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RepRap Hangprinter Workshop @ E3D with Torbjørn

In this blog post and video I'm going over how we got on at the recent HangPrinter workshop at E3D in Oxford (UK).

The HangPrinter workshop video can be seen below, or over on YouTube in Full HD on my channel here - 

RepRap HangPrinter Workshop at E3D with Torbjørn Ludvigsen - YouTube

I'm lucky to be only around 90 minutes away from E3D, they now have a new and dedicated unit in the breathtaking Oxford countryside. 

This is a typical view on the drive over to visit E3D - if you ever get the chance - take them up on the offer!

Their previous setup consisted of five separate workshops. A company motorised golf cart shuttled various components and completed assemblies from one to the other most days. (no joke).

Now with everything under one roof, E3D is an even more well oiled machine of innovation, development, manufacturing and thousands of orders being shipped all over the world.

I arrived at E3D a few days early before the workshop started. Torbjørn already had his Hangprinter attached to the roof of the E3D workshop. It's around 7 meters up and was a stunning sight.

I was utterly taken back with this 3D Printer, now the size of E3D's workshop and printing out a wonderful HangPrinter chair... 

Hollow chair form and HangPrinter chair (at the back) - was printing well until I 'tested' the disaster recovery feature ;)

That was until I stepped on and tripped over the lines and stopped it printing - all about 10 minutes after I first arrived! - I made a significant entrance :)

The printer tried to compensate for my unintentional 'test' but it did not manage to keep the lines from getting tangled around the spool - it was my fault, but it also highlighted a bug that Torbjørn had seen a few times before. It was the first time that day we got out the BIG ladder to sort out the spool line. It would not be the last, but we did have less crashes of people into lines as the weekend progressed.

A day later Torbjørn discovered the Mechaduino firmware had a nasty rounding error, so that bug would be tracked down and removed before the workshop even started. The V3 design is now significantly more robust at disaster recovery with that very nasty bug now gone.

The magic sensor - *Mechaduino*

The Open Source Mechaduino by Tropical Labs is a very neat little magnetic encoder board.

It's perfect for a project like Hangprinter as it has no endstops, bed probe or way to know if the print head has become knocked out of alignment.

We assembled up these onto the backs of NEMA17 motors for the Hangprinters being built in the workshop weekend. They are a far better, neater and lower cost solution to most other encoder systems available.

The Mechaduino uses a simple round magnet on the end of the NEMA17 motor shaft. That magnet (you should superglue it to the shaft) will then rotate each micro-step of the motor's movement. A multi-pole magnetic encoder will detect the exact orientation and know if a motor has skipped steps or if force is being applied (torque mode).

Once the mechaduino is assembled, the internal firmware (running on a 32bit ARM cpu) calibrates the rotation of each motor individually. This is required as the magnet may be aligned slightly differently, or the distance from the sensor may be variable. After calibration, you can mark up each motor with an Axis and also give them a unique address. This is so the modified Hangprinter Marlin firmware can communicate to each one connected to the bus.

Preparation for the workshop - 

We had plenty to do before the workshop participants arrived the next day, Torbjørn and I set about with as much pre-assembly as possible to make it a more straightforward build schedule.

Basic assembly done, we left all the interesting build assembly steps to the participants.

That included, firmware, software and application setup on their laptops.

Measuring and wrapping lines around the HangPrinter pully gears.

Assembly, soldering and wiring up.

Wiring was the most time consuming, we could have saved around four hours if a pre-made wiring loom was available for the Hangprinter system - that's one for next time or anyone else that's thinking about running a 3D Printer workshop.

After some final assembly and a pre-flight check that everything worked. It was on to the calibration of the Hangprinter.

Auto-calibration of the build space is one of the most impressive aspects of HangPrinter - and only possible by the Mechaduino drivers and encoders.

You basically turn on 'Torque mode' and walk the print effector around the build volume - a script takes data points and maps out a calibration of the build volume. 

You can check the calibration - shown above it was millimetre perfect!

You finally then just set the print nozzle onto the build platform and register a zero Z position, switch out of torque mode and can shortly start a print. Above Sanjay from E3D is checking out the test print from the SuperVolcano hot-end and 1.2 mm nozzle.

The lines were tightened and print quality significantly improved. This turned out to be a very nice print.

During the workshop, I setup the HangPrinter portable frame - still a very large print area, but tiny when compared to the ceiling mounted V3.

The 'portable' uses a slightly smaller configuration for the motor plate, and three arms to form the frame.

These are all still 3D Printed parts for the frame sections to join. The top mounts are hinged for even more portability. (it all fitted into my car as an example).

The extruder mount fits onto the effector, I have made various mounting plates, above for the Bondtech extruder, and another for the E3D Titan Aero.

A short while later, I manages to string the machine and get it all set up for it's first 3D print.

I did not calibrate the portable Hangprinter. All the calculations for the firmware setup were made from the cad drawing of the built machine. This proved to be good enough for a first print, but some real-world calibration was

Amazingly it all worked the very first print. It was over-extruding, and the lines were a little loose, Z height calibration was not correct (my fault in the cad file - not allowing for a lower build platform).

But not a bad first print.

The lines you can see on the build platform were used to get a centre point (by hanging the effector on the D lines) and also to align up the A, B and C lines to the A frame mounting points.

We all then stopped for a special RepRap Birthday celebration - 10 years of Replication!

Special guests.

Lots of 3D Printing talk and ideas :)

And you can't have a party without a cake !

Happy Birthday RepRap !

Adrian Bowyer checking out the test Octopus print on the Hangprinter V3 installed at E3D - Image by Sally Bowyer of RepRap Ltd. CC BY-SA 4.0 Original image on Instagram here

The workshop was a wrap, we had a lot of fun and now even more HangPrinters are ready for printing.

Thanks Torbjørn - we had a great and successful 3D Printing workshop. I hope more people run them and the HangPrinter becomes even more popular.

