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I've been designing a magnifier light and one of the parts I thought I'd 3D print. It's right on the limits of size that the Robox can manage but it just fits onto the bed. I started a test print to check the sizes and it seems to be correct. I did however increase the speed and layer thickness and that meant that the edges went quite wavy. I'll give this another go when I've got some time as I believe it could be a very long print job although I think a few model changes and adjusting a couple of settings could improve print time.


Challenge Print

I also gave the temple challenge print another go. This time I simply loaded it up with the Normal settings and printed. I think that the needle valves really help with this kind of model as you could see them in action as each of the slender columns was built up. As it reached the point nearing the top of the arches the model seemed a little unstable but these were knitted together successfully in the next couple of layers. However I'd say that was a feature of the model rather than the printer. If you had problems you could reduce the speed of the print and that should help.

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Software update

Whilst on the CEL Robox forum, I spotted that the 1.1 version of Automaker was shipped with the auto-update turned off so I needed to download the latest 1.1.2 manually. I noticed improvements described for filament load and eject, I've not had any issues with those with this model, the preproduction one was quite tricky in that regard. There is also an update to the pre-print purge to ensure that the nozzles are clean before printing, I've not actually had any issues with that step. The door open was giving me some issues with the production printer but seems to be a bit softer with this software update and now reliably unlocks.




As mentioned in my original plan of action, I hoped to print some gears as part of my road test. There's a couple of reasons for this. It should test out the accuracy of the printer with fine detail. It should also check it's ability to print small and thin things without warping.


Given that I'd already had some success with OpenSCAD I decided to continue using it for this test.

I found a Parametric Involute Bevel and Spur Gears script by Greg Frost but I could not work out how to use it. Luckily there was also Spur Gear Fitter Script by Cliff L. Biffle which uses that library to "fit" gears together. I tweeked that to space the gears slightly and generated the above image and an STL file for the printer.




The print was scaled to 25% giving a large gear of approx 20 mm and a small gear of 8 mm, it should be possible to get OpenSCAD to print out the sizes so I'll do that for next time.


My first attempt at printing was a fail in that it did not stick to the bed. I removed the failed prints and gave the bed a wipe down with a rub. For good measure I also moved the gears to a different part of the bed. I also changed the print speed to 50%. This did not help. I checked all the settings and it was at this point that I spotted that my white filament had been ABS not PLA all along.


I tried again in the middle of the bed at fine resolution and normal speed, I also added a large brim to the print. This seemed to work a lot better with the gears sticking to the bed although there seemed to be some curling up at the edges. The print completed without error and I waited for the bed to cool before removing it. The brim broke off easily so the gears should be good to clean up. The over all shape of the teeth and the inner holes is very well reproduced. However when we look at the gears from the side the results are not so good. There is significant distortion in the teeth shape rendering it unusable as a gear. I've not bothered with scanning this one as you can tell all you need from the photos.


I hope to get some advice for how to print better gears and I'm wondering if a bounding wall might help keep cooling consistent.


Volex8 Developer’s Kit printer (All images via Volex8)


While some makers are busy 3D printing organs and animations for short stories, Dr. Jennifer Lewis and her team at Voxel8 are busy making history. Meet the Voxel8 Developer’s Kit: the world’s first 3D multi-material electronics printer that may very well change the electronics industry forever. You may know Lewis for her work at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, where she pushed the boundaries of 3D printing by 3D printing a microscopic lithium ion battery. The now-Harvard professor is at it again with the Voxel8 Developer’s Kit, which prints almost fully-functional electronics. The team has already 3D printed a quadcopter, electromagnets and electromechanical assemblies and they’re not stopping there.



Quadcopter printed using Volex8 Developer’s Kit printer


The novel printer is unique in that it prints with both PLA and a conductive silver ink. While other companies have developed conducting 3D printing materials, Voxel8 blows them out of the water, with ~2,000,000 S/m conductivity compared to ~400 S/m conductivity of conductive paste. This allows for the practical development of functional electronics that can be printed in almost one piece. The ability to print circuit boards and embed them in electronics revolutionizes the way electronics are designed, as anything is now possible. As Voxel8 Business Director Daniel Oliver put it, the printer basically allows users to print an Arduino board directly into the design. Add a battery and a motor and ‘Master, it lives!’


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Conductivity chart


Voxel8 is currently working with Autodesk to create a software platform based on Spark, called “Project Wire.” It is based on CAD model designs and gives makers full freedom to customize their works. In essence, users will be able to print their design and circuit board, and add in where they’d need to put additional items, such as batteries and motors. When the printer approaches an area designated for an external part, it actually stops printing and waits for the user to insert the part before it continues.



