Anger, helplessness, disappointment and frustration. Failure, discouragement, resignation and a general breakdown. The feeling of undeserved defeat. How can you get there? Just 3D print a difficult, over ten-hour model, which will get spoiled half-way through, for a more or less absurd reason. Is 3D printing difficult? It is certainly merciless. If you do not devote your full attention and commitment to it, it will mercilessly exploit all the weaknesses of the project, the 3D printer settings and the material which you use to print. Today, I pulled an all-nighter again to try something special. When it seemed that everything was as it should and I could go to sleep, I gave in and again was outwitted and deceived. When printing a model from wood for the best November printout competition organized by Mó, after approx. 8.5 hours, the filament broke off and for the next hour the 3D printer kept on printing with “nothing” in the air.

MójRepRap competition is freestyle – no matter what 3D printer or filament you use or whether it is technically perfect. It is the print itself that counts. Your creativity and ingenuity are appreciated most of all, the things I feel best at. Some time ago on the Web I found a model of Groot – a character from Marvel Universe, appearing in the series “Guardians of the Galaxy”, which was recently also made into a film. Groot is a representative of an alien civilization, and is… a living tree. What can you print it with…? Wood, of course! I have decided make a big printout, 18 cm tall, with Laywoo-D, the popular German filament based on PLA, which consists of 40% wood dust.

I prepared really seriously. First, I printed a miniature out of an ordinary PLA, to see how the model would look like in reality, to test settings and the supports’ density and whether is it ease to tear them off. It was quite illuminating, because it turned out that the base of the model was uneven and Slicer generated very peculiar supports, quite difficult to remove.

Although I had some Laywood in stock, just in case, I had a new spool delivered – or rather a roll, since the material is sold in rolls wrapped in ordinary manila envelope. The material was hanged on the mounting especially designed and printed for this job. The 3D printer’s plate had been carefully calibrated relative to the head, using Krzysiek Matusiewicz’s idea, that is with a dial indicator installed on the printhead.

I tested a few additional settings in the KISSlicer and after selecting the most optimal ones, in my opinion, turned on the printout… It was 10:30 PM. Everything was as it should, the only problem appeared after approx. 3 hours when it turned out that the successive layers of the infill were not too solid. Nevertheless, their rigidity was sufficient for the integrity of the outer walls of the model. When I began to feel absolutely sure that nothing could go wrong, at about 02.30 I finally went to sleep.

A mistake. I shouldn’t have…

When at the crack of dawn I dragged myself out of bed, wanting to see how the printout was going, it turned out that in the meantime the filament broke off and the 3D printer had been printing in the air for about an hour. The display indicated 9 hours and 40 minutes.

The reason was quite typical – the filament was not jammed on the mounting, the roll was loose. There were no loops at the tube feeding the filament to the extruder. Maybe Laywood was just cracked on the roll from the beginning? Maybe I inadvertently broke it and put it on the mounting? Or maybe something else happened? Anyway, the printout was trashed and I lost any desire for it to be repeated. Sorry, but the world will not see Groot printed from wood. At least not printed by me…

Of course, such situations are not uncommon. Each 3D printer user had dozens, if not hundreds of them. My educational box with examples of failed prints, which we discuss in class, is gradually filling up. Sometimes a design is badly prepared for 3D printing, sometimes the project just can not be printed at all. Sometimes the filament breaks or curls on a roll. 3D printers require attention and care. There is good reason to install cameras in their interiors…

Paweł Ślusarczyk
CEO of 3D Printing Center. Has over 15 years' experience in buisiness, gained in IT, advertising and polygraphy. Part of 3D printing industry since 2013.

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