Torbjørn continues with the Hangprinter project, and I'll be also setting up my machine for further experimentation and development. Stay tuned for future updates.

Almost all the parts (including many spares) for the Hangprinters were printed on my newly built Prusa i3 MK3 - A few were also printed on the MK2 as a comparison of quality, speed and accuracy.

A build video (with my daughter) and thoughts on the MK3 machine will be coming up in a future video and blog post.

HangPrinter Portable - 
If you have an interest in the 'HangPrinter Portable' I made for the workshop, leave me a message of ask me about it over on Twitter. I'm planning to make a few changes to the top mounts to be more solid, but then I would be very happy to post the design files, firmware configurations and 3D Printed components for this version if anyone is interested?

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Mixed Materials 3D Printing experiments

For Valentines 2018 I wanted to try making things with the family. Not just 3D printing, but a combination of 'mixed materials'. In this blog post and video I'll show you what we did for together for Valentines day gifts using a number of different materials and techniques.

It's true that you can get some really interesting 3D printing materials, including wood, rubber, metal and even cork. But the objective of this project was to help get you thinking about using more than just different 3D printing filaments, colours or thermoplastic materials in your projects.

ColorFabb Bronze filament - can look very nice when buffed, but what about using 'real' materials...

The video below goes over some of the experiments our family did over Valentines 2018 - 

Valentines 2018 Mixed Materials 3D Printing experiments - YouTube

Or you can watch it in HD over on YouTube here 

I have wanted to combine fabric materials that my wife often uses into a 3D model for some time. I'm also really interested in doing more work with real wood. Lets see how we got on and what my kids also wanted to experiment with.

The first task was to select a 3D model we could experiment with, after a brief look I decided to design my own heart shaped gift box, with a lid that could be complemented in different types of materials. 

A simple heart box for experimenting - the lid can be decorated in various ways - see below

After printing the prototype in 3D4M C8 and a few more in Polymaker Polysmooth (PVB) materials, I smoothed one in the Polysher to check the fit and finish.

Printing in C8 Material for the prototype - 

Many more printed in Polymaker PolySmooth PVB

Before and after smoothing in the Polysher

The first was smoothed for my oldest daughter, a simple box that she wanted to decorate.

The second was glitter covered. This uses the Polysmooth trick of adding glitter straight after being smoothed in the Polysher. The glitter sticks and produces a smooth sparkling finish that will not rub off when dry.

Next was an experimentation with paper. 

I have used paper before, I custom covered an entire E3D BigBox with paper a few years back, it was a really fun project to do over Christmas whilst assembling the and wooden version of this rather big 3D printer.

For this I made a 3D printed guide for drawing around different types of materials.

This proved to be really useful in getting patterns to be inline across the three separate sections of the heart box.

Using any sort of paper (or other materials), you can draw around and then cut out each part to fit into the 3D printed inlay areas.

The template was made fractionally smaller to allow for drawing and then cutting, so it should fit perfectly.

The next idea from my wife was to try out an embossing machine she uses on fabric.

I designed up a test 'die' with the letters A and S.

They needed to be mirrored before 3D printing, so the end pattern appeared correctly after being embossed onto a material.

We then tested out leather, vinyl, suede, and some faux materials to see what sort of pressure was needed to get a good level of embossing.

The 3D4M C8 material was a little too soft for very fine features, it got a little squished and sharp edges were slightly crushed after a few operations in the 'BigShot' press.

We later discovered that almost any normal PLA (with some impact modifiers) was one of the best materials to use for printing embossing patterns. It's a hard plastic that's stiff enough to work many times, even on very dense materials and fabric's.

This is an area we are still experimenting with, now moving on to 3D printing both positive and negative embossing sides to get even better results - an update on that in a future post.

I'm really pleased how even a simple embossing pattern turned out, this really has a lot of maker potential for interesting projects.

We experimented with many other types of materials, not all shown in their completed forms. 

One was with sand and sea shells - bonded into the lid using clear resin. 

A Polysmooth 'sticky' lid being covered in real bronze powder - allow to dry and tumble finish.

Another had real bronze powder poured over when 'sticky from the polysher'. Another mixed different colour PolySmooth materials - self bonding when smoothed.

To finish off some of the boxes I also did end up using some ColorFabb Bronzefill filament for inlay sections - tumbled and buffed to a shine.

Finally I really wanted to experiment with a real wood veneer. I was lucky enough to have some leaves of walnut burr to try out.

Using the 3D printed pattern it was easy to trace out onto the thin wood. 

I used some 3M blue tape to help keep the delicate burr grain from splitting - a tip here is to use sharp scissors rather than a knife blade. 

If you do decide to cut it out with a blade, consider rounding off the tip. A sharp blade-end can actually rip wood like this, you are better off going very gently around the line a number of times rather than try to cut out the wood in one pass.

You can leave on the masking tape after cutting, or remove if you feel the wood will stay together.

Then it's a matter of bonding the wood inlay into the 3D printed part.

I used white 3M waterproof PVA, just a thin film of glue over both sides.

I also printed out matching blocks to help compress the wooden inlay into the heart box lid.

These were really useful as it made the job of clamping up the part easy. Just let it dry for 24 hours and remove from clamps.

I'm really quite happy with the first result.

I finished the lid with two coats of polyurethane varnish spray, to seal the wood and the bronzefill.

As a proof of concept, this turned out well enough to make me want to experiment more.  I'm no expert in using wood vineere, so if you have any other tips, do leave them in the comments. I'm really keen to do much more with real wood and 3D printing, I think I will be designing more objects like this for future projects.

The modular jewelry tree - 

I also designed a secret side-project for my wife as a gift. Along with the heart gift boxes, the modular jewelry tree project files are now up on Thingiverse and Youmagine if you wish to use the model for yourself.

My secret project was inspired by something that my wife had mentioned at Christmas. The comment was that her small jewelry stand for necklaces was not big enough and didn't have enough hangers.

