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The Decoration sitting pride of place on my tree
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The Finished Prints
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What with TCT, CES Unveiled and Euromold we’ve barely had chance to fire up the office 3D Printers let alone produce a #ThingiThursday but seeing as it is Christmas we thought now would be an excellent time to send the machines racing off against each other with a very festive spin.
With its Apple like packaging and friendly out of the box plug and play attitude, The Cube certainly looks like a machine Santa would happily deliver to children across the globe. Whereas the UP! Plus looks more like a machine that is used industrially to fix Santa’s sleigh, though ours, on loan from John Burn Ltd, is a very festive red.
The file I picked to print off identically on the two machines is one of the entries from MakerBot’s Ornament Challenge – the winners of which we are expecting shortly. The Optimized (Small) Gyroscopic Snowflake by Marco Alici is a fantastic little decoration that is the perfect test for the Cube and the UP! Plus, in that it is intricate, has moving parts and is small enough to print a few.
For starters the piece was ran through netfabb and repaired just to make sure it was ok to print then placed into the relevant UP! and Cube software. For this test I wanted to fit as many of the 100% sized snowflake ornaments on the build plate as possible without it being a struggle. Despite the width and depth of the two build areas being identical at 140mmx140mm, the Cube seemed to only like five on the build plate whereas the UP! (even though the UP! needed rafts) was comfortable with six.
Setting both printers off at the exact same time they both should finish around about the same time, about two and a half hours later.The UP! was printing in white ABS the Cube printing in the not-so-Christmassy black ABS (the only colour we’ve got left!).
One thing that you can guarantee with the Cube is that with the “Magic Glue” and the heated plate (first gen. models only) you will get no warping. The UP! on the other hand will warp at the drop of a hat! But after a good nine months printing with it I've got to know its foibles, got to know what it likes and what it doesn't like, if I had to buy a Christmas present for the UP it would be a glass bed!
I’ve got a pre-print ritual that tends to stop prints from lifting from the perfboards and it goes as follows: every five prints check the nozzle height with a folded piece of A4, give the perfboard a good wipe with Acetone – this loosens the plastic embedded in the perfboard so printing adheres to the board better, make sure you secure the perfboard to the build plate as best as you possibly can – use both the supplied bulldog clips as well as the screws, and finally heat the board for at least 15 minutes – I know that you want to get that print going now but trust me it is worth the wait.
Once the project had started and got past that awkward first few layers I let them be, returning occasionally to make sure we didn’t end up with some of that fine spidery plastic art that 3D printers specialise in.
All seemed well as the printers finished the final few layers but now for the most tricky part as far as the UP! is concerned. Raft removal. I’ve moaned about this before on the blog but just like the pre-print process the post is something you start to pick up. The most important step is to let the model cool completely; even putting in the fridge could help the raft removal process.
It is always particularly difficult with intricate designs such as these but the rafts seemed to be coming off with ease, though two of the interior snowflakes still had some residue of raft left over. The gyroscopic snowflake is indeed gyroscopic, the UP! models rotate with ease after a gentle push and they went down a storm in the office.
The Cube’s models came off the build plate clean as a whistle and though sometimes the Cube lacks detail the black really shows up the intricate patterns of the snowflake, dare I say it but the black, lest festive models actually look a lot better than the snow white ones of the UP! But, and this is a big but, the Cube snowflakes don’t move, we snapped one of them trying to move it around and seeing as this was the point in the first place, points must be docked.
The overall winner simply for the fact that the snowflake moves and they were snapped up by the ladies of the office quicker than you can say “free Christmas orname…”, there’s still a solitary Cube model left I think I might take it home this evening and hang it next to the white model as a sign of solidarity.