3D Printing


The Bay Area’s Maker Faire 2018 encompasses an impressive scope of activities. Pedal-powered live music, fire-breathing machines, kids building stuff, corn dogs, fresh honey, LEDs, soldering, roaming robots, and so much more. The last couple of days I made a few posts on the things I saw at Maker Faire. In this post, I’ll summarize many things that don’t fit together, but I wanted to mention that I enjoyed seeing.

Click here to check out my other Maker Faire 2018 posts. They include first-looks at the two new exciting Arduino boards, five companies I didn’t expect to see at the show, and a photo gallery of my favorite stuff.

While I bought my 3D printer a couple of years ago, in March of this year, it only had 75 hours of use. Since March, my counter is over 300 hours. Why? After spending some time doing the right tweaks my printer is printing crazy good. Here are some of my 3D printer tips.

Maybe you’re in the market for a printer, use one at school, get access to one through a maker space, or (like me) used to use yours for a desk ornament, these 3D printer tips are likely to help.

While I was attending a material science conference, I learned the value of listening to something new. The paper I came to see was finished, and the next was about to start. It was titled, “Additive Manufacturing.”

I almost left!

What a dull phrase, right? Well, I was stuck in the middle of a row with four people on either side of me. So I decided, it was a good time to catch up on Reddit. What I didn’t realize is “additive manufacturing” is what almost everyone else in the world calls “3D Printing.” Plus, this presenter was talking about doing it with metal!

When you think about it, most extrusion-based 3D printers are laying down material one layer at a time. In other words, they are manufacturing an object by “adding” material. See the connection? Most people probably lump 3D-printing into rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing into a “real” production process.

One more story.

At SXSW one year, I attended an event held by Shapeways. Objects they made were all over the venue, and they looked incredible. Plus, some were for sale. My favorite? Super Mario Bros related stuff. Do a search for “Mario” in Shapeways marketplace for some neat things to add to your desk.



Recently TechShop opened up one of their shops in Round Rock which is just a few minutes from Austin, where I live.  TechShop is an awesome membership based workshop with a huge variety of tools useful for making things.  On this holiday Friday I decided to spend some time with the MakerBot Replicator.

For some time I have been looking at a mini-tripod for my camera/iPhone so I could get pictures of projects while working on them.  While browsing Thingiverse, I came across design files for such a thing.

Since this was my first time using ReplicatorG and the first time I made a 3D print, I decided not to make any modifications.  As it turned out I used the latest version of ReplicatorG (0040) which appears to have a bug.  When I extruded using the Replicator’s left extruder  the MakerBot started off the platform (as if it was using the coordinates for the right extruder).  After down-reving to 0037, things worked fine.

It also appears my Patroit-branded 2GB memory card is not compatible with the MakerBot’s reader.  Bummer.


During the safety and basic use class we spent quite a bit of time on how to level the build platform.  It seemed like a simple enough procedure, so I didn’t fully understand why we spent so much time on it.  The first two pieces of the tripod I printed had a bit of a mess on the first layers above the raft.  After going through the leveling procedure a 2nd time, parts came out much (much) cleaner.

Left is Poor Leveling, Right is Better Leveling


This particular design took 6 prints of 5 pieces to be completed.  The total print time was around an hour to an hour and a half.  In order to attach to a camera a screw is necessary.  On the Thingivere project page, at least one individual has tried printing their own screw.  My TechShop is partnered with a Lowe’s, so i went for the pre-made screws.

Fully Assembled Mini-Tripod

Overall the tripod doesn’t really withstand much weight.  However, I think it will work for the couple of times went I want to use my camera to shoot some video or get a clear macro shot of a project.

Ready for Action!