Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Airplane - Video 6 of The 3D Coat Experience series

Hello again Cubify Fans
    I just finished with tutorial number 6 and this one excites me a lot. In this video I will show you how to model a jet airplane using clip-art (see end of article ).

    We are going to continue with the blob tool and using the load shape from the E-panel we load in clip art which is converted to the curves to create our parts. This method will help those who want to create but need some help in the starting out or in the drawing process.

    I purposely start the modeling facing the wrong direction to show you at the end how to correct when you do this (and it will happen).

    The shapes loaded in can be formed as parts with either rounded, sharp, or plane edges. This gives you power of the appearance of the part which will be helpful. For example if you want to make a marshmallow you would want the rounded edge on a circle shape. But the same circle with plane edges can become a tire. Use the sharp edge on the circle and you have a start for a pizza cutting wheel.

    We introduce a new tool the cut and clone tool this tool has much value. Think of it as being much like the cut tool with the difference you keep the part you cut. Then you can move it or rotate and keep on same layer or apply it on a separate layer to manipulate later.

    Have fun with this for those who want to jump right in I am uploading the exact shapes I used in the video just right click on them to save images. Remember to put them where you will find them.Thanks again for watching and look forward to your creations from this tutorial.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Cube3 Manufacturing moved to New Rock Hill Facility

As of this month, all new Cube3 and Ekocycle printers will be manufactured in Rock Hill, South Carolina. 

Just prior to bringing out the Cube1, 3D Systems purchased Vidar Systems Corporation, located in Herndon, Virginia.  All Cube1's, Cube2's, Cube3's and Ecocycle printers were manufactured at that site until a new, larger  manufacturing facility was built near the Rock Hill headquarters.

While it's a personal blow to me, since the Herndon site was just minutes from my home, the move is a positive testament to the success of the Cube 3D printer line.  While the Herndon team did a heroic job of meeting the growing demand, there was little physical room for the expansion it would take to meet future demand for 3D System's consumer 3D printers.

Described as "huge", I understand the new facility will also be producing the CubePro.  But, I'm not sure which other products or printers will be manufactured in that facility.  While I was in Rock Hill recently with some of our South Carolina Youth Challenge cadets, our tour was limited to the headquarters.  Hopefully, we'll have a chance to see it in action in the future.

One of the primary benefits, beyond room to expand, that the new facility brings to the table is its closer proximity to the Cube design engineers.  This should significantly reduce the time it takes to identify design or manufacturing issues.and then fix and implement required changes.    This is a good thing.  In fact, a VERY good thing!  :)

To the Herndon Cube manufacturing team...

I really appreciated all of your commitment and hard work to bring the Cube1, Cube2, Cube3 and Ekocyle 3D printers to us.  Having seen you in action over the years, your work has always impressed me. And, we at YouthQuest always enjoyed bringing our cadets to your facility to see how the printers were made.  Our cadets not only loved the process; but, appreciated your warm welcome and ready answers to their many questions.  We thank you for everything.  :)

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The seahorse! - Video 5 of The 3D Coat Experience series

Hi friends
Another Video for you to watch this time we discover a little about the Blob tool. I like this tool because it does not need an object to begin with so you can start with an empty slate and blob your way up from there. We are going to introduce reference image use as well these help us to keep our proportions as well as are great for tracing to get a good start on a project.

We will also get a taste of paint and render. The above image is what we end up with in this tutorial. Let me know what you think. perhaps share an image of your screenshot so we can see how you're doing.
John Pennington

By the way I created a separate channel for the 3D Coat Experience. I will be moving all other videos over there this way those of you who subscribed don't have to get alerts when I post things not related to this series. Thanks again for watching hope you enjoy the videos. We are working to improve the audio as well so expect these to get even better.

Friday, May 8, 2015

ProJet 1200: Part 2 - Accessories,and Safety

Just as the Cube3 requires some essential accessories to be used successfully, so does the ProJet 1200.

But, the difference is that we have to find and acquire those accessories on our own.  When it comes to essentials, the list will probably be surprising.  I'll present them in order of priority as I see it.

Latex Free Nitrile Disposable Gloves

Above all else, I would not even open and try to set up the ProJet 1200 without first purchasing latex-free nitrile disposable gloves.

Latex- Free Nitrile Gloves (Image: Harbor Freight)

The good news is that you are probably be better off with the less expensive, flexible gloves rather than heavier guage expensive brands.  Having tried both, I actually prefer the lighter grades one typically finds in the paint department of local hardware stores in bulk.  The ones I now use were just $10.99 for 100.

Harbor Freight sometimes has 5mil gloves on sale at just $7.99 per 100 in either large or extra large.  I prefer the 5mil to the 9mil.

