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BuggyDad

3D printing questions and musings

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I have had a couple of runs 3D printed now of various parts. And so I'm forming a general feel for the strength of what I've designed and used, but lack much real sense for what else is out there, material-wise.

So far I have used almost exclusively MJF Nylon, through 3dprint-uk.co.uk. they quote a tensile strength of 48MPa in all directions (I note all directions because some other materials are much weaker in their bond between the layers than the strength of the layer itself) and it's inexpensive. It makes for quite a hard plastic I would say (although it can be quite flexible if printed thin). From what I read it's a little stronger than SLS, which has a weakness in bonding between layers.

Before I move on to some other designs I have in mind, I'm interested to know who and what else others have used and how they got on. Ideally I'd like to educate myself a little better on the available materials before I move to designing more stuff. Like in a perfect world I'd use something more flexible for my wing mount, like the more flexy plastics in a tamiya kit, but not as flexible as TPU. And stronger plastics could change my thinking too.

So what have you used and what do you think? Eg have you found any materials that are significantly stronger? Or materials with different flexibilities you might be interested in for different applications?

I note also there are some carbon/nylon composites available but I suspect although they may be stronger in the right application they may also be more brittle.

And how about providers? Who's your go to?

I'll still be designing with a lot of guesswork. No real science to my dimensioning for strength, I'm trial and error all the way, but a feel for what the materials can do really helps my chances of success. 

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I don't have much experience to draw on but I think this is a very interesting topic.

I'm in Australia and used jlcpcb to get much cheaper (~$6) shipping than shapeways (~$50).

It's also MJF nylon. There's a bunch of other materials but their claimed strength and durability is all below MFJ nylon. FDM ABS is an option that might be good.

It has a nice textured/grainy grey finish similar to Shapeways SLS but a bit finer and less "sandy". It seems quite strong and light (in the hand experience only!!) but makes me wonder if it's brittle.

I'd love a TPU/flexible type option from one of the realistically priced providers.

I did a search for Sydney/Australia based providers and I got the impression that none of them were big enough to provide self serve quote, or they were too big and wanted expensive jobs. The lack of self service put me off even trying the local option.

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Any 3D print that is built up in layers, like the common FDM prints, will be weakest in the direction across the layers as the bond between layers will always be weaker than the material itself.  If the layers are orientated in a certain way this may not matter too much for a particular part.

Any print that is close to isotropic, such as MJF parts, will have close to equal strength in all directions.

As to which material and process is best it comes down to the material properties that are needed for the part, the price, and whether a layered process is OK or not, and if it is a layered process can you orientate the layers suitably.  This is part dependant.

If you really want stronger parts look at DLSM metal prints.  Aluminium prints direct from China aren't too expensive.  Metal prints from European suppliers are way more expensive.

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Thought I'd continue a related thread rather than starting a new one. 

Do you always separate your print uploads into one part per STL file? I have done this so far, but it's a bit of a ball ache in Fusion 360 to export a large number of parts from one model (I get a lot of failed exports so I have to sit there for a while doing them one by one, plus repetitions). 

Anyway, I have just uploaded all the parts in my model (18 files, making 22 total parts with some duplication) into 3dprintuk and lancashire3d.uk for comparison. Overall the two printers price up within 2% of each other all-in this time, although there are significant differences part to part (and on a previous test I did Lancashire were much cheaper). 3dpuk slightly less today but also black polished finish (Lancashire black finish natural, they don't seem to offer polished). 

A number of parts hit the £1 minimum per part price on both printers so I thought I'd try packaging those into a little group. Doing that, for 4x £1 parts, Lancashire price that group at £2.29, 3dpuk £10.22. That couple of quid saving vs 4x£1 is pretty meaningless but I wondered whether there's a best practice here. Like, how does their software orient (/otherwise optimise) parts for printing and is it affected by grouping parts? If you do group parts, does their relative position matter or will the printer software align each one for most efficient printing? 

Finally, has anyone tried a shot peened finish and compared it to polished? "Polished" as they call it is actually pretty rough by the way, but also only a 2% premium over natural. 