Project Wire interface


Voxel8 isn’t only after a chunk of the 3D printer market (although you can reserve yours now), it’s after the revolution of electronic design. Lewis has plans to continue to improve the technology to print fully functional electronics in the near future. The possibilities are literally limitless. The professor already proved 3D printers can print lithium-ion batteries and is toying with 3D printing devices that feature USB connectivity, and that’s just the beginning. Some experts are anticipating the technology will enable the low-cost production of solar panels and medical devices, while others suspect the model will later revolutionize mass manufacturing. For now, however, the platform is proprietary and only Harvard and the University of Illinois own the rights. Still, here’s hoping.



Prototype of 3D printed USB capable device printed using Volex8 Developer’s Kit printer


If you want to be the first to get your hands on the Developer’s Kit, you can pre-order for $8,999. The reasonable price tag includes the printer, both silver and PLA filament, software, support and training. Pre-ordering will also give you exclusive access to updates and new materials as they are released. The initial launching of the Developer’s Kit is intended for advanced makers and engineers, but as all things in a capitalist market, consumers can expect an accessible product to come to market in the near future. The product is the first multi-material electronics 3D printer to date and this launch is just the beginning.



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3D printers are being relied upon more and more for streamlining the manufacturing process, but will they streamline modern medicine too? Todd Goldstein, a PhD candidate at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, believes so and has just published the details to back it up. He and a team of researchers successfully 3D printed a human trachea using a Makerbot 3D printer and presented their results at the 51st Annual Meeting of The Society of Thoracic Surgeons in San Diego, California.


Goldstein is a member of Feinstein Institute, the research arm ofthe North Shore-LIJ Health System (Manhasset, NY) and together, the team made medical history. While medical 3D printers that can print human cells are available on the market, they can cost a whopping $180,000 a pop. Since North Shore’s research was largely experimental, they decided to use the $2,500 MakerBot Replicator 2X Experimental 3D Printer instead. To Goldstein’s surprise, the residential tinker toy actually produced functional tracheas that may soon be used in experimental procedures to treat those with tracheal damage.



All images via Feinstein Institute


While some medical researchers are working on 3D printing muscle tissue and organs, Goldstein and the other researchers on staff, including Daniel A. Grande, PhD, director of the Orthopedic Research Laboratory at Feinstein, explained that building a trachea is much more complicated than growing tissue alone. The windpipe needs to be both tough enough to withstand coughing and the occasional punch, but flexible enough to allow comfortable movement of the neck and throat. They decided the best approach would be to create a tracheal scaffold using regular MakerBot PLA Filament, and using “bio-ink,” a mixture of human cells and collagen (which would later develop into cartilage), to fill in the gaps. But would it theoretically work on human subjects?


MakerBot had a hand in guiding Goldstein and the research team through their multidisciplinary approach. They discovered that as PLA filament is heated, it becomes sterile, checking the box for one major requirement of surgical implant devices. The team programmed their 3D printer to extrude PLA filament from one extruder and bio-ink from the other, making a functional implant prototype. Now they needed to prove potential for cell growth. In true tinkering spirit, Goldstein also made his own bioreactor, or cell oven, where a patient’s cells could grow effortlessly on the structure under the perfect conditions. In short, yes, the printed trachea should be safe for human use. While the team successfully achieved a proof of concept, more work has yet to be done.


Although North Shore-LIJ Health System team successfully demonstrated the validity of their research, it could be a while before 3D printed surgical implants are commonplace in hospitals. The researchers, however, remain hopeful. The FDA allows for patients to agree to have experimental procedures done at their own risk, and Goldstein thinks the 3D-printed pieces may be a viable option for patients that have not seen success with other methods.  Regardless, Goldstein originally was told his idea of merging common 3D printing and medicine would take decades to come into realization. He and his guides, however, proved them wrong within one month’s time. If nothing else, Goldstein will definitely get his PhD. That’s one small step for Goldstein, one large step for the wonderful world of makers. Boo-yah. 



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In case of accident, I asked for  the stl files of printer parts from the Geeetech service. Then I printed them. A

Not badly, Geeetech 3D printers performance on printing these models!  It may save me lots of time on replacing with a new one if a part is broken.

Actually, I really hope all the parts I printed will not be used forever.




While I was waiting for a migraine to dissipate I got an idea about how to fix some of my early prints where the layers threaded instead of melting together.


So after my head cleared, I took one of my early prints and put it into the microwave on a glass plate.

I started slowing heating the print a few minutes at a time.

After about ten minutes, the printed part became pliable.

A few more minutes I took the part out and let it cool.

To my delight, the threaded layers actually melted a little together, making the print more solid.


I do not know if this technique will work for other filament types.  I am using PLA, but it looks like a little microwave heating can have some beneficial effects for some print issues.


More later,




3D printing has revolutionized the manufacturing market, but what about medicine? While some researchers are working on developing 3D-printed tracheas and bionic limbs, doctors at Miami Children’s Hospital are using the technology to create organ models that can be used for practice before a big surgery. What’s more, the innovative initiative saved a four-year-old girl’s life.


