3d printing in classrooms with FreeDee 3D Academy and Makerbot

3D printing in european classrooms? If you think that techies are the only ones using this technology, think again. We here at FreeDee 3D Academy don’t have to look far from our office in Budapest downtown to see how middle school students are using 3D printers. And why not? 3D printers are a natural for STEM education, an initiative that prepares students to excel in science, technology, engineering and math. The future of STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education may depend far less on traditional teacher-student hierarchies than on supportive communities of people who have diverse, complementary knowledge and enthusiasms. Knowing how to look up information and to tap into others’ specialties could become the real keys to STEM success. And the hands-on, do-it-yourself culture of the Maker Movement, along with the Makerbot 3D printers supplied by FreeDee Printing Solutions and other tools that animate it, might play a singularly important role in reinventing libraries and schools to work this way.


© photo: Szent László Katolikus Középiskola Kisvárda

But this time, a catholic middle school next to the Ukrainian border in Kisvarda has managed to set up the very first FreeDee reference 3D lab fitted with 4 Makerbot Replicator desktop 3d printers and a 3D Systems Sense handheld 3D scanner to support the education of teenagers in the STEAM education including arts and social sciences. To help students and others get past their fear or dislike for science, the director of the school and the teachers strongly favored a connected learning approach. Connected learning encourages people to identify the relevance of STEM topics to things about which they are already personally passionate. In that context, STEM can seem more meaningful and directly valuable, so individuals will be more motivated to learn the associated science.


© photo: Szent László Katolikus Középiskola Kisvárda

The St. Laszlo Catholic Middle School in Kisvárda, Hungary provides education for children from the primary and middle school. The school has purchased a set of professional desktop 3D printers and a 3D scanner through a couple of grants a couple of weeks ago, and the innovative technology has already made its presence known. Sixth and seventh grade students in robotics classes have recently designed and 3d printed custom designed mechatronic parts to improve their robots built from Lego Mindstorm kits.


© photo: Szent László Katolikus Középiskola Kisvárda

The students and their creative teachers have also created a number of other objects with the 3d printers, such as: replicas of ancient temples, nuts and bolts, geometric solids, stencils, dragonflies, cells, mathematic demonstration models, human and reptile bones, custom parts for a laser scanner, and of course some rings and headbands.


© photo: Szent László Katolikus Középiskola Kisvárda

Last year in December, the management of the school collaborated with FreeDee 3D Academy in Budapest to set up 3d professional Makerbot Replicator 3D printers and give one extra Makerbot Replicator 2 to Szt Laszlo Middle School in Kisvárda, Eastern-Hungary. They’ve already made great strides in learning how to create objects with the printer. Laszlo Jura, teacher of IT and Robotics, says the only challenge is designing with 3d printing in mind. He says the trick to an easy print is making sure the object is oriented optimally to avoid unnecessary supports and to give the most stable base for the 3d printing process.


© photo: Szent László Katolikus Középiskola Kisvárda

Students in programming and technology classes and the school’s robotics club started off 3d printing trinkets, also made of ABS and PLA, in the school’s STEM lab, which is actually a Makerbot Starter Lab including a 5th Generation Makerbot Replicator 3D printer, a Makerbot Replicator Z18 large format 3D printer, a Makerbot Replicator 2X experimental dual-extrusion ABS printer and the most popular desktop PLA printer, the Makerbot Replicator 2. After learning the mechanics of the 3D printer, they’re now putting their printers to use for a good cause. In the next couple of weeks, they will meet with representatives of the local organization of E-nabling the Future, called E-nable Budapest, an organization with a mission to partner with schools to use 3D printers to print hands and arms for children born without any. It is some kind of charity movement, because a lot of patients in Hungary cannot afford to buy medical prosthetics while their infants are growing.


© photo: Szent László Katolikus Középiskola Kisvárda

As featured on the local news, they’ve been 3d printing and building prosthetic arms and hands in the school’s STEM lab. Soon, the students will use the 3d printers to print a prosthetic arm and hand for their principal, who was born without a left hand. Kerezsi director says making an arm-hand combination will take some time and planning and will involve a good bit of measuring, printing, fitting, re-building and re-fitting. But he’s sure the students are up for the challenge.


© photo: Szent László Katolikus Középiskola Kisvárda

Some of the students say that may pursue engineering later in life, but for now they enjoy the active learning and using the 3D printer for a good cause. This approach to STEM built around personal enthusiasms dovetails with another trend, the rising interest in the Maker Movement—and in equipping libraries to become community centers for Maker activity. The Maker Movement is an extension of traditional DIY hobby craft culture that embraces digital technologies such as 3D printing and robotics.


© photo: Szent László Katolikus Középiskola Kisvárda

Last friday, on the 29th January, the middle school has made an open day for its partner institutes and regional companies of Eastern-Hungary to showcase their brand new lab with the 3D printers and 3D scanner. They have fought about their experiences with the additive technology, how they already have profited from the affordable desktop 3d printers using them to create educational demonstration models. Since the installation of the equipment, they already have printed dozens of colorful plastic models for making the education more interactive and allow children to experience the power of the brand new digital fabrication methods.


© photo: Szent László Katolikus Középiskola Kisvárda

After the opening ceremony, the teachers and gifted pupils have shown the audience in 4 different places how they have implemented 3d printing in their educational practice. In the first classroom, participants have thought how a physical object can be made out of scratch: they use free and open-source CAD modeling programs like FreeCAD or Leopoly to create 3 dimensional meshes. After that, they check and clean-up the model to prepare it for 3d printing on Makerbot Desktop 3D printers. With the Makerbot Desktop software, they place the virtual model on the printed and fine tune the printing process to be able to get the best results out of the machines. After an object is printed, they also give it a perfect finish with sanding and painting them. The results? As you can see, they have managed to produce a huge amount of educational models, for some coins. This way, they just saved a lot of money while the innovation drives a lot of attention from the region to the institute.


© photo: Szent László Katolikus Középiskola Kisvárda

According to recent information reported by the BBC, experts say we are headed for a boom in 3D printing, citing estimates that the market will top $16.2 billion in 2019. While you may already consider it to be booming just by the amount of press the technology is receiving, the idea is that those graduating with the skillsets currently are going to be melding with the initial need within industry. The timing will come together perfectly with large companies finally being convinced to turn to 3D printing. And as many guidance and career counselors in schools will be explaining to masses of graduates, companies are looking for: industrial engineers, mechanical engineers, software developers, commercial and industrial designers and marketing managers.


© photo: Szent László Katolikus Középiskola Kisvárda

A new report from the NMC Horizon Project has identified 12 emerging technologies that will have a significant impact on STEM+ education over the next one to five years.


© photo: Szent László Katolikus Középiskola Kisvárda

The Technology Outlook for STEM+ Education 2013-2018 recognizes learning analytics, mobile learning, online learning, and virtual and remote laboratories as technologies expected to enter mainstream use in the near-term horizon of one year or less. 3D printing, games and gamification, immersive learning environments, and wearable technology are seen in the mid-term horizon of two to three years. Finally, flexible displays, the Internet of Things, machine learning, and virtual assistants emerged in the far-term horizon of four to five years.


© photo: Szent László Katolikus Középiskola Kisvárda

The report declared over the next two to three years, four additional technologies will come to the forefront: 3D printing, games and gamification, immersive learning environments and wearable technology.


© photo: Szent László Katolikus Középiskola Kisvárda

“3D printing allows for more authentic exploration of objects that may not be readily available to education institutions, including animal anatomies and toxic materials. The exploration of 3D printing, from design to production, as well as demonstrations and participatory access, can open up new possibilities for learning activities.” writes the report. “Typically, students are not allowed to handle fragile objects like fossils and artifacts; 3D printing shows promise as a rapid prototyping and production tool, providing users with the ability to touch, hold, and even take home an accurate model.”


