Friday, 31 July 2015

3Drip - Nano UV 3D Resin Printer - LCoS Projector investigation - Part1

This will be a series of posts about experiments testing the development of low cost UV resin based printers. With an aim to deciding what technology works the best for the (low) price and then building a 3D printed Resin (SLA) printer.

The initial focus is with Liquid Crystal on Silicon (LCoS) technology - And a new open-source 3D Printer I'm calling 3DRip 

The end target works cost for 3DRip  is $250. Lets see how good we can make a low cost resin printer :)

Further on we will take a look at other technologies to achieve a similar process, they my evolve into another resin based printer, if the benefits are significant enough.

Background - 

I have always wanted to experiment with UV active resins for 3D Printing. Many DLP projector and LASER based printers are now available and some more reasonably prices resins are now available from Makerjuice and Madesolid

Many years back when b9creations were looking into resin printing I was almost tempted to build up a UV resin printer from a DLP projector. Various projects like Lemoncurry were also being developed, but cost, size and time shelved that as an active project for me.

Fast forward to a time when projectors are smaller, higher resolution and UV resin is really easy to get hold of. I decided to attempt the design of a small machine for detailed 3D printing.

A few machines have successfully been built using low cost LCD panels and UV LED's. LCD panels have a few factors that make them less than ideal. They usually have a UV coating and polarizing films, these may need to be removed to allow UV light to pass through. Resolution is usually low for smaller sized panels, so bigger panels can often bulk up an LCD based system.

Other developers are also working on LCD based resin printers.  So to start I decided to take a look at LCoS based pico projectors. Even High resolution LCoS and DLP based optical engines can now be bought for well under $100.

Portable LCoS projectors are based on similar principals as a DLP based design. Light from an RGB LED is channeled and reflected (bounced) off an LCoS panel around 1/2" in size. Lenses and focus produce a sharp colour image. Many low cost portable LCoS projectors tends to be a 16:9 display with QHD screen resolution of 960 x 540 Pixels. (Getting higher resolution all the time).

I decided on a HYDUNDAI (re-branded generic) model with QHD resolution. I only paid ($105/£68) but recently the price seems to have increased. You can no longer get this specific model from Chinavasion, so take a look over on Aliexpress and do some haggling.

Hacking - 

After checking it operated and giving it a charge (they often have built-in batteries) I started to take it apart.

This one had a lot of very sticky tape holding thin metal panels into a plastic and aluminium frame.

Much of it is battery. A thin PCB with HDMI and power in connection, speaker and the all important optical engine.

Here I have lifted out the optical engine, the cable still connected is for powering the RGB led light source.

Once open it was nice to see a separate optical engine. This means that I can rotate that part to reduce the overall size of the machine required for correct focal distance.

RGB LED rated at about ~3W in total.

Light guide removed.

Very quickly parts were separated and I had to try and remove the existing RGB LED, this was surprisingly a die-bonded device with the culminating optical guide. This had been fixed directly onto the bare LED with silicon or clear resin, breaking the seal would stop the LED from working.

You can see the optical path above that captures all the light from the tiny RGB LED, this is only about 1mm across.

Optical - 

But I wanted to see how the optical guide was made to give some insight into how I could modify it or make another one for a replacement UV LED.

I decided to experiment with a 1W White LED to see how much light I could get to pass through the optical engine and also how best to mount a bigger led for heat control and transmission of focused light.

A neat trick for using these LED's and any similar to this, it that the little plastic cover can be popped off, and what you have remaining is a silicone rubber dome, this can be pressed up against an optical light guide and transmit light very well onto it's destination.

A polished section of Acrylic.

My main concern with LCoS was if enough, or any UV light would successfully pass through the many optical components and reflect off the display panel.

I marked up an aluminium angle bracket as a heatsink and way to mount the optical projector in the printer.

Led was removed from the heatsink 'star'

Add some heatsink paste

Fit and superglue around the edge to hold in place.

Now install the light guide- it's wrapped in black tape here.

Focal testing - 

Refit metal cover.

The last job was to connect it up and power it on.

The reason why I'm doing this and also using a White LED at this point, is to allow the fixed setting of the focus for a picture size normally smaller than the projector focus wheel will allow. - Above you can see the tiny screw thread that sets the focal distance. Normally this projector would only be in focus with a minimum 10"+ sized screen. I want around a 70mm sized screen size.

