2000mm Giant Scale B-24 - Olive Drab

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Answer to some basic questions on 3D printing

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  • Answer to some basic questions on 3D printing

    (I'm replying to a message on another thread, I thought I'd answer here because I see there is a forum just for this topic)

    Are they hard to use: Well, to be honest, they kind of are. When 3D printers first came out, people were envisioning a consumer item, kind of like your inkjet printer, where anybody could go buy one and start popping out parts. They are nowhere near that automated. You can have trouble with different filaments, with the bed, with the specific model, and with the printer itself. You probably have no idea how your inkjet printer works. When you have a 3D printer, you know a LOT about how it works, because you have to. I think it is fascinating and fun, but if you just want plastic parts and have zero interest in the machine itself, you might not like it. I have both FDM (melted plastic extruded through a nozzle) and SLA (photosensitive resin with each layer traced by a laser). You can read lots of comparisons online.....SLA is finicky and messy, but can do super fine details. These days you can get either for not much money.

    Where to get "software": There are several components you need.
    1. The model itself - the thing you are going to print. There are so many sources of free models that you can stay busy for a long time just printing things that other people have designed. I use Thingiverse a lot, but there are many other sources as well. These are generally in STL format (filename.stl).

    2. The slicer - For FDM printers, this is software that takes the STL file and translates it into a detailed list of commands (called G-code) for your printer. This commands precise movement of the head, extrusion of filament at such-and-such rate, etc. I use a paid program called Simplify3D, which is $149. I think it is well worth the cost. But there are free ones that are pretty good too, such as Cura. This software is not easy to use, there are about 1000 settings and you eventually learn them all. It is surprising how many parameters can go into determining exactly how your printer behaves. In contrast, for SLA, I have a Formlabs Form3, and the software comes with it for free and is very simple to use. This is one area where SLA is probably a bit simpler.

    3. 3D CAD - eventually you will get tired of printing other people's designs, or will find a design that needs some minor tweak to fit your situation. Then you need a 3D CAD tool to design your own. This is pretty hard to get into at first, but is well worth the effort. It is SUPER useful to be able to design even very simple shapes to your exact specification. Once you can do it, you will use it for so many things - RC parts, home repair, etc. I use the free non-professional version of AutoCAD Fusion 360. I would highly recommend the "beginner tutorial" by Lars Christensen on YouTube. If you actually follow along and design the entire tutorial (which takes a few hours), you will be capable of designing most things.

    I have three printers and like it a lot. But I would say, it is kind of a hobby by itself -- it is not like buying a drill press or a dremel tool.



  • #2
    Thank you Gringo. I am 71 and worked with my hands all my life. I love machines! I have a lathe, a mill, drill press, hydraulic press and a few welders. I'm no math wiz or computer nerd. These printers have my interest, big time! I'm always tinkering with everything. I can fix almost anything. Do I sound like a person who could operate a printer? I have terminal advanced stage 4 prostate cancer. It's in my bones. I'm going to enjoy what time I have left doing my hobbies. I really appreciate your info. on these machines. Is the SLA more difficult than the FDM? I don't mind the mess to clean up. I'm just talking about the actual operating of these machines. I have so many questions. What is the strongest filament or resin made? Sorry if I'm asking too many questions. Hope to learn more from you. By the way, I moved to Texas 6 years ago from Riverside, CA.. I have a sister in Oceanside and a brother in Redondo Beach. I used to have a custom Harley shop in Riverside for 20 years. I built the bike I'm standing by in my avatar. It was featured in two magazines!

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    • #3
      Warthog, I trust I am not adding content unnecessarily. You're asking all the right questions. I have been 3DP printing for about 2 years and I started from zero knowledge. The great news for you is many guys and gals are getting involved and actual printer setups are becoming much simpler. To respond to your question about SLA (resin/laser/dipping) vs FDM (plastic filament layering) I am in the the filament camp. SLA is great for small highly detailed parts with complex designs though the clean up and curing of parts can slow down your production and even limit some designs in size which will increase part count. Filament layering printing is the most common and is economical, quick in comparison, and versatile in that you can alter designs quickly while prototyping a part. I have designed many detailed parts for my RC aircraft projects with very limited CAD skills using TinkerCAD, Fusion 360, Meshmixer and Prusa PE slicer. I own a Prusa i3 Mk3. The picture below is for my Freewing F-18C Hornet and are parts for the single seat cockpit. I did not design the Pilot's body, but I did resize it, mod it, and print it. The downside was the delivery time for my Prusa even 2 years ago which was 3 months. Research is your best tool when beginning, but it sounds as if you have a great skill set already. I look forward to reading about your choices. Best, LB