Designing this, printing and then polishing and finishing was quite tricky to keep secret, but I managed to get it all done before Valentines day.

This colour of PolySmooth filament produces a really nice 'glazed ceramic' look when smoothed.

It's also a modular design, so you can select different sections in whatever order you require to get the height and length of arms for your jewelry.

The little holes in the stacking pin are for added strength, the force extra material using perimeters so you get a strong connection even with a low level of model infill (15%) - that said for the best end results you should still glue/bond the sections together.

You don't need to glue the arms, they should slide and clip in, holding in the main pillar.

The sections have a slight twist, the purpose is to..
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Let's discuss the fear of 3D Printing filament tangles.
And how best to avoid them.

Before I bore you all to death with more MasterSpool related content, this is probable going to be my last post about the subject for quite a while. The project is in a good place, with users and manufacturers deciding to get involved. I want to see how it evolves, but more importantly I want to get back onto all my other projects, that got put on hold for the last few months.

This post is also an overview of the MasterSpool Version 4 update - see below and in the video.

Future projects - 
I'll have some new developments, machines, materials, projects and ideas to share with you in the coming months, I hope you continue to read, view and generally enjoy what I'm doing here with 3D Printing.

I'm trying hard to branch out and get involved with even more aspects of 3D printing this year.

Above is a sneak peek at one of the projects we did as a family for Valentines day 2018

Next time I'll have a number of Valentines projects I did with the whole family. It was really great fun exploring with 'mixed media' and getting everyone involved. 3D printing plays a big part, but it's just one of many processes we used for making valentine related useful objects. - more on that soon.

MasterSpool V4 - 

The one thing that the MasterSpool project has taught me it that quite a lot of people (that post comments on YouTube) have a lot of fears of things not working, failures and generally expect new things to probably be bad (and no use to them unless it saves them money!).

In the video I want to talk about MasterSpool V4 and also one of the last remaining fears people seem to have about using 3D printing filament from a refill system. - The almost irrational FEAR of tangles.

I seem to have spent just as much time talking about why it's okay to try out new things, and that it's going to be fine, as I have actually designing, using and talking about MasterSpool.

But in many ways, I guess that's to be expected - this is starting to disrupt things a little...

3D Filament Tangle FEAR! & MasterSpool V4 update - YouTube

You can watch the video above - or over on YouTube in Full HD 
Please also subscribe to my channel if you would like more 3D printing content in the future, thanks.

V4 was driven from and for the community - thanks to everyone that has supported the open standard and provided feedback, advice and tested out the system.

First V4 test print using the BCN3D Sigma (0.4mm nozzle) and the LulzBot TAZ 6 (0.5mm nozzle)

One of the first modifications was to make V4 easier to print with bigger nozzles and chunky layer heights - the text on the spool has been modified to allow nozzles from 0.4mm to 1.2mm to be used.

First the three positions for the tie-wraps were opened up and cut into the side of the spool - this makes it much easier to fit and remove the refill coils.

Double sided 'velcro' straps can also be used.

You can use normal tie-wraps (zip-ties) or reusable tie-wraps as shown in the images above.

More 1.75mm filament end storage was added - now three locations around the spool. And the 2.85mm / 3mm clip was also modified to provide a spring hold of the end - allowing stacking without interference.

The sides of the spool were also flattened to allow bearing mount spool holders to work well.
Generally other rounded edges were also removes to speed up print time.

The label position is still in Version 4 - this seems to be quite a useful aspect to the refill spool system.

Many other smaller changes have also made the spool stronger and faster to print.

Print settings I use - 

18% infill using PLA or PETG
Two perimeters (with a 0.4mm or 0.5mm nozzle)
Hex infill patters (Slic3r)
0.2mm or 0.25mm layer height.
Small brim of 1.5mm
Magigoo on a PEI sheet

The second most asked question - 

Where Can I buy refill coils for MasterSpool - 

You can buy Refill filament coils from Das Filament in Germany (they do worldwide shipping) -

I have no affiliation with Das Filament, the link is provided as people are constantly asking me where to buy MasterSpool coil refills from ! And be quick - they seem to sell out really fast after a new batch is added.

The third most asked question I get is about the filament refill coil dimensions, I have now added an overview and dimension PDF document to the V4 downloads - 

Not bored of MasterSpool content? 
Then check out these other opinions from more makers here -

Tom has a great vlog on the Masterspool (V3, but it's still good fun to watch) -

3DMakerNoob has also been printing out MasterSpools with all his loos-ends - watch it here -

C.R.T also posted his video on the V3 MasterSpool - the same day I updated to V4 -

If you have any feedback at all, do leave a message, comment or discuss it with me over on Twitter. Feel free to use the hashtag #MasterSpool - I'll try to catch them for an update post in the future.

Thanks for reading, see you next time.


Please join me on Twitter @RichRap3D

My profile and posts over on Google+

Files and designs shared on YouMagine

Files and designs shared on Thingiverse

Files and designs shared on GitHub

Files and designs shared on Repables 

My Youtube channel is here, all 3D Printing and Hi-Def video content.

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DIY Heated DryBox

In this blog post and Video I'm showing you how to make a simple heated drybox for your 3D printing filament that you can use whilst 3D Printing.

With just a few basic items from eBay (or similar) and some 3D design files to print (links at the bottom of this post) - you can make a drybox for both storage and in use while 3D printing.

An overview video of the heated drybox (including a #MasterSpool update) can be seen below and over on my Youtube channel here.

DIY Heated DryBox for 3D Printing filament - under $20 & MasterSpool Update - YouTube

For an overview and background to this project, do take a look at the video, I'll dive straight into the main components in this blog post below - 

Polymaker Polybox - spotted at the recent TCT show.

During the TCT show in October last year, I had a chance to take a quick look at the Polymaker polybox. It's a neat enclosure, but I quickly realised that it is just an enclosure, that's all.