© photo: Szent László Katolikus Középiskola Kisvárda

We’ve seen 3D printers in action in STEM education, and we also use one here at FreeDee 3D Academy in our design process. What fields have you seen 3D printers at work? Let us know.

Budapest 3D Printing Days 2015 is coming next week!

On the 14th May 2015 the 3rd edition of Budapest 3D Printing Days is going to open its doors for a three-day extravaganza on 3d printing, additive manufacturing and associated technologies. Great speakers will build the core of Budapest 3D Printing Days’ outstanding line-up of conference sessions and interesting 3d printing or 3d scanning related workshops. Whether that business involves desktop consumer 3d printing, manufacturing or even hobbyist tinkering technology (maker culture), this years event in the heart of the Hungarian capitol will be the place to do the business.

© Design Terminal

© Design Terminal

The aim of the exhibition and thematic keynote sessions is to provide inspiration and education on all things designing and making – be that in an international aerospace and defense contractor or for homemade prosthetics for children and young adults. The 2015 line-up consisted of the leading lights from the companies that both provide and use the tools we’ve been covering for the last couple of years. The organizers have something different for this this year, but more of that later. The space for the show like the main exhibition area at Akvárium with the 3 halls, the conference hall at Design Terminal and the workshop space in Design Terminal’s pavilion were larger than for 2013 or 2014.

© Design Terminal

© Design Terminal

When I first visited the Budapest 3D Printing Days in 2013 there was a small and somewhat dispersed representation for the 3d printing industry, although as an exhibitor I absolutely felt happy and found some good friends and businesses during the 5 days of the show. The exhibition and workshops with working 3d printers have been really popular, the organizers decided to go bigger with the next years event. The Budapest 3D Printing Days 2014 has been the most prominent Central-European 3d printing event with a lot of exhibitor from the V4 Countries like Poland or the Czech Republic. For 2015, Design Terminal made a huge impact by launching the biggest and newest range of the regional 3d printing market, in this way the event wants to be even bigger: the region has its own leading cores and the organizers want to connect all the regional businesses around the local 3d printing industry. I really like the concept of becoming the place for regional desktop manufacturers to launch their awesome machines, for example the professional grade DLP 3d printer of Do3D, the super-affordable spider-like deltabot of Krak3n or the affordable industrial SLS 3d printer of a small company. Some ’traditional’-style desktop 3d printers will take place as well, like the CraftUnique 3d printer from Craftbot, which is already in production thanks to its successful indiegogo campaign.

Akemake at Budapest 3D printing Days 2014 © Design Terminal

Akemake at Budapest 3D printing Days 2014
© Design Terminal

The first day starts with the official opening ceremony, where all the companies will represent their products for the press and audience for a few hours. The conferences will take place on 15th May, the workshops will run continuously during the 3 days of the Hungarian 3d print show. Even you are a hobbyist or a professional, the most interesting day for you might be the conference day: the morning will kick off with some keynote speakers representing the longest-established companies in the industry like Arduino (Davide Gomba) or Makerbot (Alexander Hafner). Almost twenty speakers will take to the stage over the day, spanning the veterans and newcomers to share their vision for the technologies and application for the next couple of years. I hope I won’t miss the interesting lecture of Cristina Nan from Architecture Hafencity, and of course we really can suggest our dear friend David Pap from FabLab Budapest with their interesting workshops about generating custom g-codes for desktop 3d printers using grasshopper or 3d scanning techniques with photogrammetry or laser-scanning. How we make things today and how we made things twenty years ago has changed drastically thanks to the increased accessibility and power of computing solutions – will the same be true for the 3d printing technologies on the Budapest 3D Printing Days showfloor?

© parametric | art

© parametric | art

GigamaX3D and parametric | art have been central to Design Terminal’s Budapest 3D Printing Days for some years now, retaining a central position and substantial double-stand since the 2 companies work together from the beginning. They will be having their main, twin-desk booth which will be in a central place of the main hall, where they will be demonstrating the consumer and professional desktop 3d printers and materials and the production applications of affordable and/or open-source 3d printing technologies – including end user parts as generative jewelry, lampshades and sculptures by parametric | art. If you are curious what you could expect from the two companies for 2015’s event, you’re at the right place because there will be 2 workshops for generative 3d printed jewelry design and DIY 3d printing, which are open for the public during the Hungarian 3d print show.


© parametric | art

models by parametric | art and Virtox


GigamaX3D is going to be showing some brand new products and a couple of evolutions and improvements to already existing products. On the FDM desktop 3d printer side, they will showcase the Leapfrog professional 3d printer systems, the Creatr and the Xeed, and they also will run a fully open-source assembled K8400 Vertex 3d printer KIT, which also will be explained during the 3d print workshop on saturday. Some of he 3d printers at the booth will be 3d printing prosthetic hands for young people for the e-NABLE project with Joe Cross, who also will be a speaker and exhibitor at the Budapest 3D Printing Days. I am glad to spread the word about e-NABLE and how we can help in this area, because until recently, they did not have any e-NABLE volunteers working in Hungary.  Thanks to this event, they will be able to recruit new volunteers and help many children. The idea of desktop 3d printing being used at the point of need (or indeed by the person with need) to create healthcare solutions os something that will touched upon Joe Cross in his presentation. Honestly, I’ve never seen a project like e-NABLE developing such a great movement, so guys, if you have a 3d printer at home, don’t hesitate and support them with some prints you can afford.

© parametric | art

© parametric | art

I hope I’ve made some attraction to the event and if you’re around you will visit us at the Budapest 3D Printing Days, the event also has a facebook page and a microsite where you can buy tickets for the workshops and register as a visitor. The exhibition and the conferences are free to attend for everyone, so don’t miss the opportunity to get the freshest news from the 3d printing industry! Actually, one of the headliners of the huge 3d printing new portal (3dprintingindustry.com) will be a keynote speaker as well! See you there next week;)

© parametric | art

© parametric | art

Affordable 3d printing pen from Velleman

As I discovered when I could give a try to the 3Doodler handheld 3d printer back in March, 3d sketching in the air can totally be great fun. Let’s make it clear, you won’t create any flying machines or 3d printed musical instruments but it is possible to serve up something more elaborate than a squiggle ball with a little practice. The only problem with the original 3d printing pen construction is that it’s way too heavy to create precise drawings and is uncomfortable to use after a while.


3d pen for sketching in 3D

3d printer pen by Velleman

Just like in most cases of the 3d printing industry, after the successful kickstarter project of the doodler, a lot of chinese clones appeared on the market. The only problem with chinese suppliers is that you never can trust any quality values and replacing parts or getting support might be an impossible mission as well. You’d better get your 3d printing pen at a local supplier who cares about warranty – and if not, it will have consequences – and this way you can feel safe with your brand new 3d printing device.


© lix

© lix

But parents, please take care if you want to buy a 3d printing pen for Christmas, the tip of the machine can be really hot which can easily burn one’s hands! So please make sure that you child won’t touch the nozzle while sing the 3d printing pen, and you better do not leave it alone with it.

3d printing pen

3d pen by Velleman which works like a 3d printer

In this blog post I would like to show you a brand new 3d printing pen, this one is from the Belgian company called Velleman. Their amazingly popular K8200 DIY 3D printer KIT made them recognized in the worldwide maker community, although they’ve been producing DIY electronic kits like arduino shield and other professional electronic solutions for decades now. The new 3d printing pen has got some benefits and useful features like the 1.75 mm filament mechanism, which allows you to use any 3d printer filament from the cheapest PLA 3d printing filament rolls to the premium quality filament spools which allows you to 3d printsketch with wood or sandstone instead of being bound to expensive filament sticks.


There is a real 3d printer extrusion mechanism trapped inside the cigar shaped device. On the whole, many things has changed to the 3d printing pen’s shell design since the designers of the 3d doodler created their successful kickstarter project. The oblong device is covered in a white and blue hard plastic casing. It’s lightweight and easy to hold between your thumb, index and middle finger, just like a thicker ink pen.


