Thursday, June 21, 2018

My Creality Reality

My Creality Reality
 By Donald Youngner

Wouldn’t it be great if you could think of something and just print it out like you do on inkjet printers but actually have the item in your hand? Well, you can it’s called 3D printing.  The way I got into this was the need to create something for my side business called Wet the Face. I make shaving soaps and aftershaves for the wet shaving community. I wanted to create molds for making Bars of soap. I do this now by going to Home Depot getting the wood cutting it to length and bolting them together. I wanted to see if 3D printing would let me make one whenever I wanted and explore other things like custom stamps and shapes for bar soaps. So I began to research.

The 3D printing community is growing every day with more printers and accessories coming to market all the time.  YouTube has a vast number of Makers as they are called toting everything from Printers to filament reviews. I happen to like a few of them namely Joel Teller of 3D Printing Nerd and Angus Deveson of Makers Muse. With the help of both of these guys, I was able to get through some of the trials and tribulation of being a Newbie as it were.


The first step is figuring out what your budget is going to be because this will determine what kind of printer you’ll be getting. 3D printing isn’t cheap but it can be if your willing to do some work with a lot of hair pulling until you get things right. If you're looking for a system where you can push a button and in an hour out pops this printed item, then stop read no further there is no such thing… yet but give it time. Right now whatever system you select be prepared for a learning curve. Terms like The Hot End, The Gantry, Extruder, Bowden Tube are all going to be commonplace to you soon and of course we have the filaments called PLA, ABS PETG just to name a few and lastly the CAD or modeling software along with the slicing software. It’s enough to make your head spin.

For me I needed something cheap and currently as of this writing cheap for a 3D printer is around $400 to $500 dollars delivered. My budget and research lead me to purchase a Creality CR-10S printer. For the price, you just can’t beat this system and just a few days ago Creality came out with a new model called the Ender 3 which is another cheaper and smaller version than what I picked. The catch is it’s a kit so you have to put it together yourself. The CR-10S is the same way but has more prebuilt parts.

I ordered mine online and it nearly took a month to arrive. When I order this product it was advertised as a CR-10S Creality 3D Printer but when finally got to my doorstep it was clearly a fake or a clone. I had it out with the vendor and so did eBay they held his store closed and sent back my money and shut him down. During this crisis, I have to thank the Creality Facebook Groups because without them I would have been lost. They even told me where to purchase a true CR-10S so I went to Amazon and purchased one from CCTREE. It came in about 3 days.

As soon as it arrived I started putting it together. My advice is to join as many CR-10(S) Facebook groups as you can then start in. You can follow the supplied booklet or on the SD card, you will find a more detailed set of instructions to put your printer together. Most likely when your done your going to need to adjust many things in order to get a print to work correctly and this is where YouTube comes in. I have found a few good channels which have solved every one of my many issues so far. Every owner goes through this so it's not looked down upon if you need help. In fact, it’s a great way to really understand how the whole thing works.  I have a background in IT I’ve been doing that kind of work for over 40 years and only a slight percentage of that knowledge can be applied to 3D printing. It took about 2 weeks to really get the printer working. I took the advice of Angus of Makers Muse and printed the test prints designed to show you where your printer needs adjustments. This is really the only way to find out. All of this is extremely time consuming and I’ll explain why as we move on to my own prints.

So now that the printer was working you can do two things. (1) You can be the type of person who spends $500.00 to print plastic objects others build or (2) you can learn to create something on your own. I elected to learn how to create and was introduced to AutoDesk’s Fusion 360 by watching Joel and Angus create objects. They make it look so easy but again you have a learning curve with this software which if I spent years with it I’d still not know everything it has to offer. The best thing is if you’re a hobbyist the software is free! I did, however, learn how to create a 5lb soap mold and soap stamp for placing my logo on each bar of soap.


Now comes the crazy part of this entire process, the printing.  Oddly it's the elephant in the room which no one talks about. Let’s take the soap mold for example. It's about 14in long and about 7in wide. This mold is cut in half to make taking out the soap easier. Each side of this print will take 22 hours to complete. Even the test prints I mentioned earlier take 3 hours or more to run each. To say I was a little shocked is an understatement but this is how it is. You can get away with less quality by laying down a thicker line of the filament by increasing the nozzle size. Currently, 0.4mm is the smallest recommended size which yields great results and increases print time. If larger nozzles are used your end product would not have the same finished look to it. You can find out how long something will take before you print with a program called a slicer. It turns your 3D design into something called GCode and this is what is used by the printer to create your 3d print.

Now as I told you before a trip to Home Depot could get this done in about an hour but I was determined to give this a try. So, now the question is what filament should I use? Well, I was told to use PETG why? Because its resistant to the heat and very strong and this is the plastic that containers like water bottles are made of. The others like ABS or PLA are far less superior in these areas. You can write a book on just filaments alone so I won't get too much involved with them but PETG is difficult to work with because you need to make adjustments as you use it but once you get things dialed in it should come together for you or at least that’s what I’m told.  As of this writing, I have only successfully printed one side of this mold and so far I’ve tried twice printing the other and still have issues with the corners lifting from the build plate. I have implemented all the suggestions from many groups and still have problems.

Going forward I’ll have to reevaluate 3D printing for my business needs. I see the potential but I’m looking for a more practical less time-consuming process. For now, it’s going to be a new hobby. I have everything so I’ll just keep learning Fusion 360 which I find fascinating and I’m also learning a little GCode programming. This has been helpful in creating my own .FFF file which is used by the slicer to configure all your settings for printing all types of filaments and when it’s perfect I will give it away to others to try because that’s what 3D makers do. So, for now, I’ll just have fun with it and keep trying but as for creating any other molds, well, maybe I'll give it another try but thank god I still have Home Depot to fall back on.