I pack all my filament in sealed zip-lock bags with desiccant. That's usually good enough for storage, but some materials do require drying or heating before use.

For some time I have been planning to build a dry heated storage box. 

Now that I know the Polybox just monitors temperature and humidity I decided to build my own, but with a heating capacity installed too.

It's surprising how simple it is to make a heated dry box with off-the-shelf components and a little 3D printing.

The polybox has a number of bearings that polymaker filament spools run on, I didn't want to do that because I use a lot more different types of materials, some use cardboard spools, and having the spool edges run on bearings, just creates cardboard fluff.

Other spools are very small (Taulman Nylon), they simply would not reach across the bearing points.

I decided to keep it simple and allow spools to be mounted on a standard sized spool mount. Different diameter mounts could then be printed as required.

As a minimum I wanted a box that would fit 2 x 1kg spools of filament and allow both to feed independently if required.

This one is a straightforward build - you should find it quite simple to print out the required 3D printed parts - assemble and make up the rest of the heated dry-box. Any questions - just ask.

The main component I used for heating is a simple flexible reptile heater - you can find these on eBay for just a few USD - Search for '15*28CM Adjustable Temperature Reptile Heating Heater Mat' 

The other main electronic component is the temperature and humidity monitor device, I opted for a round module, but you can get square and also ones with separate temperature sensing probes etc.

For the above temperature/Humidity sensor just search eBay for 'Mini LCD Celsius Digital Thermometer Hygrometer Temperature Humidity Meter Gauge'

Three 12mm cable glands make up the power in and dual filament out ports - just a simple 12mm hole will allow these to fit perfectly.

I bought a pack of 100 of  these way back in 2010 - so I have been finding uses for them ever since :)

Print out the 3D printed parts - I used FormFutura ReForm rPET filament for the above.

The printed spool holder uses a section of M8 threaded rod and two M8 nuts.

Lastly bags fg 50g desiccant can be fitted under the heater - they can easily be removed or changed at any time.

The reptile heater just slides in the grooves in the 3D printed parts.

Cable goes out of the back  of the box - allow yourself some slack cable so you can lift up the 3D printed parts to insert desiccant.

Optionally you can print out a seal for the lid - I made the above using ColorFabb nGen Flex - it has just the right level of flex, but not too floppy to easily seat onto the top of the box.

Fit the remaining two cable glands and use oversized tube to allow filament to feed out of your dry-box.

That's it. It uses 7w while being on, and does not take long to get to a stable ~30 Degrees C temperature - humidity will quite quickly drop to under 14%.

It's really useful for any type of dedicated support material - being able to be used while still inside the heated dry-box. It will also be great for Nylon, wood filaments, CF, PolySmooth and many other materials that are sensitive to moisture.

Bonus device - 

I also have a little bonus invention for monitoring your filament coils while they are in Zip-Lock-Bags - here is the SpoolCheck sensor.

It uses exactly the same thermistor and humidity sensor, and a small packet of desiccant as the heated dry box project.

Just pop it in the centre of any 'standard' filament spool (or a loaded MasterSpool ) - and pop it all in a zip-lock bag.

You basically end up with a way to monitor filament in storage, and see if any is not in tip-top-condition :)

Even overnight you should see a drop in humidity inside your 'drybag'

The files for both the heated drybox and the SpoolCheck sensor are up on -

Please do let me know if you make a heated drybox or find the SpoolCheck sensor useful - best to catch me on Twitter usually.

Thanks for reading, see you next time.


Please join me on Twitter @RichRap3D

My profile and posts over on Google+

Files and designs shared on YouMagine

Files and designs shared on Thingiverse

Files and designs shared on GitHub

Files and designs shared on Repables 

My Youtube channel is here, all 3D Printing in Hi-Def video content.
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*Edit* - Updated Jan 28th 2018 - The Original STL files for MasterSpool had a few problems for some people - the final export was a little messed up, sorry about that.

I have now simplified the design and added the new V2 files up on YouMagine and Thingiverse - Links are at the bottom of this blog post - thanks.

We, as a community and industry, are making good progress on the use of sustainable filament spools. Cardboard is slowly becoming more common and even recycled plastic or eco-friendly spools are starting to be used.

Left to right - ReForm by FormFutura / 'MasterSpool' / Standard plastic PC spool / Cardboard by Proto-Pasta

For quite some years I have also wished for a no-spool based filament delivery system, MasterSpool could be a way to achieve this.

A filament roll of ColorFabb nGen - 750g of filament and another ~280g of almost 'bulletproof' Polycarbonate spool.

The MasterSpool standard is a concept idea for a way to deliver 3D printing filament to users without a spool.
The main concept is for manufacturers to provide a material refill system to users who can then use their own 'MasterSpool' in their 3D printer.

Here is a quick overview video of the MasterSpool proposal showing how it works - 

MasterSpool Standard for 3D Printing - YouTube
More of my video's over on Youtube here - all in HD.

I had the idea for MasterSpool when I spotted a small two piece filament spool over on Thingiverse by User 'Dingoboy71'  The original 2-piece Filament Spool by Dingoboy71 can be found over on Thingiverse - https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1738730

Benefits should include a lower weight of transportation - Empty plastic spools often weigh around 250-300 grams. Smaller and less packaging for material and no empty spools for the end user to recycle or dispose of.

Most often, users of 3D printers do not want to use un-spooled filament. Winding filament onto a spool is also not a good idea, because it can encourage breaking and tangles. It also takes a lot of time for the user.

Having a 'cartridge' of wound filament that can be simply loaded onto a two-part spool allows for super quick setup and use of materials.

The two part spool, could be traditionally manufactured, to a defined standard - similar to what we already use now - ~200mm diameter spools with 750g or 1kg capacity.

The MasterSpool could be 3D printed - it easily fits on a LulzBot TAZ6, but it will also print on a standard Prusa i3 MK2/3

The 'MasterSpool' could also be 3D printed, customized and generally tweaked to accommodate various 3D printers.

