Looking for 3D printing tips

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jms2
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Looking for 3D printing tips

Post by jms2 » Thu Apr 02, 2020 10:18 pm

I am working on restoring a Master Compact, the most tricky aspect of which is sourcing a new front panel. My plan is to get one 3D printed. I have drawn up the item in Google Sketchup (OK, the truth is, I got my daughter to do it because I'm useless with 3D design tools :lol: ) and the result is this:
Screenshot 2020-04-02 at 8.51.15 PM.png
Screenshot 2020-04-02 at 8.51.46 PM.png
I don't really know anything about 3D printing, but my basic plan is to send this off to one of the online places that do it, get it printed in ABS, and then use vinyl dye to get it the right colour. However I recognise that it's not necessarily that easy!

Does anyone with experience of 3D printing have any advice, for example:

- Should I reinforce aspects of the design?
- Is ABS a good choice of material (I think that's what the original item is made of)?
- The panel "clicks on" using some 1mm high "bumps" around the edges which fit into matching holes in the metal box. Is that kind of feature going to work in 3D printing?

The walls are all 2.6mm thick by the way. Overall width is 350mm.

Thanks

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Re: Looking for 3D printing tips

Post by scruss » Fri Apr 03, 2020 12:33 am

The overall width might be a problem: most 3d printer beds are only 220–250 mm across. Large ABS prints need an enclosed printer, as it warps and shrinks terribly if there's a draft. Large enclosed printers are not cheap.

ABS might work. If 3D printed, it tends to be less rigid than injection moulded. If you're going for FDM printing keep wall thicknesses multiples of 0.4 mm, as that's the standard nozzle size. Interference/click fits can be a problem for 3d printing: the fine tolerances of injection moulding aren't there.

The most complicated part is that FDM 3D printing needs a flat base to support the whole print. You might be able to print this upside down, but there will be quite a large amount of extra support material printed to stop the rest of the print from deforming.

Windows 10's 3d print subsystem includes a print bureau system for models. At least it can give you a ballpark estimate of how much this would cost to print. It might be quite alarming.

How trashed is the existing front panel?

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Re: Looking for 3D printing tips

Post by jms2 » Fri Apr 03, 2020 6:54 am

Thanks for the advice - you're coming up with roughly the same sort of concerns I was expecting!

The easy one is the condition of the existing front panel. It doesn't exist!

I wasn't planning on printing it on someone's home printer as I realise it's too big. Splitting it into two parts could be an option I suppose, but I'd then need to use glue and filler to join them.

The flat bottom thing was something I had heard about. This thing doesn't really have a flat side. If I sent off the model to, say, Shapeways, do they add all the necessary support bits or do you need to do that yourself prior to submission?

And also... is a Sketchup model acceptable for 3d printing? (I appreciate it probably needs to be converted to STL or something first).

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Re: Looking for 3D printing tips

Post by mlouka » Fri Apr 03, 2020 12:04 pm

You will probably need to convert it to STL and check that it is properly "solid". There are multiple 3D printing services in the UK (just google 3d printing service uk) so you might be able to find one that can do it at a reasonable price. The larger things get then more expensive they are, and the cost also depends on the material selected. If you were to do it at home then you would need to split it into smaller bits that can be fitted/glued together, sanded and sprayed. That might also be an option to reduce the price of a single large part although a single part would be much better strengthwise. If you can get a much better price for more than 1 then you could try an interest check here to see if anyone else needs one. You could try checking prices via Shapeways, for example. They deliver to the UK from The Netherlands.
Last edited by mlouka on Mon Apr 13, 2020 9:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Looking for 3D printing tips

Post by mlouka » Fri Apr 03, 2020 12:10 pm

Regarding Shapeways and your earlier question then you get a "printability" response when you upload a model. As far as I know then they generate the supports needed as those needs can differ depending on the material.
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Re: Looking for 3D printing tips

Post by jms2 » Fri Apr 03, 2020 12:20 pm

scruss wrote:
Fri Apr 03, 2020 12:33 am
The overall width might be a problem: most 3d printer beds are only 220–250 mm across. Large ABS prints need an enclosed printer, as it warps and shrinks terribly if there's a draft. Large enclosed printers are not cheap.
I wasn't sure what you meant here - I'm familiar with the term "draft" in relation to injection moulding and castings, as in the angle of the sides which allows you to remove the piece from the mould (incidentally this item has a 1 degree draft angle), but I couldn't see how it was relevant to 3D printing. Then I realised that you just mean draught, as in gust of wind, but with the US spelling! :D