(edited topic slightly so it can be more of a catch-all for 3d printing related questions) 

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4 hours ago, BuggyDad said:

Do you always separate your print uploads into one part per STL file? I have done this so far, but it's a bit of a ball ache in Fusion 360 to export a large number of parts from one model (I get a lot of failed exports so I have to sit there for a while doing them one by one, plus repetitions). 

If you're using the cloud based export ditch that and use the local export from the right-click menu. It's listed as 'Save as mesh' and you can select STL from the drop down.

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22 minutes ago, Mark_McQ said:

If you're using the cloud based export ditch that and use the local export from the right-click menu. It's listed as 'Save as mesh' and you can select STL from the drop down.

I have been using the cloud based export and googling my problem I saw that but I couldn't make it work for some reason. But having a go now I can - thanks!

I take it you therefore always create individual STL files for every part? 

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20 hours ago, BuggyDad said:

Do you always separate your print uploads into one part per STL file? I have done this so far, but it's a bit of a ball ache in Fusion 360 to export a large number of parts from one model

I use "print" button "make" submenu which allows to send the mesh into the slicer directly. You can choose bodies or components, including the whole file. I often export everything at once and then divide it to objects in the slicer.

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As far as weakness between layers on 3D Printed parts... I've been painting mine with a thin, pourable epoxy. It's not perfect, but they're considerably stronger. 

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1 hour ago, Carmine A said:

As far as weakness between layers on 3D Printed parts... I've been painting mine with a thin, pourable epoxy. It's not perfect, but they're considerably stronger. 

Ah that's interesting. I guess it soaks in then? I get mine printed in MJF PA12 Nylon, which supposedly has the same strength in the z axis as xy, so I'm not overly worried about the layers separating, rather I'm just conscious that the plastic is simply not as strong as good molded plastics. I intend soonish to try something printed in the short fibre carbon stuff, which although a long way short of CF (or presumably of FRP), does quote tensile strength at about 1.5x MJF PA12. That level of improvement would get to a strong enough material for me, I reckon, since I'm already running PA12 suspension arms OK. 

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@BuggyDad Unfortunately, this Gen X'er couldn't know less about 3D printing!! 🤣😜

But, the Epoxy does work. It even helps when sanding, because if it's just thick enough, it fills the grooves! (Which is where the strength comes from)

.... I actually have a decent 3D Printer, still in the box! Someday, I'll learn how to use it!

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On 12/15/2023 at 2:19 PM, Carmine A said:

@BuggyDad Unfortunately, this Gen X'er couldn't know less about 3D printing!! 🤣😜

But, the Epoxy does work. It even helps when sanding, because if it's just thick enough, it fills the grooves! (Which is where the strength comes from)

.... I actually have a decent 3D Printer, still in the box! Someday, I'll learn how to use it!

Oh I'm firmly in Gen X too! 

I have no intention of doing my own 3d printing, but I am very interested to see how this method of manufacture develops into the mainstream. It seems to me that as it continues to mature from a novelty and a tool for shape prototyping (we're beyond that) into a more common method of producing parts for use in the wild (where it's still only rarely used), we should see further improvement in materials, some combination of incremental further increases in strength/resilience and maybe cost reduction. At some point, someone doing a project like my buggy can design things like arms down in the dimensions used in molded plastics and still have a strong runner. 

Perhaps with eg fibre reinforced 3d printing materials we're even there or nearly there already, although I haven't tried the very best materials yet to know. I imagine they may be prohibitively expensive but I haven't sought quotes yet. Some time I will. You never know, I might be pleasantly surprised. 

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Looking again into the 3d printing materials available, the range needs someone more experienced than me to decifer what would be suitable for eg RC arms. But essentially, I've used MJF PA12 in the past with a tensile strength of 48MPa, which seems suitable and not too brittle and the same in all directions, but the numbers suggest still somewhat weak compared to the best kit plastics. It has just a little flex. So I am interested to identify stronger materials that are equally suitable in other ways. 