UV light is dangerous to look at so using a White LED for this part allows me to experiment and take all the measurements I will need to make the projector housing and UV resin tray for the 3D Printer.

Projecting some pixels to get the focus nice and sharp, then a drop of superglue on the focus screw fixes it in place.

I know know the exact distances, angle and elevation of the image - so I can design the 3D printer to accommodate this re-modified LCoS Pico Projector.

Now we can switch over to a UV led in the design to make out 3D resin Printer.

Still designing this one in Sketchup (Jan2015) - but I'm also getting more proficient in solidworks and Autodesk Fusion360.

Cool stuff you may want to know about UV and LED's - 

One of the reasons I never wanted to use standard high-intensity DLP based projector's was that they waste a lot of energy when used as a 3D Printer, they also have quite high running costs. DLP projector's produce a wide spectrum of light, only a small portion will be at various UV wavelengths.

UV LED's should prove to be a better solution. The best wavelength for most UV Resins is around 365nm. Many UV LED's produce light at around 410nm, this will cure UV resins, but if you can find LED's with a 365nm output it will provide the fastest cure time even with a much lower rated power output.

The bulb used in a standard DLP projector tends to use an ultra high pressure (UHP) lamp module. At around $200/£150 each and 180+ watts of power, you will get around ~3000 hours of life and a large waste of electricity.

We should be able to use a single $5/£3 (5 watt) UV LED having a lifetime of around 20,000+ hours

Ultraviolet light has a number of wavelength bands - UVC (100nm to 280nm) and UVB (280nm to 315nm) is not much use to us for curing resin and it's not all that easy to generate either.

UVA light falls in the 315nm to 400nm range, and most UV reactive Resins cure in the range of 350 to 410nm.

The lower the wavelength the more UV curing power it has, so where many DLP projectors produce light from both the visible and UV spectrum it's towards the 400nm range, so it can take a few seconds to cure each layer.

UV LED's or LASERS can be tuned to emit UV light at around 365nm, and that's really ideal to cure many of the resins used today - really fast.

A few companies are starting to use dedicated UV projectors, the Autodesk Spark and Ember platform uses a modified UV projector and the team from Carbon 3D claim to be using a high powered UV projection source for their continuous printing - CLIP technology.

Lastly, resins can also be tuned to cure in visible light, but this has issues as you don't want your resin to start going hard in a well lit room.

Next time we will switch over to a UV led and start to build the 3DRip SLA 3D Printer.

In other news - 

I hope you also had a chance to take a look at some of my Blogs over on Disruptive - There are plenty more to look at now -

You may find my Disruptive blog post about how to finish your 3D prints useful, I take a look at some ways to make your prints look good after printing, and also some of the tools you can buy or just standard tools for processing.

3D Print finishing - do you need a special tool? or can you do it yourself.

(The image above is from an awesome progressive cavity pump I'm tinkering with - using both hard and soft 3D printing materials to get a really good pumping system for chocolate and other fine things) - More on that soon.

BigBox 3D Printer - 

I'm also going over to visit the E3D (BigBox team) next week, I'm planning to pick up a BigBox 3D Printer for some testing and evaluation. - Let me know if you have any questions about the printer.

If you are not aware of BigBox - It's got 15 days to go and looking for more funding over on Kickstarter - with the team from E3D and Littlebox behind it.

I should have lots more things to blog about in the following weeks, stay tuned and don't forget to ask me questions or post your comments, here, on G+ or anywhere else you like.

I'm on Twitter @RichRap3D too.

Back soon.


Tuesday, 30 June 2015

June 2015 Developments update RepRap 3D Printing - 3DRip 3DRAuto Wax printing Disruptive posts

Hi Everyone,

It's been a good few months since my last update. And I have been busy with 3D Printing shows, many new developments, investigations and lots, and lots of testing.

I'll have a lot more to share soon, just the usual problem of time to edit images, write them up and post...

I'll get posted the first of a series of articles on one of my new 3D Printer developments - 3DRip (drip) - It's a low cost experiment with a Liquid Crystal on Silicon (LCoS) based 3D Resin RepRap 3D Printer.

A few pictures to get across the idea -

Projector is mounted inside the base of the unit, making for a very small printer that's self contained.

LCoS Projector (HD) optical engine (less than $100) - Fitted with a 5W Ultraviolet 365nm LED

Test print for UV exposure testing.

