes. I wanted the sections I wanted to be orange to be 2mm high and the sections I wanted to be white to be 2.3 mm high.
Unfortunately, I was introducing all sorts of manifold issues along the way. One day, I may look back on this and laugh at myself and my “silly ways”, but for now here’s what I ended up doing that actually worked for me.

I was able to easily make a solid butterfly that I extruded up to 2mm high– so I had my orange all set. For the white, I:

  1. Highlighted the vertices of the hole I wanted to fill.
  2. Hit the Duplicate button to make copies of those vertices.
    Monarch Butterfly - Duplicate Vertices
  3. I hit escape (those new vertices were selected).
  4. Then I went to Mesh->Vertices->Separate->Selection. This move those vertices to their own object, which I filled in as a face and then extruded up 0.3mm.
    Monarch Butterfly - Seperate Menu Options
  5. I ended up with a bunch of 0.3mm high cylinders that I added to the solid butterfly (that was 2.0 mm high) and the hollow butterfly which was 0.7 mm high (making my black outline 0.4mm high)

    Monarch Butterfly - New Solid Cylinders

The colors are in the same height and order as the Baltimore Oriole (Orange – 2mm, White 0.3mm, Black 0.4mm), so I can print butterflies and orioles together.

Again, with future modeling knowledge I may look back and scoff at my approach. Nonetheless, I have my butterfly… and he’s beautiful!

3D Printing - Monarch Butterfly in Action

3D Printing - Monarch Butterfly Magnet

Glowing Cthulhu Coaster
Another project I tackled was a lot easier. I have a little Cthulhu cutout I modelled for my “Glowing Cthulhu Pumpkin” on Shapeways.

Cthulhu Pumpkin in Hand and Glowing

In the case of the pumpkin, an LED inside provides the light. I decided to see what ColorFabb’s GlowFill could do. I went ahead and took that same cut out I drew and modelled and carved it out of a small beveled cube to make a coaster. I printed the first 2mm in GlowFill and then the top in a solid color. I am pleased with the result. Not only does Cthulhu glow, but the border around the coaster glows as well. A win.

3D Printing - Glowing Cthulhu Coaster (Blue) - Before After

Print Diary – July 28, 2015 – Spinus Tristis…. and an Ass-Kicking Danaus plexippus

Greetings! I’m currently prepping for a business trip, so this will be a quick entry.

American Goldfinch
I have a new 3D Printed bird to my collection. Spinus tristis, otherwise known as the American Goldfinch.

3D Printed Birds - Spinus tristis (American Goldfinch)

He’s my second favorite bird at the moment. I’m thinking of simplifying the white patches on his wings to make him match my FIRST favorite bird from the MakerGear M2– the Baltimore Oriole.

I’m getting quite a collection of little birds. : )

3D Printed Birds - Goldfinches and Orioles

Gah – Monarch Butterfly
I had this grand idea to do a Monarch Butterfly– it has the same color scheme as the orioles so I figured I could print them together. I stumbled upon a lovely Public Domain model by Liz Havlin. LOVE. It is exactly what I was envisioning, only prettier!

I thought I would just update the model a bit, to solidify the back and then add different face heights for my orange and white layers. Easy, right?

Well….

It’s been kicking my ass. And it’s not Liz’s model– her work is perfect, water-tight, non-manifold. I’ve been introducing issues to it when I add and extrude new faces. Gah. I will be victorious… just not tonight. : (

Print Diary – July 27th – The Baltimore Oriole and USB Mobius Strip Holder

Today was an eventful day with the printing. I had no slicing or modeling challenges or obstacles. Just straight up printing.

With switching out the filament during the print, I got to see my Baltimore Oriole come to life!

3D Printed Birds - Oriole in Action - After White Layer, the Black is Just Starting

3D Printed Bird - Oriole

And then for a “mindless” print so I can get my day job done, I reprinted my USB Mobius Strip. The only real adjustment I made from the first print was not putting supports with in the USB slots. LOVE. Now hopefully I won’t use my USB keys as frequently. (There are only two pictured because…well… I can only locate two of my USB keys, emphasizing WHY I need this in the first place).

3D Printing - Mobius Strip USB Holder