Warps and Slips: Blue Painter Tape Saves the Day

by Jason King on June 12, 2014

Blue Painter TapeSince my last blog post in this series a few days ago, I’ve been continuing to print small objects, make a few mistakes and find some solutions.

I also purchased a few basic tools online (which have now arrived) and I even ventured into a real shop to buy some others.

There have been a few failed prints in the last few days but all were due to my mistakes and all these issues have since been resolved.

Thingiverse has also become my new addiction, especially after an interesting conversation with a work colleague on Thursday. Anyway, here’s a few details about what I’ve been up to as my 3D printing adventure continues…

Some New Tools

New Vernia CalliperAfter ordering a vernia calliper tool from Amazon last week it finally arrived. Now, I know these things are supposed to be really useful for us 3D printing people, for measuring filament diameters amongst other things.

What I didn’t realise is how great they are when you’re designing your own objects to print. I’ve designed a few custom key rings for people in the last few days. The vernia calliper was useful for measuring the metal chain parts which I already had, so I could join it onto the key ring.

I soon found myself measuring things for the sake of it just because I like this tool so much. The A4 paper in my 2D inkjet printer is 0.01 mm thick by the way, incase you were interested.

Long nose pliers, an LED torch and some blue painter tape were also new additions to my 3D printing toolkit, oh and a small toolbox to store them all in.

Warps and Slips

Failed 3D PrintsAlthough most of my prints have been a great success so far I have had a few Failed Prints. Items with a small footprint on the build plate have slipped. I’ve also had issues where larger flat items have warped.

This hasn’t been much of a problem because for now I’m only printing small items, averaging about 6 grams each, so when things go wrong very little time or filament has been wasted. In fact it’s not wasted at all because it’s all part of the learning experience.

I found that when a slippage occurred the object was ruined and needed cancelling. When a warp occurred it often ended up in a low quality print but it wasn’t completely ruined. Either way, in my search for perfect 3D prints, warps and slippages are unacceptable and needed eliminating.

Blue Painter Tape

Both of these issues were easily solved by using the blue painter tape supplied with the MakerBot. You’ll notice I bought more of this earlier too, as I’ve heard that this is great stuff. It immediately seemed to increase the adhesion to the build plate, although adhesion to the standard acrylic build plate is supposed to be good, I’m not convinced.

Another big improvement was to make the extruder nozzle a little closer to the build plate on the first layer. A few turns of the build plate levelling screws achieved this.

Originally the first layer of plastic seemed to be dropping down onto the build plate so adhesion was poor. Now it’s being smeared on and adhesion is very much improved. The first time I used blue painter tape with the nozzle closer to the build plate I had the opposite problem of adhesion being too good and I couldn’t get my new key ring off the build plate.

After panicking for a while, a bit of gentle persuasion with a spatula removed the key ring and the print was really high quality. I have since not had any slippages, warps or failed builds so blue painter tape is currently my best friend. My experiments with nozzle to build plate distances continue though.

Spiral Staircase

Rook on ThingiverseI took a few of my builds into work and being engineers, most people were really interested in them. One person told me about a 3D printed chess piece (rook) he had made many years ago using Photopolymerization.

The interesting thing about this is that it’s made from clear resin and contains a spiral staircase inside it. This is an example of something that’s very difficult to produce (but maybe not impossible) using traditional manufacturing methods.

The next day he bought it in and showed me, it was an impressive piece. He also printed out the details of a similar Rook on Thingiverse so I just had to try it. This was the first thing I’d downloaded from Thingiverse and after dragging it into the MakerWare software on my laptop it was ready to print.

I chose quick low resolution settings just to create a prototype and see if this thing was printable. It turned out ok, but this particular version also contained an intricate twisted pair of wires running throughout the inside of the staircase. This didn’t turn out too well but the rest looked great.

When I have a spare moment between designing key rings (they’re in great demand right now from friends) I’ll reprint this at a higher resolution using clear PLA to see if the higher resolution helps. I hope it does because this could be a beautiful little object, hence the reason my colleague at work had kept his for many years.

I’ll try this in the next day or so and report back how it goes, with pictures of course. Incidentally do have an HD FlipCam camera and a 3DPrintHQ YouTube Channel (no videos yet but watch this space) so in future posts I might include some videos of prints and setup procedures, etc.

For now though, I hope you learned something from my experiences and please feel free to Like and Share this post if you found it useful.

Thanks for reading and I’ll report back soon.

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