3d pen for drawing in 3d

3d printer pen by Velleman

The Velleman 3D Printer Pen has debuted at the Maker Faire in New York. The 1.75 mm 3d printer filament extrusion system allows you to use all the common FDM 3d printing materials like ABS, PLA, HIPS, PVA, Timberfill (wood), Luminuous, Flexible, Conductive and so on… For example, playing with the conductive filament and sketching circuits in 3d or ON 3d surfaces can be an interesting stuff, I’d like to give it a go on some organic 3d printed designs. But let’stalk about the Velleman 3d printing pen, which is an absolutely great xmas gift, but for you, not for your toddler. Just check out the specs and prices, you can forget about the filament price because you can order 1 kg spools for about 20€ which last for a year or more…


3d pen

3d pen by Velleman


  • light weight design
  • slim design comfortable handle
  • speed adjustment makes it easy to control the drawing speed
  • for: heating ring and nozzle are an integrated cartridge
  • temperature adjustable
  • intelligent standby function, enters standby after 5 minutes of idle time
  • heat extrusion
  • filament: 1.75 mm ABS (included)
  • adjustable printing speed
  • for:: product designers, hobbyists and students


  • heating temperature: 320 – 482 °F (160 – 250 °C)
  • maximum heating power: 26 W
  • power supply: 12 VDC – 3 A
  • weight: 2.4 ounces (65 g)
  • dimensions: 7.3 x 1.7 x 1.2 inches (187 x 43 x 31 mm)

And how does the Velleman 3d printing pen work?

Literally, it is a small 3d printer extrusion mechanism integrated in a pen-shaped case, which melts and extrudes 1.75 mm thermoplastic filament sticks which can be deposited anywhere from ground instead of the layer-by-layer modeling technology of the desktop 3d printers. This gives you the possibility to build an huge variety of geometries and structures with ease! Most people will instantly be able to trace objects on paper, and after only a few hours of practice you will be able to make far more intricate objects. Just like a glue gun, but this 3d printing device doesn’t extrude thick plastic stick. This 3d printing pen extrudes heated 1.75 mm filament (PLA or ABS, which filament cools down once it’s out of the nozzle. This allows you to build 3D structures and shapes.


© lix

© lix

Why is it better, than the Doodler?

Because it is lighter, easier to use: you only have to plug in your 3d printing pen and wait until it heats the extruder. Once the wanted the temperature achieved, you can set up the speed of extrusion and start creating some magic! Especially for the holidays, just think about some awesome, lightweight truss-like christmas ornaments with your 3d pen! You can use any kind of 1.75 mm 3d printer filament in any colors, GigamaX3D also offer special 3d printing pen packages including some rolls of premium 3d printer filament or conductive 3d printing plastics.


Who is the Velleman 3d printing pen for?

3d pen by Velleman

3d pen kit with 3 spools of filament – for €71

For anyone who would like to draw in the air! It is a toy for adults, not for your children! It is not allowed at the age of 12 but your older teenager children would surely like it! I also have purchased my own copy because I though it will be a nice part and a great additional tool of my 3d printer collection. I already have a Flashforge Creator X Dual extruder 3d printer, which is a great copy of the Makerbot Replicator 2, which I also own. The Rep2 has been modded, it has an open-source controller and runs sailfish now, because I don’t want to be bound to MB’s presets or adjust the setting in text editor while modifying the profile files. I also have a Velleman K8200 open-source 3d printer kit, but I don’t use it for 3d printing: I’ve turned it with some open-source upgrade parts and a Proxon drilling machine into a simple CNC mill which can engrave or mill PCBs or soft materials like Styrofoam. The next thing I want to give a try to is the chocolate extruder, as you can see it on this video, it can print a chocolate mug on your toast for a delicious breakfast at the holidays! And if you want to complete your 3d printer setup, you also should have a 3d scanner which allows you to capture your environment in 3d and prepare it for 3d printing! You also can draw some hair or make-up on a 3d printed sculpture like these 3d printed Halloween monsters.

3d pen from Velleman

3d pen from Velleman


If you already are a 3d printer owner and maker, you can fix and repair your failed prints with your 3d printing pen. Just fill the holes, glue broken parts or pimp some old and failed plastic parts and turn them into some piece of art! In forthcoming world of new devices like 3d scanner and 3d printers, the Velleman 3d printing pen offers something creative, special and unique, allowing you to create strange new works of art – and it is truly affordable and a great xmas gift for about 70 Euros, including some spools of 3d printer filament. The 3d printing pen may look like a tech gift for 3d printing enthusiasts but thanks to its easy-to-use mechanism it can be a creative tool for everybody who like making things on their own! You also can print some graphic pattern on your 2d printer and then draw it with you 3d printing pen using heat-resistant translucent kapton tape on it! Have you ever tried a 3d printing pen? Come visit the GigamaX 3D Printing Studio in Budapest to test all their 3d printing, 3d scanning devices, you also can see how the Velleman 3d printing pen works! If you are from the EU, you can easily purchase your 3d printing related stuff on their 3d print webshop, the shipping costs are about 10-15 Euros under 10 kg across the continent so it isn’t a big deal to order some 3d printer parts, 3d printing materials or an affordable desktop 3d scanner for Christmas. By the way, have you 3dprinted something scary for Halloween? I’ve just checked these 3d prints from parametric | art, a Hungarian 3d designer and 3d printer guy, who also uses GigamaX3D’s filaments and 3d printers. Check out his blog post about 3d printed Halloween decoration, if you want some great downloadable 3d printable models!

3d printing competition at Budapest 3D Printing Days 2014

Affordable 3D printing and domestic FDM machines are having a huge effect on the DIY community. While there will always be room for making stuff by hand, it’s so helpful to just 3d print out a part you need. In honor of this awesome tech Design Terminal has teamed up with Varinex Inc. and Freedee Printing Inc.  to launch their call within the Budapest 3D Printing Days 2014 for a design competition especially for 3d printing with entry-level and industrial-grade 3d printers.

photo by Design Terminal

photo by Design Terminal

If you haven’t already been following, 3D printing is predicted to be absolutely huge – not just the next cool thing in tech, but hopefully something that will transform and change the way we manufacture our things and live in the future. From construction to toys and even food, 3D printing has really the potential to dramatically alter many of the things we do, and, in the design world, it is one reason why sharp borderlines between designer and user may blurred.

photo from last year's event © Design Terminal

photo from last year’s event © Design Terminal

The contest calls upon Hungarian designers/innovators/makers to create a product by using 3D printers. The goal is to demonstrate the potential of 3D printing technology. The call is available unfortunately only for Hungarians. You can apply by submitting this form.
The organizers will present the event with two different categories of submission. The two categories reflect important characteristics of the additive manufacturing processes while simultaneously looking for creative innovation through interpretation of different themes from 3d printed architectural models, industrial prototypes, decoration, 3d printed sculptures, toys, 3d printed jewelry, 3d printed lampshades etc.

designer 3d printed easter egg by parametric | art

designer 3d printed easter egg by parametric | art

The first category is for the designs which all can be made on an affordable desktop 3d printer using FDM technology. That means, a lot of design rules and technical boundaries of these plastic extrusion printers have to be looked before sending your design files, a minimum wall thickness of 2 mm is one of the conditions of a successful submission. Make sure your model doesn’t include too many overhangs, because there isn’t statement about soluble support material or dual extruder 3d printers. The height of the objects is maximized in 10 cm, so small sculptures, plain, minimalistic 3d printed jewelry pieces and simple, geometrical figures might fit the rules. The whole model has to fit in a 10 x 10 x 10 cm cube. By the way, there is an option to send physical 3d printed models as well, so what if I can make my design in triple scale with .8 mm wall thickness on a DIY open-source 3d printer using water-soluble PVA filament as support material in the secondary extruder?

generative 3d printed lampshade in dual color by parametric | art

generative 3d printed lampshade in dual color by parametric | art

Anyway, the more complex 3d printed models should go to the second category, which is separated for detailed geometries, which only can be manufactured on a professional, industrial grade 3d printer using SLS or DLP technology. These models are allowed to include some overhangs or fine details, but they ll should fit into a 20 x 20 x 20 cm cube, or they will be scaled before the production. Minimum wall thickness – just like in the first category – is about 2 mm, make sure your model doesn’t contain thinner structures.


my generative easter egg designs printed on a Perfactory machine

my generative easter egg designs printed on a Perfactory machine

Competitors can submit several entries. By entering this competition, everybody has to warrant that the work is their original work. 
 The designers have to claim that their work – to the best of their knowledge – is not, and has not been in production or otherwise previously published or exhibited. 
Neither the work nor its use infringes the intellectual property rights (whether a patent, utility model, functional design right, aesthetic design right, trade mark, copyright or any other intellectual property right) of any other person. So keep it simple and fair, don’t steal others design or download something, create some unique stuff on your own!