- Mixed and Multi-Material printing - 

Another big project has been the evolution of 3DRAuto this is a machine that can automatically change tool-heads and print with many and mixed materials. A big and complicated project. But a lot of fun.

Version 1 Prototype, it's now on version 3... (And it looks nothing like the above printer now :)
Lots more on this during the summer months.

- WAX - 
And I got really deep into wax printing during the winter. Really interesting stuff. I made a heated cover for my big 100ml Syringe extruder, and tested many different types of wax, and then mixed and filled wax composites. I now know much more abut wax than I ever imagined possible.

So many different types of wax, some are as hard as concrete!

You may have missed some of my more recent posts - Over on the Disruptive Website - Do take a look, they are fun, hopefully interesting and all part of my further developments in 3D Printing.

A few from earlier this year to get you started -

First up is Totally Puzzled - I have always been fascinated by handmade puzzles, my farther used to make some exquisite designs from exotic woods, sadly I don't have a single one of them, just photographs. I would really appreciate them now...

Another post was my Test drive of 3DShare - (anything goes!) - And on that note, the site has a lot of stuff you will not find on any other 3D sharing site, I'll let you discover the wide variety of models and designs. It's certainly getting popular. 3D Share have also sorted out the Licensing and other bugs I spotted mentioned in the blog post.

And one more for now - My thoughts and comments from the first few 3D Printing shows of the year, - Standing out on the 3D Printing desktop - Who and what technology is standing out or leading the 3D Printing future?

Thanks for reading, and do get in contact if you have any questions or comments.

Back again soon.


Saturday, 18 April 2015

Handling things the Makerbot way

I don't often write about 3D printing news on this blog, but today I woke up to the story that Makerbot had cut 20% of their staff and closed all their retail shops and that's really quite sad to hear.

The way Makerbot has done this is not good at all and has made me feel truly sorry for the workforce, you know the people who make a company - (Makerbot call them, just 'staff').

I'm sure we will hear much more on this along with some official non-caring and 'business like' statements issued by Stratasys or whatever remains of Makerbot.

The quotes from Makerbot staff and reports of this incident tell you so much about the atmosphere and company culture at Makerbot - “It’s about 20 percent of staff. Everyone suspected that something would be coming with the new CEO, and that there would be restructuring coming.” Not being open and honest with staff and leaving them with the feeling that something was coming is an awful thing. It's going to be very hard times for the people who remain too.

I feel sad for their workforce, people who have endured a lot of directional changes and different 'leaders' who don't understand what they already lost a few years back.

“It’s consolidating with Stratasys, so it’s economies of scale and looking at duplicate positions and consolidating. We have a new CEO, so he has a different plan in mind.”

I'm quite disappointed with the new Makerbot CEO, there are ways to do things and ways you want to be seen in the industry and the company-wide corporate structure. I really think that giving a Keynote speech at a 3D printing conference while all this was going down says it all. - Jonathan Jaglom - Instead of marching them out of the building, you should have been with all your 'staff' and spoken to them directly about all this. 

Stay strong Makerbot workers and I hope things get better. Makerbot is lost, you are not.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Development update & meeting people at Madrid+Berlin 3D Printshows

It's been longer than I wanted for an update, I will try to get more frequently posting.

Roger Eueda - BCN3D Technologies at the Madrid 3D Printshow
2015 has been a busy start to the 3D Printing year. More shows, machines and materials releases dominate almost every single week of the calendar.

I recently visited the Madrid and Berlin 3D Printshows. These shows are now attracting a lot of different exhibitors and also a very wide variety of user interested in learning more about 3D printing and it's uses.

The questions from people or all ages and backgrounds are fascinating, we are definitely moving forwards with understanding of 3D print technology and it's current capabilities. The biggest observation I can make is that the low-end desktop market is being left behind and the gap between professional machines and services is getting ever wider.

When you look at the ever increasing applications of 3D printing that are being exploited many are beyond the capabilities of desktop machines. 3D Selfi's and mini-me prints are being produced in full colour sandstone or with Mcor based Iris paper printers. People expect this, not a single colour plastic model with low detail.

Mass customisation is quickly being taken seriously by big businesses, and the use of 3D printing is a channel to unique gifts and value added services beyond the mass market one-size fits all.

I do think we are reaching a saturation point with desktop 3D printers. And while new technologies like Carbon3D offer slightly different directions and speed enhancements, the lack of full colour and materials other than thermoplastic's is going to continue to hold us back.