The need for a big, enclosed printer isn't an issue if I pay a company to produce the item. But another possibility, if we all survive the pandemic, is that I might find a big printer in a school or other institution that can be used, so it helps to know what I'm looking for.
mlouka wrote:
Fri Apr 03, 2020 12:04 pm
You will probably need to convert it to STL and check that it is properly "solid".
OK, sounds sensible. I was thinking I would probably need to do something like that.
There are multiple 3D printing services in the UK (just google 3d printing service uk) so you might be able to find one that can do it at a reasonable price. ... you get a "printability" response when you upload a model
Sounds encouraging. I really have no idea of price at this point, but I realise it will be "not cheap". I just don't know what "not cheap" equates to!

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Re: Looking for 3D printing tips

Post by scruss » Sun Apr 05, 2020 7:18 pm

jms2 wrote:
Fri Apr 03, 2020 12:20 pm
… Then I realised that you just mean draught, as in gust of wind, but with the US spelling! :D
🇨🇦, please. We have very distinct spelling: we have colour like 🇬🇧, tire (as in 🚲, not 🥱) like 🇺🇸, but yogourt like no-one else. I guess I once knew how to spell draft your way, as when I was living in 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 (up to 2002) I was the typesetter for the Collins Gem English Dictionary.

Some large printers have come down in price a lot. TBH, I was surprised that the Creality Ender 5 Plus was only £465. It's just big enough to print your part, and unlike other Creality printers, can handle ABS temperatures. I wouldn't be surprised if getting a model printed at a bureau would be at least £200, and I'm not sure if they give refunds/credit if ABS's inherent shrinkage causes your part not to fit.

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Re: Looking for 3D printing tips

Post by jms2 » Mon Apr 06, 2020 8:51 am

scruss wrote:
Sun Apr 05, 2020 7:18 pm
🇨🇦, please.
Apologies! I actually wasn't assuming you were from overseas at all, a few people over here spell it that way as well. Normally it's obvious what they mean from the context, but this time it wasn't.

Those Canadian spelling differences are interesting - I wasn't aware of them, even though the company I work for is owned by a Canadian firm. They are strangely uncommunicative about this kind of interesting cultural stuff, with the notable exception that all the emails we get start off in French. I know the Quebec people are proud of their language and want to protect it, but sending emails in French to a country which clearly doesn't use that language is weird. Especially as they don't include any other languages in these worldwide emails.
scruss wrote:
Sun Apr 05, 2020 7:18 pm
Some large printers have come down in price a lot..... I wouldn't be surprised if getting a model printed at a bureau would be at least £200, and I'm not sure if they give refunds/credit if ABS's inherent shrinkage causes your part not to fit.
Crikey, that is expensive (especially compared to how cheap the printers are!). I was thinking that maybe £50 would be OK for a doubtful-quality item that I would need to fettle, or £100 for something really good. £200 for doubtful quality is too much.

I'll still try to get some prices, but I'll also look into those local "maker" type places - we have one in Derby that is being re-built, so could be an option post-coronavirus.

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Re: Looking for 3D printing tips

Post by Kazzie » Mon Apr 06, 2020 11:07 am

jms2 wrote:
Mon Apr 06, 2020 8:51 am
scruss wrote:
Sun Apr 05, 2020 7:18 pm
🇨🇦, please.
Apologies! I actually wasn't assuming you were from overseas at all, a few people over here spell it that way as well. Normally it's obvious what they mean from the context, but this time it wasn't.

Those Canadian spelling differences are interesting - I wasn't aware of them, even though the company I work for is owned by a Canadian firm.
I grew up on Anglesey, but the reference (English) dictionary on the shelf was my Mum's copy of the Gage Canadian Dictionary. As a result, my spelling can be a bit, er, non-standard. :)
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Re: Looking for 3D printing tips

Post by scruss » Mon Apr 06, 2020 4:23 pm

jms2 wrote:
Mon Apr 06, 2020 8:51 am
… sending emails in French to a country which clearly doesn't use that language is weird. Especially as they don't include any other languages in these worldwide emails.
It's complicated. French is an official language federally here. If your company has its HQ in Quebec (the only province with French as its sole official language) then it may be doing so for legal reasons.
Crikey, that is expensive (especially compared to how cheap the printers are!). I was thinking that maybe £50 would be OK for a doubtful-quality item that I would need to fettle, or £100 for something really good. £200 for doubtful quality is too much.
My number might be completely fake. Let me run a design of roughly the same size as you are planning through Windows 3d print and see what it quotes me. Unfortunately, commercial-grade 3d printers are a lot more expensive, and there are all the overheads associated with running an establishment.

