3D Printers

Never leave any filament 3D printer running unattended. The entire bench and print area must be 100% clear of debris and tools. DO NOT start a print before checking this.

:?: These machines are maintained by members of the Digital Fabrication Team. Please speak with the listed maintainer before trying to maintain them.

Unfortunately, there is no way to get started quickly. If you try to skip any steps or don't ready everything you're meant to, you will most likely damage something. Please read this entire page, then click on the printer you want to use, and read that entire page.

filament.jpg It is expected that you pay for any filament that you use for the 3D printers. Octoprint will automatically calculate the time taking into account the estimate print time, and filament usage. The below filaments are compatible with our printers. If you have been authorised to use your own slicer, please use an approximate cost of $40/kg of filament when calculating the cost. If you've been authorised to use your own filament, please donate approx $2/hr for printer usage and maintenance.

PLA is by far the easiest of all filaments to print with, however this trade off comes at durability and strength making it unsuitable for parts exposed to heavy duty use. It has a fairly low glass transition (softening) temperature of around 60 degrees. As it is so easy to print with, it's possibly the most commonly used 3D printer filament used. PLA will soften and warp if left in a hot area like a car.

PLA is recommended for it's ease of printing whenever you don't need the strength or heat resistance of PETG.

If higher heat resistance and high strength than PLA is needed, PETG is recommended. It's much easier to print than ABS and does not normally have printing or warping issues. It has a glass transition temperature of around 80 degrees. PETG can be extremely sticky when printing, so it's important to have layer adhesion and extrusion rates confirmed through testing, otherwise it can lead to many failed or low quality prints.

We do not recommend people print unless the specifics of the material behaviour are known and needed. ABS can be strong, has some flexibility, and has higher heat tolerance with a glass transition temperature of around 100 degrees. Variants such as ABS+ or ABSmax (from eSun) can be very easy to print with some practice, although the filaments can cost more than PETG and even high quality PLA variants. ABS can also release styrene when printing, which may give some people headaches or other ill feelings when exposed for extended periods. ABS is not UV stable, so printed objects used outdoors may degrade over time. Many ABS variants have the advantage of being able to be welded or vapour smoothed using acetone.

ASA is similar to ABS in many respects, with the added benefit of UV stability. Commonly used in car parts, the trade off is price and effort to print. Some ASA filaments won't print reliably on HSBNE's CR-X printers due to the higher heat needed. ASA can be welded or vapour smoothed using acetone. ASA can also give off styrene fumes when printing.

These people know the ins and outs of 3D printing and are generally happy to help out when needed:

  • Brett Wilkins (@Bugg)
  • David Jericho (@Woofybean)

If you consider yourself in the know, add yourself to the list! (but ask one of us first so we can keep track)

If you follow these basic design tips when creating 3D models, you'll get the best results:

  • Avoid overhangs - the printers work by building up plastic layer by layer, it can't lay down plastic into thin air! (or can it? read on to find out)
  • Shallow overhangs are OK - anything steeper than about 30 degrees from vertical will have poor results. (ie |/ between those two lines should be <30 degrees)
  • Use “Bridges” - if you have a gap between two sections (ie |-|) it can normally be “bridged” as it has support on both sides. Bridges <5cm work best and Cura will automatically do this for you.
  • The vertical (Z) axis is weakest due to the layered design. Try to design parts with the X/Y axis bending/taking the force instead of the Z axis. Think of Lego blocks, it's much harder to break a single long piece than a tall stack of short pieces.
  • If you need something to fit together exactly, make it slightly smaller than necessary (approx 0.5-1mm) if it's going on the inside, or slightly bigger (approx 0.5-1mm) on the outside. 3D printed parts don't produce 100% dimensionally accurate parts (but are pretty close for most stuff).
  • Don't be afraid to use bearings, screws and nuts/bolts. If something needs to turn use a bearing, plastic on plastic isn't smooth and won't last. If you need to attach parts to each other or something else, using screws or nuts/bolts is fine. (remember the tip above, try to clamp/compress layers, not split them)

HSBNE's fleet of 3D printers are maintained by members who volunteer their time to keep the machines working so that you can print things. All of our printers have personalities and battle-scars, so before you do anything to maintain them (including simple things like re-level it!), please check the printer's individual wiki page. There could be specific models for replacement parts that you need etc.

When using the 3D printers it helps the maintainers if you clean the bed when you're done, a wipe-down with some IPA (isopropyl alcohol) will clean the bed on the Taz. A scraper works well at removing old bits of glue, hairspray, etc from the heated bed of the Creality (CR-X and CR-10) machines. Please be careful as even blunt edges of a tool can cut!

Try not to leave any debris or print detritus around the printers too, as they may get caught up in the mechanical parts, and mess attracts more mess.

To get started printing something, you must read the printer's individual page in full.

Please don't try to just “work it out” or you can damage the machine.

This cron job will remove all print files older than 7 days. Without it, the Octoprint interface fills up very quickly. It's here for reference:

# Remove all stl/gcode files older than 7 days
0 0 * * * find /home/pi/.octoprint/uploads -mindepth 1 -mtime +7 -delete
  • tools/digitalfabrication/3dprinters/home
  • Last modified: 14 months ago
  • by bwilkins