Ideally a single MasterSpool standard would be used - then we may also start seeing more 3D printer manufacturers allow a defined space for these spools. At the moment far too many different spool sizes and mounting methods are available for a machine manufacturer to choose one single method of filament spool management.

Their will be problems that filament manufacturers will have to overcome to do this - 

Wind spools of filament onto a cardboard or stiff paper form - with an ability to secure the coil in place after winding - maybe using tie-wraps or adhesive banding. 

Remove the wrapped coil and pack into a simple box or vacuum sealed bag for shipment.

Manufacturers will still want to brand the filament coils and maybe add key information like print temperatures or material properties etc. This can be achieved on the card/paper support for the filament coil.

This was my very simple cardboard template to hold the coil - it works just fine, tie-wraps / zip-ties help secure the coil - a sealed vacuum bag would also be a perfect way to ensure the coil stays intact before use.

Hopefully the manufacture of a coil without a spool is possible to work out. I can see that vacuum sealing the coil would really help keep it in good condition for transport and have the usual bonus of protecting from moisture etc.

The concept 'MasterSpool' design files can be found over on Thingiverse and YouMagine

I tested the new V2 files in various slicing programs - so you should not have any issues 3D printing the files.


Simplify 3D


Quite a few people asked about the critical dimensions for MasterSpool (750g version) - so here they are -

Outer spool diameter is 202mm
The inner ring diameter for the filament coil is 102mm
The mounting hole size is 52.5mm
For the 750g Spool the width of the filament coil is 46.7mm

For a 1Kg or 500g filament coil the width (46.7mm) is the dimension you would change to make a different, but compatible MasterSpool for other weights (that will not stay true for very heavy filaments like copper, bronze etc.)

If you are a Filament manufacturer that likes the idea and may wish to explore it further, then please contact me. I would be very happy to help with any testing, trials and promotion of the idea / standard to the wider 3D printing community.

If you are a user, and you have feedback or want to get involved, then talk to your current filament supplier, see if they are interested in an idea like this. 

And if you have any feedback at all, do leave a message, comment or discuss it with me over on Twitter. Feel free to use the hashtag #MasterSpool - lets see if this idea has a future for 3D printing.

Thanks for reading, see you next time.


Please join me on Twitter @RichRap3D

My profile and posts over on Google+

Files and designs shared on YouMagine

Files and designs shared on Thingiverse

Files and designs shared on GitHub

Files and designs shared on Repables 

My Youtube channel is here, all 3D Printing and Hi-Def video content.

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Review and overview Video of the December 2017 advent calendar - modular Christmas tree
3D Printing advice, tips and tricks.

For every day of December 2017 I 3D Printed a part of the 2017 Advent Christmas Tree.

For the background and introduction - Day #1 Post click here

Christmas Advent 2017 Download on Thingiverse here - designed by Tom Van den Bon @geekc0der With some help for each day by the South African Makers team.

Below is an overview video that will help you pinpoint any specific materials you may want to know more about. Printing advice, tricks and tips are included on each blog post during December 2017.

3D Printing many different materials - Advice, tips & tricks - YouTube
You can also watch this video in full HD, and many more from me over on YouTube Here

For a quick jump point and an overview of each day, see the list below -

Quick jump index For Blog posts each day and video times -
Day 1 – https://richrap.blogspot.co.uk/2017/12/christmas-advent-3d-printing-2017-day-1.html
2:48 - Fireplace - Designed by - Shaun Nadan

Day 2 – https://richrap.blogspot.co.uk/2017/12/christmas-advent-3d-printing-2017-day-2.html
3:33 - Mini Spool - Designed by - Tom Van den Bon

Day 3 – https://richrap.blogspot.co.uk/2017/12/christmas-advent-3d-printing-2017-day-3.html
4:46 - Christmas Rubber Ducky - Designed by - Andries Smuts

Day 4 – https://richrap.blogspot.co.uk/2017/12/christmas-advent-3d-printing-2017-day-4.html
5:26 - Christmas Lollipop - Designed by - Tom Van den Bon

Day 5 – https://richrap.blogspot.co.uk/2017/12/christmas-advent-3d-printing-2017-day-5.html
6:02 - Christmas Robot - Designed by - Lelanie Smuts

Day 6 – https://richrap.blogspot.co.uk/2017/12/christmas-advent-3d-printing-2017-day-6.html
6:30 - Christmas Stocking - Designed by - Candice Howe

Day 7 – https://richrap.blogspot.co.uk/2017/12/christmas-advent-3d-printing-advice-day.html
7:17 - Water Bottle Rocket - Designed by - Andries Smuts

Day 8 – https://richrap.blogspot.co.uk/2017/12/christmas-advent-3d-printing-advice-day_9.html
7:53 - Beemo - Designed by - Rick Treweek

Day 9 – https://richrap.blogspot.co.uk/2017/12/christmas-advent-3d-printing-advice-day_10.html
9:12 - Trumpet - Designed by - Candice Howe

Day 10 – https://richrap.blogspot.co.uk/2017/12/christmas-advent-3d-printing-advice-day_11.html
10:10 - Manger - Designed by - Michael Scholtz

Day 11 – https://richrap.blogspot.co.uk/2017/12/christmas-advent-3d-printing-day-11.html
10:33 - Potjie - Designed by - Megesh Govender

Day 12 – https://richrap.blogspot.co.uk/2017/12/christmas-advent-3d-printing-days-12-13.html
11:51 - Christmas Raptor - Designed by - Gerhardt Breedt

Day 13 – https://richrap.blogspot.co.uk/2017/12/christmas-advent-3d-printing-days-12-13.html
12:40 - Crate of Beer - Designed by - Andries Smuts

Day 14 – https://richrap.blogspot.co.uk/2017/12/christmas-advent-3d-printing-day-14.html
13:09 - Lego Block - Designed by - Tom Van den Bon