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      Captain: Got any ideas?
      F/O: Actually not.
      — Captain Chesley B 'Sully' Sullenberger III and F/O Jeff Skiles—

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      • #4
        Warthog, OK it sounds like you are mechanically skilled, and in that case probably FDM is a better choice. With SLA, it isn't necessarily harder, and in fact with the printer I have it is easier. But it might be less interesting to you. There isn't a lot a normal person can do to service a delicate laser and mirror assembly, for example. With FDM, everything is exposed and serviceable. I have had repaired motors, rods, belts, gears, etc. Basically SLA is best for small scale details like instruments, machine guns, etc. But FDM is probably more general purpose, and you can make larger things.

        For maximum strength, there are filaments with embedded strands of carbon fiber, but they require a hardened nozzle. Another way is to just use the printer to make a mold, and then make the actual part out of whatever you want. Some people make fiberglass molds, etc. If you look at Ramy RC Youtube channel, he does a lot of this and makes huge strong parts this way.

        Best wishes! Nice looking bike, that is impressive!

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Elbee View Post
          Warthog, I trust I am not adding content unnecessarily. You're asking all the right questions. I have been 3DP printing for about 2 years and I started from zero knowledge. The great news for you is many guys and gals are getting involved and actual printer setups are becoming much simpler. To respond to your question about SLA (resin/laser/dipping) vs FDM (plastic filament layering) I am in the the filament camp. SLA is great for small highly detailed parts with complex designs though the clean up and curing of parts can slow down your production and even limit some designs in size which will increase part count. Filament layering printing is the most common and is economical, quick in comparison, and versatile in that you can alter designs quickly while prototyping a part. I have designed many detailed parts for my RC aircraft projects with very limited CAD skills using TinkerCAD, Fusion 360, Meshmixer and Prusa PE slicer. I own a Prusa i3 Mk3. The picture below is for my Freewing F-18C Hornet and are parts for the single seat cockpit. I did not design the Pilot's body, but I did resize it, mod it, and print it. The downside was the delivery time for my Prusa even 2 years ago which was 3 months. Research is your best tool when beginning, but it sounds as if you have a great skill set already. I look forward to reading about your choices. Best, LB

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          That is ONE GOOD LOOKING cockpit!!! I went to Thingiverse to sign up, but the are down right now. Still checking out machines.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Warthog View Post

            That is ONE GOOD LOOKING cockpit!!! I went to Thingiverse to sign up, but the are down right now. Still checking out machines.
            I agree with what Elbee says also.

            Funny thing about Thingiverse - the website is awful. It is a really good source, but the company that runs it (Makerbot) doesn't put resource on it. But it's free - so I guess you get what you pay for. There are other sources of models also. Some of the MotionRC models have associated stl files on the MotionRC website. And here is a link to an article on other free STL model sites:
            https://www.3dnatives.com/en/top-10-...les-161120174/

            I also wanted to add that going with a mainstream printer is probably good. I see a lot of "top printers" lists with a lot of weird advice, but in my experience I see more people with Prusa and Creality than anything else. And so then there is better community support, I assume (I don't have either of these brands....maybe Elbee can confirm). Here is an article comparing the two:
            https://total3dprinting.org/creality-cr-10-vs-prusa-i3/

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            • #7
              Gringotuerto and Warthog, WH, kind words indeed, it was a love/hate project once I jumped in on it, but the results were worth the time & effort in the end. GT you nailed it with your thoughts on "Support". That is the Key to 'happy printing' IMHO. I can only speak from my experience and thus far, Prusa has simply been outstanding. In terms of 'community' I get most of advice from the blogs on Prusa.com and watchng their uutoob vids which are pretty good as well. Firmware updates are frequent and can make such a difference in your printing. Prusa also supports their own Slicer (Prusa PE) and when combined with the firmware updates work wonders in improving my lack of design skills. I have not heard any 'bad things' about either Creality or Prusa in the 2 1/2 years I've been researching products and techniques.

