Discoveries in 3D Printing Services

At work, we’ve been playing around with 3D printing services, namely the international chain or distributor known as 3DHubs. A coworker described it very accurately as “the uber of 3d printing services” where people that have access to printers apply for certification, and people who don’t place an order on 3DHubs which then distributes the workload among the certified people with the equipment. Kinda cool, but there are weirdnesses.

Specifically, of the five separate designs I’ve placed in the past two years, about half of those have been good, solid parts, and the other half have cracked and broken with varying degrees of damage and recovery methods.

I figure this can be my own reference on “what I consider a functional print method and functional material for something more than a mechanical prototype.

The three print methods we’ve used so far are probably the three most common: FDM, SLA and SLS.

FDM – Hot Glue Gun

Melt a plastic filament in layers over a baseplate and build the model up layer by layer.

SLA – Liquid and Lasers

Built from the top down, from what I understand a UV laser …basically cauterizes a liquid resin at certain points on the liquid surface. The vat sinks and the solid model emerges layer by layer, stuck to the underside of the baseplate.

SLS – Laser-Blasting Powdered Plastic

From what I’ve read, a UV laser fires into a bed of powderized plastic, melts and resolidifies its surface in very small places and the solid emerges layer by layer


I’ve created orders with 3DHubs for 4 different combinations of methods and materials:

  • Duraform PA – SLS
  • HP 3D High Reusability PA 12 – SLS
  • ABS-Like Tough Resin – SLA/DLP
  • ABS – FDM

The Duraform PA nylon part that I had made was VERY thin-walled. It built up nicely but due to a <0.7mm wall, it cracked with very little strain. A second part that formed around this was super solid, though. So as long as my wall thickness was > 1.0 mm, I had no problems with it.

Duraform PA Nylon
Duraform PA Nylon with SLS Process

That and a few design changes required that I reprint a revision of the first part with PA 12 nylon with a minimum of 1mm wall thickness. This was VERY good quality in comparison with the first revision. Like the Duraform, it was structurally sound, and as I maintained a minimum wall thickness, I had no problem with it. The only oddity that I didn’t like about it was its grainy texture and unrefined feel. But it does mill nicely afterwards.

PA12 Nylon with SLS Process

A year has elapsed, and in the past two weeks I’ve been ordering new parts for a new project. Not remembering what we used before, I started the choice from scratch. That and 3DHubs overhauled their entire interface, anonymizing the vendor experience, and making it a LOT easier to pick and choose materials along with automatic costing and such. As such, the first material we ordered was “ABS-Like Tough Resin”. I didn’t know what SLA meant at the time (with its liquid factor and all), but now it makes sense and really acts nicely, save for the springy feel and tendency to peel and wrinkle with any lateral pressure such as scraping it with a penknife.

ABS-Like Tough Resin with SLA Process

The final method we’ve been using (and having the least amount of success with) is straight ABS using the FDM process. The layers here are clearly evident, and even their structural stability is super easy to balk at, as any little pressure in a weak spot “delaminates” the part. Plus the finish is messy and not ideal to work with. But we figure we can still make the parts we have work without needing to re-order them in a different process and material

ABS with FDM Process

Now I HAVE been toying around with the idea of getting a printer for the shop (or more for myself with a loan policy).

From what I see, though, FDM printers run anywhere from $200 to ..reasonably expensive, and are dependent mostly on cubic volume you have to make a part. Filament is about $20 a kg. Between price, volume and ratings, I have my eye on the Creality Ender 3 Pro (approximately 8 cubic inch volume) for $260.

SLS printers are the MOST expensive of these three. A number of factory-direct models are well over $10k. Based on price and technology, I’m GUESSING this is the laserjet of 3d printers. And Amazon’s selection of jars of “Sinterit Powder” is quite pricey too. I’m not even considering this as a viable purchase for personal use.

SLA printers seem to be in the middle, price-wise, with the smallest at $150 (4.75″ x 2.5″ x 5.5″), a good median of $500 or so, and bigger models no less than $1000. Like FDM, SLA resin is around $40-$50 a kg bottle. From what I see on Amazon, my best bet, knowing that the above dimensions is going to be an ANYCUBIC Photon or ELEGOO Mars (each giving me the above working volume) for $400-$429.

All this to say: I have no idea what I’m doing here. I’m really displeased with the FDM process. Seeing how these parts turned out has really discouraged me from buying even a cheap Monoprice, despite the reviews on Amazon. However, the prospect of making something like this work is very attractive, and if I can save up for something that would give me a better quality part, whether it’s a toy or a D&D figurine model bought on HeroForge, or whatever, I would totally do it. But it’ll DEFINITELY be one of those things I research the heck out of before I hit “buy now.”

