Experimenting with Wood Filament

I’ve always wanted test wood filament on my personal 3D printer; I had a chance in college to use it on the machines in fab shop and loved how it looked and felt. Most wood filaments are primarily PLA with some wood mixed in and the filament I decided to purchase was no exception. I went with Hatchbox, which is 80% PLA and 20% wood. Honestly, I would have guessed the wood percentage to be higher because the spool appeared/smelled like wood!

I was a bit nervous to load it in to my printer due to my printer’s history with clogs, so I researched the optimal settings online. Most people said to go with standard PLA settings, although some tried increasing both the nozzle and bed temperature slightly with decent results. Instead of 210 nozzle and 55 bed (standard PLA preheat settings on the Prusa), I bumped it up to 220 and 60. I cleared out the last bit of my clear ABS and loaded my wood filament- it took a bit longer to extrude and I had a minor heart attack during those first few minutes. But alas, it came through the nozzle in a clear and steady stream.

My first few trials fell short- I do recommend bumping the bed temperature up, potentially using a glue stick, and lowering the nozzle as I had initial difficulties with the filament refusing to stick. But once I got my settings jussstt right, I had absolutely beautiful results. Check out this gorgeous vase I printed (model here):

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After my first successful print, I decided I wanted to try post processing. I had watched youtube videos of people sanding and staining their models and was curious how well it worked. I purchased Minwax Polyshades Stain and Polyurethane in Antique Walnut and some high grit sandpaper and went to town:

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I was disappointed with how the vase turned out and do not have a final picture- the stain clumped and was not fully absorbed by the print. However, I had much better luck with a small frog I printed. Here it is pre-sand and stain:

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And here it is sanded and one layer of stain:

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The final product:

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Overall, it turned out very well! I felt like the most important part of the process was sanding the model down, as it seemed to help the stain absorb into the filament. I plan on continuing to test and will keep you all updated with new progress!

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Documenting my Failures (and ultimate Success) with the Prusa Printer

As many of you know from my previous post, I left off discussing the misalignment of my Pinda Probe over the print bed. I wasn’t sure how big of an issue it was going to be, until I tried calibrating the XYZ axis. The nozzle began hitting the bed after the 3rd pinda position and I had to abort the calibration. I was pretty confused how to fix this problem and began digging around Prusa’s support site and different blogs/websites dedicated to Prusa printers. The most useful site I found was the Pinda misaligned page on the Prusa site. I determined my issue was shown in this diagram:

 

My Pinda had managed to front shift during the repairs of my extruder (see the post below for a rant of that godforsaken clog). The page said that to fix this problem, “just unscrew the M12 bolts holding it, move the Z-frame back (or front, depending of the position of the pinda relative to the heatbed probe circles, and tighten it back”.

Well, “just unscrewing the M12 bolts” turned out to be more difficult than I imagined. First of all, I didn’t put together the printer (yes, I’m one of those people who bought it pre-assembled) so I wasn’t quite sure where the M12s were located. I finally found this video by Josef Prusa which shows the exact location under the printer (around minute 8:00).

 

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After finding the bolts, I discovered that I probably needed to work out a bit more, as I could not loosen them. Even my boyfriend struggled and we sat for a while baffled at how we would possibly loosen them. FINALLY, with some help of WD-40, we were able to undo them. I realigned the Pinda within the circle and tightened the blots…. to only realize my Z frame was skewed. It took a couple tries, but I finally got it to sit perpendicular. Overall, it was a bit of a process, but the printer ended up calibrating fine (I’m still getting “XYZ¬†calibration all right. X/Y axes are slightly skewed”, but that’s a fix for another day).

Here’s a pic of a quick test print, which I’m quite pleased with:

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I’ll post some more photos later of future prints, but in the mean time, happy printing!

Regarding my Prusa i3 MK2S

Hi all!

I apologize for the delayed post, for as you know, I have been quite busy with my new Prusa printer. It has been a bit of a rocky road to start, but I’m still really excited for what this printer has in store for me and all the great things I’ll print in the future! So I’m going to give a step-by-step of my first few weeks with it- hopefully this will give insight to other users on some common issues.