The best designs (10 of them) will be 3d printed and exhibited to show the visitors how you can create stunning art with a free or open-source 3d modelling tool like Meshlab, Grasshopper or Blender and an affordable desktop 3d printer. And maybe a whole lot of talent, but honestly, I’m not sure where you can buy that:)

unique 3d printed jewellery by parametric | art

unique 3d printed jewellery by parametric | art

You have almost a week for submitting you designs, the deadline is on 20th May, so let’s get busy and send you best designs to win a tablet and get your design 3d printed and exhibited on the Budapest 3D Printing Days 2014!

my 3d printed generative lampshade design with dual extrusion

my 3d printed generative lampshade design with dual extrusion

I also want to submit some of my designs, although I had to realise that most of them won’t fit the contest criteria. They are too big, include too thin structures, and I guess they couldn’t be 3d printed on a conventional cheap FDM printer with factory preset default setting. Although I’ve printed ’em on my Leapfrog Creatr pretty awesome, I have no idea what kind of 3D printer they want to use to print the projects of the competitors.

Until then, maybe you could help me to decide which designs of mine should be nominated, you can see some of them on the attached photos, please vote for your favourites in the comment section to let me know which forms and 3d models are the most popular. I usually try to explore the geometric laws behind natural forms to recreate them as parametric digital models, which all have been fabricated using affordable FDM 3D printers.

designer 3d printed easter egg by parametric | art

designer 3d printed easter egg by parametric | art

It’s a pleasure that I can get access to the 3D printer farm of GigamaX3D. They want to offer the best 3D printers that will be fast to assemble and will print high quality parts. They offer a wide range of 3D printers – from entry-level open-source machines to industrial-grade professional workstations – that would be useful to many people, helping them realize their dreams whether they be engineers, artists, students, entrepreneurs, architects or other maker. Their Leapfrog Creatr 3D printer is versatile and powerful, and I’m really excited to give a try to the Creatr XL, which can 3d print giant objects up to 60 cm height.

posing with the Leapfrog Creatr XL

posing with the Leapfrog Creatr XL

Tell me, what would you 3d print if you would have such an amazing 3d printer giant like the Leapfrog Creatr XL 3d printer with dual extrusion features? There is no need to split your designs into several parts and assemble them, you can print life-scale objects in one piece using the newest prosumer 3d printer of the dutch company.

If you are around, take a visit to the brand new HQ of Leapfrog in the Netherlands or come and visit GigamaX3D’s new showroom and studio in Budapest to get some personal experiences with these amazing 3d printers. And of course, see you at the Budapest 3D Printing Days in June! peace;)

The most prominent 3d printing event in Eastern Europe is coming!

Additive manufacturing and 3d printing is an amazing technology with unrivaled capabilities. There is no need to provide anything less than the unvarnished truth. When additive manufacturing’s advantages are wanted and needed, the facts will not dissuade potential users. Yes, it may lead to specific technologies being eliminated from consideration, but that is for the best for everyone involved. If you are interested in 3D printing, come and join the Budapest 3D Printing Days 2014 to get some really close experiences about this fascinating technology.


Whether you just want to see a real 3D printer in action for the first time or share your success with an advanced application, the best way to experience this technology is in person. In the company of engineers, designers and 3D printing experts around the globe, you’ll find out how to make the most of additive manufacturing in your scene.


When starting with this article, I was wondering about the 3D printing bubble – the theory surrounding the exponential rise in popularity the technology has seen in recent years, in particular the saturation of the desktop 3d printer market – is becoming a victim of its own success. Because the realm of 3d printing is no longer consigned to the underground-hacker-maker RepRap 3D printer community and/or industrial powers of this world, and because everybody from Barack Obama, Jay Leno to that chap from Made In Chelsea seem to have one, is 3d printing loosing it’s ‘coolness’?

© Design Terminal

If you want to get a bigger view from the exponentially growing scene, you should visit us at Budapest 3D Printing Days in June (check out the program), where you can see all the applications and innovations of this mysterious brand new domestic home manufacturing system. The organizers have developed a special program for professionals who want to learn and/or want to start with 3D printing, but don’t know where to start,  as the applications for this technology are so broad. The event will showcase the countless possibilities of 3D printing technology and gives a preview of where it is headed in the near future.

fotó 3-3

3D printing technology has advanced greatly in the past couple of years — it’s now used to create body parts, robots, jewelry, and houses. In June at the Budapest 3D Printing Days, vendors will showcase their creations, ranging from art and human body part reproductions, to life-size industrial prototypes, wearable art and fashion at the Design Terminal in Budapest.

3d printed generative bracelet by parametric | art

3d printed generative bracelet by parametric | art

GigamaX3D and parametric | art will be partnering with Design Terminal’s Budapest 3D Printing Days (the most prominent 3D printing event in Eastern-Europe) with a short-but-sweet conference session that continues our mission to inspire people to design and make – with a little help from generative 3d design and open-source affordable 3d printing.

© Design Terminal

The event will see presentations from many different users in the form of: Varinex’s György Falk, György Simó from Freedee, David Lakatos from Formlabs, David Pap from Fablab Budapest and Peter Varo from the Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design Budapest and Peter Szabo (me) from parametric | art and GigamaX 3D Printing Technology.


In addition to the presentations and workshops, visitors to this year’s Budapest 3D Printing Days will be able to experience the various applications of the 3D Printing technologies, from industrial to commercial and domestic use, while showcasing fresh innovations from the region.

GigamaX 3D Printing http://gigamax3d.com

GigamaX 3D Printing

GigmaX3D are specialists in desktop 3D printing with a wide range of open-source affordable 3D printers, FDM machines for the consumer and prosumer user community, including custom built FDM 3d printers for special applications. They also carry premium quality 3d printer filaments in a wide range of thermoplastics, including special materials like conductive ABS or luminous glow-in-the-dark plastics. In action at the show will be RepRap 3d printers, Flashforge machines, colorful 3d filaments, 3d scanning and showcasing 3d printed design objects. New to the line-up is the professional 3d printer line of Leapfrog, which are dual-head, multi-material desktop 3d printers with the largest build volume on the market that is capable of printing in PLA and ABS but also Laywood, Laybrick, HIPS or Nylon – and can use dissolvable PVA 3d printer support material© GigamaX3D

The small design studio, parametric | art will showcase some of its most unique designs including generative 3d printed jewelry, organic 3d printed lampshades, parametric geometrical 3d printed objects all made with affordable (and sometimes modded or hacked) desktop 3d printers using special materials like wood or sandstone. At heir booth at the Budapest 3D Printing Days they will wowing visitors with live demonstrations of their latest projects including generative 3d modeling with free and open-source tools like Grasshopper and Meshlab, and showcasing the 3d printing capabilities of custom built affordable desktop 3d printers. p4

The workshops and seminars are free with a registration and open to show visitors how 3D printing works, with a live demonstration so exhibition visitors can experience it first-hand. Technicians from parametric | art and GigamaX3D will produce various objects and projects for visitors to pick up and assemble. The parametric | art booth will also have a gallery space where products made during the exhibition will be displayed. gigaprint2

There are also opportunities to find out how the boundaries between designer, manufacturer and consumer are disappearing, with a growing movement of ‘hacktivists’, who share and download digital designs online so they can be customized for new uses.