Day 15 – https://richrap.blogspot.co.uk/2017/12/christmas-advent-3d-printing-day-15.html
13:24 - Severed Foot - Designed by - Thomas Torr

Day 16 – https://richrap.blogspot.co.uk/2017/12/christmas-advent-3d-printing-day-16.html
13:40 - Mistletoe/Holly - Designed by -Candice Howe

Day 17 – https://richrap.blogspot.co.uk/2017/12/christmas-advent-3d-printing-day-17.html
14:04 - xmas Poo Emoji - Designed by - Shaun Nadan

Day 18 – https://richrap.blogspot.co.uk/2017/12/christmas-advent-3d-printing-day-18.html
14:31 - Popsicle (Ice Lolly) - Designed by - Tom Van den Bon

Day 19 – https://richrap.blogspot.co.uk/2017/12/christmas-advent-3d-printing-day-19.html
14:53 - Jeep - Designed by - Gerhardt Breedt

Day 20 – https://richrap.blogspot.co.uk/2017/12/christmas-advent-3d-printing-day-20.html
15:31 - Benchy - Designed by - P.J Prinsloo

Day 21 – https://richrap.blogspot.co.uk/2017/12/christmas-advent-3d-printing-day-21.html
15:51 - Abstract Apple - Designed by - Mohammed Hassen

Day 22 – https://richrap.blogspot.co.uk/2017/12/christmas-advent-3d-printing-day-22.html
16:17 - xmas Scene - Designed by - Shaun Nadan

Day 23 – https://richrap.blogspot.co.uk/2017/12/christmas-advent-3d-printing-day-23-24.html
16:45 - Heart Box - Designed by - Chris Venter

Day 24 – https://richrap.blogspot.co.uk/2017/12/christmas-advent-3d-printing-day-23-24.html
17:27 - The Grinch - Designed by - Shaun Nadan

Day 25 – https://richrap.blogspot.co.uk/2017/12/christmas-advent-3d-printing-christmas.html
17:41 - Christmas Star - Designed by - Tom Van den Bon

Very special thanks to Tom Van den Bon and the South African makers team

Completed Advent 2017 tree 

The original advent calendar from 2012 is on Thingiverse - designed by Peter Leppik.

Thanks for reading, see you next time.


Please join me on Twitter @RichRap3D

My profile and posts over on Google+

Files and designs shared on YouMagine

Files and designs shared on GitHub

Files and designs shared on Repables 

My Youtube channel is here, all 3D Printing and Hi-Def video content.

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Merry Christmas

*Day #25*

Have a fantastic & fun filled day everyone

Completed - Magic !

Christmas Day - Star in Glow-in-the-dark PLA from Prusa Research.

Green RepRap logo, Blue OSHW logo and purple text in Fillamentum PLA's

Yes, it does glow!

Vital stats of 2017 advent tree - 

Total printed weight = 2.23kg

Total filament length used = 696.9m

Height of finished tree (including the star) = 723mm tall

Thank you all for reading and being part of this advent series with me, see you all very soon.
Richard Horne & Family
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December advent calendar - modular Christmas tree
3D Printing advice #Day 23 & 24

For the background and introduction - Day #1 Post click here

Day #22 (Christmas scene) was printed in Polyalchemy natural *snow white

Christmas Advent 2017 Download on Thingiverse here - designed by Tom Van den Bon @geekc0der With some help for each day by the South African Makers team.

It's time for Days #23 and 24

Day 23 gift is designed by Chris Venter -  It's a Heart box printed in Ruby Red Taulman3D t-glase (Red Star).

Day 24 gift is designed by Shaun Nadan -  It's a Grinch

Yes! I finally get to use t-glase, this model is perfect printed in t-glase Red Star.

Days 23 & 24 tree sections are printed in Polyalchemy Elixir.

Small rolls, but amazing filament.

t-glase from Taulman3D is one of my all time favourite materials to use. I always have some stock for projects like this. It shines and shimmers and can be used for LED light guides or just to look beautiful. 
Taulman t-glase with a Red laser beam catching the front edge.

t-glase is a PETT based material. You are more often likely to find PETG (Glycol modified) versions of polyester (polyethylene) being sold by many manufacturers.

Both PETT and PETG can print very nicely in 3D printers, I tend to use PETT for high optical clarity, bigger layers and anything using light or for beautiful objects & gifts in general. 

I will use PETG for large strong functional parts, you can get a semi-clear finish with PETG, some formulations can produce reasonable optical clarity with the right settings and nozzle size.

Back-lit with a small white led - t-glase really shines (concentric infill - see below)

For this heart I'm keeping to a chunky layer height, and a specific infill type.

Left shows traditional rectilinear infill, and right shows a concentric infill.

It's worth thinking about the first bottom layer for objects like the heart box. The lid will be the bottom face when assembled, so you want that to look as nice as possible.

Likewise, the heart box bottom is also using a concentric infill. Look at those chunky 0.3mm layers, they look amazing on an object like this.

I also printed the final gift in the tree - Day 24 - The Grinch.

I have absolutely no idea how the yellow overhang worked. This had no support and should have failed at this point, but when I came back after switching materials, it was done and asking for the next colour! I can only think it must be some Christmas Magic?

Days 23 and 24 completed.

Print advice - (Taulman t-glase - PETT material)

What settings did you use? - t-glase needs some odd slicing setting. I will talk about a few, but as they are an odd mix of tricks and balance, I'll also include the Slic3r settings I use to help you tune t-glase perfectly.

0.3mm layers (0.4mm nozzle) work really well with t-glase / 5 top and bottom solid layers.

Use an infill of under 25% to get the best optical clarity from t-glase - Using honeycomb is also important, you need an infill that does not cross over line-fill paths. (honeycomb is ideal)
Finally I'm using concentric for top and bottom layers, but that is because of the object here, you can use rectilinear if more appropriate.

Balanced with the temperature I use, you need a relatively slow speed to get the best from t-glase
Especially the first layer, you want that to be neat and tidy for this object.

