MakerFaire 2015 Part 2


The new printrbot Play: all metal construction and printrbot quality in a smaller package.  The shielded extruder makes it ideal for kids.  For $399 the price can’t be beat.



Printrbot Plus: a massive 10″ cube build volume with heated bed.  An amazing value for an all metal machine.



Printrbot goes subtractive!  Their new CNC router features printrbot’s usual formula of amazing engineering quality at ridiculously low prices.



This innovative CNC router from printrbot rolls directly on the spoilboard.  This machine can be set up on saw horses when needed and then stores compactly.



Andy talks with Filippo Moroni of Fonderie Digitali, one of several Italian companies represented in a special section.



From the country that brought us Ferrari comes the Wasp, a beautifully made delta that they claim is the world’s fastest FDM machine.



The Wasp features an odd hybrid Bowden system.  The extruder is hung from the carriages using 3 rubber connectors and attached to the hotend via a short Bowden tube.  This allows the hotend to travel amazingly fast while the extruder sort of bounces along after it, loosely coupled via the Bowden tube.  They get the reduced moving mass of a Bowden with the shorter filament path and quick retraction of a direct extruder.



Andy talks with Sheau-Lan Reed, head of HP’s new Sprout project.



The Sprout combines a touch screen computer with a touch pad, a projector and a 2d/3d scanner all in one slick package.



The longer we talked with the HP crew the more people they pulled in to answer our questions.



Here is a print of the shell they scanned.



The package is sweet, the interface is very slick, but the scans all showed some serious artifacts.  If they can clean this up it would be a must-have machine.



Dennon Oosterman of ReDeTec during a quiet moment of Friday afternoon.  Could this finally be a filament recycler that really works?



The ptototype ReDeTec filament extruder.



These rollers pull the freshly extruded filament to stretch it to precisely the right diameter.  The whole system is close loop controlled.



Here is the machine actually extruding pretty good looking filament from virgin pellets.



The extruder was paired with a nice looking print grinder.  The only thing odd was that it was operated by a hand crank.  I guess you are unlikely to get your hand pulled into the machine if you are cranking it with your other hand.  Still it looked a bit awkward.



On Saturday morning he drew such a crowd we couldn’t get near him.  Could it be the “Free Filament” sign?



Andy talks with Patrick Lie founder of PolyForge, one of the first low cost selective laser sintering printers we have seen.



Polyforge uses inexpensive stock laser cutter parts to fuse plastic powder.



The results aren’t yet equal to what can be achieved with other, cheaper technologies, but it is a great start.  Now that the key patents have started to expire we look forward to a large open source community taking on this technology and bringing SLS to the masses.



Andy interviews Hans from Cubicity, bringing quality European filaments to American market.



Boris from Open Electronics talking to Andy about his Chocolate printer.




The heated syringe  extruder was printing nicely at the show.


An optional heated stand keeps two more syringes perfectly heated and ready to swap in for continuous chocolate printing.



This mask was their coolest print, but it was made with regular chocolate that wasn’t tempered properly so the cocoa butter “bloomed” giving it a chalky grey finish.



They switched to a more forgiving coating chocolate and the results were beautiful.  The good news is that the machine is all open source.  The bad news. . . they weren’t giving out samples.



Andy talks with Deanne Bell from Future Engineers.  They sponsor contests for students to design 3d printable objects for the space station.  The winner’s designs are actually printed in space.



This multitool won the contest to design a space tool.  The next contest is to design a space container.  Details at



Andy talks with Niki Werkheiser, the NASA project manager in charge of the space manufacturing program.  We got our first look inside the space printer, but no photos allowed.



An overhang printing test similar to test prints made on the space station.  Can you do without support when printing in micro gravity?  We eagerly await the results.



This simple 3d printable igloo like structure may someday be printed on the moon by fusing moon dust using concentrated sunlight.  This sort of technology could be used to build a moon base quickly and cheaply.  It could perhaps be automated to the extent that humans could arrive with their base already mostly built.



We caught up with our old friend Diego Porqueras from Deezmaker in Pasadena.



He still had the only printer at the show that you could drive around while it prints.  He has flown it on a quadcopter while printing as well.



Andy talks with Lucas Dennison and his dad Greg from e-Nable.



Before his dad started 3dprinting them Lucas had never had a prosthesis.  E-nable connects people with printers with people who need prosthetics, and provides support and know how.  Conventional prosthetics are extremely expensive and kids like Lucas outgrow them very quickly.  3d printing is a real game changer by bringing the cost within reach of anyone.  Lucas can have different hands for different uses.  He can have a new one whenever he needs it so he will never outgrow it.



Lucas was very comfortable clowning around with his 3dprinted prosthetic hand.



Visit for more information or to volunteer.