Several workshops and seminars will give you a broad insight in the 3D printing market. You can attend one, but you can attend them all as well. GigamaX3D will do a seminar about open-source 3d printing solutions, you know, the movement which started with Adrian Bowyer’s RepRap 3d printer machine and is the first successful open-source and open-hardware project on the globe. If you want to create your own digital 3d designs for 3d printing, you should attend at the workshop by parametric | art, where you can learn basic 3d modeling tips and tricks and get an insight of generative and parametric 3d modeling techniques.


© photo by: Federico Gaudino

© photo by: Federico Gaudino

The event is divided into three thematic days. The lectures and conferences will cover the past, present, and future of 3D printing presented in text, image, and video. The best way to understand 3D printing is to see it in action. If you want to meet us, create something unique with the help of our designers and technician, or simply just want to buy an affordable desktop 3d printer or some special plastic filaments for you 3d printing machine, visit us at Design Terminal during the Budapest 3D Printing Days from 5-7 June! Peace;)

3D printed generative jewellery with affordable desktop FDM printers

I remember that it wasn’t a long time ago that 3D printing was a little-known term of the high-tech industry. And now, today it is a household name and an accepted technology entering its next major development phase. Right now, we can see 3D printing and all the hybrid additive manufacturing solutions for production taking off and we believe will fundamentally change the world of manufacturing.

In the last couple of years, the global media has given 3d printers a fair amount of attention and the industry now has great expectations placed on it. Perhaps the greatest asset of 3D printing is that it is an enabler . for both corporations and individuals. In fact, 3D printers is being used in three types of manufacturing and fabrication processes: personal manufacturing, augmented manufacturing and alternative manufacturing.

The oversimplification of 3D printing in the media and in conversations does the job of grabbing attention and drawing focus to the highlights of this fabrication process’ capabilities. That big picture has involved more and more people and attracted more interest in 3D printing than ever before. But of course, for an average customer, the details are missing. Without them, you can make poor decisions and you may conclude that 3D printing isn’t quite right for you. But you might know that the devils is in the details, and as the idiom indicates, getting to them may be a challenge for you.

The jewelry industry already understood the importance of harnessing the power of 3D technologies and additive manufacturing for the benefit of the industry in general – and training the next generation of jewelry designers. Parametric design processes like computational algorithms and data based design are the new tools for young designers, and the digital design combined with fully digital fabrication allows them to create some really amazing pieces using a CAD software or only coding.

generative lampshade designed by parametric | art 3d printed by GigamaX3D on a Leapfrog Creatr Dual extruder 3D printer

generative lampshade designed by parametric | art 3d printed by GigamaX3D on a Leapfrog Creatr Dual extruder 3D printer

There are some breathtaking projects around, you have to check out Nervous Systems Kinematics Home app to create custom generative jewellery pieces which can be downloaded and 3d printed on your personal 3d printer at home. Of course, you’ll need a desktop 3D printer with a resolution of 50-100 micron to be able to make high quality prints, nobody wants to wear something barbed. Post processing might be necessary, ABS prints can be smoothed in acetone vapour to get a shiny finish (fine details and contours often disappear during the smoothing process).

When it comes to getting the best out of 3D software and a desktop 3D printer, we can keep in mind that this technology is still a complementary tool, it supports and enhances traditional techniques (like lost-wax casting for example), not replacing them.  It’s a technology that gives the jeweler a new set of tools (both for design and fabrication), but it’s not a replacement for traditional skills. When we are talking to a designer and they want to design a conventional wedding ring, they would not need to take advantage of the things 3D printing offers because on many cases, traditional manufacturing techniques are better placed to do so. According to this, we can say that a 3D printer won’t put a traditional jeweler out of his job. The whole new process of 3D printing only saves designers from having to model the initial part of the design from scratch.

It is a really nice idea for students of for those trying out the technology, to push the technical boundaries of jewelry design and manufacturing with new digital tools as a pattern language. Fashion design, industrial design, architecture and jewelry already adopted the parametric design language which allows the designer to generate a huge amount of variations and iterations for a defined situation depending on fitness values and genetic algorithms. There are some open-source tools for generative design, which makes this game much more fun!

gyroid pendant by parametric | art

gyroid pendant by parametric | art

A dear friend of mine has designed the generative 3d printed jewelry pieces shown in the pictures I’ve inserted, I think they all look really unique, and they all came out from an affordable desktop FDM 3D printer. Most of them are 3D printed on a Leapfrog Creatr Dual extrusion 3D printer, some of them have been printed on a RepRap Huxley or the Velleman K8200 3D printer. In some cases, he has made some test prints on a Makerbot Replicator2 as well. I bet you’ll like all the stuff of the parametric | art 3d printed generative jewelry collection, for some design, there are already uploaded design files (.stl) on Thingiverse, so you only have to download and scale it, and then 3D print it!

'chiselled' bracelet by parametric | art

‘chiselled’ bracelet by parametric | art

The illustrated 3d printed jewelry pieces are great examples for the quality which can be reached with a well-calibrated 3D printer and using premium quality 3D printer filaments. For the chiseled details and overhangs, you’d better print these kind of objects with high resolution (100 micron or finer) and use water-soluble PVA 3D print support material to avoid the trouble while removing supports manually.

'vorocuff' bracelet by parametric | art

‘vorocuff’ bracelet by parametric | art

If you want to design and 3d print your own generative 3d printed jewelry (for example like the voronoi bracelets on the picture above), you don’t need to buy any expensive stuff. You don’t need a professional CAD software which are really expensive, there are plenty of open-source and free tools which you can use as well. Just like I described in a former blog post about 3d modeling for 3d printing, you can use Meshlab, Grasshopper for Rhino and Meshmixer for the modeling work and Netfabb or similar software for optimizing and repairing you meshes before generating the g-code. If you want to learn this stuff, there are some really nice workshops offered by Gigamax 3D printing technology.

DIY 3D printer workshop GigamaX3D x parametric | art

DIY 3D printer workshop
GigamaX3D x parametric | art

Actually a dear friend of mine runs gigamax3d.com and GigamaX3D facebook page.
They are the official european distributors of ESUN filaments and Velleman 3D printers. They sell nice quality ABS/PLA/HIPS/PVA 3d printing filaments with 1.75 and 3 mm diameters in 1 kg spools in 16 vibrant colors, which I’ve already tested on my Replicator2 and they are all good (I’ve had some serious troubles with 3d printer filament diameter issues before).

3d printed with purple PLA filament http://goo.gl/eHuKrM

3d printed with purple PLA filament

They also carry consumer and prosumer desktop 3D printers like the Leapfrog Creatr or the Tricolor Mendel RepRap model and also offer print on demand services and training/education workshops. A lot of RepRap parts and electronics are available on stock as well. Gigamax 3D printing workshops offer an impressive scope of standalone desktop 3D printing technology, the Leapfrog Creatr dual extruder model, tricolor Mendel, K8200, Reprap Huxley to name just some of the best ticket items being put to use and build by this busy little center.

GigamaX 3D Printing http://gigamax3d.com

GigamaX 3D Printing

Which filament is the best for your desktop 3d printer?

From engineers, plane- and car manufacturers to architects, artists and other product designers, they all use 3D printing to test if their designs come out the way they were intended. Thanks to the winde range of open-source and affordable desktop 3D printers and cheap 3D printing materials, schools, students, small offices, makers, enterpreneurs and professional designers are now able to set up a studio full of 3D printers to have their students or consumers (workshop participants) experiment on their own. In this article I’m going to discuss the most important facts when choosing the filament for your 3d print. There is a huge amount of companies and webshops offering PLA and ABS filaments for 3D printing, but if you aren’t carefully enough, you can get some really serious issues with bad filaments.