To that end, there's a wide range of materials offered here, some with higher tensile strengths up to nearly double that of the PA12 (polycarbonate engineering plastic @68, Ultem 1010 @81, Antero 800NA @93) ,  :

https://www.3d-alchemy.co.uk/3d-printing-material-properties.html

However, I don't know whether they're suitable in other regards (or their cost). I haven't got any quotes yet for different materials partly because I need to learn more before I can guess which might be suitable, so I share this here in case anyone else's greater knowledge leads you to flag anything as suitable/unsuitable. 

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Posted (edited)

I have the Bambau X1 Carbon and an Anycubic Photon resin printer. The Bambau is pricey, costing me nearly $2k AUD,so not for everyone,  but after tinkering with a few different printers for sometime, I think the X1 is worth the price for the features you get, especially if you feel you will be doing lots of prints. It’s easily the most reliable machine I have owned. This is my 5th machine, my first was a CTC clone (very basic machine, had lots of trouble with adhesion, but I learnt a lot about printing), then I bought a Anycubic Mega i3 (very cheap machine, very reliable but basic, has a broken stepper motor at the moment, its open source so parts easy to source), a Raised 3D Pro 2 (bought this one second hand, superb print quality, but the machine I had had reliability issues, it’s currently waiting on a hotend fix, parts can be very pricy) and a Flashforge Aventurer 4 (proprietary parts, but not too expensive, a decent enough machine, but I found it limited, gave it to my brother).

The thing I like about the X1 has been a game changer in terms of features - use of LIDAR, auto bed leveling, designed from the ground up to do very fast quality prints, you can print multiple filaments and colours, and well priced such that a lot of competitors had to up their game, which is good for the consumer. I also liked while watching reviews over about 8 months that you could see the company was listening to good feedback and improving their machines accordingly. That’s not to say it’s perfect, and there are pros and cons to any machine, and there are capable machines for a quarter of the price. It’ll come down to what you need, your budget and how much you are willing to tinker.

The Photon resin printer is great for detail.

Edited by yogi-bear
removed the start of a sentence I didn’t finish
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I've got a Sovol S-03 3D Printer... Recommended by several people as a good, first Printer. I'm finally in a position where I can actually use it for the first time! 

Same issue as you.... WHICH filament??  I also bought 7lbs of PLA filament, HOPING I didn't go wrong. I got Printer and Filament 2 years ago, so refunds are likely off the table. 

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Happy New Year 2024 to everyone
2023 was quite an impressive year with a lot of things I've done which I could have seen as impossible just few years back... The main lesson : failure is part of the success and you will learn from it, and each failure is a step closer to the success.
And in terms of 3D printing, this is particulary true... If I take the exemple of the tires (and actually, this not the only exemple), it took me about 2 years, many fails and many ideas to get there and having them working...
So never stop trying, and don't forget, sometimes you need to be a bit studborn to get to the success and keep trying...
Happy CAD and 3D printing 🙂

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To respond the initial questions : Bambu Lab printers are as of today, the best ratio price/quality for a first printer, "it just works" with no need to accumulate both slicing and "how the printer works" learning curve... And for filament : PLA for dimensional validation and as a start to learn printing...

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So here's mine! Bambu P1P with AMS..1624334449_PXL_20240101_1911275192.thumb.jpg.ad3f93c06e10453f003507b9b5d7757b.jpg

It's an upgrade to the Ender 3, which needs to find a new place in the home office!

In Tamiya world it's the difference between a TT02 and any TRF!

It's has WIFI built in so super easy to setup and get printing once a Bambu account is opened, the slicing program is easy to get to get to grips with, a little different to Cura I had been using on the Ender but straightforward enough, we have the Automatic Material System sitting on top loaded with my favourite silk pla! It's super easy to set up and makes swapping between filaments a breeze, if you load it with Bambu filament on the RFID enabled spools it will set up the correct filament temps, speeds etc for you, I use mainly generic overture or similar filament, however have just got some CF for printing my first Tamiya spares.

I'm currently printing 3 containers for our campervan shelves, finally made everything in matching colours, printing is on silent mode and they will take about 18 hours on silent mode which is about 50% speed. The Ender is probably about 10hrs or so to do the same print and needs some pretty careful watching, it's much more prone to stringing than the P1P.Screenshot_20240101-192507.thumb.png.9d58b00a7d047aaadac98d014ebb0ed2.png

Swapping to Ludicrous speed drops the total print time to about 5hrs as below. Slow and steady seems always best for silk filament to get nice shiny results.

