What I Think of colorFabbs Wood and Bronze Filaments

by Jason King on August 17, 2014

colorFabb New FilamentsIf you’re wondering why things have been a little quiet here at 3D Print HQ over the last week or two it’s because I’ve been on vacation.

Well, when I say vacation it was a 192 mile, 12 day Coast to Coast Charity Walk across England. It was a great experience and I met people from all over the world.

Apparently it’s a very well known walk in the USA too and I met lots of Americans along the way. Well, I’m back now and I’ve had a busy week 3D printing again. I’ve been doing all sorts of exciting 3D printing related stuff this week and I know it’s about time I did one thing at a time, but I just can’t help trying out bits of everything.

You’ll see what I mean anyway, so here goes for a summary of what’s been going on at 3D Print HQ this week.

Emmets Gear Bearing Success!

Yes, you read it correctly. After so many attempts at printing this thing I finally printed Emmets Gear Bearing successfully. I kind of concluded a few weeks back that I was printing it too slowly and too hot so my extruder was becoming clogged with cooked PLA.

After lowering the temperature and printing quicker things improved but I wasn’t quite there. So, I made a last attempt at 0.4mm layer height and 0% infill, just to reduce the intricate details (infill printing) and to further speed up printing.

Well, it printed perfectly. As I promised many weeks ago, I was determined to succeed and when I did I said I’d put up a video of it on YouTube.

Maybe I went a step too far but I decided to attach it to an electric drill to really show what this gear bearing can do. Here’s the YouTube video, enjoy and don’t forget how much effort I put in to printing this thing, it wasn’t easy…

The Amazing New colorFabb Filaments

As exciting as it was to finally print Emmets Gear Bearing, the most notable event this week was receiving two sample packs of colorFabbs new filaments. Let me summarise what’s so cool about them:

  • woodFill – 70% PLA, 30% recycled wood
  • bronzeFill – 20% PLA, 80% real bronze
  • glowFill – Cream colored and glows in the dark
  • XT-Copolyester – FDA (food contact) approved, high strength, high temperature
  • PLA/PHA Colors – 10 glorious PLA/PHA color samples

Just from that short summary you’ll realise these are no ordinary filaments. The first one I tried was the woodFill and what immediately struck me about this is that it smells so much like burning wood when it prints.

3D Printing in woodFillThis isn’t a bad thing as I love the smell and it makes it feel so authentic. I printed a ring, then a nut and bolt and then a comb just to try it.

Although it seemed slightly more stringy than pure PLA when it printed it really does look, feel, smell and sand like wood.

I showed a few people and they were all convinced it was real wood. It does contain 30% real recycled wood so that’s not so surprising.

I’ll definitely be buying a full spool of this as it’s currently my favourite filament and I only have a bit of the sample left.

The next one I tried was the glowFill. Again it seemed a little stringy when printing (maybe I need to tweak my settings) but it really did glow in the dark… and glow well. I printed a little Swampy character but then made the mistake of charging it on a lamp I have. I didn’t realise it was touching the bulb and it melted it, but never mind, I love the stuff and will most probably buy a full spool of this too.

3D Printing in bronzeFillThe bronzeFill was the next to try. I only printed a small ring with this because I have less of this than any other filament. Due to the nature of the print I couldn’t yet say if it was a little stringy or not.

First impressions are that it initially just looks like brown PLA. However, it does require some work to expose and shine up the bronze. At 80% real bronze it has potential, it just requires a bit more work after printing.

I sanded it with light sand paper and it started to shine a little. After applying some Brasso pollish and buffing it up a few times it really started to shine.

Admittedly I’m no expert in this metal sanding/pollishing process so my efforts weren’t brilliant, but I have seen pictures of bronzFill after it’s been properly sanded and pollished and it looks great.

Another notable quality of bronzeFill is that it’s heavy, around 3 times the weight of pure PLA so it’s great for jewellery because it feels good quality and not just like lightweight tack.

3D Printed Dog TagsWould I buy a full spool? If I learn to sand/pollish it properly then definitely yes.

Just be careful though, as being three times the weight of pure PLA you won’t get as much as you might think if you buy it by the kilogram.

I’m still yet to try the XT-Copolyester and most of the colors, but the colors do look glorious and I did print a customised puppy dog tag using the pink.

While I was doing this I also printed a larger one (almost as big as the dog) using some RoboSavvy filament I already had. I think this will hang on her kennel.

123d Catch: 3D Models from Photos

Something else I tried this week but didn’t spend too much time on was 123d Catch. If you’ve never hear of it, it’s some free Stereophotogrammetry software from Autodesk which allows you to create 3D models and prints from photographs of an object.

One advantage of this over conventional 3D Scanners Like the iSense is that the resolution of the model is not limited by hardware, only the quality of the pictures.

For this reason software like this has been used to create some very high end high quality prints. Similar software has even been used on airborne drones to scan and print whole landscapes.

Wooden ElephantI started with a little wooden elephant with a broken ear, but my first attempt didn’t turn out too great. To be fair I had no real idea what I was doing and after a bit of further research I realise I did a few things wrong.

The object sides and edges, background and other reference points need to be easy to identify. Transparent and shiny objects don’t work well either.

There’s a lot to learn about this but rest assured I’ll be learning and doing this a lot more in the coming weeks. This technology is really exciting for the 3d printing enthusiast and I promise I’ll be experimenting and writing more about it soon.

Just like Emmets Gear Bearing I won’t give up until I can scan and print things just from photographs. Thinking about it I guess this is how those MIT students 3D Print High Security Keys from just a few photos. I did wonder exactly how when I originally published that article.

A Couple More Things

Nearly done now, but before I go I just wanted to add one more picture of some other stuff I printed this week (woodFill comb, woodFill ring, glowFill Swampy and custom Coast to Coast keyring) then mention a couple of other important things…

woodFill and glowFill from colorFabbAfter around 50 hours of printing (for MakerBots at least) it’s time to do a little maintenance on your 3D printer.

Basic maintenance on a MakerBot means smearing a little Teflon (PTFE) grease onto the Z-axis vertical threaded rod and the X-axis idler pulley.

Apparently the rods with linear bearings running along them don’t need greasing.

I believe this is because the bronze bushes are oil infused and self lubricating, but applying a little PTFE based grease on them too will do no harm.

The reason I mention this maintenance is that it’s very easy to forget and my MakerBot ran much smoother after doing it, so don’t forget to do it yourself. Obviously the process may differ slightly for different printers.

Finally, if you live in the UK, don’t forget it’s the 3D Print Show in London on the 4th to the 6th September 2014, so not long now. I’m planning to pop along myself so you never know I might see you there.

Thanks for reading and I’ll report back soon with my latest 3D printing related antics. Feel free to Like and Share this and don’t be scared to leave a Comment if you wish.

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