The reason why this is at the top of the list is that the materials used in the ProJet 1200 have the potential to be an irritant to your skin and, for some, may cause allergic reactions with repeated contact.  This is a case of "Better be safe than sorry".

I have found it impossible not to come into contact with the materials in normal use as the build platfor, itself, dips into the materials and is coated at the time of removal.  Gloves are a simple and inexpensive layer of protection.

Protective Safety Glasses

The next must-have accessory is a pair of safety glasses.  Again, it doesn't cost a fortune for eye protection.  Harbor Freight sells safety glasses for as low as $1.49!

Safety Glasses (Image: Harbor Freight)
But, the safety glasses aren't just o protect you from the print materials.  High strength alcohol is used for cleaning parts and you don't want that in your eyes either.  :)

Paper Towels

Yep.  Number three on the list is a roll of paper towels.  OK.  ROLLS of paper towels.

Paper Towels (image: Bounty)

The most important use of the paper towel is to hold one under the print table as it is being removed after a print completes.  The print table dips into the material.  So, not only the printed part; but, the print table, too, are likely to drip material into the bottom of the printer unless you catch it by placing a paper towel under it as the part is removed from the print bay.

Of course paper towels come in handy in the cleaning process as well, as the part and print tray are dipped into two different alcohol baths.  The "Select-a-size" types will probably result in less waste.

Alcohol (70%-99%)

Immediately after printing, the parts need to be completely cleaned of uncured liquid before the final curing takes place in the curing chamber.  This is done with dips into 2 alcohol baths.  I'm using 91% which is available from CVS; but, in a pinch the 70% works.

91% Alcohol (image: CVS)

Each tray does come with its own large alcohol pad to clean the tray receptacle each time the tray is changed.  I also use small alcohol pads to clean the print table before printing.

Two Glass Bowls

The cleaning process involves two baths in alcohol.  I'm currently using two 3" x 5" x 3" Pyrex storage bowls.  The size is up to you; but, they should be big enough to hold the parts and the print table with room to spare.

Pyrex Storage Bowl

There are several cleaning scenarios.  But, each involves first dipping the part into one bowl filled with alcohol and then dipping the part into a second bowl of alcohol.  You can dip about 12 parts before having to change the alcohol.  I my case, I use an ultrasonic cleaning machine and it can hold two of these bowls perfectly. 

Razor Blades

These printed parts are small and so is the support platform.  So, it is very convenient to use a razor blade of the type used to scrape paint off of windows to remove parts from the print tray.

An Exacto knife would also be useful for removing supports.


It is extremely important to be sure that all the residual liquid material is removed from the part before the final curing process.  Even a small drop hidden in a crevice could blemish the final result.  Compressed air is suggested; but, not at excessive pressures.  I use a hair dryer with a "cool" setting that seems to work; but, I have not created the kinds of objects that might take a bit higher blast of air to make a perfectly clean part.

Non-Essential But Nice:  Ultrasonic Cleaning Machine

When it comes to cleaning parts before final curing you can go the manual route or the ultrasonic path.  I chose to use the ultrasonic method.  Really great ultrasonic cleaners are outragiously expensive.  So, I opted for the budget Harbor Freight 2.5 liter version.  It seems to work quite well; but, I have nothing concrete in the way of comparing results with more expensive options.

Harbor Freight 2.5 Liter Ultrasonic Cleaner.

Two Pyrex bowls, of the type above, fit perfectly in the ultrasonic cleaner's tray.  Fill the tray with water until it's about 1/4" above the level of the alcohol in the bowls.  It's amazing to watch the alcohol in the first bath absorbing the color of the material as it cleans.  Becuase I have little experience with the optimal times for first and second bath, I won't attempt to suggest a time for each.  But, a good place to start is the time suggested in the printer's user manual.

That's it.  That is all the essential accessories that you need to successfully use the ProJet 1200.

But, one final word about why I prefer the thinner disposable gloves over the more expensive types.  One result of printing a hanging piece is that when the supports fail, the part falls into the $48 material tray.  The only way to save the tray is to fish the piece out of the liquid.  Thinner gloves give you a better feel for finding and retrieving the solids in the liquid tray.  Make sure you get it all or you could damage the printer's Z-Axis control or the glass under the material tray. 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

ProJet 1200: Versatile, Precise and Oh, So Much Fun!

As mentioned some time ago, the plan for this blog is to help users and potential users of the entire Cubify line of printers.  While, it's clear that a $4,900 3D printer is not within the means or needs of the vast majority of current readers, the ProJet 1200 is such a versatile printer that it is going to attract a lot of artist and designers who are really the impetus for me becoming interested in 3D printing in the first place.  In addition, it is a true "production" printer, capable of creating objects that can be directly used or cast using the "lost wax" technique for jewelry designers and dentists.

