Evolution of a Blog

This blog has evolved as I have as a maker. It starts at the beginning of my journey where I began to re-tread my tires in the useful lore of micro electronics and the open-source software that can drive them. While building solutions around micro-electronics are still an occasional topic my more recent focus has been on the 3D Printing side of making.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Another 3D Printed Kit - German Field Wagon

Somehow I got distracted from finishing my urban diorama so that I could do a German Field Wagon.  Have actually done two different models at this point with the first one being loosely patterned after some wagons that I found on the web and the second being a much closer to reality model.

Here are a couple examples of field wagons from searching the web.  Interestingly some of the first images that are returned are those from one of the other kits out there.

With those pictures as inspiration I simplified things a little and came up with version 1.  Here it is on the cutting matt and also on the urban diorama.  I like it but thought that I could be a little more accurate from a modeling perspective so came up with a new version shown below.

I know, the paint still needs work!  The model however, IMHO, looks pretty tight.  I believe that it is pretty close to the right dimensions though  some allowances were still made for the small scale.  I have some horses on order and will update this post and the wagon once I have them in hand.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

T-34 and Panther in Diorama Shots

I printed a Panther G and a T-34 85 at a pretty high resolution and then had them painted by David at Prepared for War.  This was before I decided that I needed to be able to paint my own tanks but I still refer back to his work for ideas and guidance.

The first set of images are taken with the urban diorama that I am currently trying to finish.  It will feature a Tiger II with open hatches getting a resupply.  The diorama is intended to illustrate the impact that a 3D Printer can have on modeling and as such I have thrown a lot of plastic at it from my collection of bling that I sell on eBay!  More on this diorama later.

The remaining two photos are of the T-34 on the diorama that I built to show off my Bailey Bridge.  Since I do not think that Lend Lease provided the Soviets with any Bailey Bridges the accuracy of showing a T-34 on one is clearly questionable!  In thinking about it, however, it could have been a bridge in part of the allied captured area of Germany that was ceded to Soviet control?

Friday, January 22, 2016

Painting Tanks - Side by Side - Ready to Start Painting

Assembling the Tiger II was a lot more work than I anticipated!  Not the kit's fault that I lost a couple of the tiny little fiddly bits and had to design and print replacements (hatch on top of turret and the exhaust stacks).  Also the fact that I am a pretty inexperienced model builder and it shows in some of the assembly!

The kit gets some credit though as some of the parts are really fiddly and while they all ended up fitting logically the instructions were not great (not really instruction just a page illustration) and some of the parts required a lot of cleanup and twiddling.

I do love the feel of the Battlefront tank though.  It is heavy.  Just like a tank should be!  Not sure I would want to carry a case of them around though!

 Side by Side Notes
3D Print 

None required
Took some time. 
Stay tuned as in the not so distant future there may be an easy way to add some mass to 3D Printed tanks.
I know that I already mentioned this but I do like the heft of the Battlefront tank!
One of these tanks is not...
...scaled right!

Next Post in Series: Primed, Base Coated, and Ready for Camo

Previous Posts in the Painting Tanks thread:

Side by Side - 3D Print vs Battlefront Model
First Blood

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Painting Tanks - Side by Side - 3D Print vs Battlefront Model

I gave away the Tiger II that I had painted so need another one for my "Convergence of 3D Printing and Model Building" diorama.  Decided to do two and compare the process between my 3D Printed version and a Battlefront Cast model.  This post will be the first of that comparison series.

Here is the hull of the 3D printed version with the support material still in place.  This stuff is a pain to remove!

Below is a first pass at removal of the support materials and as you can see from the second photo there is still cleanup to be done.

Here is the cleaned up model ready for primer.   I should have timed the process as I do not remember how long the cleanup took...but it was not a trivial exercise (couple hours maybe).  Note the open hatches.  I was able to modify the model for this look. 

Below is a first look at the two hulls side by side.  The cast model, at least I assume that the hull is cast?, is 'def more detailed than the 3D Print but that is only a matter of what is included in the design, not what a printer is capable of producing.  The Battlefront model also relies on some add-on parts that will give additional depth and pop.  More on this later.

Here is the ready to assemble Battlefront model.  First a clean of all the parts to remove any left overs from the casting process.