Make the extrusion widths around the same size as the actual nozzle size. Normally you would go slightly bigger.

250 degrees C - it will print lower and hotter, but for the speed balance, this will give clear (not frosty) results during printing.
80 Degrees C heated bed.

This is a really important one, don;t use too much fan cooling for t-glase. Max 40% unless bridging.

Finally, this is the really odd one - For a 0.4mm nozzle you need to tell Slic3r it's 0.45mm in diameter - with all the other settings above, this produces great results.
You can go to the same layer height as nozzle size for t-glase (here we could go 0.4 layer with 0.4 nozzle)

    Why use it? - It's just one of the most clear and optically interesting filaments you can get. It's also a very strong material, with great layer bonding, so making objects to use, enjoy and give as gifts is high on the list of ideal uses.

    Is it strong? - Yes, it's very tough, impact resistant and just a tiny bit of flex.

    Is it easy to use/print - Yes, as long as you spend time tuning the speed, temperature and odd nozzle settings I have shown above.

    Do you have to dry it before/after use? - Not really, but I do dry it out before use if I want the very best clarity or optical performance. Keep it dry / sealed etc.

    Do i need a 'special' nozzle? - No it's not abrasive at all. All nozzles seem to work well, Bigger nozzles are glorious with t-glase. Just try it with a 1.2mm nozzle and a 1.0mm layer height, it's astonishing.

    Does it smell when printing? - No.

    Does it come on a eco friendly spool? - No :( They are usual Taulman micro-spools, can be tricky to mount as they don't have a 'standard' 52mm mount hole.

    Conclusion for Taulman t-glase -  If you have not tried it out yet, you are missing out. From the very first sucesful print, you will be hooked. It also not comes in more colours, that I'm going to get hold of in the New Year. It's in my top 5 list of most useful and great looking materials.

    Olsson Ruby Nozzle check - 

    I thought it would be good to check on the Ruby Nozzle at this point.

    Olsson Ruby nozzle after ~387 Hours of printing (not cleaned)

    The ruby is looking perfect! no surface wear and hole size is still 0.4mm

    This was how it looked originally (still in the box)

    I just removed the nozzle (when it was at full 260 Degrees C temperature). It has not been cleaned in the image above. In the image below the same nozzle has been cleaned and refitted.

    'Cleaned' and fitted back into the Hot-end for another print run - I'll check again in 1500 hours.

    Print time check - 

    I installed this first Olsson Ruby nozzle in the summer of 2017. I reset the firmware timer at that point to keep track of the total print hours. This nozzle has now clocked up 16days 3hours 48mins.

    That's around 387 hours of constant print time with almost every single type of material I have.

    1.32km of filament length (1.75mm) is also around 4.2kg of filament so far.

    To put this figure of 387 total hours of Ruby nozzle print time into context, this entire advent Christmas tree - printed on this Prusa i3, the Lulzbot TAZ6 (also fitted with a Ruby high-flow Nozzle) and one print made on the Sigma R17 was a total print time of - 139.5 Hours.

    This splits into the following -
    All Advent gifts = 44 Hours 20 minutes total print time (Excluding the top star)
    Sigma Dual print (Jeep) = 2.43mins
    Top star = 5.5 Hours - check tomorrows post to see that :)

    All Tree sections = 88 Hours (including top tree section for star)

    2/3 of all parts were done on the Prusa i3 MK2 with a V6 Olsson Ruby Nozzle fitted (0.4mm).
    1/3 of all parts were done on the LulzBot Taz6 with the High-flow V6 (Volcano) nozzle fitted (0.6mm)
    1 part was printed on the Sigma.

    The Olsson Ruby (Volcano) nozzle in the TAZ6 has only had around 50 hours of use, so I'll check the status at around 300 Hours.

    Remember this Advent tree is scaled at 150% of the original files posted. The tree sections are also scaled at 150% but only 120% in depth (to make the gifts appear to pop-out more).

    Can you guess the total weight of the finished advent 2017 tree? (and also how much filament has been used)? And also how tall the finished tree is?

    Send me a tweet over on Twitter @RichRap3D with your guess. I'll post the weight and filament used in tomorrows post.

    Days 1 to 24 of the Advent Christmas Tree.

    Today story is simply about making beautiful objects with 3D printing. What I have now is another wonderful, creative and exciting advent Christmas tree, full of stories and interesting materials. We still get out the original 2012 advent tree every year. Now we have this one too. 

    I want to thank all the South African makers and designers for this amazing Christmas gift. it was a real pleasure to print these parts. I also hope you also learned some neat things to try yourself.

    Christmas Day tomorrow. Have fun.

    Thanks for reading and Merry Christmas everyone.


    Please join me on Twitter @RichRap3D

    My profile and posts over on Google+

    Files and designs shared on YouMagine

    Files and designs shared on GitHub

    Files and designs shared on Repables 

    My Youtube channel is here, all 3D Printing and Hi-Def video content.

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    December advent calendar - modular Christmas tree
    3D Printing advice #Day 22

    For the background and introduction - Day #1 Post click here

    Christmas Advent 2017 Download on Thingiverse here - designed by Tom Van den Bon @geekc0der With some help for each day by the South African Makers team.

    It's time for Day #22

    Day 22 gift is designed by Shaun Nadan-  It's a Christmas Scene.

    Christmas scene is printed in Polyalchemy Elixir Natural (snow white).

    I was really happy with the print quality, 0.15mm layers, normal PLA settings

    This is a very small model, so the details really came out well.

    I was originally intending to print this snow scene in Laybrick (By Kai Parthy) filament. But my roll of Laybrick is around 4 or so years old now, and it has become brittle and unusable :(

    My Laybrick filament is no longer usable (around 4 years old).

    Laybrick is about the closest to 'snow' look, and even texture, you are likely to get in a filament. It has powdered chalk as the filler. Prints like sandstone, cold and oddly both smooth and rough at the same time to the touch. It's a little like using plaster or clay.