3d prints are extremely hard to fettle, btw. They're not solid, but usually thin skins with a mostly hollow core. Drilling and heavy shaping will disappoint. You pretty much have to print to exact size. ABS, with all its instability as its cools, can make this difficult.
Kazzie wrote:
Mon Apr 06, 2020 11:07 am
I grew up on Anglesey, but the reference (English) dictionary on the shelf was my Mum's copy of the Gage Canadian Dictionary. As a result, my spelling can be a bit, er, non-standard. :)
Ooh, I worked on that one: my first job in Canada was working on their editorial system. It was … quite special. I don't think the Gage exists any more: I think it's now published out of HarperCollins, so might be edited in the same office I worked in near Glasgow.

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Re: Looking for 3D printing tips

Post by Kazzie » Mon Apr 06, 2020 5:12 pm

scruss wrote:
Mon Apr 06, 2020 4:23 pm
Ooh, I worked on that one: my first job in Canada was working on their editorial system. It was … quite special. I don't think the Gage exists any more: I think it's now published out of HarperCollins, so might be edited in the same office I worked in near Glasgow.
Well, that particular copy of the Gage still exists: it currently resides on a bookshelf in Richmond Hill.

Mind you, unless we're going to start 3D-printing dictionaries, we may be straying a bit off-topic. :D
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Re: Looking for 3D printing tips

Post by scruss » Mon Apr 06, 2020 6:09 pm

So I mocked up something roughly the size and volume of the front of a Master Compact. Windows Print 3D estimated £185, but that was using sintered polyamide. It won't quote for something that large in ABS.

Loading the sorta-kinda model into Cura - a popular 3d slicer - and selecting an Ender 5+ as the printer gives a 14½ hour print using 220 g of ABS with a material cost of £3.50 or so. The real model's likely to take a lot longer because of support requirements. That's if it fits on the Ender 5+ at all: what I modelled was 355 x 92 x 63 mm and even that had to go on diagonally.

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Re: Looking for 3D printing tips

Post by jms2 » Mon Apr 06, 2020 8:31 pm

Thanks for checking! It looks like your estimate wasn't too far off.

It certainly would fit on the Ender 5 because the real item is precisely 350mm long. I don't know why I didn't think of putting it diagonally... I'll work out what the minimum size of bed would need to be.

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Re: Looking for 3D printing tips

Post by jms2 » Tue Apr 07, 2020 9:28 am

scruss wrote:
Mon Apr 06, 2020 6:09 pm
what I modelled was 355 x 92 x 63 mm and even that had to go on diagonally.
The good news is that the actual item is usefully smaller than that. It's crudely 350x80x26, and it will fit diagonally onto a build plate that is 300 x 300.
The overall volume (not necessarily the quantity of plastic) is less than half what you modelled, and given that printing takes place in layers, with the Z axis being half as big, can I assume it would take half as long?

This is where getting my daughter to do the model is proving not to be such a great idea - she's found other things to do now, and so hasn't completed the process of making it into a solid shape and exporting to STL so I can get quotes! :lol: Still, it's not exactly urgent so I can wait.

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Re: Looking for 3D printing tips

Post by scruss » Tue Apr 07, 2020 4:54 pm

Well, if you need the model finished up, checked and exported, let me know. 3D printing is my job, for this assistive technology charity.

Most manufacturers are on the optimistic side when quoting bed sizes, and printing right up to the mechanical limits can end up in warped prints (the heated bed, used to keep the base layers at roughly the Tg of the polymer, never quite heats all the way to the edge of the bed). I prefer to keep at least 10 mm around the end of a print, so that print would need a 325-330 mm bed at least. Splitting and joining parts isn't a huge problem, especially if there're room inside to glue reinforcements and you're going to prime and paint it anyway.

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Re: Looking for 3D printing tips

Post by jms2 » Tue Apr 07, 2020 10:32 pm

Thanks! Hopefully we'll be able to do it, it's just a question of getting her interested in it again. She has added the various lugs needed today, and I think we need to get the SketchUp Solid Inspector to check for holes in the model before we can convert it to .STL format.

That's a very impressive site, looks really useful to help bring products to people with disabilities.