 Side by Side Notes
3D Print 

A lot of work goes into cleaning up the support material.  I find that the higher the resolution the harder the cleanup job. 
Fair amount of cleanup here as well especially for the parts from the sprue.  Also need to wash parts in prep for painting.
None required
Additional work is required but having these add on parts adds depth and detail to the model.  Figuring out where things go and how they fit was a little harder than I expected.
It is light!  This could easily be remedied using some lead weights or something in the hull and maybe even bottom of the turret though this will require some additional work.
Not light!  Feels like a tank.

Next Post in Series:  Side by Side - Ready to Start Painting

Previous Posts in the Painting Tanks thread:

First Blood

Friday, January 15, 2016

Print of Something that is NOT a Tank

In honor of the new Star Wars I have devoted some hours, neigh, days of printing to the following model of the Millennium Falcon.  All credit to the author as this is one of the nicest models that I have printed from Thingiverse!  I scaled it down a little and have printed it at 0.1mm of resolution using a 0.25mm nozzle to preserve details from the larger model.

Real Impact of Small Nozzle on Overall Print Quality

Print resolution, layer thickness, is the single largest factor in determining the visual quality of a print.  The smaller the layer the less evidence those layers will leave on surfaces, particularly ones that slope, of the model being printed.  I have written a couple articles on this topic elsewhere on this blog including the summary that immediately preceded this post.

Print speed is also a factor though this can depend on the geometry of a particular model.  I wrote about this some time ago but still have not captured some images to reflect the impact of speed on a particular model.  Some models are better at being printed fast than others.   Some absolutely demand a slower speed.   I assume this is all about the distance of moves being made but it also seems to matter where the moves happen.   One thing that I know for sure is that if I want to bet on better quality as opposed to worse quality then I slow down the print speed!

This leaves the size of the nozzle.   This will likely not be important to many people depending on how much of a hassle it is to change a nozzle.   On my first printer, a Prusa I3, it was not too difficult, but still took some time.  On my second printer, a dual extruder, Makerbot Clone, it was a little more of a hassle because of the two extruders.  On my Ultimaker 2 it used to be huge hassle...until I upgraded to an Olson Block via 3DSolex.  It is amazing.  I can't quite do it in the 10 seconds they claim but I do get it done pretty quickly.

This has made printing with a smaller nozzle something that I can do with ease.  It has allowed me to design some parts that would be unprintable with the stock .4mm nozzle (such as my Bailey Bridge kit).

Given my fondness for interchangeable nozzles I had also come to the conclusion, with no actual evidence to back it up, that a smaller nozzle noticeably improves print quality.  This was based on my perception of things that I have printed but not with an actual side by side comparison.  Below I will do a side by side comparison.

Many models that have been designed to be 3D Printed already acknowledge that extrusion width is a limiter and will allow for this by ensuring that details can be printed with a "standard" size of nozzle laying down a "standard" width of extrusion.   If the designer is recreating a physical object in smaller scale this can help them by limiting how much detail they need to preserve.  I think this was a factor in the detail present in the tanks designed by M_Bergman though I can not be sure of this.  They print great with the standard nozzle (0.4mm, extrusion width 0.48mm) on my printers.  On the other hand, if you look closely, you can see that they print just a little better using a smaller nozzle (0.25mm, extrusion width 0.3mm).

My test case is the top of the turret for a T-34-85.  It has some good detail and allows for a nice slice of the top of the tank to minimize print times.  This is a handy way of doing a test like this, namely using the slicer to print just a section of the model.

The below images illustrate that the smaller nozzle does have a positive impact on print quality even in a case where the model is well designed for a normal nozzle.   What surprised me, however, was that the difference as pretty subtle as I expected more!

The standard 0.4mm nozzle is on the left and the smaller 0.25mm nozzle is on the right.  Two features to point out with the first being the view ports at the base of the commanders hatch and the second being the hinge on the smaller hatch in the foreground.  In the first case it is not evident (to me anyway) that the quality will be different though from the picture it clearly is better on the smaller nozzle.  The hinge does look like it should be crisper from the smaller nozzle but in reality the difference is harder to spot!

