Yesterday was a big day for the advancement of VF in terms of our goal make additive manufacturing technology accessible to the people. We did our very first 3D technology integration and training session with the users of the Men Shed, a multipurpose maker space located in the geographical centre of British Columbia know by most as Vanderhoof. Before the session a few of the guys had read some things and watched some videos online about the technology but they had no idea what they were in for.
The Machine: Tinkerine DittoPro
It’s a pretty little unit
There are a few reasons we chose this machine, the first being its output quality. We visited the guys at Tinkerine a couple times last year; their office has printers everywhere, and they’re not just for show they’re usually printing all sorts of things. After looking at a ton of sample prints to see if they met our standards, we also watched a few different machines in action to be sure that the samples were a good representation of the machine’s everyday output. Needless to say we were more than satisfied with what we saw. We ran into them again earlier this year while we were doing the same type of data collection among other brands of machines at CES. The DittoPros they had there were still ticking along reliably, and outputting better pieces than many of the more well-known companies. That reliability was another point toward their case as a candidate for integration. The icing on the cake is how local they are. It’s much easier to get machines and parts quickly when the company you’re dealing with is only 800km away in Vancouver.
Before we take any machine to a location for integration we make sure to pull it out of the box to do an initial check to be sure once we’re on location everything is as seamless as possible. With the DittoPro the initial calibration was a breeze and we were up and running with sample prints to check material settings quickly. “Thin Man Climbing” from Thinigiverse user Tosh was our first print (http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:798751)
One of the first things we noticed is how quiet it is, you can see a stepper damper on the x-axis motor so best guess says that’s shared by all three. We had it in a high traffic area with lots of comments on the noise level (and lack thereof). Quietly growing ideas.
This machine reminds us of a PLA only Ultimaker 2. It’s well though out, easy to use, looks good, and most importantly, performs well. It also shares a layout for the x and y axes similar to the Ultimaker. With the calibration done, the optimal temperatures for materials noted, and some sample parts to show the Men Shed guys, we were ready to head out to do the installation and training.
Installation and Training
Community Futures Stuart Nechacko was a huge help on both sides of this project, they helped connect the Men Shed with us and also provided a space for the training workshop while the final location for the printer was undergoing some renos.
As the trainees showed up, the topics of conversation drifted around what people had heard about the machines and the process, things they’d like to make with it, what they’d seen done with it, etc and after that conversation, you could see them realizing bigger and bigger impacts the technology could have, not only on them, but the community as well. With everyone gathered we started with the most important part of the whole 3D printing process: leveling the platform. Everyone in the group had never seen such a machine in real life before, but tossing them in and getting their hands on the machine right away made them all comfortable with the process quickly. Pictured: Establishing the foundation of additive manufacturing.
Over the next two and a half hours we covered a ton of information: loading & unloading filament, what a good first layer should look like and tweaks to get there, starting and stopping a print, orientation with the slicing software, why proper measurement of filament diameter is important, speed vs quality, do’s and don’ts, and many more things. Mixed into all the information we added any tips and tricks that we’ve learned over the years to make the process of operating the printer that much easier and efficient. Continuing with ease and efficiency, the integrations include a “3D Printer Survival Kit” which consist of digital calipers for accurate measurement (filament diameters, etc), a thin putty knife for getting prints off the platform, a roll of blue painters tape, a set of metric allen keys and a USB stick with the software as well as some 3D printing resources. We also included two extra spools of filament to keep them printing for a long while. Everything you need to rule the world (but not really).
At the end of the session everyone was extremely surprised at how easy it was to learn with and use one of these machines. We can’t take all the credit for that, it was definitely one of the reasons we brought in the machine we did, the DittoPro was met with praise for its ease of use as well as comments like “it’s much prettier than your other machines” giving us confidence we chose the right tool for this job. #glamourShots
For me, it doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, or what you’re doing, I know that having access to 3D technology will benefit the how of it all, plain and simple. The best part of my job is seeing the moment someone realizes the impact one little machine can have on everything, and I mean everything. In each individual you can see the neurons firing as their brain feverishly checks different ideas based on possibility; this group was no different. I can guarantee there are very few ideas going into the “impossible” bin. That is the true strength of what we’re doing, we’re giving people a tool that has the ability to make nearly anything they can imagine which exponentially increases their problem solving abilities, and we give them free reign to use it to its fullest potential (something the world is barely scratching the surface of currently). Many people have heard me say “after working with 3D printers for more than four years now, I can’t imagine how I’d live without out one around,” that is 100% truth. I’m the first to say I have issues communicating certain things (i.e. the scope of the freedom and power 3D printing offers everyone), but I’ll tell you one thing, with this integration we’re increasing the number of people who see that freedom and power. And who knows, they might even help me figure out how to communicate it to everyone else. John Makowsky – Owner/Maker, Vector Finesse
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