Ubuntu Server – Changing Screen Resolution with GRUB2

Recently I drug out my old Dell dinosaur (Dimension) from the closet and decided to try installing Ubuntu server onto it.

Well, all went well until I also attempted to add the Xubuntu-Desktop package, so I could better run around and do things in there. A quick update for an nVidia graphics driver froze the computer directly after login, and all the stuff I found in the forums didn’t really help that much, except for possibly uninstalling all the packages that xubuntu-desktop stuck in there. Since there wasn’t a lot on there (except for maybe the neat desktop backgrounds that seem to change with every version of any Ubuntu release), I figured a fresh install would be best.

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Faster Internet is (at least for now) better

We’ve just gone live with our newly activated ADSL connection. As of 5:00 this evening, I was able to plug in the aforementioned modem that we bought on Friday and successfully connect to first Qwest’s initial login page, then, well, everywhere else! Of course, everybody’s test to see if they’re connected is Google. Well, not everybody. The modem and the Qwest disc would rather you connect to their homepage, but it’s still essentially the same thing.

I had to spend a little time figuring out the best configuration, and I decided to go with the transparent bridge setup, where the modem simply acts as DSL-to-Ethernet translator and all other router functions are disabled. In the same manner, I am able to put in all of the primary internet login information directly into the Wi-Fi router and everything works like a charm.

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My Router-Modem Setup

Here’s what I’ve figured out with my router/modem setup.

The router has two sets of plugs in it. One set is the regular ethernet ports to hook in single computers to. However, there is a single yellow port known as the WAN or Internet port. What really is the difference here? I’ve figured it out. The WAN port actually is the interface to a second half of the router. Just as the router communicates with computers so that the computers can communicate each other, all pieces being in a single “network” the WAN port on the router functions in exactly the same way with the though, though the modem now acts as a DHCP server and the router functions as a regular old client computer on the MODEM’S little LAN, known by the router as the WAN. From there, the MODEM creates a WAN network with Qwest…and who cares what THEY do? The configuration for the modem’s LAN is an interface ONLY for the router, and the configuration for the router’s WAN accesses the same exact interface, only from the other side.

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DSL and Networking

I’ve always hated self-help books you find at B&amp;N or the library on how to set up your own home network. In short, they always would assume that you had high-speed internet coming into your house and that you could create a standard configuration. However, up until about 30 minutes ago, we were using dialup for our main internet connection.

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Idea for New Computer

So we’re having this BIG thing at church where a group of probably seven to ten guys are going down to Argentina in about a month or so. They’re trying to set it up so that the Tuesday when we’re meeting and they are gone, they’ll Skype us during service and we’ll be able to put it up and talk with them live. I think this is pretty cool. However, we were running into a few security bugs last week when we tested (security locked me out of being able to open Skype up). We’ll be testing it again tomorrow night, and I think the IT guy at church fixed it. Anyway, he said he’d look into it this last week.

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On Speaking

Wow. That was a ‘profound’ title. However, I just got out of speech class so my blood pressure is spiked..or it was about ten minutes ago and it’s been slowly decompressing. Today we got in what they call ‘impromptu speeches.’ Here was the format: Think of a one-sentence topic that matches the following sentence of “If you could ________.” Then hand your idea in and then grab a different one from the bag.

That’s about as impromptu as I could think of. When I walked in, I thought, “Huh, I’m going to do something like ‘If you could do any extreme sport, what would it be,’ and my answer would be ‘I would go in a hot-air balloon’ and then tell them of how I turned my dad down when he offered to get me on the Remax balloon when I was four.” But then she said we were going to trade topics so I really stressed out. Turns out my question was “If you could buy anything what would it be?”

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Malware

Ugh..so I just about killed my computer. I picked up malware sometime yesterday at the library and managed to run it at home. Well, it installed itself, force rebooted the computer and loaded under the virus scanner and disabled it.

Then it proceeded to lock me out of any other scanning software, my modem and a bunch of other things got super-slow. So I reinstalled windows..or tried to. My internal cd player is dead, so I had to use my external one, but my computer won’t boot off of that without help,so I ended up wiping and installing Ubuntu. Unfortunately, I can’t get it to recognise my modem, nor does Grub (the bootloader) recognise cd boots. So I asked Dad to bring home the floppy drive and I’ll hopefully force the Windows install disc to load that way. I hope.

Oh. And we’re having wings and pizza for supper. on a good note ;).