Most desktop 3D printers use the fused deposition modeling (FDM) technology, which means, that they all work with plastic filaments with 3 mm or 1.75 mm diameter. The hot end of the 3D printer heats the filament which melts before being extruded from the nozzle. Most 3D printing plastics have a melting point from 180 to 240 Celsius. After 3000 hrs of 3D printing on my Makerbot Rep2 and several types of RepRap 3D printers, my tip would be: if you want to start 3D  printing, you have frustrations enough (mechanical and electrical issues), spend a few extra bucks to eliminate possible filament issues. I’ve tried several suppliers of 3D printing filaments last year, from the cheapest ones to the premium quality spools as well. The moral of my story is:  you get what you pay for, buy materials from a trusted and verified supplier where you know who makes it, and watch out what you put in your 3D printer. 3D printing is already hard enough without nozzle blockages to deal with.


Unfortunately, the nozzles of the usual desktop 3D printer setups aren’t self-cleaning, so you can have some dust or particles while feeding the filament into your extruder head. Accumulated dust/dirt on the filament, or even actual debris inside the filament, can partially or fully block the narrower output end of your nozzle. High quality filaments come vacuum-packed and sealed for your security, but I’d suggest to check it before you put anything into your 3D printer. I’ve found some really cheap stuff on ebay as well, but the pain of clogged nozzles and wasted failed 3D prints its not worth it.


Some 3D printer extruder constructions might be sensitive to the diameter of the filament, it may be have problems if your roll of filament varies widely in diameter.  I’ve had some bad experiences with the Formfutura supplier, although I’ve ordered several spools from them. With the FlexPLA and the Laywood, I haven’t got any problem, but with their normal PLA spools I have discovered some irregular values after measuring the diameter. I mean, the cross section of the filament should be round with a diameter of 1.75 mm, but mine looked like an ellipse with 2.05 mm along the longer axis. Unfortunately, the hot tube of the extruder of the Replicator 2 has only a 2 mm hole in it, so the filament just got stuck int he hot tube while feeding.


I had to take my 3D printer apart, remove the clogged filament and clean all the parts before re-assembling. Sometimes, the diameter variation could be gradual; in this case, you might have great print jobs for a long time, and then unexpected as the filament gradually gets narrower, you have an extrusion issue.  Or, as the filament gets wider, you start to have an over-extrusion problem. I’ve already read some reports about knots ont he spools, int hat case, those plastic spools weren’t originally manufactured for 3D printing, maybe they are common plastic welding rods sold as 3D printing material. If you have experienced knots or stuff like that, you’d better switch to higher quality filament (like the filament that Gigamax3D sell) that is made specifically for 3D printing. I’ve found that supplier a couple of months ago, and I’ve been really glad because they are from nice quality for an affordable price. I’ve tested them before buying, because they have a store in my country so I could measure the diamter of the sealed spools. They have allowed me to test every spool I wanted, and their filament passed the tests with my micrometer. It was the first time I bought some HIPS spools, and they worked fine as well.


Gigamax-supplied filaments have been tested to conform with all the common desktop 3D printers’ specifications and work best for most applications.I you already have some experiences with desktop 3D printers like RepRap machines, Makerbots, Leapfrog 3D printer or any other FDM 3D printer, you might have discovered as some filaments won’t work fine or can cause serious damage to the extruder head and machine. The quality of your 3D prints depends ont he quality of your 3D printing material as well. That’s why it is important to use high quality filaments for 3D printing. Gigamax offers an array of plastic filament colors. If you visit the Gigamax 3D print webshop  you can see the full range of colors and special materials like glow-in-the-dark PLA or HIPS filaments in bright colors. All Gigamax 3D printing filaments come in a vacuum-packed foil bag with a desiccant pack to keep the ABS, PLA and HIPS spools dry during storage.


They also sell PVA material, which can be really useful if you have a dual extrusion 3D printer like Leapfrog Creatr or a multimaterial RepRap machine like the Tricolor Mendel. 3D printing with FDM technology is really popular because of the simpliness of the process. There is no finishing necessary when 3D printing with extruded PLA, ABS or HIPS filaments. After the FDM extrusion process, the plastic solidifies right away. No chemical reactions, resins, etc. and no further post-processing and/or finishing needed. In case you use a 3D printer with multiple extruder heads with the water-soluble plastic PVA plastic as a support material, you have to dissolve the PVA in water after your print is finished. PVA is an amazing material, unfortunately it only can be used with at least 2 extruders and costs a little bit more than usual 3D printing plastics.


Since I switched to Gigamax3D filaments I haven’t got any issues with filament diameter and clogged nozzles, unless I unloaded the HIPS filament and loaded some Laywood and Laybrick material. I think that some particles may have stayed in the brass nozzle and that’s why it acts like a barrier and the plastic cannot extrude. You know, 3D printing can be sometimes really frustrating, especially if you don’t know the reason for the problem. I’ve had several issues along the months, I’m going to post about typical issues with my Makerbot soon (problems with the Delrin plunger, broken cables, SD card reading errors and wrong plastic pulleys… c u next time;)

3d modeling for 3d printing

If you want to design a 3d model for a rendering or video game, you don’t need to pay any attention to reality. You can completely ignore the physical world. Most 3d scenes and objects will only contain the outer meshes and layers that are visible, objects don’t need to really connect, and there can be some acceptable topology issues, bad meshes and dupklicated vertexes as well, which won’t affect the end results. Some of you might have already experienced, that once you start working with 3d printers, this is very different!

There are several software needs for 3d printer users: open-source 3d modeling tools, like OpenSCAD or Blender, slicing tool, to “compile” the 3d geometry to a set of G-Code instructions for the toolpath of the extruder tool of the 3d printer, such as Skeinforge or Slic3r; and finally a 3d printer controller program, such as Printrun, Cura or RepetierHost.

Whether you use a web-based (webGL or html5) 3d modeler optimized for 3d printing (such as Leopoly) or a professional CAD tool like Rhinoceros, 3dsMax, Maya, SketchUp or Blender, designing objects for 3D printing demands expertise in everything from structural engineering to material science.

Most common basic 3D software which are available out there are tools like Blender or SketchUp, which have a freely available version, and they are really easy to learn because there are a plenty of well-documented tutorials available online. There are also sites like Leopoly (click here) and Tinkercad, which are in browser based 3D modeling tools that allow you to rapidly create and download a file that you can 3d print on your desktop 3d printer. If you want it to get more advanced you can get into things like Rhino and Grasshopper or Solidworks which are professional level engineering softwares. Or you can go into the AutoCAD suite where you have things like 3D Max, Maya, and AutoCAD.

3d modeling for 3d printing with Blender

Blender is an open-source 3d modeling software that you can use to create your very own models for 3d printing. It is completely free, and there are a plenty of good sites and tutorials if you want to learn how it works. The latest edition came with a 3d printing toolbox as well, designed especially for the needs of modeling for 3d printing. At the beginning, we have to set up the scale and dimensions of our scene. Metric units are easier to notate in blender than imperial units, and the most common 3d printing services use metric measurements (meters and centimeters) rather than the standard blender unit.

You also can scale your 3d model by its volume, it can be useful if you want to optimize your cost of 3d printing (most services charge by volume and material, and you don’t want to pay a huge amount of money just because you haven’t optimized your .stl file the right way). You can check the volume of your object in the 3d print toolbar, and if it is too big, you can actually scale the model automatically so that it is exactly a certain volume. To do this, under the Print3D tab, find Scale To and click volume. Then you have to type in your desired volume in cm3, and it will automatically scale down your model for you. If the volume values are pretty high, your 3d printed object would be quite expensive, so you’d better fix that by making the model hollow.