Adaenelie Gonzalez is only four years old, but just two weeks ago, she was facing death head on. The tiny tike was born with total anomalous pulmonary venous connection, a rare congenital heart disease that resulted in inadequate connectivity between her heart and lungs – making it difficult for her to breathe and resulting in a weakened immune system. By six months of age, Adaenelie had lived through two open-heart surgeries and two weeks ago, she faced a third. Her mother took her to Miami Children’s Hospital because her daughter was having breathing difficulties and could barely walk. The doctors said she only had a few days or weeks to live, until the hospital’s Director of Cardiovascular Surgery, Dr. Redmond Burke, and pediatric cardiologist Dr. Nancy Dobrolet decided to give 3D printing a try.


Working with Materialise’s Mimics Innovation Suite software, the team of doctors created an exact replica of the human heart, which featured each and every pulmonary artery, vein and nerve. The model allowed the doctors to “practice” the surgery on the model before doing the real thing. Burke said the model made all of the difference in the world. He explained that the different between planning the surgery using the model instead of traditional MRI imaging was similar to the difference between learning how to throw a football by looking at a picture versus holding it in your hand.



Burke said using the model was the perfect addition to prepping for the young girl’s surgery, and it may have made all of the difference. During the surgery, he and Dobrolet replaced the missing parts of Adaenelie’s heart with pieces of a donor’s heart to connect the girl’s heart to her lungs, and it was a success. The surgery went extremely well and in one week, little Adaelnelie was already out of bed and coloring. Her respiratory capability should continue to improve over time and the child’s life expectancy has greatly improved as a result. No one can say whether or not the surgery would have been a success without the help of 3D printing, but Burke certainly believes it helped.


3D printing isn’t just being used to construct organ models, however, sometimes it’s used to construct the organs themselves. One of the most innovational uses of 3D printers is the construction of organs. There are now bio-printers that extrude human cells. Many researchers are currently using this technology in the hope of developing viable organs for the many people waiting on the organ donor list. Some researchers, however, use normal PLA filament to create a scaffold of an organ and later cover it with human cells, like researchers from Feinstein Institute recently did to create a functional tracheal surgical implant.


Whatever the method, biologists everywhere are proving 3D printing is worth more than just low-level manufacturing.



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As mentioned in the previous post the printer had to be sent off for an upgrade. When it came back there were some differences.


Firstly the packaging had been updated. The printer comes in a smart Robox bag which I'm sure will nicely double as a dust cover.

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The full set of accessories is also present with the oil and tweezers missing from the original pack now being present.

The bed, head and z-axis are now all clipped in place with some 3D printed clips to keep them from moving in transit. The bed is also different with metal clips holding the bed surface in place.

The paper documentation still has some of the issues mentioned back in my early reports.

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There are some other differences such as decals showing the path for the filament and a screw keeping the electronics panel shut.

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Otherwise the appearance is the same, however I checked the serial numbers for the printer and head and confirmed that those are both different.


Before printing I did a purge which was a good thing as it would appear the previous colour was a kind of lilac. At the end of the purge I did spot a small problem. The bed travelled forward so quickly it bounced off the front and the locking catch did not properly disengage.


For my first test I picked the Robox Robot model that was supplied on the supplied USB business card. It reported a 4hr print so I abandoned that for the time being and picked something smaller.


Instead I picked "Support free strong Bolt  by Jack Imakr" and selected to print that at Normal resolution. That had a more reasonable 1hr 18minutes print time.


The bed adhesion was good and it set off printing. I notice that the initial bed levelling checks for more points on the bed than we previous version of the software. Another thing I spotted was that it was only using the fine nozzle not the 0.8mm one. I'll check with CEL to see if that is normal behaviour.

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Once the nut had finished printing it was interesting to note a distinct slow down in the rate of printing. This is the smarts in the software kicking in as they know that the smaller bolt thread would over heat if printed at a faster speed.

The print went smoothly and there was no warping of the parts in contact with the bed.

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When the bolt was nearly finished the printing stopped and the light started flashing red. The printer status in Automaker when blank. I think that might have been because my laptop was running on batteries. I unplugged the USB and replugged it and the status re-appeared. I could then press play to continue and it printed the rest of the bolt. That happened again after a couple of layers so I plugged in my power and tried again. This time the print continued to the end with no issues. I suspect the best strategy if your laptop is running on batteries is to disconnect it once the printing has started.


I waited till the fan had stopped and the nut and bolt could be simply lifted off the bed with no effort.

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The nut screwed onto the bolt easily and securely.

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All in all a very good experience and a top quality print.

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My next challenge is to print some parts that I can accurately measure and to print some gear wheels as originally planned. I'll also give those challenge prints another go, I've got high hopes for success on those.


I've managed to find yet another source of gears and that's the McMaster-Carr catalogue.

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