So here we go, the unboxing:

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This of course was so so exciting for me! I’ve loved 3D printing since college and always dreamed of having my own printer to meddle with. I decided to purchase the Prusa i3 MK2S assembled and received the printer quite quickly (I know Prusa Research just expanded their labs and therefore have faster turnaround time on their orders). Once I received the printer, I unboxed and began following the initial calibration tests. Check out these gummy bears hanging out with my newly unboxed printer:

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So here is where my issues begin. First issue was, as some of you may have guessed.. an extruder clog. To those of you who have never used a 3D printer, an extruder clog is one of the most common issues with 3D printers. A clog is never a quick or easy problem to resolve. I first noticed the clog when trying to load the filament for the very first time. I was quite frustrated, as I hadn’t even printed anything, but this ultimately became a very vital learning experience for me and I’m glad I had to go through it.

I tried both the the cold pull method and heat creep method (meaning I heated my nozzle to over about 230 Celsius to loosen any stuck PLA filament). Unfortunately, this did not remove the filament clog. Prusa provides an acupuncture needle you can insert into the nozzle to try and remove any stuck filament. Here you can see I ended up bending mine by pushing too hard on it:

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And here is how far I got my filament into the nozzle (you can see I’ve already begun taking apart the extruder… you’ll hear more about that loose fan in a moment):

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I decided to resort to both Google and Prusa customer service, since at this point I had no idea how to remove the clog. I found this article, whose author had a very similar clog to mine- he ended up taking apart his extruder. I was hesitant to do so, as I had purchased my printer assembled and had no background in the mechanics of the printer. However, Prusa customer service got back to me and said the same thing; I would have to take apart the extruder to clear the clog. They provided video instructions on how to disassemble the extruder, which helped me greatly and, yes, led to me removing the clog. Here are the links to those videos (1 and 2) if anyone else runs into a similar clog with their Prusa MK2S printer or E3D V6 hotend.

Firstly, it was really just unscrewing the motor, two fans, and housing, without damaging any of the wiring.

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After this is where it became more difficult. Essentially, after removing the housing, you are left with your nozzle (the tiny piece where your filament comes out), hot end (the box-like piece where all your wires connect and heat up- thus the name), and the heat break and heat sink (the pieces through which your filament travels to the hotend- there is typically also teflon tubing to help the filament flow correctly). See the below image as to what this all looks like:

I deduced that my filament was stuck in the heat break, as this is quite common and the location where my acupuncture needle got to. This meant I would have to disassemble everything further- I removed the heat break from the heat sink and then the heat break from the hotend (probably the most difficult part as it was screwed in factory tight- it helped to heat the hotend up a bit to loosen the pieces):

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And looked what popped out- that’s right, the clog! Sorry for potato quality, I was shaking from excitement:

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So there you have it, how to remove a clog from your extruder. This, of course, was not the end of my troubles as I had to reassemble everything. As soon as I began to reassemble, I realized that the wires from the cooling fan had broken off. I took this photo with just the black wire broken off, but as soon as I moved the fan, the red wire fell off as well:

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*SIGH* Out comes the soldering iron:

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Thankfully, soldering the wires worked and the fan powered up as I booted up the printer. And we are back in business!

Everything calibrated fine and I was able to begin printing.

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So exciting! Unfortunately, I do have to end the post with another issue… between the prints in the photo and now, my Z and Y axis became misaligned. The nozzle is hitting the bed every time I try to calibrate, and the PINDA is not aligned correctly (you can see it’s shifted forward, a bit outside of the white dashed circle):

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I’m hoping to get this fixed relatively quickly, and am cautiously optimistic due to my victory over the Battle of the Clog. WISH ME LUCK!

A big shout out to the customer service over at Prusa Research and to my boyfriend, who put up with my cursing and helped me unscrew the hotend/solder the fan!

More VR Stuff, this Time with the Rift

I am fortunate enough to have a wonderful brother just as interested (if not more so) in emerging tech, specifically with virtual reality. He already owns a Vive, but decided to order an Oculus Rift a few months back. Due to some fluke, Oculus sent him two Rift Touches by accident, one of which he lent to me. I’ve been having tons of fun with it, but more importantly, I’m learning how it can be useful in existing fields. This is particularly due to the fact that I work at an architecture firm that is currently conducting research in how VR can be used with architectural visualization. This isn’t exactly a brand new topic, but I’m really excited to be personally involved in the research, both at home and at my workplace.

