Tuesday, September 15, 2015

3D printing with nylon trimmer line!

So I've seen a few people try this before (Credit goes to this article for having the most information on it I've seen) and decided to try it for myself. Not much to lose on my end, maybe a few nozzles if I'm unlucky, right?

I happened to have this lying around, and the 0.065" diameter happens to be fairly close to 1.75mm filament.

The stuff has been sitting on a shelf in our laundry room for about a year now, and being as impatient as I am I just took it straight to the printer, no drying whatsoever.

It extrudes! Quite enthusiastically, too; even after I manually retracted I still got maybe 15mm of ooze.

I went ahead and cleared my painter's tape off of my bed, covered it in 3DSystem's glass glue (don't judge, I had access to it and I figured it would be better than glue stick), and went straight into printing the ASTMD-IV strength test by moonj.

Slic3r ettings:
Nozzle at 230, bed at 80C, bare glass w/ Cube glue.
100% infill, 6 perimeters, 4 top and bottom layers.
40mm/s infill and perimeter, 30mm/s outer perimeter.
15mm brim.

It sticks!

It prints!
It finishes!

Towards the end I started getting quite a lot of crackling coming from the nozzle, probably because I didn't dry it in any way.

Initial impressions:
1. The stuff is really flexible. It's almost more of what I expected Ninjaflex to feel like rather than nylon.

2. Printing wasn't hard at all. I didn't get any warping (yet) and bed adhesion was quite strong on the Cube glue.
3. It's quite fluid compared to PLA when melted, meaning lots of stringing. The geometry of the thing I printed doesn't really give much of an opportunity for stringing, but I expect if you have multiple parts or multiple structures you're going to have quite a cobweb.

Of course, being so thin didn't make it really representative of nylon's properties, which is what I was after. I then decided to print the dayan zhanchi center cap by srepmub, scaled up 200%, simply because I had the model and it's a simple, solid geometric shape.

Also not a particularly hard print, but the raised tab deformed into a single blob because of how runny the melted nylon was. This time, though, I did get rather extreme warping:

It seems the thickness of the piece does help keep it quite a bit more rigid. While I can still flex it a fair amount, it takes a lot more force to do so and it doesn't come anywhere near the edge-touching-edge bend I was able to get on the other piece.

The amount of detail and "cleanliness" I can achieve with this material is nowhere near what I can do with PLA. Kind of expected, seeing as this wasn't at all designed for 3D printing.

Overall, I have quite high hopes for this material. Most of the tests I've seen done with this are more of the "this is possible" type rather than the "this is going to be one of my primary filaments" type, but for me I easily see this becoming one of my favorite filaments to print with and possibly replacing ABS for me outright. There are issues I will have to iron out, including the warping, stringing, and humidity, but once those are done this could be just as easy as PLA or any other standard filament.

(I will try Taulman nylons at some point. I'm sure they'll result in better parts, better finish, and easier printing. Right now, though, I just can't justify the price and would rather stick to this since, after all, it is still nylon.)

Update 9/20/2015: This stuff is TOUGH. Some of my friends and I spent an entire day trying to find various ways to destroy it, including bending it and stepping on it, bending it and clamping it in a vise, using two vises to tear it apart, etc. Nothing. Its tensile strength is superb, and because of how soft it is, it springs right back into shape no matter what we do. In the end, we finally took a saw to it and sawed it in half, but I doubt that would happen in a normal usage case.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Current state of affairs, 3D printing

Since 3D printing is my most current phase and the one I'm in deepest right now, this blog will probably focus on 3D printing for the next few months. For the time being, I'll probably just be repeating what's already been done, maybe with a few of my thoughts, tips, and tricks added in.

This is my rather standard acrylic Prusa i3 (currently printing parts for my new 3D scanner. Upcoming post?)
It sits about 6 feet away from my desk, which is a bit annoying but very convenient. It has a standard Mega+RAMPS 1.4 board with A4988 drivers, and runs Marlin and is controlled by Repetier Host on the host computer. The extruder is a Chinese MK7.

I'm fairly happy with print quality and resolution. 0.1mm-0.25mm layers are a breeze, and it can manage 0.3mm layers with some slight gaps between layers sometimes. [insert 0.1mm image here]

It can go fairly fast, up to 80mm/s while extruding, but at that point I get some vibration and start getting wavy lines.

The bane of this printer is any overhang. For some reason the overhang performance, with PLA at least, is horrible, no matter what kind of fan duct I attempt to use on it. And I mean actually horrible, where 45 degree overhangs start to curl and deform.

Sometimes it makes me wish I had an Ultimaker. I might do something about that soon...

