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Thursday, May 17, 2018

Dice Box of Death: 3D printing with Snapmaker

 More adventures in 3D printing with the Snapmaker.

As I'm specifically not allowed to touch my wife's dice because I might transfer my abysmal dice rolling luck to her set... I decided to print up the Dice Box of Death!

In spite of the title its not at all related to Kingdom Death... although protecting the purity of the dice for that game will be the box's first job.

The box is shown here with our Canoness Veridyan for scale.
 This print is at high quality due to the fiddly details of the bone walls and alcoves.  The white PLA material took paint well and seems pretty stable... if I don't leave it out in the direct sun!

I remember seeing the casket of the three wise men in the cathedral in Koln and the casket/handle for the box is painted to resemble it.  Its a minor modification of my most recent yellow metal process; Brass Casings (SW), Flesh Wash (SW), Brass Casings (SW) again, and Shining Gold (GW).  I left of the final highlight step of Rustungs Farbe (a bright silver metal color made for Fantasy Forest) to get a better separation between it and the metallic straps on the wood.
 The Bones were Tan Earth (Vallejo), Dirty Bone (Reaper) + Tan Earth 50/50, Dirty Bone (Reaper, Graveyard Earth (Reaper), Splintered Bone (Reaper).

The Wood is my regular wood process as described here.

Stone is a simple dry-brush over black using the Reaper Stone triad.
About the Snapmaker.

I got this from a kickstarter to experiment with 3D printing, Laser Engraving, and CNC.  The machine is transformable to do all three operations.

After several weeks of working with this machine I've discovered several things:

On the plus side:

It was easy to assemble.
The machine makes good quality prints.
The Snapmaker Shredder software, while short on features, is easy to use and is very helpful when dealing with a build area as small as this.

On the minus side:

1. The machine has a petite, as in on the small side of small, build area.  As you can see the Dice Box of Death fully covered the build area.  This has been a problem with some kickstarters... even the excellent Rampage range which offers a "Small Printer Format" option for most, if not all, of its STL files.  Even with that many models are not printable without resizing downward. I'm going to contact Rampage and ask about a "Petite" option but it'll be an ongoing problem. On the plus side the Snapmaker shredder software is designed for this petite build area and warns the operator when the model size exceeds the capacity of the build area.

2. The modular design and all aluminum body were attractive to me because I move often and would need to break down the machine and re assemble it post move.  Unfortunately the fasteners are poorly designed and often not actually anchored to anything so, for example, a screw holding the lower cooling fan just fell out onto the print during operation.  The print head impacted the screw which unseated the print bed. The print bed is no longer as stable as it was, has to be checked for position prior to printing, and is prone to slip.  I'll have to break it all down and see if its re-seatable.

3. The filament feed system is a twitchy and I had to disassemble the print module to get the filament to feed the first time.  During this process I discovered that the cooling fan screws are not anchored to anything and take advantage of the cooling fin spacing for traction... this traction disappears the first time the screw is removed and, since the cooling fins get hot, you have to consider that when coming up with alternative ways to seat the screws. There are effectively no guides for the filament but with practice, once understanding the interior geometry, the filament has change has become more manageable.

4. The enclosure is a nightmare!

Let me say that again... The enclosure is a nightmare!

90% of the problems I have with the machine so far are due to the design of the enclosure.

Some examples:

 The metal tabs are brittle and easily broken during assembly.  I only broke one and had to glue the support in place.  This isn't a major problem for a permanent location but kind of defeats my goal of re-locatability.

The filament feed tube is plastic and during normal operation can easily come into contact with a hot part of the machine.  This happened to me.  The tube melted onto the filament which eventually broke off very close to the print head which then had to be changed.  To change the print head requires loosening a small set screw that, in normal operation, becomes filled with PLA material.  The screw is made of low quality material and is easily stripped when trying to loosen it.

Basically any interaction with the machine, from transformation to filament changes, is made much more difficult by the enclosure.  The one advantage the enclosure has is that it does reduce the noise level.  Having the enclosure actively assault the machine is a pretty high price to pay for a little less noise.

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