AJ Henderson AJ's Blog

October 24, 2020

A Big Jump in to 3D Printing

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , , , , — AJ @ 2:25 pm

Finally jumped in to the deep end of the 3D printing pool. Purchased an Anycubic Mono X and a Snap Maker 2.0 A350 back in late August and early September. The Mono X just came in this past week and after doing two test prints, decided to do a torture test with a model of a Federal Corvette from the game Elite Dangerous.

This made for an interesting test because it was a large scale model (over 9.6 inches long) with extremely complex geometry to test what the printer could handle. All I did for setup was extract the model, run it through an automated healing tool in Lychee, then run it through automatic support generation in Anycubic’s software. I had to remove a few supports that would clearly be issues, but mostly it’s an automated attempt of a very complicated and very large part.

So how were the results? After 10.5 hours printing and about an hour and a half to 2 hours of post processing cleaning, pulling all the supports and curing, here is the end result.

This was pretty much the maximum size the printer could handle with over 9000 layers printed in white Anycubic EcoResin. 1.5 second layer cures and 40 second initial base cures. 5mm retraction and 2 to 3mm per second movement speeds. 0.05mm layers.

It was far from a perfect print. There’s a couple holes where things failed to print correctly. One part of the tail fin broke off , a few supports fused to the body or removed very small fragile parts of the model when being removed, but on the whole, it’s an outstanding print for how little effort it required to prepare and how complicated it was. This was meant to be a torture test and I’d say the Mono X passed with flying (though not perfect) colors.

The discoloration is from having to cure it too long because it didn’t fit in the wash and cure machine I have properly. This wasn’t too big of a deal though as I’m intending to paint the model.

So why did I jump in to 3d printing now? Two reasons, first, the cost for large form factor finally reached a low enough point. I’ve been following 3D printers for quite a while, but the cost for the volume I’d want to be able to work in was always prohibitively high compared to what I could justify. With the production release of the SnapMaker 2 A350 bringing light laser cutting/engraving, light CNC and large build volume 3D FDM printing to the table for under $1800 with enclosure, the price was finally right. I’d been interested in SLA for a while as well, but had ruled it out for safety reasons with 2 young children, however I found out about Anycubic’s new Mono X (first cheap SLA with a big enough volume for my interests) and their EcoResin, which is a non-toxic soy based resin, and I realized I had a winner for SLA as well.

Second, STEM. When I was in middle school and high school, my earliest serious engineering experience was working with the CNC machines that they had and trying to push the envelope of what I could fabricate. At the time, I never dreamed of being able to have a unit like that in my house, but now, with the 3D printing revolution bringing cheap and affordable 2 and a half axis machines to market, and seeing my son’s budding interest in building, I realized the time was right to pick up a 3D printer so that I could help him move from duct taping random things together and trying to build what he’s got in his head, to starting him on the path of learning to design and build things with the proper tools to be able to make awesome things at home.

Admittedly, the SLA is more for my own personal interest in model making as it has a bit less usefulness in the realm of things my son is likely to be making in the near future, but the Snap Maker is very much oriented towards being able to laser cut foamcore and cardboard projects while the CNC and FDM printing will allow making connectors and parts for whatever fantastic ideas Declan may come up with or whatever interesting fabricatable STEM projects I can find that are worth fabricating up.

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