    I will get another roll of Laybrick and show you what it can do at some point in 2018. Until then I have used the wonderful Polyalchemy Elixir, for a shining version of this Christmas snow scene.

    I was going to tell you all about Laybrick, but I'll save that for a future post. Just one quick thing to note if you try any Laybrick materials. Do be careful what print surface you use. It can bond quite strongly to PEI, Tufnol and even coated glass. I have damaged a few heated bed / coatings using Laybrick, take care.

    Days 1 to 22 of the Advent Christmas Tree. 

    Day #22 is completed. We are in to the final countdown very shortly. 

    The story, or maybe the moral of the story today is to use materials as soon as you can. Many filament's can become brittle or unusable over considerable time. My Laybrick was a casualty of not remembering, that I still had a roll at the very bottom of the filament storage box.

    Join me next time for Day #23 - I'm also going to update you on the status of the Olsson Ruby nozzles. I plan to remove them, and inspect how they are holding up. Join me next time to find out.

    Thanks for reading.


    Please join me on Twitter @RichRap3D

    My profile and posts over on Google+

    Files and designs shared on YouMagine

    Files and designs shared on GitHub

    Files and designs shared on Repables 

    My Youtube channel is here, all 3D Printing and Hi-Def video content.

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    December advent calendar - modular Christmas tree
    3D Printing advice #Day 21

    For the background and introduction - Day #1 Post click here

    Christmas Advent 2017 Download on Thingiverse here - designed by Tom Van den Bon @geekc0der With some help for each day by the South African Makers team.

    It's time for Day #21

    Day 21 gift is designed by Mohammed Hassen -  It's an abstract apple.

    Abstract apple in Fillamentum Flexfill 98A luminous green material.

    Day 21 tree section is printed in Polyalchemy Elixir.

    Wikipedia has a great page all about the short durometer scale (testing the hardness of a material).

    It's useful to know what level of 'soft/hard' material you are buying, before you choose for a particular project. Here I'm using Flexfill 98A (Shore hardness 98A or 60D).

    You can see below that a shore hardeness of 98A indicates a level similar to 'hard wheels of roller skates / skateboards'

    Flexfill is also available in 92A. This is a little softer, but nothing like a soft stretchy rubber band.

    Flexfill is ideal for projects like model car racing wheels, textured grips on products, handles etc. It's also great for robot parts that need some flex, but also keep their shape under loads.

    Source - Wikipedia page

    Fillamentum Flexfill 98A has a firm, but flexible finish, bends well, but holds shape and form.

    Print advice - (Fillamentum 98A) & Just go 30% slower for 92A

    What settings did you use? - Flexfill 98A is very forgiving with settings, it's not as easy to use as PLA, but much easier (in a lot of extruder systems) than many softer rubber materials. 
    • You don't always need a heated bed, but it works well with 50 Degrees C PEI surface, thinly covered in gluestick or Magigoo.
    • First layer speed set to 55% of normal print speed.
    • Minimum of 2 perimeter (shells) if using a 0.4mm nozzle
    • 222 Degrees C first layer.
    • 233 Degrees C all other layers.
    • Fans off for first few layers.
    • Fan at 55% max for printing (normal 25%)
    • +35% extra Extruder retraction length (from normal PLA settings).
    • I never use a BRIM, because it's just to tricky to remove, and is not required.
    • Print speed of 10mm/sec to 60mm/sec depending on your extruder setup. On an i3 MK2 55mm/sec is fine.
    • Try not to use support, you will find it almost impossible to remove without a very sharp knife.
    Why use it? - It's perfect for anything that needs a slightly firmer rubber application. I use it a lot for seals, gaskets and generally any sort of rubber washer or firm grip / texture on a product. Things like gasket seals work well because they are not floppy, but do compress and seal faces together.

    Is it strong? - Yes, it's very tough, you will find it very hard to rip, and if you ever need to modify it, only a very sharp knife or heating / deform works. It's hard to snip, cut with scissors and you can;t file or sand it.

    Is it easy to use/print - Yes, the biggest issue is going to be stringing, use extra extruder retraction and tune to the speed you indent to print.

    Do you have to dry it before/after use? - No - it should be good from the sealed pack, but keep it dry.

    Do i need a 'special' nozzle? - No it's not abrasive at all. All nozzles seem to work well, smaller ones may cause pressure problems with some extruder systems.

    Does it smell when printing? - No.

    Does it come on a eco friendly spool? - No :( They are generic clear plastic spools, but they do have a recycle logo. I could not make out what material they are made of.

    Conclusion for Fillamentum Flexfill 98A- I's a great material to have along side others. You can combine it well with PLA, ABS or PET. You are likely to be using it for some sort of flexing, or model making. It's obviously perfect for many model tyre projects. Check out the OpenRC project for more on that aspect.

    On Day 16 I also used a different and much softer flexible material, do also check that out if you are interested in printing in flexible filaments.

    Days 1 to 21 of the Advent Christmas Tree. I have no more room here, so it's going to be moved to somewhere in the house for the final few days of Advent.

    Day #21 is completed. 

    Today lets focus the story around the physical uses of different materials in products and applications. It's easy to forget that not everything made is hard plastic or metal. Soft plastic's, rubbers and elastic components make up a lot of products. Especially with things that move or need to form around other devices. Thinking back to my days of being a child at Christmas, if I had a way to print new rubber tyres, skateboard wheels and soft-grips I would have been delighted to receive a roll of Flexfill :)

    Okay, maybe I just wanted the skateboard, but now I would totally 3D Print some awesome custom wheels for it.

    Join me next time for Day #22

    Thanks for reading.


    Please join me on Twitter @RichRap3D

    My profile and posts over on Google+

    Files and designs shared on YouMagine

    Files and designs shared on GitHub

    Files and designs shared on Repables 

    My Youtube channel is here, all 3D Printing and Hi-Def video content.

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