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harryc

Some questions before I buy...

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I've been following 3D printers for a little while now and am almost at the point where I'm ready to jump in, but I do have some questions that I can't find answers to...

Most of my plans for 3D printing are for scale model/miniature work (models between 25-50mm big). It looks like, out of all home 3D printers currently available, Ultimaker is the champion when it comes to printing fine detail work. What I'm interested in is what kind of work is necessary to setup the machine for printing in such fine detail assuming it arrives at my door today? I get the feeling from looking at as many posts as I can that it's not going to be as simple as "open box, plug in machine, print in extreme detail right away". Is this something that is going to take a whole bunch of tinkering and/or extra parts to achieve?

Thanks in advance for any information.

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The answer to your question is really going to depend on your personal level of technical know-how and how much free time you have. I got my machine some day around January 11th or something. From there I took several days to put it together in my spare time. From that point the more you know about the programs you'll be using the better. Which won't be a problem if you use some of your time while waiting for your printer to arrive and familiarize yourself with them. Also reading some forum and discussion group topics about the issues other people have had can help. After trying several different iterations of programs I personally ended up with Netfabb (mainly for the speed, it takes long enough for my prints to print, I don't like waiting for them to slice as well) and printrun to send the gcode. The machine doesn't take a lot of extra parts to get going. Mine was working acceptably right from the start, though there are a few things you can print that won't necessarily improve the results you get, but more so the ease with which you get them. I had my printer putting out good results within the first week. The only part for my printer I ended up getting that couldn't be made with the printer itself was a glass zstage, and that was the result of my own overzealous removal of plastic from my acrylic stage :D

The important thing to note is this:

You will have issues.... but, there are a lot of great guys (and gals? haven't asked before) around the forums and discussion group who have probably had any of the issues you might encounter and are willing to help you through them.

I hope this helps a little in your decision. If I need to clarify or go more in depth on anything just let me know.

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The answer to your question is really going to depend on your personal level of technical know-how and how much free time you have.

Thanks for the answer Tom. It's posts like this that have made me a bit apprehensive about jumping in right now however.

It's not just a software issue (which I'm more comfortable dealing with) to get results like http://www.hive76.org/insane-3d-printing-resolution-ultimaker-under-the-micro then?

[edit]

It's posts like this that terrify me: http://groups.google.com/group/ultimaker/browse_thread/thread/b8a6bdf43b803c73

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In my personal experience I didn't have near anything close to the issues of Terry in his post. From what I have dealt with once I had my machine working it was all a matter of the correct settings in the software to get better and higher quality. There are going to be kinks in the process. Time is the "hidden" cost with an open source and/or DIY machine. Sure you can get printers that are plug and play, but you are looking at a total cost of 15-17 thousand to get an entry level plug and play machine such as the vflash by 3D Systems. I'm in no way trying to scare you off, because I personally don't regret my decision at all. I know you gave an idea of the size of the models you are looking to print, are they for professional or personal use if you don't mind me asking? Maybe I'll be able to offer better advice if I know more about what you are wanting to do.

Tom M.

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I know you gave an idea of the size of the models you are looking to print, are they for professional or personal use if you don't mind me asking? Maybe I'll be able to offer better advice if I know more about what you are wanting to do.

Just as an example, I have a scale model of a rally car I built that came without a driver and navigator figure. I have created a 3D scan of the seats in the car and with my rudimentary knowledge of 3D programs have designed figures for both that I would like to be able to print and use in the model. These would probably be about 30mm figures if standing.

It's not for professional work, but at the same time I want comparable results to the rest of the models I use (which is why Ultimaker is appealing to me, given its ability to get such fine detail prints). I don't care if it takes 20 hours to print a model.

Thanks again for the info.

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As mentioned above, it needs some technical skills to build this printer. But the kit is quite well engineered and you can't do too much wrong.

I think one of the biggest advantages is its fast evolution in the open source community. Therefore the development goes on and will increase.

It took me just five calibration prints until the 0.04mm layer height worked. If you have patience you'll be able to get the same results.

For your application at a scale of 25 to 50mm You have to be aware, that there is always the visibility of the layer and the geometric resolution is limited by the process itself.

The minimal xy resolution for details is about 0.3mm everything below that will be smoothed by the tip of the print head. The layers are built with a plastic string which always forms an outline with rounded corners of about 0.15mm radius.

Maybe post a picture of what you like to print.

Michael

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As mentioned above, it needs some technical skills to build this printer. But the kit is quite well engineered and you can't do too much wrong.

I think one of the biggest advantages is its fast evolution in the open source community. Therefore the development goes on and will increase.

It took me just five calibration prints until the 0.04mm layer height worked. If you have patience you'll be able to get the same results.

For your application at a scale of 25 to 50mm You have to be aware, that there is always the visibility of the layer and the geometric resolution is limited by the process itself.

The minimal xy resolution for details is about 0.3mm everything below that will be smoothed by the tip of the print head. The layers are built with a plastic string which always forms an outline with rounded corners of about 0.15mm radius.

Maybe post a picture of what you like to print.

Michael

Hi Michael,

The link I posted previously (http://www.hive76.org/insane-3d-printing-resolution-ultimaker-under-the-micro) is the detail level I'm after. In the picture of that yoda figure in the link the xy resolution doesn't look nearly as course as .3mm so maybe I'm not understanding what is meant by xy resolution.

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Hi Harry

Well as always, forgot to follow all links in Your tread. Sorry about that.

I printed this Yoda some weeks ago to test the 0.04mm netfabb high quality setting and it looks amazing.

Unfortunately I gave the print away so I can't do some photographs. This level of detail is absolutely achievable with a well calibrated extrusion rate and some fine tuning of the temperature.

What I meant with the rounded corners in xy direction you may see in the detail picture of the Yoda. Inside corners are printed sharp and nice. But outside corners are all rounded by half of the filament width. I did a print of this bust scaled down to half the size (About 15mm height). Then some details around the eyes and the ears were missing, the outlines blending into each other.

There are some experiments wit thinner nozzles with 0.15 and 0.2mm bore but it's harder to get constant extrusion out of these thin nozzles.

So if you want to do builds like this Yoda bust, the Ultimaker is a valuable candidate.

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I've been doing test prints and stuff lately. If you have a model you'd like printed I can give it a go sometime this week or next weekend if you want. Maybe that would give you a better idea?

Thanks very much for the offer, but I think I'm sold anyway. :)

I am curious though...since the limiting factor for xy resolution is the thickness of the plastic material (if I understood correctly), then is it possible that thinner plastic becomes available in the future? Would this allow for greater xy resolution, and if so, would this be something a current Ultimaker could be made to use or would it require all new engineering?

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Its not so much an issue of the plastic itself as it is a limitation of the nozzle. The ultimaker nozzle has a .4mm diameter nozzle. Which means when you are laying down a line of plastic it will be .4mm wide. I'm not sure on just how small it can get but as you can see there are limitations on the accuracy it can achieve in the xy directions. As Ultimate-X mentioned there are smaller diameter nozzles available, which can get better resolution, they just require further adjusting of other components on your machine.

I hope that makes sense.

Tom M.

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