Extremely low cost machines keep on appearing, and disappearing... time will tell if these constant attempts to 'break the mass market' do more harm than good. I'm not so sure, the eco-system is still not quite ready I fear.

Development Update - 

(Sorry for the total lack of images below - I'm just trying to get this long overdue update published before April 1st so you don't think it's a Joke!) - It's not!

My own 3D printing developments over the last 3 months have been interesting, I have plenty to share with you. I'll post more about these projects as soon as I can - 

Paste Extruder V4 - Large capacity and both heated and cold paste material printing. Exciting stuff.

The resurrection of a filament manufacturing machine (filament extruder) - An unhappy (almost dead) and under-powered Extruderbot was very kindly donated by the Fantastic 3D Filaprint team, it was fun to re-engineer and re-build and allows me now to experiment with composite materials, blends and some more unusual ideas.

An exploration in Resin 3D printing - I have made a number of experiments and designs for a RepRap Resin printer called 3DRip - lots more on this, it's still in development so I plan to post all the success and failures too of getting it running. Lots of new directions to take this too, faster and higher quality printing.

Experiments with Wax printing - Just started this one. I'm looking for anyone that's interested in wax as a 3D printing material. It's amazing stuff and I think we can do a lot more with it - let me know if you want to collaborate.

Lots of materials - New materials continue to pour onto the market. I'm testing as many as I can.

Part 2 of 3D Printing bed materials - I have some new materials to try out and I finally bought a sheet of BuildTak material at the Berlin show. I have heard good things to looking forward to testing it out.

I also finally met with other members of the 3D printing community who I have wanted to meet for such a long time. (Lots more people I didn't get a picture with, I will be more organised next time).

Florian Horsch (HypeCask) and Kay Parthy (of Lay filaments ) 
Nils Hitze (All3DP) and  Sabastian Karpp (Yeggi 3D)

Richard Curtis - Adobe - Presenting the 3D Printing capabilities of Photoshop CC - It's mighty impressive too.

Finally met with the BQ Team in Madrid - Juan Gonzalez and Alberto Valero
The shows were very good, and definitely the best way to meet people and discuss ideas.

I will post more about the shows, machines and people I met, but for now this gives you a taste of what's to come this year. Hopefully I'll meet more of the community and get to discuss 3D printing development over a beer or two. 

I'm also planning to be back in Barcelona real soon to meet many more of you :) - More on that shortly.

Berlin - And all ready to go Rachel Park, Kerry Hogarth & me - Photo by Claire Russell-Jones
It's not all just fun :) Lots of background work goes into making these events packed with high quality installations, talks and products on show.

Thomas Sanladerer caught up with me at the Berlin 3D Printshow for a discussion on current technology and what's new. That question actually totally stumped me, and I was surprised how hard it was to point out actual new innovation or development going on in the desktop market.

So much that it made me really ponder where we would be in the next 5 years. More on that in a future post.

Here is Tom's video - and before you ask - I was thinking 'Ultimaker' & 'Printrbot' and it came out as Makerbot ! I'm sorry... Catch Tom's Youtube channel here for lots more 3DPrinting videos.

Meanwhile in the USA - 

The Midwest RepRap Festival (MRRF 2015) was going on over in the US (Goshen, IN) organised by SeeMeCNC, and sponsored by many great other companies and communities. I'm really disappointed to have missed out on going over, but the timing and time off work just was not on my side this year.

This video from E3D is a great intro to the amazing and complex task of making a production extruder hot-end (that actually work well). The guys at E3D are world leaders in this area and actually do research, testing and devote both their awake time and dreams to making the worlds best hot-ends.

John Olafson has shared a lot more of the great video's over on his Youtube channel here

Disruptive Magazine - 

I'm also writing articles for the newly launched Disruptive magazine, you can download and read the very first issue here. - Let me me know what you think, good and bad. The main aim is to cut out the hype and talk about both 3D printing and it's uses in a calm and sensible way.

So you won't find any "Worlds first/smallest/fastest 3D Printed (insert anything)" headlines in the magazine or on the disruptive website - we all have enough of that already. 

And a quick shout out to one rather fantastic new 3D printing company was at the Berlin 3D Printshow. Showing what can only be described as a 1960's 'Hotrod Fridge' with a 3D Printer inside.