Screenshot_20240101-194020.thumb.png.4128d3dafdccd9af14fd4fafce0afb32.png

It also has some other great features, if the front cover of the hot end pops off, unlikely but possible it will stop and warn you and allow you to put it back together and start up again, on the Ender it will just carry on going until forever it something falls apart!

Downsides, if you decide to do multi colour printing using the AMS be prepared for potentially quite a lot of poop (those little nuggets of excess filament from the colour change) to be firing out if it's back end! If you get into multi colour it's possible to recycle the filament and turn it into new one..I believe it's quite expensive to do this.

The Ender is easier to load filament onto for a single print when not suing the AMS the filament holder on the back is a bit of a pain to get at.

I can highly recommend the P1P for a first machine, it's way easier to get great results out of the box compared to the Ender, however it's nearly £1k Vs £250 for the Ender.

As you'll see ours has an enclosure on it which is not standard but that's about it on upgrades, none needed, the Ender had a reasonable amount of upgrades including auto levelling bed which in my opinion is a necessity.

One other thing, I'm awful at designing anything, I mostly print things I find on Printable or Thingiverse, I don't think as yet I haven't found something I've wanted for the house, camping or the campervan!

I will however make some effort in 2024 to design and print at least one thing!

Probably a 10 switch plate for the campervan with all the switches named so someone other than me can turn the correct items on and off 😂

 

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Thanks for the info peeps. I have been looking at the Ender 3 tbh. Don't have £1000 to throw at this! 

 

Although it been a long time, I have a degree in manufacturing and mechanical engineering, so have some knowledge of 3d CAD modelling and CNC programming which can't be too similar etc, so hoping the memories will come flooding back.

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10 hours ago, Elbowloh said:

Thanks for the info peeps. I have been looking at the Ender 3 tbh. Don't have £1000 to throw at this! 

 

Although it been a long time, I have a degree in manufacturing and mechanical engineering, so have some knowledge of 3d CAD modelling and CNC programming which can't be too similar etc, so hoping the memories will come flooding back.

The money you don't throw at the printer will be time you throw desesperately at trying to get the printer working as per my experience.

Back in May 2021, I bought an Ender 5 Plus. I spent about 48 hours to get the first print done after the initial build. And fixing the printer every few prints. At the end you spend more time fixing the printer than to print, and this is so frustrating that you procrastinate to fix and you can't print. Less than 2 years later I bought my Bambu Lab X1C, 15 minutes after the unboxing, I had my first print, and 9 months later, I have about 800 hours printing. All you have to do is slicing, and cleaning the bed every few prints with hot water and dish soap. And I can tell you that in the first month with the X1C, I printed more than in 2 years with the Ender 5 Plus, which was indeed a bad calcul.

And today, you don't even need to get a X1C to start with a Bambu Lab printer : A1 mini or A1 do the job as well, for a smaller budget than the P1S and X1C...

 

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I have always assumed that buying a printer is not for me, because so far I think only the stronger materials from commercial grade printers are enough for worry-free running, and they're still somewhat weaker than the kit plastics we're used to, necessitating design changes. But it's really interesting to see how reliability and usability is improving as the market develops. Are the materials improving simultaneously? Can home printing create strong/tough enough parts for regular runners? 

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3 hours ago, BuggyDad said:

Can home printing create strong/tough enough parts for regular runners? 

3D printed parts will probably never be close to fibre-reinforced moulded parts, but ABS/Nylon/PC parts of cheaper Tamiya kits seem achievable.

With right settings, some materials have Z strength pretty close to other directions - layer adhesion Is probably the biggest weakness of home 3D printing.

Right now, I got some PCTG, which supposedly achieves great layer strength with other mechanical properties being close to ABS - I broke number of PETG front arms this year, so I'm quite curious how it turns out. Rear half of my MF-01X held well whole rally season, although it was driven relatively slowly.

