3D Printing: Future or temporary trend?

Dremel Idea Builder Printing

Printing. In 3D. Not just ink on paper – you need to know which material, size, software and of course which printer. If you don’t want to read the long intro, jump to the my experience section.

1. Material

Let’s start off with the material: Most 3D printers for private use use some sort of plastic which is waterproof, can be colorful, is ecological, sometimes recycles, etc. …. That’s means it’s all good and since there is often only one material for the printer you don’t have to think about that for long.

2. Size and Printer

Secondly, the printer: 3D printers differ in the size of the printing platform and the heighth of which it can print and object as well as the printing quality, but they especially differ in the price. Sadly I haven’t compared multiple printers yet, so I can’t tell you if higher price means higher quality.

Inside the Dremel Idea Builder

 

3. Software

Most 3D printer come with a software which you can use to convert an .obj or some 3D object file to the printer format. In some cases you can even model inside the software. But that doesn’t really matter because there is lot’s of software out there which already does that… very well. There are expensive solutions for proffessionals but also cheap or free software for everyone.

Blender is a very powerful 3D-Software for modeling, sculpting but also for rigging, animating and rendering  – and exactly that’s the reason why it is too complicated for being the software-of-choice (even though it supports 3D printing features) for creating a model to be printed in 3D for not so experienced people. The good news is that Autodesk has released the 123D series! It’s a collection of easy-to-use software which helps you get started in creating 3D stuff – also for gettings started in 3D printing.

My Experience

Dremel Idea Builder with PLA Filament and Touchscreen

Dremel Idea Builder with PLA Filament and Touchscreen

Quite a while ago I got a 3D printer, the Dremel Idea Builder (1000 €), and tested it out. The installation of the printer was quite straight forward: After taking it out of the packaging and finding a good spot for it (maybe somewhere where it doesn’t disturb you while it prints), you need to align the print platform using a card included in the box. Last but not least you need to do a test print – of course you should have inserted the PLA-Filament (Material, 30 € for 162 m – one role included) at some point (I did that right after placing the printer).

After the test print, I was ready for printing. I needed a lamp holder for my bicycle because the original broke – the perfect thing for the 3D printer.

So the first thing I did was take the lamp, I wanted to connect to the holder, and measure out everything important for the holder. Then I made a sketch of what the holder should look like on a piece of paper with all lengths and sizes – ok, call me retro styled but it’s still quicker then digitally and better then going for it immediatly. Then I downloaded 123D Design in the Apple App Store (also available for Windows and iPad).

Autodesk 123D Design

My design in Autodesk’s 123D Design

 

I started with a rectangle. Then I created the 2D form of the holder, extruded, added everything else (first in 2D and then extruded)… Yes, it was as easy as it sounds! Since it was that, I even added rounded corners (a mistake I needed to notice later).

Then I sent the whole thing over to Meshmixer – also from 123D suite – exported it for Dremel Idea Builder, opened it with the Dremel3D software, saved it to an SD Card, inserted the SD Card into the printer (this is also possible by connecting the computer and the printer via USB but my printer was too far away), I then selected the model from the SD Card with the great touch screen of the printer and pressed “Print” (OK, there might be some details I missed here – so no warranty that it works exactly by doing this. For example you might want to preheat the printer).

Autodesk Meshmixer

Preparing the model for 3D print in 123D Meshmixer. Notice to select all parts before transforming.

 

I waited 1:30 hours… just to find out that I made a logical mistake in the model and extruded something to the wrong direction. So back to 123D (midnight now – I started 22:00 o’clock) fix the mistake and try to improve the design. But the rounded corners aren’t that easy to extrude… I think and have an idea for a work around*. Work around works… do everything ad described before. Wait only 20 minutes for it to be printed because I changed the rotation in Meshmixer to be more effective and done!

I am sorry if I rushed through everything here but the article has already become long enough to explain everything in detail.

Since this article isn’t advertisement for the Dremel Idea Builder, here is the stuff I didn’t like. When finished printing the nozzle was still hot so the filament kept coming out… a bit annoying because this not only means that you have to clean it but that this also happens when preheating. You can set the quality, meaning detail level, when printing (0,1 – 0,3 mm) but when it prints the inside of the model is not printed solid but rather with a structure (I would love to change that).

Conclusion

3D printing has become extremely easy. The software is very easy to use, the printers too – especially since they are ready build and not just a pack of pieces you need to construct. You can use the printer to replace broken pieces or even create custom ones – for a much lower price: I used around 1 € of material for the project including both tries… now economically I need to print quite a lot for it to bring back the 1000 €… but maybe it will someday.

This article is not sponsered by Dremel, Autodesk, Blender or anyone I might have mentioned.

*I created a 2D rectangle directly infront of the part with the rounded corner which I wanted to in-/extrude and did exactly that.

Dremel Idea Builder Touchscreen Dremel Idea Builder No lid Dremel Idea Builder Top

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