This was Aye Aye labs - From Poland. A new startup with design flair and inspiration from classic Hotrods and American diners of the 50's and 60's.

I'm sure Aye Aye labs are going to find their market and do very well in the coming months.

I'll be at the London 3D Printshow if you want to say hello or discuss 3D Printing, look out for the Disruptive Knowledge bar and Makerspaces.

Another update soon.


Monday, 26 January 2015

Stick with it... 3D Printing - Print Bed Coating Materials. Part 1

Hello everyone,

We are looking at 3D print bed surfaces and coatings in this post.

This blog post contains an overview of the more common materials used as a 3D printing build surface. Plenty of tips and advice and we also take a look at a how well a bed coating 'skin' called 3D EeZ performs. And it's also a general call out for any other bed formula's or materials to test or experiment with. I hope you find it useful.

Most aspects of 3D Printing take time and some experimentation to refine what works best, if you already have good solution for the print bed surface, skip down to the end and take a look at how 3D EeZ worked in the test.

Will it stick?
For all the years I have been using home 3D Printers, one fundamental aspect is still causing frustration for new and experienced users alike. The issue here is getting the first layer to stick, then completing a print without unsticking, flying off mid-print or bending (warping) corners on objects.

It's now quite uncommon to have a non heated build platform, unless you choose to do so by turning it off.

One very common solution for printing in PLA, heated or not is blue 3M painters tape (multi-purpose #2090). To be honest this is fantastic for smaller machines like my 3DR design, Tantillus or the new Ultimaker 2 Go.

Have some 3M blue tape handy, it's still a really good solution for many objects and materials.

When printing small (or really tiny) and highly detailed parts, I often opt for blue tape and no heated bed. You can run cooling fans at full power and achieve highly successful and impressive prints.

Blue Painters tape - ideal for detailed tiny printing, using no heated bed.
A sheet of thick (~10mm) acrylic is another common choice when not using a heated bed, just be careful not to drive the nozzle into the surface as it will melt.

If you need to print bigger parts over ~100mm+ wide then a heated bed will help keep things flat and limit edge curl up on parts.

For PLA, PET and various filled/mixed materials (WoodFill / BrassFill etc.) you can often just use a clean sheet of glass as a suitable build platform.

Before trying to print anything, do check your nozzle is flat and vertically straight with the build platform. You also need the build surface as level as you can possibly achieve. A low cost mechanical dial shown above can really help get things set up quickly.

Top tip for using plain glass is to keep it clean, remove grease and fingerprints with alcohol or I really recommend window cleaner containing vinegar.

I use mirror glass. Handy sized 200mm x 200mm mirror tiles can be found at ikea (SÖRLIThe mirrored surface helps with checking the first layer is going down well and it heats up fast and evenly.

PLA sticks perfectly well to uncoated clean glass. If all I printed was small(ish) PLA parts,  I would always just use clean glass. The trouble comes when you want to start printing bigger (over about 170mm wide in size) or with other materials.

PVA or glue based washes are also commonly used on top of a heated glass surface. For a few years now I have most often used a 1 part PVA (elmers glue) and 8 parts water solution, it provides an excellent surface for PLA and PET printing.

PVA wash. Apply when bed is cold and leave to fully dry.
PLA being printed on a PVA coated heated glass surface.

Getting the first layer distance correctly set takes some experimentation. After a number of prints you should be able to tell when it's going down well. 

The print above is just on the borderline of being very slightly too close for the first layer. But you are usually better off being slightly compressed than not enough. Just 0.05mm more or less can make a big difference.

And this first print layer above was just slightly too far away from the build platform. 

When you print the first layer, you want to see the perimeter and infill join up, no gaps or plastic riding up in ridges. When you print the second layer, you do not want to see the hot end nozzle ploughing through the first, it should again be nicely layered on top, not digging into the first layer of material.

Gluestick, most brands seem to do a similar job. Mark Durbin kindly brought me back some genuine sticks of Elmers glue from the US. And while I remember Mark has a stunning lithophane generator up here, do check it out.

If mixing up glue and painting it onto your build platform sounds like too much work, you can also use a gluestick. Again applied when cold and leave to dry, I also recommend heating it at 60 degrees C for 30 mins before doing the first ever print.

Hairspray is another common choice. Not all brands work, you need to look out for 'extra hold' with ingredients including Vinyl, Acetate and Copolymer. No wonder it holds hair in place.