 

I got a Prusa MK4 this summer and I'm quite happy with it. Only weakness is lack of enclosure for materials that require more heat - ABS/ASA is printable, but larger parts will warp.

14 hours ago, Elbowloh said:

I have been looking at the Ender 3 tbh.

If you're considering ender 3, go for V3SE. It's superior to older versions, but it's not much more expensive. But Bambu now gives the most bang for the buck - however I don't have a good feeling about their push towards cloud services - that's personal preference though.

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5 hours ago, BuggyDad said:

I have always assumed that buying a printer is not for me, because so far I think only the stronger materials from commercial grade printers are enough for worry-free running, and they're still somewhat weaker than the kit plastics we're used to, necessitating design changes. But it's really interesting to see how reliability and usability is improving as the market develops. Are the materials improving simultaneously? Can home printing create strong/tough enough parts for regular runners? 

There is some materials allowing for very strong parts : Nylon Carbon Filled (PA-CF) or Polycarbonate (PC / PC-Blend). And normally, a printer able to do 300°C at the hot end, bed at 90/100°C should be enough to print as long as you have it in an enclosure (and there is cheap solutions to do enclosure with IKEA LACK tables - have a look at Printables for that)... Carbon Filled filament will still require a hardened nozzle and hardened gears for the extruder, but that's easy to upgrade... One advise still is to learn with lower cost materials before moving to stronger material that are more difficult to print...

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Just now, silvertriple said:

There is some materials allowing for very strong parts : Nylon Carbon Filled (PA-CF) or Polycarbonate (PC / PC-Blend). And normally, a printer able to do 300°C at the hot end, bed at 90/100°C should be enough to print as long as you have it in an enclosure (and there is cheap solutions to do enclosure with IKEA LACK tables - have a look at Printables for that)... Carbon Filled filament will still require a hardened nozzle and hardened gears for the extruder, but that's easy to upgrade... One advise still is to learn with lower cost materials before moving to stronger material that are more difficult to print...

Interesting. Correct me if I'm wrong but my recollection is that those materials are both stronger than MJF PA12? If so, some home printing solutions could make better parts than I'm getting from commercial printers? 

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20 minutes ago, BuggyDad said:

Interesting. Correct me if I'm wrong but my recollection is that those materials are both stronger than MJF PA12? If so, some home printing solutions could make better parts than I'm getting from commercial printers? 

Well... MJF PA12 is a bit different in a sense that MJF relates to the printing process. It is using powder base process which allows both intricate and print without support as the powder is the support material when not binded by the print. It is so far the best process in terms of z-layer adhesion, as using MJF, the adhesion is equivalent in almost direction. FDM is not that way. There is a cost in Z layer adhesion. FDM-PA12 is way lower adhesion in Z than MJF-PA12. And for the carbon filled material, this is all linked with the way the fiber are going to be included in the print, and they don't bring any bonus in Z-layer adhesion, but it would be stronger in X/Y direction... That's where you have to think the design carefully when printing in FDM. And from the standard material you can print on FDM, Polycarbonate offers a much better Z adhesion than most of the materials which makes it suitable for many strong parts. But it has to be perfectly dry when you print it (just like Nylon, TPU and some other materials which tends to absorb water present in the air).

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And just to complete my last post, here is some indications on how the process impacts also in terms of finition:

MJF PA12 print (powder based process, would be similar for SLS, or SLM (for metal): the powder is the support when not binded by the print and almost everything is possible - relies on online services):

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You may observe that there is no quality issue in any directions of the parts (idle gears are SLM printed)

FDM PLA print - support in PLA, no multi material involved - you may observe a degradation of the surface state where there was some supports...

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Comparatively, playing with the orientation you may obtain a better state, but there is always some compromise as what you gain in surface state may involve degradation somewhere else structurally (PLA again, different orientations)...

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FDM PETG print, using support interface in PLA (materials don't stick together, so it makes a perfect break away material). It involves multimaterial, some waste of material, and requires to wisely think your print. Not everything is possible, and yo need to think about the best orientation/design to minimise the material changes

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@BuggyDad, hope this will give you better insight on the possibilities and capabilities of the different processes...

 

 

 

 

 

 

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