Makerfaire 2015 Part 1


Andy talks with Claudio Donndelinger about the latest from Lulzbot.


No more Buddaschnozzle!  Lulzbots now feature the improved hexagon hot end.


Brandon Climson with his proud teacher.  This high school freshman completely customized and upgraded his Robo3d.


This is Brandon’s tricked out Robo with dual ezstruders and led lighting.


This is Brandon’s liquid cooled computer.  This is a young man to watch.


Andrew Boggeri of FSL3D gives Andy the run down on the Phoenix their new super DLP printer.  It overcomes the resolution limitations of conventional DLP by automatically moving the projector to 3 different positions per layer.  By using an industrial UV projector they are able to achieve 5 second layer cycles at triple the standard resolution.

DSC_0043Whitney talking with David Rorex of Made Solid.  The only company out there making both resin and filament.


Made Solid was showing off a Gigabot.  This beast makes my huge printer look small.  Look at the drill bit to the left of the machine.


Now look at Andy holding the same drill bit print.  Look at the size of that thing.


Shhhhh!  Top Secret.

DSC_0047Andy talks with Frank Peng of XYZPrinting.

DSC_0049XYZPrinting breaks through the price floor with their new $1500 laser SLA machine.

DSC_0052The first prints look great.


Patrick Degrendele, CEO of Velleman, a large electronic kit manufacturer now making forays into 3dprinting.


The Velleman K8200 is sturdy and precisely made of aluminum extrusions.  It features an unusual design where the bed moves in both X and Y and the extruder moves only in the Z axis.  This makes it easy to add all kinds of different print heads.  Next week we look at one modded to print Chocolate!

DSC_0073Andy talks with Ford Fraker of Formlabs.

DSC_0068Formlabs is amazing as always

DSC_0078Their silicone coated tilt vat seems to do the trick nicely.



Andy chats with Fred Kahl aka The Great Fredini.  Fred is a pioneer of 3d portraiture.



This is Fredini’s home built kinect based full body turntable scanner.  He ran a scanning booth at Coney island for several years.



Aaron Jennings from polymaker describes their product line of unique filaments.


PolyMax, the PLA that’s stronger than ABS.  This stuff is tough!  I bent this sample back and forth like this and I couldn’t break it.  It’s not cheap, but its practically indestructible.


Brook Drumm, the proud daddy of printrbot, always has a smile when he’s describing his new creations.













DSC_0129A few of my big prints on display at Chimera Art’s booth.

We will see you all next week for the rest of our report from Makerfaire 2015

Using a glass build plate with a Metal Simple

Printrbot with glass build plate
A thin sheet of steel lets your inductive sensor “see” the bed through the added glass build plate.

One of the great features of the Printrbot Metal Simple is its automatic bed leveling sensor.  When properly calibrated it greatly reduces bed leveling hassles.  The sensor works by measuring the bed height at three points and then calculating z height offsets for every location on the bed.  The sensor uses induction to sense the location of the bed without touching it.  This works very well in the printer’s stock configuration, but if you want to print on a glass build plate it calls for some trickery.

Everyone has their own favorite build surface, but for my money you can’t beat glass.  Glass is smoother and flatter than any other material you can easily find, and combined with a bonding agent such as Aquanet hairspray or PVA glue (either glue stick or white glue work) it provides an ideal combination of stick, while you are printing, and release once you are done.  Aquanet has enough stick for most PLA and ABS prints, while PVA can give you a stronger stick useful for printing troublesome materials like nylon.

The problem is that the sensor used in the Metal Simple doesn’t have enough sensitivity to pick up the height of the bed when there is a sheet of glass on top of it.  The inductive sensor can’t “see” the glass, but with the glass in the way it can’t get close enough to the bed to see it.  You could replace the sensor with a longer range unit, but the range of error of the sensor is a percentage of its total range, so longer range means less accurate.

The simplest solution I came up with was to increase the inductance of the bed. The Printrbot Metal Simple is beautifully made of very precisely fabricated aluminum, so I didn’t want to permanently modify it.  I tested a bunch of different materials and discovered the best one was 24ga. galvanized steel.  I sheared a piece big enough to fit under the build plate.  The steel has enough inductance that the sensor can see it from a distance greater than the thickness of the added glass build plate.  You will need to adjust the z height offset in the firmware the same way you probably adjusted it when you first got your machine.  Once you get it dialed in it is very reliable.

DSC_0010Andy came up with a great trick using crimp-on electrical terminals as hold downs for the build plate.  Use slightly longer screws and a couple of washers to shim them up and you can hold your glass build plate in place without making any permanent modifications to your printer.  Just cut to steel sheet and the glass build plate to fit between the bed mounting screws.  With this solution you don’t lose any of your build area.