Common FDM 3d printers can only print things down to certain dimensions, so you should check your machines technical boundaries. Minimal wall thickness, best resolution (minimal layer height) and additional supports (if needed) are the most important aspects of optimizing your 3d model for 3d printing. If you want to add thickness to your mesh surface, select your 3d object in your scene, then add the Solidify modifier. After these steps, you only have to export your 3d model as an .stl file. Before doing this, please double check your measurements and dimensions to make sure everything is at optimal scale, and then above the export button, designate a file path and click export. You should now have a .stl file at your designated location, which can be prepared for slicing and generating the g-code, just like I have described it in the last blog post about checking .stl files before 3d printing.

3d modeling for 3d printing with SketchUp

If you want to get started making awesome models for 3d printing, SketchUp might be a nice and free tool at the beginning. It is the 3d modeling tool of Google, which can help you to design some objects and then 3d print them. Whatever you’re designing, keep in mind the real world. Your 3d model will become an actual object, so you must consider dimensions, strength and gravity. Unlike Blender, SketchUp doesn’t have a 3d printing toolbox, you have to set the parameters for 3d printing manually or use some nice open-source plugins. For example, Cura can directly import the “.dae” file format that SketchUp natively export to. We only have to define the inside and outside of our closed mesh.

Does our computer actually know what is the inside or outside? This important thing should be clear to us, but most computer software needs you to specify this, this is called ‘orienting the faces’ in SketchUp (or ‘unify mesh normals’ in Rhino). There usually is a front and a backside to a ‘face’. In SketchUp there is a slightly different color for the front an back sides. The inside and outside are not understood to a ‘dumb’ computer, so you have to help it! There are some nice tutorials here.

3d models for 3d printing must be “watertight” or “Solid” to be 3d printable. This is by far the most common problem beginners have when modeling for 3d printing. If you were to fill it with water, none would drain out, and the model must not have any extra lines or faces. If you make your object into a group or component, Sketchup will indicate when its solid in the Entity Info dialog box (Window > Entity Info). Plugins can also help you work faster or do things that Sketchup simply can’t do. Solid Inspector is a great tool for detecting bad meshes and topology issues that prevent your geometry from forming solids. The parameters are the same just like in Blender: wall thickness, scale and print material specifications and limitations should be checked before exporting the .stl file. For exporting, there is a great plugin called SketchUp STL Exporter. There is a great tutorial by Shapeways here.

3d modeling for 3d printing with Rhino and Grasshopper

3d design using ‘visual programming’ for 3d printed output might be really cool, but actually, it isn’t available to output a Grasshopper design to be printed with a 3d printer, but the visual programming language of this awesome tool allows us to create some custom mesh optimization algorithms and then bake the results in the Rhino environment. There are some really useful mesh analysis tools to detect and remove bad meshes and we also can check the curvature of the object for additional supports. Grasshopper runs within the Rhinoceros 3D CAD application, which is a professional NURBS 3d modeling environment but without ‘explicit history’ feature or parametric tools.

Rhino is basically a surface modeler, but it can work with solids as well.  By putting components on the canvas we can make some really useful definitions to optimize our model for 3d printing, and those fluid forms created with mathematical algorithms look really fancy if realized. These are the most useful components and plugins which can help us to give thickness to our mesh surfaces and make them watertight like Weaverbird and MeshAnalysis.

How to check your .stl files before 3D printing them

Hi there, today it’s going to be about some general design rules that should always be performed on any .stl file you create before 3D printing. Most of the downloadable .stl files for 3D print offered by several platforms are already checked for 3D printing, and the feedback is quick as well if something is wrong because of the nice community around 3D printing.

© parametric | art

© parametric | art

After the 3D printing boom in the last couple of months, the number of the 3D printer owners has rised and a lot of people started to 3D print their downloaded things at home. The system of the RepRap-like FDM 3D printers hasn’t been designed for a plug&play use, if you’re into 3 printing you should know what I am talking about. If you are a natural born hacker, RepRaps are just for you, but if you want a 3D printer for professional production you should buy an expensive FDM printer from the higher class. They use the same technology but the system is closed so it doesn’t need any adjustment or special maintenance.

© parametric | art

© parametric | art

If you want to design a 3D model for a visualization render or a video game, you needn’t pay any attention to real world physics. In the practice, the most 3D objects will only contain the meshes that are visible, they don’t need to really connect, there can be a lot of 2D elements in the geometry and there can be some holes and broken meshes or duplicates which can disturb the slicing process while generating the g-code, etc. You can completely ignore the physical world. 
As some of you have already discovered, once you start working with 3D printers this is very different!

Screen shot 2013-07-19 at 1.19.52 PM

I just would like to share the basic design rules of my general design for 3D printing process and the machines I’ve worked with. If you design something in 3D, at the beginning, you probably don’t know which type of machine and material you want to use to realize your object. In general, every single 3D printing technology like FDM, SLS or DLP has got its own pros and cons, so the designs should be optimized for the actual chosen additive manufacturing method and the material for the fabrication. I mostly use my desktop 3D printer which works with fused deposition modeling technology (FDM), actually it is an upgraded/hacked Makerbot Replicator2, which is capable to 3D print with experimental materials as well, like laybrick (sandstone-like stuff) and laywood (wooden filament). I usually print with PLA filaments and sometimes I make 3D prints with wood and sandstone. I already have 3D printed more than 2000 hrs with my machine, and I had to learn the limitations of the FDM process so I could design more complex geometrical forms and parts.

Usually, I make my designs in Rhino with the Grasshopper parametric modeling tool, which is absolutely free. This great plug-in gives you parametric control over your meshes, so I can think about the 3D printing process while designing my sculptures or stuff like that.

Screen shot 2013-08-05 at 2.13.04 PM

If you want to prepare your model for 3D printing, you should know the boundaries of your machine. If not, there are some general guidelines to choose the right and universal maximum size and wall-thickness, based on the build volume and nozzle/beam diameter of the 3D printer. In general, the model should fit into a 15 x 15 x 15 cm cube and mustn’t contain walls with a thickness under 1mm.

Screen shot 2013-07-19 at 11.44.21 AM

If you need support structures for your 3D print, maybe you should add them manually to your model; the automatic generated supports by the several slicer software are a waste of material and if you don’t use some soluble material for 3D printing support structures with a dual extrusion 3D printer, you may have some issues while removing the support structures and get a nice surface finish.

@ parametric | art

@ parametric | art

Another important thing is the position of the normal vectors of the meshes of your .stl file. All meshes of your model should have their normals pointing in the correct direction. When your model contains inverted normal’s, the 3D printer cannot determine the inside or outside of your mesh or 3D model.  Usual problem is the error of the mesh surface as well, holes, duplicates can make your print wrong.  In Rhino, there are some really nice Mesh Repair tools like Cap Holes of Remove Duplicates, which can make your work easier. Netfabb is an awesome cloud-based tool as well, the free version already allows you to analyze, test and repair your .stl files, split and cut them into parts.

Your 3D printed surfaces must be closed, I’d like like to call this being ‘watertight’. It can sometimes be a pain to identify where this problem occurs in your 3D model, if you can’t find it, there are some really nice algorithms or applications and tools which will highlight the problem area for you. Will It 3D Print is useful site with a funny design, unfortunately, it doesn’t work for me with complex and huge .stl files, with simple geometries it might work. I’ve already put together an algorithm in Grasshopper which analyzes meshes for holes and unifies their normal vectors.

Screen shot 2013-08-05 at 2.20.10 PM

Let me share some really nice apps and tools which I’ve used to create and optimize my 3D models for the 3D printing. At first, you have to create the 3D geometry of your model. I use several professional 3D software’s, but if you don’t want to get into 3D modeling and complex geometries, there are some easy-to-use sculpting solutions which can give you great results without any 3D experience. Of course, you can download .stl files from 3D databases like Thingiverse, GrabCAD, Ponoko, or Nervous System, you also can customize your stuff with some really nice WebGL based 3D modeling tools which run in your browser window.