In terms of architectural visualization, I think the biggest, most exciting software for me right now is TwinMotion for VR. I learned about TwinMotion from one of Fabrice Bourrelly’s Unreal Archiectural Visualization webinars (check them out here¬†when you get the chance). I am currently learning Unreal Engine as I am really interested in building my own VR environments from the ground up (textures, animations, lighting, the whole deal). Of course, this takes time and energy, which most of us don’t have much to spare. TwinMotion is a more “plug and play” software for VR, with built in material, lighting, and animation presets. Essentially, all you have to do is bring in a model (whether it be a Revit, Rhino, Cinema 3D model, among others) and add in whatever you like. Another pro: the software is compatible with most VR headsets. The software is still in its early stages, but I’m looking forward to seeing what they’ll have in store for us. Check them out here.

On to a more lighthearted, fun topic- Games and Apps with the VR! So I love messing around with my headset, and there are some really fun games and things to do while in virtual reality. Of course, my favorite moment was when both my boyfriend and brother played AFFECTED – The Manor, a horror game. I was a wimp, while both of them were very brave facing ghosts and goblins and scary things (though the bf did scream like a girl a couple times). Truly a terrifying experience. Another cool App I discovered was Medium, a sculpting app. Imagine 3DSMax or Mudbox, but rather than staring at a monitor and sculpting with a keyboard and mouse, you create models within VR. Your canvas is the virtual world within the headset, and your sculpting tools are your hands (well, the touch handset you hold… but you get the point).

I will try to post a time lapse video at some point of me using Medium, but for now I can share a few screen grabs of my latest creation- a silly octopus. The app was a little finicky with layers and resolution (Medium actually began to crash after I added too many suckers, but I should have expected that… I was modeling a large model in VR…) and my head hurt after a couple hours of being in the headset, but overall really fun. I can see artists using Medium to create large virtual environments with crazy creations.

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All about Wood Tables

Over the last year, we’ve worked on two wood tables that I’d love to share with you guys. They were both really fun projects that I definitely learned a lot from. The first table was made from white oak we purchased from a man out in Maryland who had cut down the tree in his yard and dried the wood himself (that was probably one of the most important the thing I learned from this experience- how long it takes to kiln dry properly care for wood in preparation for furniture). I’ll start off with the biggest mistake we made during the process- storing the oak in a damp room. A few days after storing it, we noticed warping and minor honeycombing (when the core cracks) in the wood. Bummer!

Not to be discouraged, we decided to say “screw it” and sand/finish it anyways to see if we could get a table out of it. Here is the wood before we began work:

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We first removed the bark from the wood and sanded down the top with some hand sanders. Here it is post-bark removal:

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We went up to a few hundred grit, and were told by some of my Techshop coworkers to go up even higher to really give a smooth finish. After we finished sanding the wood, it was time to decide on legs. We knew we wanted cast iron, but had a couple options to decide on. We ultimately decided on cross legs, but when we received them, this is how they turned out (the piece of wood in the picture is actually another piece of the same wood from the Maryland man… not sure what we are going to do with it yet…):

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WAY too tiny! A quick search on Amazon found us some pin legs, which we decided to go with (the next time around, I would love to get into the metal shop and make my own, but that’s a project for another day).

We decided to go with Waterlox (a Tung-Oil sealer/finish), which turned out beautifully. Here I am putting on the first layer:

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And after a few more layers:

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It wasn’t especially difficult to put on, and dried really nicely. After that, it was time to screw in the legs…

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Et viola, complete (I apologize for the intense Instagram filter):

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As you can see, we did get some minimal warping, which was definitely a bummer because we put so much work into the table. Weirdly enough, around the same time Sasha’s Aunt decided to get rid of a GORGEOUS (albeit dented and somewhat moldy) Redwood table. I unfortunately do not have a great before-photo and did not document the process as well as our first table, but here is the table just as we began to smooth it down/remove the existing, nicked finish with a hand planer:

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Once we got off all the old finish, we hand sanded it down until it was nice and smooth. A few days later, we set up shop on Sasha’s parents back porch and finished it with two layers of danish oil. Here’s the final product:

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The next step for this project will be working on new legs, as the current base is some dimensional lumber with too light of a finish. Hopefully I can get around to it with all the projects I want to try!