My second printer is a 90% finished P3Steel that for some reason I can't get the motivation to put the finishing touches on. (For reference, even though P3Steel is a fork of the Prusa i3, I'm going to call the old one the Prusa i3 and this one the P3Steel.)
It uses a RUMBA controller instead of RAMPS, but also runs Marlin. It's going to be set up with dual Bowden extruders and Chinese E3D hotends. Motion on this machine is beautiful: the XY axes are nearly silent and completely vibration-free, and the TR8*8 leadscrew driven Z axis, as opposed to the standard M5 threaded rod, achieves speeds of up to 12mm/s. Compared to my M5 Prusa i3 that manages 1.5mm/s max and so takes 2 full minutes to home from Z=180, this feels like a bullet.

No idea about the print quality, obviously, but I hope it will be a bit better than my Prusa i3.

Filament wise, I use both Hatchbox filament from Amazon and Inland filament from Microcenter. Both perform quite well in extrusion: I've never had a filament-related jam, in the 150 hours or so I've printed with each brand. The Hatchbox filament is wound a bit better, and for whatever reason performs a tiny bit better on organic shapes whereas the Inland filament performs better on geometrical shapes.

One thing to note about these filaments: their price. Hatchbox filament comes in at $23/kg + shipping (USD), and the Inland filament astonishingly comes in at just $15/kg, bought directly in-store (or on microcenter.com if you don't live near one.) I don't see anyone being able to obtain filament for cheaper unless they extruded it themselves.

That's all I can think of for now. If anything comes up I'll update this blog.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

So, I'm actually blogging.


I've had this "blog" page for a few years now, I believe, and I've never bothered even to look twice at it. So why now?

Well, as background, I'm a [now redacted] old kid with the thought patterns of a 9-year old. Specifically, I go through phases, in the way that a younger kid might like Transformers one year, Legos the next, etc. except for me it's usually stuff that's a bit more mature and often having to do with tech. And the thing is, I need a way to keep track.

Also, I'm apparently quite annoying with the thoughts and ideas I post to social media sites. :P

This blog will serve the dual purpose of both letting me keep track of what phase I'm in, what I do, and how I change, as well as hopefully letting me share the few meaningful ideas I have with the world.

Here are the phases I can recall, starting after I graduated from the plastic action figures and cheap building blocks I played with as a kid. (I only call these phases because I got really into them: I have thoughts and ideas floating around all the time, but most of them I just never get into):

  • (2011-2013...) Speedsolving, or the competitive solving of Rubik's cubes and similar puzzles. Hobby died when my school's competitive speedsolving team died.
  • (2011- ) Gaming, specifically in action-adventure games and FPS's. This interest has gradually tapered off, but I still play games often.
  • (2012- ) Computer hardware, construction, overclocking, and modding. Still love it, search for upgrades to my computer every day.
  • (2012) Bladed weapons, including knives, swords, and tomahawks. 
  • (2013) Ocarina...??? (Stemmed from LoZ OOT, of course)
  • (Late 2013) Around this time I had a few weeks where the only thing on my mind was how to convince my parents to allow me to buy a 3D printer. Never did happen until I ended up buying one myself.
  • (2014- ) Military. Went to two military camps, still consider it a possible (although somewhat unlikely) career path.
  • (2014) Airsoft, and airsoft mechanics.
  • (2014) Firearms, and firearm mechanics. Stemmed from airsoft, but has since developed independently of airsoft.
  • (2014 -) Somewhat high-end cameras. I now own a Lumix G5 that my father procured for just $150, an Olympus XZ-1 that my father procured for just $110 (at the time it was still good), and am looking into making a joint investment with my father in a Sony Alpha A7.
  • (2015 - ) Watches, and watch mechanics. Recasing watches is fun.
  • (2015 - ) What I can describe as my most current phase, 3D printing (again), Reprap, and a bunch of other stuff relating to CNC. The difference is, this time I actually have a 3D printer! 

(Possible future phases)

  • Hobby electronics, i.e. the stuff that is usually associated with Arduinos, breakout sensors, and little servo motors. Robots are pretty fun.
  • Audio. Never really heard high-end audio until recently, so I didn't know what I was missing out on, but ever since I did I've wanted a set of nicer headphones.
  • Casting (probably with urethane plastics). 3D printing is awesome, but the parts are just so weak.
  • Machining. Same reason as above, though it would take a lot more in resources to get started.
  • Leatherworking. I actually brought this up as a joke to a friend, but since then I've realized it might be something I'd actually enjoy.
Did I miss anything?

I'm looking forward to having a free outlet to keep track of and share my thoughts. Hopefully this blog might actually prove of some usefulness, whether it's to me or anyone else.