It is easier to see the impact that a smaller nozzle can have when looking at an example of small details.  The above model is the same turret shrunk by 62.5% (difference between 0.4mm and 0.25mm nozzles).   In this case there is detail that will be printed showing on the slicing rendering on the right and no detail at all rendered on the left.  The slicer ignores stuff that is too small to try and print!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Summary of Resolution Differences for Tank Printing

Sherman V's printed at 0.15 and 0.1mm layer height (respectively) using a normal 0.4mm nozzle

Tiger II printed at a very, very high resolution using a 0.25mm nozzle and a layer height of 0.08mm.

The above print took 13:10 Hours!

For a normal nozzle and at different resolutions this would be:
9:47 for 0.08mm
7:59 for 0.1mm
5:55 for 0.15mm

This is pulled from another post earlier on this blog ... Here are the test prints that more clearly show the differences in resolution (layer height).





Other posts in the "tank" series (oldest to newest): 

Second Order was for a Tank!
Tanks, Tanks, and More Tanks!
Some More Tanks
Removing Support from a Tank Print
Tired of Tanks Yet?
Visual impact of Resolution (Layer Height) and Speed

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Painting Tanks - First Blood

First it was printing tanks.  Lots of them.  Then it was designing and printing bling for tanks.  Lots of bling.  Still doing that by the way.  Then it was designing a bridge for tanks.  Am rather happy with that bridge also, by the way.  Now it is painting tanks ... and as covered in the last post,  dioramas in which to house them!

The first two tanks, the Panther G and the T-34, were painted by Prepared for War.  I had tried to paint a Sherman but had given up on the job.  On seeing these two demonstrations of what a little tank can look like, I decided to try my hand again.  I do think that David, at Prepared for War, might have had to spend a little more time on my models than he expected.  First, because I don't think that I did too good a job of cleanup, and second as the prints that I sent him were not as good as later prints that I have done (the Tiger in particular).

The last model shown below is not 3D Printed but is a regular injection molded model.  There is not a Stug available to print and paint as a direct comparison so I have ordered a King Tiger model to contrast against the one shown below.

Finally, I am working on another diorama (the first one featured a Bailey Bridge), this time an urban setting, that will feature a great deal more printed content.  The King Tiger will play the key role in that diorama.

Now leaving the professionally painted tanks behind we come to the fourth tank that I actually printed myself.  The first was the Sherman that I gave up on doing.  The second was a Panther G that I learned from but binned.  The third was pretty much exactly as below but was gifted.  This is a Cromwell IV and as you can see features some 3D Printed bling as well.

King Tiger printed with a 0.25mm nozzle, a layer height of 0.08mm, and at a pretty slow speed.  This is a high quality print and took over ten hours to complete!  I am happy with the result and with my paint job though I have not finished yet...as in it needs some aging.  Yes the number on the tank is bogus and will get changed!

Below is the Open Fire StuG G injection molded kit.  I did a reasonably good job of assembly and painting.  Very happy with my painting of the details.   Not so happy with the camo job which was my attempt at soft edged style using a brush as I don't have an airbrush (yet).  Also not sure about the tone of the paint compared to the Tiger.   I thought that I had done them the same but now don't remember.  Need to do two models at the same time and see what the differences really are.

There is no doubt that the quality of the injection molded model is better than my best print:
  • Even at 0.08mm resolution you can still make out extrusion lines.  Injection molded plastic parts are going to be a lot nicer than extruded parts.  Other 3D Printing technologies would or will address this (but not in my man cave).
  • While M_Bergman does a fantastic job of his models the details from areas like the road wheels on the StuG are better as a result of the injection molding process versus 3D Printing.
  • Other details on the StuG are also improved by the kit nature of the build.  Note that some of these things can easily be done on printed models (addition of bling).
I guess the question is one that the war gamer is going to have to answer.   Is the quality good enough?  Assuming someone has their own printer, assuming they have plenty of time to print tanks, and discounting capital costs for the printer, the King Tiger cost me 53p to print using mid-grade plastic.  It probably took the same amount of time for cleanup, removing support material and other artifacts of the print process, as assembly of an extruded model.  I have not done a side by side comparison but I assume that painting times will be about the same.

Those are some big assumptions but the presence of 3D Printers will be growing and I suspect that more and more armies will be marching as prints rather than extrusions.