Make Your Own Color Gradient 3D Printing Filament

Color gradient filament is fun stuff to play with. It lets you make 3D prints that slowly fade from one color to another along the Z-axis. [David Gozzard] wanted to do some printing with this effect, and learned how to make his own filament to do the job. 

[David] intended to 3D print a spectrogram of a gravity wave, and wanted the graph to go from blue to yellow. Only having a single-color printer, he needed color shift filament, but couldn’t find any blue-to-yellow filament online.

The resulting color-shifting print looks great, demonstrating the value of the technique.

Thus, he elected to create it himself. He started by creating a spiral model in Fusion 360, with a hexagonal cross-section and slowly tapering off to a point. Slicing and printing this in blue results in a filament that slowly fades down to a point. The opposite shape can then be printed in yellow, tapering from a point up to a full-sized filament. The trick is to print one shape, then the other, by mashing the G-code together and changing the filament from blue to yellow along the way. The result is the blue and yellow plastic gets printed together into a single filament that gradually changes from one to the other.

Notably, the filament is smaller than the original filaments used to create it, so it’s necessary to run slightly different settings when using it. [David] has shared the models on Thingiverse for those eager to recreate the technique at home. His resulting gravity wave print is impressive, demonstrating that this technique works well!

We’ve seen similar different techniques used for creating multi-color filaments before, too. Video after the break.

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Infinite Axis Printing On The Ender 3

It’s taken years to perfect them, but desktop 3D printers that uses a conveyor belt instead of a traditional build plate to provide a theoretically infinite build volume are now finally on the market. Unfortunately, they command a considerable premium. Even the offering from Creality, a company known best for their budget printers, costs $1,000 USD.

But if you’re willing to put in the effort, [Adam Fasnacht] thinks he might have the solution. His open source modification for the Ender 3 Pro turns the affordable printer into a angular workhorse. We wouldn’t necessarily call it cheap; in addition to the printer’s base price of $240 you’ll need to source $200 to $300 of components, plus the cost of the plastic to print out the 24 components necessary to complete the conversion. But it’s still pretty competitive with what’s on the market. Continue reading “Infinite Axis Printing On The Ender 3”

£D printed parts with glossy toner transfer images on

Add Full-Color Images To Your 3D Prints With Toner Transfer

Toner transfer is a commonly-used technique for applying text and images to flat surfaces such as PCBs, but anybody who has considered using the same method on 3D prints will have realized that the heat from the iron would be a problem. [Coverton] has a solution that literally turns the concept on its head, by 3D printing directly onto the transparency sheet.

instrument panel design with toner transfer markings
The fine detail is great for intuitive front-panel designs

The method is remarkably straightforward, and could represent a game-changer for hobbyists trying to achieve professional-looking full-color images on their prints.

First, the mirrored image is printed onto a piece of transparency film with a laser printer. Then, once the 3D printer has laid down the first layer of the object, you align the transparency over it and tape it down so it doesn’t move around. The plastic that’s been deposited already is then removed, and a little water is placed on the center of the bed. Using a paper towel, the transparency gets smoothed out until the bubbles are pushed off to the edges.

Another few pieces of tape hold the transparency down on all corners, and the hotend height is adjusted to take into account the transparency thickness. From there, the print can continue on as normal. When finished, the image should be fused with the plastic. If it’s hard to visualize, check out the video after the break for a step-by-step guide.

There are, of course, some caveats. Aligning the transfer and the print looks a little fiddly at the moment, the transparency material used (obviously) has to be rated for use in laser printers, and it only works on flat surfaces. But on the other hand, there will be some readers who already have everything they need to try this out at home right now — and we’d love to see the results!

We’ve covered some other ways to get color and images onto 3D prints in the past, such as this hydrographic technique or by using an inkjet printhead, but [Coverton]’s idea looks much simpler than either of those.  If you’re interested in toner transfer for less heat-sensitive materials, then check out this guide from a few years back, or see what other Hackaday readers have been doing on wood or brass.

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When 3D Printing Gears, It Pays To Use The Right Resin

There are plenty of resins advertised as being suitable for functional applications and parts, but which is best and for what purpose?

