3D printing – some baby steps – getting Blender STL to print

3D printing seems to be in equal measures ultra-fun and a total pain-in-the-ass. I’ve had quite a few problems with the Replicator 2, in that during prints it seems to randomly fail. It’s pretty soul-destroying when this happens at 97% of a 5-hour print 😛 What happens is that the printer stops extruding normally and instead just intermittently occasionally extrudes a kind of fine spider-web thread of plastic that makes a cotton-candy mess on top of your piece. The printer carries on attempting to print, so the nozzle just ends up moving around in the air. The only way to fix it is to unload and reload the filament, or (if things really screw up) to take apart the extruded mechanism and remove any blockage that you might find there. I might try tightening up the plunger mechanism, perhaps it is slipping resulting in the filament not coming through.

Anyway, I guess these things will always happen with any new technology. So I don’t just want to moan about the 3D printer. I want to describe my progress with it also. So today I learned how to create a 3D shape using a CAD program and print it. Yes… big wow, but I was quite impressed with myself. These are the beginnings of something cool 🙂 I hadn’t been able to get Blender to export the STL files correctly before, but I think this was something to do with the fact that a.) you have to convert your shape using “mesh from curve” and also you have to have the object selected to actually export it. I was following this tutorial: http://curriculum.makerbot.com/daily_lessons/april/blender.html#

Here is a screenshot from Blender:

blender_3d_printing_svg_example

Here is the finished print still on the MakerBot:

3d_printing_svg_example1

And here is the piece! Not very impressive to look at, but hey, at least I can print my own poker chips (or maybe pogs?) now:

3d_printing_svg_example2

Advertisements