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Re: Looking for 3D printing tips

Post by scruss » Wed Apr 08, 2020 12:55 am

Or just export the model as an STL then load it up into Meshlab and look for "Non-manifold edges" (there's a view option somewhere that does that).
Or just get Netfabb Online to fix it. It may well be fine.

Thanks! It's fun to work for that charity. Assistive gaming is a big part of what we do, so why yes, I did spend a good part of the afternoon playing racing games. For research purposes. No, really …

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Re: Looking for 3D printing tips

Post by jms2 » Mon Apr 13, 2020 12:59 pm

I found a website in the UK called "3D print direct" which seems to offer a great service. You can choose how quickly you want the part, which in my case is "not at all quickly". They have 6 weeks as the maximum, and this reduces the price to only £40!

The material is: "Brand new unfilled PA12 HP MJF technology. High detail surface finish, exceptional flexibility and impact strength with professional appearance. Parts are water-tight from 4mm and up with no post-treatment.". Does this sound familiar to you at all? It's dark grey, so would need painting, and it has these properties:

Minimum features: 0.7mm
Smallest hole: 1.0mm
Minimum clearance: 0.1mm
Minimum clearance: 0.1mm (for parts that need to fit together)
Minimum gap between merged parts: 1mm

There is an option to download a datasheet, but it doesn't work!
Last edited by jms2 on Mon Apr 13, 2020 6:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Looking for 3D printing tips

Post by scruss » Mon Apr 13, 2020 5:30 pm

If you can get MJF for forty quid, go for it. It's very good indeed. That was the technology that I quoted nearer two hundred further up.

As long as the MJF printer can do the size and there isn't an additional charge for weight, I think you've found the place to do cheap case rebuilds. Bravo!

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Re: Looking for 3D printing tips

Post by jms2 » Mon Apr 13, 2020 6:29 pm

That's great news - I was expecting you to say it was rubbish! Do you know if it's possible to sand it (to remove the "printing lines"?)

I had better measure the model very carefully before I submit it. Although, I'm 99% sure my daughter has done a great job on it.

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Re: Looking for 3D printing tips

Post by jms2 » Tue Apr 14, 2020 8:42 am

I dug a little bit into the quote I got for the MJF material, and I did find a small catch - the firm's FAQs say that the maximum dimension they can handle is 300mm, and parts bigger than this would be printed in two parts with a joint allowing them to be glued together. This could be OK, but it isn't ideal.

So then I did a bit more shopping around, and the prices keep getting lower! I found a firm called Midlands3d which can print my model in PETG for only £19 (not including tax, but even so...). This sounds too good to be true doesn't it? The firm does have a chat function for advice on their website, but as they don't do MJF materials at all I'm wondering whether they would want to comment on which route is best.

They would also do ABS (for slightly more money), but say that the model would need to allow for 8% shrinkage, which you mentioned previously and which doesn't sound great. I'm sure that simply scaling up the model by 8% would not allow for this! The website says that PETG doesn't shrink, has a glossy finish and is strong so I'm wondering whether ABS would have any advantages in this application.

Oh and one more thing - there is an option to select different amounts of "infill", 20%, 40% etc up to 100%. This adds slightly to the cost - but what is it, and do I need it?

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Re: Looking for 3D printing tips

Post by jms2 » Tue Apr 14, 2020 11:06 am

I have just spoken to the guy who does the MJF printing and he reckons he can do it in one piece. Based on Googling the material and process a bit, I am thinking that it might be the better option.

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Re: Looking for 3D printing tips

Post by scruss » Tue Apr 14, 2020 3:18 pm

If they can fit your part into their MJF printer, then it's perfect. The process is high-detail and generally accepts paint/primer. I think it may be slightly machinable, too.
So then I did a bit more shopping around, and the prices keep getting lower! I found a firm called Midlands3d which can print my model in PETG for only £19 (not including tax, but even so...). This sounds too good to be true doesn't it?
… The website says that PETG doesn't shrink, has a glossy finish and is strong so I'm wondering whether ABS would have any advantages in this application.
PET-G tends to be very glossy — like this glossy. It's also rather hard to paint, since it's waterproof and resists virtually everything. Sanding/machining? Good luck with that … removing support materials from PET-G is hard enough.

But the price is doable: I'd say they'd be making a small but adequate profit on £19 for your job in PET-G.