Hairspray gives a nice mottled surface to the printed object, less shiny than just sheet glass alone. I have had a few materials, like Laybrick & Laywood stick so strongly when using hairspray that the glass cracked trying to remove them, so test out your spray with small prints first.

Hairspray is easily applied and works remarkably well for PLA and PET. It does required frequent reapplication as some will stick to the surface of most printed objects. 

Nylon is a little different.

Tufnol / Garolite is often used as a heated bed surface for Nylon based print materials.

Nylon likes cellulose based fibres, so it will stick to almost anything made from wood, paper, compressed cardboard or impregnated cotton sheets (like Tufnol). The main issue is still massive warping forces as objects are printed, they will rip up or bend cardboard. I found Tufnol to be the best surface for Nylon.

Blue tape and wooden surfaces also work with various degrees of success for Nylon printing. 

A few quick notes on ABS - 

Printing with ABS is a little more tricky. You really can't print without a heated bed, and that wants to be running up at 100+ Degrees C. to get the best results. Only a fully heated chamber really provides the best way to print large ABS parts (over 200mm wide).

ABS just wants to warp and generally curl up, you really only have two choices -

Mechanical grip - 

Often a perforated board (Fibreglass FR4/FR5, shown above) can be used, this will transfer heat and also provide mechanical grip by the first layer (or raft layer) of ABS being forced into the many small holes.

Using this method a sacrificial 'raft' is often printed fist, then the object on top, when printing is finished the raft is peeled off. The raft also helps to minimise warp in the printed object, but objects printed in ABS over 150mm wide will almost always warp or have curled up edges.

The second option, and now the most common is to wipe on a solution of ABS dissolved in Acetone. This is often called ABS Juice, companies like LulzBot provide nice instructions on how to make your own 'LulzJuice', thanks guys.

I recently tested out PEI as a (heated) bed material (sample courtesy of Robox) , this is quite expensive but does work very well with almost all existing thermoplastic materials being used for home 3D Printing today. I highly expect many more 3D printer manufacturers to adopt the use of removable PEI sheets as the next generation build platform, for home and consumer machines.

PEI Sheet - expensive, but performs well.

Now to test 3D EeZ - 

Lets get on to the testing of 3D EeZ. Various materials, stickers, solutions and methods have been tried over the years. Often proving successful with one or two types of 3D print material, but usually not many or all.

Before Christmas, Tony Gaston mentioned he had a new paint-on 'skin' for 3D printer platforms.
It's not an 'open formula' and I still don't know what's actually in it, but I was intrigued by the video's and Tony is a nice chap, just trying to get people to try out his product, so decided to try it out.

Having to import the solution into the UK took some time and proved costly to get hold of, but anyone in the US should now be able to get it quite quickly to test out. I was unsure if it would work better than other home made solutions, but why not give it a test.

My existing heated bed - 

This is what my typical mirror glass build surface looks like, this particular one has a mix of PVA wash, gluestick and some hairspray for surface 'repair'. It would have printed around 100 objects to end up looking like this, and it still works fine for most materials apart from ABS and it's limited to small sized Nylon parts only. 

It's very easy to clean in a little warm water, this is an Ikea mirror cut to size. ~410mm x ~205mm and it's 3mm thick glass.

It's very thick but easy to apply, just wipe on using the sponge brush. Tony is working on a better applicators and an easier to handle container.

It's recommended to apply three layers, most recently I have dropped down to just two, but for all the testing below I had three layers of 3D EeZ - applied in opposite directions, across, up/down, and across. Each coat is applied cold and heated at 60 degrees C until it dried, about 10 mins.

It smells a little like glue, but you soon realise it's not just PVA in this mix.

My first print was just a few tiny cubes (10mm tall) in PLA with a 'brim' (skirt) to test how well it would stick. Normally after printing a PLA part I would knock them off, sometimes before the temperature of the heated bed dropped too low, so I could start another print quickly. That was not going to happen with 3D EeZ.

If you look closely at the picture above, you can see where I tried to pull off the front printed tower, I could not move it, and when I used a pair of pliers I was concerned about breaking the glass. But it did finally come off and bubbled the 3D EeZ coating. First print, first damage, not good, but it was my fault. (I think).

I decided to wait until the temperature dropped. It was a cold day and at 18 degrees C ambient the other two snapped off firmly but without any damage to the surface or part. I realised you must wait for the temperature to drop before attempting to remove the parts.

