3dhubs, printrbot comments edit

After I had my Printrbot Simple Metal for about a month, I found 3D Hubs and I listed my printer at the suggested prices. 3D Hubs suggests a $10 setup fee and $1 per cubic centimeter of filament.

After my printer had been listed about a month I received an inquiry from a college student who wanted to print an Adafruit WiFi camera project it looked simple enough, but he wanted to do the bumper parts in a flexible material which I had not done before. Seemed like a good excuse to try out ninjaflex so I ordered some and printed out the camera parts and learned a little bit about using ninjaflex.

I enjoyed printing the first project, and after a few weeks I received an order for a 3D printer part I printed it out and shipped it off to the customer. I printed one more order in February and started a new job at the beginning of March.

The first couple of months I had my printer I was unemployed so I printed a ton of projects and gifts for the holidays and really got it dialed in. I had several hundred dollars of birthday and Christmas amazon giftcards sitting in my amazon account so every time my daughter wanted to print with a new color I bought it and somehow I wound up with 12 different colors.

Now I was working again and I having printed most of the things I needed for my projects I decided to see if I could use 3DHubs to utilize all the filament I had bought by printing projects for people on 3D Hubs. My total 3D Hubs revenue for February was only $30, so if I planned to pay for my printer and filament I needed some more orders.

3D Hubs releases a monthly 3D printing trends report that aggregates together data from all of their hub orders into an overview. There is a lot of interesting data in this report, including some interesting average order price data by category.

Average order

Looking over the data, all of the categories are quite a bit over $20 for the average order price, and $20 is a pretty powerful dollar amount for most products.

In March I lowered my prices to $0.20 per cubic cm and $5 setup (Lowest prices they allow) for my lowest priced medium quality option and since have done pretty well.

Month # of Orders Total Revenue
February 2 $32.00
March 8 $151.00
April 10 $128.00
May 12 $179.00
Hub Screenshot

At this point 3dhubs has paid for my printer, now I am trying to see if I can pay for all my filament and the new computer I bought to handle 3d software. While I could probably make more money doing software development in my spare time, I have had a lot of fun printing people's projects and it has not occupied a ton of my time. As a hobby it has been pretty amazing, since it deposits money in my paypal account that I can use to buy more stuff from adafruit.

I have now completed more than 25 orders and am the second highest rated Printrbot Simple Metal on 3D Hubs in the world, and based on the total of 161 reviews for hubs in Seattle it appears that I have accounted for 15-20% of the total order volume on 3D Hubs for Seattle.

Printing people's projects has really been a great experience and I highly recommend it to people who have their printer dialed in and are trying to figure out what to do with their filament.

3d printing, filament comments edit

After printing a lot of PLA on my Printrbot Simple Metal I started looking around at some of the exotic filaments available. I have a roll of ninjaflex and was interested in some of the filaments from taulman.

A 3D Hubs customer had been ordering parts for a prototype that was going to be in contact with food so we decided to try out a bunch of the higher temperature taulman nylon and FDA materials.

Filament Material Type Color
Alloy 910 Polymer Alloy Natural
Bridge Nylon Natural
Nylon 680 FDA Nylon Natural
t-glase PET Plastic Clear, Black, Green, Red, Blue

If some specific settings are used the t-glase filament can be printed with some very nice optical properties, but I have not played with any of those options yet, I was mostly interested in getting successful prints to start.

I don't have a heated bed for my printrbot and don't really want to get one if I can avoid it. For PLA I often print on a raft because it gives me a nice stable surface for parts and prevents warping, but I could not get a raft to lay down successfully with any of the taulman filaments.

Then I tried a brim and it became much easier to print with these materials. The problem I had with the raft was that if part of the outer structure of the raft did not lay down well the entire structure of the raft is compromised, where with a brim it just affects an inconsequential outer layer.

Here are the basic settings that I eventually used for all 4 materials; I did slow down the t-glase a bit more than the others to 40mm/s. I read all sorts of tips in forums and such that all resulted in failed prints, here are the settings I used successfully.

Bed Prep: Blue Tape with Elmers Glue Stick
Nozzle Size: 0.4mm
Layer Height: 0.1mm
Shell Thickness: 0.8mm
Fill Density: 30-50%
Temperature: 240 degrees Celsius
Platform Adhesion: Brim
Print Speed: 40-60 mm/s

I printed a 3D Hubs marvin in Alloy 910, the keychain loop on the top is much stronger than the PLA versions of this.

Alloy 910 Marvin

The bridge filament is very similar to ninjaflex while printing much more easily, it is not as "rubbery" as the ninjaflex but is still very flexible. Below are some parts printed in bridge.

Bridge Parts

I had the hardest time printing th t-glase filament, it was difficult to get it to start sticking to the bed and it seemed to want to warp the most. I was not able to print multiple parts on the bed at once with the t-glase without warping problems.

t-glase Parts
t-glase Parts

The nylon 680 printed very similar to the alloy 910, my first print did have some discoloration but subsequent prints have been nice, not as white as the bridge but evenly colored.

arduino comments edit

When Nwazet closed down I bought a number of 8x8 Led Matrices for $1 each. I had these for a while and then bought some Adafruit 16x8 Led Matrix Driver Backpacks - HT16K33 to power the Matrices.

This seemed like an awesome plan, but this backpack was my first lesson in making sure that the products I was using are popular and well supported. While there are tons of examples of how to wire the adafruit backpacks with the same chip that are integrated, I could not find anything using my backpacks.

Eventually I found a datasheet for my matrix and used a piece of paper to map out the pins from the matrix and where they needed to connect to on the backpack

Paper Pinouts

Then I laid out the breakout and a matrix on some breadboards and started wiring it all together.

Circuit Image

I cobbled together some code from a few different examples and finally got the matrix working. The code is on github and there is a video of the matrix in action below.