ABS, though pretty good for injection moulding, is too much work to correct for shrinkage in large 3D printed models. I'd forget it as an option.
Oh and one more thing - there is an option to select different amounts of "infill", 20%, 40% etc up to 100%. This adds slightly to the cost - but what is it, and do I need it?
Okay, I don't think this applies to MJF, but for most filament printers, objects aren't 100% solid. Please see this — but excuse the tentacles¹ — for examples of 0%, 20% and 50% infill. Prints are formed by a (typically) 0.4 mm nozzle creating layers from 0.1 – 0.3 mm high. If you think of 3D prints being made up of blocky wider-than-they're-tall MODE 2 pixels, you're on the right track.

You don't need 100% fill for strength. Because your model has thin walls, it will end up being a slightly higher fill %age because:
  • vertical walls will typically have two 0.4 mm "shells", so your 2.6 mm (?) case will have and 0.8 mm inner wall, a 1 mm mostly hollow bit, and an 0.8 mm outer wall. You can see the walls on the last link. For strength, you might want to specify 3 shells, which would give you 1.2 mm walls and a 0.2 mm hollowish bit in the middle. Changing the infill %age will only affect how much fill goes into the "cavity wall" bit
  • Top and bottom layers are usually solid for the first/last millimetre or so to ensure a smooth and solid surface. That means that most of your model will be solid anyway, with maybe an 0.6 bit in the middle — two or three layers — that aren't solid.
If strength is your main objective, I'd specify 3 shells and maybe 30% infill, just because of the shape of your model. Thicker layers also make for stronger prints, as each layer is a possible place for the model to delaminate and crack. Thick layers are also much faster to print. If you don't mind visible ridges, I'd recommend going with 0.3 mm layers. The printing place will thank you, as it's much quicker, too.

---
¹: the samples were supposed to have 0, 20 & 50 in raised letters on the front, but guess who accidentally made the raised letters float 0.1 mm off the front of the cube? The tentacles are the remains of the letters valiantly trying to stick to the cubes anywhere they can … 3D printers are only as smart as their users.

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Re: Looking for 3D printing tips

Post by jms2 » Tue Apr 14, 2020 4:38 pm

Thanks, that's extremely helpful.

I think my conclusion is that the extra cost of the MJF is worthwhile, because the part will be stronger, better detailed and easier to work with generally (I will certainly want to paint it, sand it etc). The PETG sounds like it would be OK in many respects, but with more potential issues around post-processing and more need to fiddle about to get the strength right etc. The glossy finish is attractive, but if you can't paint it then it's not really an advantage. I was really impressed by the price though!

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Re: Looking for 3D printing tips

Post by jms2 » Wed Apr 15, 2020 4:10 pm

MJF version ordered! Can't wait to see how it will turn out!

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Re: Looking for 3D printing tips

Post by jms2 » Wed Apr 29, 2020 2:51 pm

The front fascia arrived today and I'm very impressed with it. Thanks for all the advice guys!

The MJF material is hard, strong and finely detailed. The best way to describe it is like a fine-grained hardwood. It's possible to sand it, and because I made a slight error with the dimensions ( :- ) I discovered that you can saw it with a junior hacksaw. Takes time though. In terms of strength, I took the roughly 2mm x 2mm x 10mm bit that I'd sawed off and tried to break it with my fingers. I couldn't do it.

Here's some pictures of the resulting item:
IMG_2988.JPG
IMG_2987.JPG
IMG_2986.JPG
IMG_2985.JPG
IMG_2984.JPG

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Re: Looking for 3D printing tips

Post by scruss » Wed Apr 29, 2020 4:56 pm

Wow, that's lovely! Great work!

I'd seen some lovely MJF work, but never anything this big or this (relatively) cheaply. Definitely a viable option for replacement computer cases, certainly compared to injection moulding tooling.

You won't be able to break it with your fingers. It's sintered Nylon-12. It's used in light-duty geartrains and robust parts.

I'm so happy this worked out. So much about 3d printing is hype, and your success — minor hacksaw derail aside — is heartening.

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Re: Looking for 3D printing tips

Post by mlouka » Thu Apr 30, 2020 4:19 pm

Looks like it turned out really well! This was from 3D Print Direct, right? Looks like they do a good job and it's great that you could get such a large part in good-quality material relatively cheaply.
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Re: Looking for 3D printing tips

Post by jms2 » Thu Apr 30, 2020 10:19 pm

Yes, 3D Print Direct. Their website looks slightly iffy (it doesn't say where they are based, for example), but they are a genuine firm and the guy that runs it (Alexei) is really helpful.

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