3D Printing On Shims?

Forget to generate support material for your 3D printed part? Already a few hours in? Don’t cancel the print — you might be able to save it!

[Dr Dawes] was printing a bunch of different parts for students in his electronics class. He slipped up and forgot to add support material to the one part that needed it. Figuring this out a few hours in, he didn’t have time to cancel the job and lose all the prints, so he made the best of the situation and paused the print to build his own support material. He ended up taping down index cards to the bed around his object until they reached layer 13 — the layer that would have started to bridge across the support material had he included it in his Octoprint settings.

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Printing In Three Dimensions, For Real This Time

topo

3D printers don’t continuously print in three dimensions – they print one layer, then another, then another. This is true for every single 3D printing technology, but now Topolabs has a very interesting technique that changes that. They’re printing in three dimensions by moving in the Z axis while also printing in the X and Y axes.

The basic idea behind Topolabs’ software is to print a support block, then print an object right on top of the support. The support block can be curved and convex, and the finished product follows the contours of the solid support block. Unlike ‘printing with supports’, the printer extrudes along the X, Y, and Z axes, which should make the finished product much, much stronger.

There are a few drawbacks to the technique – a release agent must be applied to the top of the support block. In the video below, Topolabs is using Kapton, but hair spray or glue sticks will also work. There’s also a limit to how steep an incline a printer can print, determined by the size of the extruder nozzle. Lastly, this technique would be much better suited for a delta-style bot, but the team is getting very good results with a normal Cartesian bot.

You can see a few videos of the Topolabs printing technique below.

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