              Thingiverse is a great resource and your assessment of their website is 'spot on' unfortunately, but for now it is the 'go-to' for free STLs in many categories. I only post my designs here at "The Squawk" and hopefully one day if demand for all builders' STLs increases there could be a dedicated section here just for 3DP designs to review and for downloading. Best, LB
              Captain: Got any ideas?
              F/O: Actually not.
              — Captain Chesley B 'Sully' Sullenberger III and F/O Jeff Skiles—

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              • #8
                With things getting bad with us and China, do you think parts will become hard to get?

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                • #9
                  WH, Prusa Printers is a Czech company, so spares and their filament is available directly online. They ship through DHL to the States and shipping times are a week or so as I recall. I mostly print with HatchBox filaments purchased through Amazon and availability has been somewhat disrupted during the China Virus Shutdowns. This has been about getting the colors I wanted rather than just the filament itself which is truly a "First World Problem" in my opinion. Again I do not know anything about Creality Printers other than I have not heard anything bad about their products. Hope this helps you. Best, LB
                  Captain: Got any ideas?
                  F/O: Actually not.
                  — Captain Chesley B 'Sully' Sullenberger III and F/O Jeff Skiles—

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                  • #10
                    I'll be looking into the Pursa. Thank you Elbee.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Warthog View Post
                      I'll be looking into the Pursa. Thank you Elbee.
                      One great source of 3D printed planes is 3Dlabprint.com. They give STL files that will work with any printer, but they also include gcode files specifically for Prusa I3. I converted the STL files into similar files for my printer (which is not Prusa) and it took a TON of time. Really, it was an unbelievable amount of boring computer work. If you are interested in RC airplanes, this might be a consideration. It would be really convenient to have a Prusa printer if you plan to print any model that 3DLabPrint sells.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Gringotuerto View Post

                        One great source of 3D printed planes is 3Dlabprint.com. They give STL files that will work with any printer, but they also include gcode files specifically for Prusa I3. I converted the STL files into similar files for my printer (which is not Prusa) and it took a TON of time. Really, it was an unbelievable amount of boring computer work. If you are interested in RC airplanes, this might be a consideration. It would be really convenient to have a Prusa printer if you plan to print any model that 3DLabPrint sells.
                        GT, Thanks for the source. rifleman_btx and some others have printed several of 3DLabs Designs. I have printed their F-86, but never had an EDF system to install in it. It was a challenge even with a Prusa printer to get consistently good prints with the thin wall structure. Their designs are amazingly good and fun to print. After I had printed some parts, I had to do some recalibrating of my Printer: basically 'z' height, first layer height, the easy stuff and all my prints were better after that. Looking forward to pictures of your 3D printed airframe. Best, LB
                        Captain: Got any ideas?
                        F/O: Actually not.
                        — Captain Chesley B 'Sully' Sullenberger III and F/O Jeff Skiles—

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                        • #13
                          Here is the F86 with a freewing 90mm fan installed running 6s. 2 3s in series.
                           

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by rifleman_btx View Post
                            Here is the F86 with a freewing 90mm fan installed running 6s. 2 3s in series.
                            very nice. It always impresses me that a model can go from a printer into the air like that.

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                            • #15
                              And they fly beautifully too. Super smooth. So far every one I flew has been spot on.

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                              • #16
                                Hello I have been looking over this web site and have been thinking of getting into 3D printing. I have been in the hobby since the 60's have mostly built my models from kits or plans and mostly scale (ME-109, top flite Spitfire, Dave Platt FW 190 D etc). Kits are getting more scarce so I have gotten four foamies from freewing which are great (Spitfire, FW-190, TA 152 and Bearcat). But I get the most pleasure from building and I think that getting into 3D printing and making parts etc would be fun. So far in my research I have narrowed my choice of printer to Creality CR-10 V2 due to price and options. Also I do not plan to do any design work anytime soon just plan to use files that are already made up. Just want everyone's input on how hard it will be to get started and what are some things to be watchful of. Thanks

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                                • #17
                                  Randy H, If you have browsed this thread, then you have a pretty good idea how to find STL Files online. Getting started is simple, "Buy the Machine of Your Choice" and learn all you can about setting it up, any and all available Firmware, and which plastic materials you plan to use for your prints. I print PLA, PETG, and a little ABS. I want to try Nylon for gear struts and mounts soon.

