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  1. #1

    I have inherited eight 3D printers!

    Hi!

    I am a design/art teacher with a product design and graphic design background. I'm new to a magnet HS and I have eight 3D printers that have just been brought out of storage after being unused for about two years. I have yet to locate software or even all of the parts for these printers...

    I have no experience with 3D printing but extensive CNC experience, strong mechanical aptitude and I'm comfortable with technology. I have been watching lots of videos and reading about our machines. I would appreciate any advice about which machine you think I should start with.

    We have four Cubify Cubes. These are discontinued, have problematic reviews and use expensive protprietary spools of filament. Boo.

    We have one Form 1+. This one seems really cool but it's expensive to run and sounds like a massive PITA to clean up after.

    We have two Solidoodles. These look janky as heck but they have larger platforms and use generic filament.

    We have one older Makerbot (plywood model).

    Any thoughts on which one I should start working with first? My plan for this year is to keep my students working in 2D for the fall semester (Photoshop/Illustrator/AfterEffects/Premier) and then do 3D modeling (Sketchup/Blender) and 3D printing in the spring semester. I have a few months to tinker and hope to have several machines running before long.

    Thanks for any advice anyone is willing to share.
    Last edited by matthewkphx; 09-03-2018 at 09:29 AM. Reason: formatting problems

  2. #2
    Engineer-in-Training
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    You are correct about the Cubify Cube printers. I didn't recognize the name until I used The Google to discover that it's the 2nd generation 3D systems printer. The 3rd generation version is only slightly better and still used proprietary filament cartridges. There's an entire forum or two dedicated to after-market work-arounds for the 3rd gen, but I've found nothing for the 2nd generation machines. The cartridges can be opened and the filament on the cardboard spools used in other machines.

    Recent reviews of the Form 1+ seem to indicate that manufacturer's support has been terminated for that printer, making many current owners extremely unhappy. I also agree with your assessment of expensive to run and difficult to clean. Some reviews of this and other resin type printers would lead one to believe that one is dealing with hazardous chemicals and chemical vapors, along with the high labor of operating and maintaining.

    The other machines are not something I can address.

    Illustrator is a good vector program, especially for stepping forward to 3D design. Inkscape is a great program, because it is free and provides many of the same features. If your students are not financially well-off and cannot afford Adobe software, Inkscape is a good substitute.

    Sketchup is something to avoid for 3D modeling! It is well known for creating non-manifold models which will not print or if they print, many artifacts of failure result. Blender is an amazing piece of free software, but has a tremendously steep learning curve and is not typically used for 3D modeling.

    Consider something along the lines of Fusion 360, OnShape, TinkerCAD and my all-time favorite, OpenSCAD. The first three are in order of preference, in that they provide features beyond the 3D modeling world, but are well suited to it. The last one is a text based editor which is akin to coding/programming and is parametric in nature, making for easy modification of models if the code is written well.

    I hope you'll post your progress to this forum, so we can assist as needed and share in your successes.

  3. #3
    Hi Fred. Thanks for your response.

    After googling around a bit, I'm pretty sure I have 3rd Generation Cubes.

    Thanks for your suggestions concerning software. I'll avoid Sketchup and look into the other options you mention. Adobe Illustrator is a 2d application. I'm confused that you bring it up in the context of 3D printing. We do have Adobe's Creative Cloud suite in our labs but I don't see the application in 3D printing except perhaps as a stepping stone to understanding artwork that is built using points and lines rather than pixels. Please elaborate.

  4. #4
    Engineer-in-Training
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    Search for cube 3 hack and you'll find some of the stuff available to enable generic filament as well as replacing some of the more serious failings like the fragile bowden tube. It's an amazingly good printer if those things are corrected. I had the unfortunate luck to get a good working one and produced some top-quality prints, but then age of the filament set in, the bowden tubes got punctured, etc. It's too much work for my lazy butt to go into the hacks and make it work well again.

    Certainly Illustrator and Inkscape are 2D applications, but one can create useful 3D printed models that are nothing more than extrusions of a 2D shape. Most of the 3D applications I've suggested will accept some form of vector image, SVG, DXF, AI, and stretch it vertically to create a model. The sketch based applications such as Fusion 360 and OnShape will do that with ease, while TinkerCAD will as well, but I've not experienced that program sufficiently to advise. Consider that an artistic student can create something complex and attractive in Illustrator/Inkscape, import it to the application, place it on a plane and extrude it. Repeat with other shapes, other planes and one is limited only by one's imagination. Mine is zero.

    I use an extension to Inkscape called Inkscape to OpenSCAD converter, which takes an SVG within Inkscape and creates an OpenSCAD file with the thickness specified in the converter. It's a clunky bit of software, but reasonably stable and works well. Once opened in OpenSCAD, additional actions can be taken to accomplish the desired model.

    If you had not mentioned in your post the Adobe stuff, I would have not considered to add it to the dissertation, but then something valuable would have been missed.

    If you have younger students, there is also a mash-up of OpenSCAD and Scratch coding language, a GUI bundle called BlockSCAD which makes creating models as easy as drag and drop. It's probably good for the 6-10 year old set as the older crowd would do better with the previously mentioned applications.

    I am a member of a local makerspace which is hosted by the local library. If you have a local makerspace in your area, you may have some resources there as well. Most of us maker types (tinkerers from the old times) are more than happy to assist others.

  5. #5
    Thanks, Fred. I appreciate your explanations and wisdom.

  6. #6
    Engineer Roberts_Clif's Avatar
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    Add Roberts_Clif on Thingiverse
    Fusion 360 is free for Hobbyist and Schools

    Here is a link on how to activate it.

    https://knowledge.autodesk.com/suppo...usion-360.html
    Last edited by Roberts_Clif; 09-03-2018 at 03:08 PM.

  7. #7
    Engineer-in-Training
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    Fusion360 is an amazingly powerful program and to have it available free is equally amazing. I've had it for a couple of years and it does expire for hobbyists, but all one has to do is renew! It's even free for lower gross income small businesses, which is again an amazing attribute for such a capable piece of software. Many users advance from 3D printing to CNC routing and machining and the program generates tool paths and g-code too, still at no cost. Did I mention I'm amazed?

  8. #8
    Engineer Roberts_Clif's Avatar
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    Fusion 360 is free for Hobbyist, Schools and small businesses.

    Yes! I did forget to mention that the license is Yearly and renewable.

  9. #9
    Nice. Excellent info. Thanks, fellas.

  10. #10
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
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    As someone who's brain resuses to work in 2d, I would be inclined to get them started on openscad and start thinking and designing in 3d.
    Particularly any non-artistic pupils.

    Printer wise - start with the makerbot replicator. Great machine, easy to fix and uses all standard parts.
    Plus MASSIVE user base. I've currently got my klic-n-print (rep clone) extruders stripped for modifying with ptfe tube for flexible materials.
    good machine, shouldn't be much wrong with it.

    Sell the form1 and use the money to get a cr10 kit - or similiar.
    You should be able to still get $3-400 for it.

    found a video of a solidoodle from 2013 ! In 3d printer terms it's an antique lol
    but looked fairly simple and shouldn't be that hard to get them working.

    The 1st and 2nd gen cubes are decent machines: https://www.3dsystems.com/shop/support/cube/faq
    They've been hacked for using standard filament right from the get-go: https://hackaday.com/2013/04/26/cube...bulk-filament/

    Someone at your school was way ahead of the curve and has left you an interesting legacy. :-)

    But start with the makerbot.

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