Screen shot 2013-08-05 at 2.23.35 PM

If you want to create something unique, SculptGL, 123D and Leopoly could be the right choice for you! Both are in-browser 3D modeling environments with 3D print and .stl export function, and Leopoly has got an absolutely awesome controller called Leonar3Do which is a bird-like device to navigate and work in a 3D virtual reality space.

If you already have your model, you have to optimize and check them before 3D printing, Netfabb, the Mesh Repair functions of Rhino, WillIt3DPrint and Meshmixer are great solutions for that, and of course, the new 3D printing features of Blender’s latest release gives you a nice control over these parameters as well.

Screen shot 2013-08-05 at 2.16.17 PM

After your .stl meshes have been tested, you have to slice your model to generate the g-code which defines the tool path for the extruder head of your 3D printer. This article cannot describe the whole world of g-codes that the most desktop 3D printer firmwares use and how they work, but some facts should be cleared. The main target is additive fabrication using FFF/FDM processes. Codes for the 3D printer head movements follow the NIST RS274NGC G-code standard, so RepRap-like firmwares could be used well for CNC milling or stuff like that.

As many different firmwares exist and their developers tend to implement new features without discussing strategies or looking what others did before them, a lot of different sub-flavours for the 3D-Printer specific codes developed over the years. The most common slicing software solutions like Slic3r, MakerWare, ReplicatorG, etc. can save the information in the main format and as a pure g-code as well. If we aren’t sure about the success of our 3D prints, because we try it for the first time, we can test and simulate the 3D printing process with our g-code. There are a couple of g-code visualizers available, some of them already runs on Android as well. CNC Simulators can animate the 3D printers movement and working process as well, so can easily check if our print will work or not. The ReplicatorG and Slic3r offers similar simulating and analyzing functions like Netfabb and WillIt3DPrint.

Screen shot 2013-08-05 at 2.34.44 PM

If everything is ready, and our model has been sliced and fully prepared for 3D printing, we can turn on our magic machine (I mean a desktop 3D printer for example) and prepare it for the work. Make sure your build plate has been leveled correctly because it can cause the first layer not to stick to the plate. You can wash it with acethone but always check the leveling before you print.

© parametric | art

© parametric | art

You can use a painters tape if you want to, I personally don’t prefer stuff like that because I print all the time so it would take too many hours to change the tape, I always print with solid raft structures so I can easily remove the prints from the plate without any risk of damage. Make sure you have enough filament on the spool to complete the process, and let’s start heating the extruder! In a couple of hours (or days depending on the size and resolution) your prototype is ready, just like this huge industrial prototype I’ve printed, which took more than 50 hrs to print in 3 separate parts.

© parametric | art

© parametric | art

But it looks really cool, I’ve made it with translucent PLA using 70 micron (.07mm) layer height, which is quite good from a desktop 3D printer like my hacked Makerbot. Of course, all the 3D printer manufacturers offer their own software for the machine, and I bet they work pretty good as well, but if you want to push the boundaries of your desktop 3D printer, the open-source software solutions gives you more possibilities for fine tuning and calibration of your machine for special materials or experiments. In my next entry, I’m going to post some results about my latest 3D printing experiments: 3D printing with sandstone and wood – organic materials in the digital fabrication process! Stay tuned 😉


3D printing plastics – PLA vs ABS in practice

Welcome on my blog! Today, we are going to go on with the differences of the most common 3D printing materials, the ABS and PLA plastics. The most desktop 3D printers can work with these materials, last week’s post was about the main characteristics of the two filament types, today it’s going to be about some special aspects of use in practice. I want to discuss some important things about these 2 materials, I mean the shrinkage factor, rigidity, bio-degradability and heat resistance.



A fact is a fact: PLA is a much more rigid material compared to ABS. If you compare ABS and PLA by applying a progressive force, ABS will start to bend and finally will break; while ABS is bending, PLA on the other hand will hold it’s shape (it’s very rigid and doesn’t flex). Actually, this one is the reason for the design fail of the plunger construction of the MakerBot Replicator 2. The guys at MakerBot have set the old plunger construction used in the Replicator1 and other RepRap 3d printers. But those all work with ABS filament, which is . as mentioned above – not as rigid as PLA. After 100 hrs of 3D printing with my new Replicator2 desktop 3D printer, the filament has cut a hole in the plastic cap of the plunger. It’s okay – I thought – and I have tightened the screw on the plunger a little. I got another 100 hrs of 3D printing, but after that, another hole has appeared. There is a much better – a spring loaded – construction for that, you can download the upgraded plunger form Thingiverse and 3D print your own.


PLA is more rigid and its surface is harder as well. When applying more force, after a certain point it will eventually break before bending. You often need more force to break a PLA part than an ABS one especially if you have a thick part.


Something about the shrinkage factor of PLA for 3D printing

Fact: PLA has a much lower shrinkage factor than ABS. Usually it means that it is MUCH easier to use in the most common desktop FDM 3D printers: unlike ABS, PLA deforms definitely less and suffers from very little layer detachment leading to a much higher success rate on your 3D prints. I’ve 3D printed my most beautiful parts all with PLA, ABS isn’t the right choice for fine surface finishes.


With ABS, even a relatively small part will deform when printing if you don’t have a heated bed and/or a heated building environment. With the RepRap machines like the Felix or the Prusa model, it is really hard to get a tempered 3D print environment, because the working area of the 3D printer isn’t closed. (I’ve never managed it to heat it up to 100 Celsius as suggested, my maximum of bed temperature has been 80 Celsius with my RepRap.) With the more expensive desktop 3D printers like the MakerBot Replicator 2X it would be better: the tempered chamber of the 3D printer allows you to control the temperature of your prints immediately.


Are you interested in painting of your 3D printed plastic parts? I have really good news for you: both usual 3D printing materials – PLA and ABS – can be painted and post processed (sanded) if needed. First thing is first… Preparation. There are some Items that you need when prepping the plastics to paint. This first step is really important, because if you missed it, the primer didn’t bond well with the ABS plastic and tended to flake off.


Bio degradability

PLA is a bio degradable material. This means it will resist for very long in indoors use and occasional outdoors use but permanent exposure to the elements will eventually start to degrade it. It is not suitable, for example, for parts that need to stay outdoors 365 days a year; for these applications ABS is preferable.From what we’ve seen over the years we’ve been selling 3D printers there are 3 very specific cases where ABS is preferable over PLA:

Outdoors use

I’ve had a customer a couple of weeks ago who has asked me to 3D print build enclosures for electronics modules that were going to be left outside for many years. In that case ABS was the better choice because it’s not biodegradable, so it is more durable for outdoor use.

Flexible parts

Another customer needed to build supports for DIN rails. The support needed to flex enough to fit into the DIN rail. I have 3D printed the same part in PLA and ABS. PLA, caused by its rigidity, wouldn’t flex so ABS was the right material because of its flexibility. In the last couple of weeks, some flexible PLA materials have appeared on the market as well; I’ve already ordered some spools for testing but I haven’t got any experiences with them yet. I’m looking forward to see the results.

Temperature and heat resistance

Fact: ABS has a higher melting temperature so if you need plastic parts that need to deal with high temperatures (about 100 Celsius or more), than ABS is also preferable over PLA because of its higher melting point.



My conclusion: all in all PLA is not a “one size fits all” but it will meet the needs of 95% of the 3D printing enthusiasts and – from experience – it is so much easier to 3D print compared to ABS.

That’s it for today, I hope this posts helps clear out some questions about the right choice of material for 3D printing. In my next post, I’m going to write about some really special, experimental materials which can be 3D printed as well, just think about some wood or sandstone 3D printed things. It sounds awesome, doesn’t it?