                                  There are many "ewe-toob" videos for Creality, Prusa, and other printers. Take time to visit the "Support" pages of the printer manufacturers and see how much support from the OEM there is. Again, firmware, spare parts, How To vids, Blogs, Forums. These are good to have access to when first setting up your printer and after should you need quick assistance.

                                  A good Slicer Program is a must, most are Cura based, I believe, I use Prusa PE and it is compatible with many 3D Printers, it is updated frequently, and it is pretty simple. Even before you you buy a printer you should download a Slicer Program and download some STL files and 'mess around' a bit with the options and setups. I did that while waiting to take delivery of my Prusa Printer.

                                  The designing bug will find you eventually, when you can't find the part you want to add to your airframe. A simple and effective design program is AutoDesk TinkerCAD and it's bigger brother Fusion 360. I use both now, but did a great deal of designing with TinkerCAD and still do, frankly. The great news is for all of us as more and more modellers jump in to 3DP, the more options there will be available to us all.

                                  Thingiverse, Cults3D, 3DLabs, RCGroups and right here at The Squawk, there are STL files. In some cases there is a cost, but mostly not. Also, there is a demand for 3D printed parts, so an opportunity is there to print for others in the community. How or if you do that would be entirely up to you, obviously.

                                  The thing that captured my imagination was the ability to use the 3DP technology to make parts for my airplanes that I had scratch built successfully for years but just couldn't get it quite right in my mind's eye. I still suffer from that; however, I am a d@mn site closer than ever before and able to quickly resize or adjust parts now without a complete redo.

                                  Hope I've assisted in some way. Happy Printing. Best, LB
                                  Captain: Got any ideas?
                                  F/O: Actually not.
                                  — Captain Chesley B 'Sully' Sullenberger III and F/O Jeff Skiles—

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                                  • #18
                                    Thanks Elbee I really appreciate the response. I will take your advice and download the slicer software and start experimenting with some stl files. I know it will be a learning process but I look forward to one day designing my own parts for my models. I will keep coming back to the forum for assistance as I move forward. Thanks

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                                    • #19
                                      Here was my biggest misunderstanding before I started 3D printing - I kept looking at "minimum layer height" supported by the printer and thinking that would be the limitation on feature size. But what determines fineness of feature size is really the diameter of the nozzle. There is a sweet spot for the ratio of layer height to nozzle diameter. I use about 2 to 2.5 ratio, so for example 0.2mm to 0.25 minimum layer height on a my printer with 0.5mm nozzle. The stepper motor for the vertical axis on that printer has about 800 steps per mm, so that is not a limitation. The limitation is the nozzle size. Seems to me the most popular nozzle diameter these days is 0.4mm. I ended up getting one with 0.25mm and one with 0.5mm. Of course the bigger nozzle prints faster, but cannot do as fine a detail level.

                                      One other thing you might want to consider in printer selection - I believe there is better supply in 1.75mm filaments than 3mm filaments. There is not a huge difference, and many filaments come in both sizes. But from looking around on Amazon, it seems to me 1.75mm size has a little more selection.

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                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Gringotuerto View Post
                                        One other thing you might want to consider in printer selection - I believe there is better supply in 1.75mm filaments than 3mm filaments. There is not a huge difference, and many filaments come in both sizes. But from looking around on Amazon, it seems to me 1.75mm size has a little more selection.
                                        I mostly agree with this. There is definitely a wider selection available in 1.75mm, and stock levels seem higher too. When a new material comes out, invariably it's only in 1.75mm for some time. It can be a struggle to find specialty materials for 3mm. I own a Taz 6, which uses 3mm filament. It's been a great machine but the filament selection beyond PLA, ABS and PETG is frustrating.

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