I would also later work out that it can be too cold with 3D EeZ, see later on below.

At this point I was concerned that if I printed anything too big it would simply not come off of the build surface. But don't worry that's not the case, Just don't use the brim (skirt) function for anything.

I printed various smaller parts (ok, lots of test tree frogs) in PLA, Ninjaflex, Filaflex, Bridge Nylon, Polywood and three different types of PET... And ABS too! All worked, well.

Tree frog Ninjaflex, he is quite tricky to print at the best of times in rubber, but stuck, printed and peeled off perfectly.

I didn't expect Nylon to stick, but it's actually really good.

Bridge Nylon sticks really well (almost too well), above you can see some signs of what looks like damage, but a wipe over with wet sponge and this disappears. Ignore the obvious surface damage in the middle, this was the forced 'hot removal' of the very first print tower. Again it was 'repaired' with a spot of water.

At some point printing different materials (and many more frogs) I didn't wait for the bed temperature to drop, and further damage was sustained to the surface. At this point I decided to work out what the ideal removal temperature was. It turns out that it's around 28 degrees C for most materials I tested. I believe the 3D EeZ coating changes from a semi-flexible surface to a more solid film at around ~40 Degrees C. But that's just from observation during use.

If you leave the printed part on the build platform and let it cool completely, it actually seems harder to remove than at around 28 Degrees C. I found that you can heat up a cooled bed to 40 and let it drop back to 28 for much easier removal of any stubborn parts you have let get too cold.

I now have my end of Gcode set to drop down to 28 degrees C at the end of a print making removal much easier.

It's quite easy to repair the surface, you just drip and smooth on more of the 3D EeZ solution into any damaged areas. After discovering the ideal removal temperature and repair, I managed around another 120 prints all without any further significant damage to the coating. I found a sponge wash over of water every 40 or so prints helped refresh the surface.

Getting bigger (Aria the Dragon)

And bigger - dolls furniture 

And for a really interesting test, the beautiful Astrolabe Tree Ornament by Don Foley

These rings just pop off with a normal scraper when the bed is around 28 degrees C.

Here you can see the nice matt finish you get on the underside of the print, this is particularly nice as it helps to make it look just like the other surfaces. Using just glass you get a very shiny base that can often look out of place.

The shadow rings you can see in the background will lessen next time the bed is heated, or a wipe of a wet sponge seems to help make them vanish.

I have also successfully tested ColorFabb WoodFill, BronzeFill, CopperFill and GlowFill, they all print perfectly and can be easily removed without damage to the surface coating.

I printed out bigger and more complex parts, all without the need of any form of 'brim' or skirting option.

I ended up printing a pot that filled the entire build platform, the only way to go any bigger is on my 3DRmega as soon as I find more time to pick that project up again.

The bigger parts were also quite interesting, as when they cooled some popped off the platform themselves, some had an edge stick but generally the bigger the part the easier it was to remove.

Does it last forever?

After around 120 prints I notice a slight yellowing of the surface.
No. For me when it starts to yellow and I can no longer revive it with a splash of water, it's time to change the coating. At this point parts were starting to stick much more strongly than before and clear ridges were visible on the surface.

It's very easy to remove, just soak in water and it will peel off. These sheets when dry feel quite different to dried PVA, they crackle and feel more crisp. They are flexible, strong and not brittle.

You can't apply it to every surface -  

That leads me on to one last bit of advice if you try out 3D EeZ - do not apply it to Kapton or PET Taped bed surfaces. You can print once, but it cracks and lifts off the surface. This makes sense really, it's just like having a PET printed part stuck to it.

I tested the material at bed temperatures from 30 Degrees C to 120 Degrees C with almost all the materials I had.

Like I said above even ABS sticks to it without a brim. I didn't print big in ABS, so that's one to do next time.

I sent over lots of feedback to Tony, he planned to tweak the formula, and try to get more manufactured as soon as possible. If he can get the volumes up and make it low cost, maybe more people can benefit.

If you are interested, Tony is also looking out for distributors in Europe/UK he is planning a launch soon.

I'm going to call this part one, as I do also intend to look at other solutions and surfaces now also becoming available. If you have any experiences of materials or coatings, want to share a great formula or have questions, do get in contact or leave a message below.

I hope that was useful and you get a chance to try out 3D EeZ at some point, it's a very interesting formulation, I wish Tony success with it.

Until next time.