In fact, it is this ability to be used in actual occupational settings that spurred our interest at YouthQuest.  We want promising cadets to be able to get real-world experience related to real-world occupational opportunities.  The ProJet 1200 is a serious step in that direction.  The more I experiment with the ProJet 1200, the more I've come to believe that this little printer has the power to bring significant returns on the investment in the right setting.  For us, it will be enough if using the Projet 1200 encourages a cadet to pursue further education in art or as a dental technician.

The Physical Print Platform

It's a very SMALL printer.  The footprint is just 9"  x  9" with a height of 14".   3D Systems rightly compares its size to that of a coffee maker!

ProJet 1200 vs. Coffee Maker (Image 3d Systems)

It is QUIET.  In fact, very quiet. There is no X-Y printjet motion.  The only sound comes from the Z-axis motor and it moves in just 30 micron layers.  That is just 0.0012 inches!

It is FAST. The micro-SLA process creates an entire layer at a time.  So, print time is NOT related to volume.  It is directly related to height.

There are two chambers in the ProJet 1200.  The left side is the print chamber.  And, the right side is used for curing the prints. 

You do NOT want to peak inside either chamber while printing and curing is going on.  I do wish, however, that there was a window of protective material that would allow us to see the progress of the print as print failures have consequences beyond normal FDM printers.  (More on that later.)

The Print Quality

Only one word does the ProJet 1200 justice when describing the quality and that is AWESOME! 

With multiple prints behind me, I can assure you that the promo picture on the Cubify site genuinely represents what I am able to achieve.  

Project Print (green) and ring cast from the print

Unfortunately, the images I have taken with my phone don't measure up to the quality of the prints.  But, at the risk of embarrassing myself, I'm posting several.  The last image includes a quarter to provide some scale.  These prints are SMALL and SMOOTH!

Waffle Surface Ball inside a Waffle Surface Ball

Rings with "E" and "G" embossed.

Experimental Earring in Clear (One Strand Failed)

The following are my favorites so far.  The one on the right is sitting on the quarter.  Click on the image to see it at full size.  The leaves are incredibly thin on the pendant to the left and the features incredibly sharp in the 'charm" on the right.  The supports you see were selected manually and were all that were used.  I think the leaves would be even cleaner had more side supports been applied.

Leaf Pendant and Spiral Charm with supports

Even the lack of sharp focus doesn't mask the sharpness of the ProJet prints.

Material Versatility

What makes the Projet 1200 such a versatile printer is the growing family of VisiJet FTX materials dedicated to difference tasks.  I've only had access to the Green and Clear.  But, those only whet my appetite for all the others.
If you clicked on the links in the list, you can see why I consider the ProJet 1200 to be an extremely versatile 3D printer.  The software adjusts the custom print settings for each material.

Warnings & General Observations

Don't buy this printer if you do not like to read directions. The ProJet 1200 may be small; but, it is no toy.  Care must be taken when handling the materials and the printed parts before they are cured.  In a future post we'll cover some of the precautions and "best practices".  We will also communicate how we learned the hard way to take the time to read the setup instructions.

Once the material tray is in place, do NOT move the printer at all.  (And... Yes, I did... costing me a lot of lost time cleaning the inside of the printer.  Very scary.

Failures, potentially, have greater consequences than with FDM printers.  I've had three support failures causing a buildup in the bottom of the material trays.  At $48 a tray, it's wise to learn the proper support strategy real fast.  I have a call into support to see if the trays can be rescued.  But, I don't think so.  User error is costly with this printer.

The other issue is that we may have to go through dealers for supplies.  I have not found a direct link to materials on either the Cubify or 3DSCentral sites.  Again, I'm looking into this.

The issue, it seems, is that the ProJet 1200 is a new category of 3D micro-SLA 3D printers that falls into a gap between consumer and professional.  I suspect the market demographics will sort it out over time; but, for now, finding materials is a bit confusing. 


I LOVE this printer.  It may not be my own; but, I feel privileged to be able to explore ways to add it to our curriculum. It is EXACTLY what I envisioned when I first started on my 3D Printing journey seeking solutions for my artist daughter.  Using Moment of Inspiration, creating takes minutes compared to days with manual techniques.  The next step is to explore casting for our 3D ThinkLink Lab and the cadets we serve.  This little printer expands how we can serve them with realistic occupational opportunities.  And, THAT is VERY cool!

In a future article we'll cover some of the mistakes we've made as we get acquainted with this printer and the consequences, as we come to understand them.  In the meantime, feel free t contact me directly if you are interested in investing in the ProJet 1200.  I don't sell them; but, I am more than happy to share what little experience we have with it so far.