According to [Jan Mrázek], if one is printing gears, then they are definitely not all the same. He recently got fantastic results with Siraya Tech Fast Mecha, a composite resin that contains a filler to improve its properties, and he has plenty of pictures and data to share.

[Jan] has identified some key features that are important for functional parts like gears. Dimensional accuracy is important, there should be low surface friction on mating surfaces, and the printed objects should be durable. Of course, nothing beats a good real-world test. [Jan] puts the resin to work with his favorite method: printing out a 1:85 compound planetary gearbox, and testing it to failure.

The results? The composite resin performed admirably, and somewhat to his surprise, the teeth on the little gears showed no signs of wear. We recommend checking out the results on his page. [Jan] has used the same process to test many different materials, and it’s always updated with all tests he has done to date.

Whether it’s working out all that can go wrong, or making flexible build plates before they were cool, We really admire [Jan Mrázek]’s commitment to getting the most out of 3D printing with resin.

3D-Printable Sculpture Shows Off Unpredictable Order Of Chains

[davemoneysign] designed this fascinating roller chain kinetic sculpture, which creates tumbling and unpredictable patterns and shapes as long as the handle is turned; a surprisingly organic behavior considering the simplicity and rigidity of the parts.

3D-printed, with a satisfying assembly process.

The inspiration for this came from [Arthur Ganson]’s Machine With Roller Chain sculpture (video, embeded below). The original uses a metal chain and is motor-driven, but [davemoneysign] was inspired to create a desktop and hand-cranked manual version. This new version is entirely 3D-printed, and each of the pieces prints without supports.

According to [davemoneysign], the model works well with a chain of 36 links, but one could easily experiment with more or fewer and see how that changes the results. Perhaps with the addition of a motor this design could be adapted into something like this chains-and-sprockets clock?

You can see [Arthur Ganson]’s original in action in the video embedded below. It demonstrates very well the piece’s chaotic and unpredictable — yet oddly orderly — movement and shapes. Small wonder [davemoneysign] found inspiration in it.

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Filament Cutter Uses Unusual (But Effective) 3D-Printed Spring Design

When one needs a spring, a 3D-printed version is maybe not one’s first choice. It might even be fair to say that printed springs are something one ends up making, rather than something one sets out to use. That might change once you try the spring design in [the_ress]’s 3D-printed filament cutter with printed springs.

The filament cutter works like this: filament is inserted into the device through one of the pairs of holes at the bottom. To cut the filment, one presses down on the plunger. This pushes a blade down to neatly cut the filament at an angle. The cutter is the device’s only non-printed part; a single segment from an 18 mm utility knife blade.

The springs are of particular interest, and don’t look quite like a typical spring. They take their design from this compliant linear motion mechanism documented on reprap.org, and resemble little parallel 4-bar linkages. These springs have limited travel, but are definitely springy enough for the job they need to do, and that’s the important part.

Want a more traditional coiled spring? Annealing filament wound around a mandrel can yield useful results, and don’t forget the fantastic mechanisms known as flexures; they have clear similarities to the springs [the_ress] used. You can see her design in action in the short video, embedded below.

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Big 3D Printed BMO Is Also An OctoPrint Server

OctoPrint is a useful tool for 3D printers, providing remote access to essentially every 3D printer with a USB port. [Allie Katz] decided to build an OctoPrint server in the shape of a life-sized BMO from Adventure Time, and the results are cute as heck.

A Raspberry Pi 4 is the heart of the build, with [Allie] selecting a 8 GB model for the job. It’s paired with a Raspberry Pi touchscreen that serves as BMO’s face. The Pi is also given a stereo audio output board, and hooked up to a custom PCB that runs all of BMO’s buttons. Printing BMO itself was fairly straightforward, but requires some experience working with larger PETG parts. A useful note for those playing along at home is that Polymaker PolyLite PETG in teal is just about a perfect dupe for BMO’s authentic body color.

A bit of Python code animates BMO’s face and delivers funny quips at the press of a button. When it’s time to work, though, the touchscreen serves as a straightforward interface for OctoPrint. The resulting build is both fun and functional, and a great example of what 3D printing really can achieve. It’s a cute figurine and a functional print all in one, something we don’t see everyday!

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