They’re back! If anyone wants a BabyForm2, come find me at today’s User Summit.
The original thread was lost after the forum’s anti-spam monster got a little too hungry, but in honor of the occasion and with some encouragement from a helpful formling, I recreated the content here. Just my way of paying homage to a great little machine.
BabyForm2: 3D Print Your 3D Printer
These little guys were a hit at the FUSE user conference. I didn’t bring enough for everyone, so I’m posting my work here for anyone to make!
- Model Files here’s version 2.0
- Black, Gray, Clear and White resin
- Pigment or Dye for the amber tint on the lid and tray. I played with RIT dyes (available from art supply stores, Walmart, or Amazon in liquid and powder), but my best results by far were using a nano particle dispersion from Peacock Colors. The folks there were great; they did a color match on a picture from the web, and overnighted me a sample of “O-1007 Transparent Orange/Amber Lexan”. This is the same stuff used to tint acrylic sheets and car tail light lenses, and as I understand is designed to dissolve in methacrylates like the Formlabs resin. Some alternate ideas are discussed further below.
- Paperclip for the worm gear and to help with magnet installation. The #4 “Jumbo” size is ideal; they have a 1mm diameter and are roughly 50mm or 1 ⅞″ long. A box of 100 is less than $3 from Staples or Amazon. Solid core wire with an 18 (ideal) to 20 gauge conductor also works. If you’re confused, don’t worry. The part was designed so a regular sized paperclip can suffice in a pinch.
- CR-2032 Battery here’s a handy Amazon link; you may find cheaper in bulk at a local battery store.
- 3mm Blue LED to light up the display panel and button. I used part 732-5011-ND from Digikey which is 3800mcd and has a 30° viewing angle. Some alternatives from Amazon that might work include these at $1.56 for 50, or these available on Prime, although both have a wider angle which may result in a dimmed panel.
- 3mm Cycling RGB LED to illuminate the crystal. Most people favor the slow version available from Digikey as 1568-1196-ND. The fast version 1568-1197-ND gives a more attention-grabbing “laser-like” appearance, but causes the blue panel LED to flicker more noticeably since the voltage drops are more rapid (the CR-2032 doesn’t seem to be able to power both LED’s during this one’s red cycle). Or you could just use another of the blue LED’s from above and avoid this issue altogether.
- Magnets for a satisfying snap close action on the lid. Each BabyForm2 accepts four D1001A disc magnets from SuperMagnetMan (which are 1.5mm diameter x 0.8mm thick, and magnetized through their thickness) but you might want to buy a few extras since it’s easy for them to get stuck together with excess glue while prepping for installation.
- Superglue For a small project like this I like single-use vials so my unused glue doesn’t dry out as quickly. Anything that works on plastics and metal is fine.
- Scraper Knife for removing tiny on-base prints. You want this kind with the razor edge; they’re typically used to scrape paint from glass. $2.88 on Amazon.
- Needle-Nose pliers
- Hairdryer for heating the lid to ease snap-fit installation
Most of the above is optional. e.g. If you don’t mind monocolor, you can print in just one resin and skip the pigment. You could melt white crayon wax or laquer sticks into the butterfly engraving then scrape off the excess for a crisp, vibrant logo. I’m testing whether you can remove all the prints with only the Removal Tool from the stock Finishing Kit and skip the scraper blade. If you don’t want to deal with small parts, I’ve included a paper-printable decal you can stick behind the base window and skip the blue LED and the annoyingly small button, collar and “glass” components.
Be careful whenever using sharp instruments (e.g. scraper blades). The magnets used in this project are incredibly small and pose a danger if ingested. Take precautions not to lose any e.g. on the floor where they may get eaten by pets. If a child will use this toy, it might be best to skip the magnets altogether. Here’s the MSDS that came with the dispersion from Peacock Colors. Although it doesn’t list the formula as a hazardous substance, I suggest taking precautions when handling it (wear gloves, don’t get it on your skin / clothes or in your eyes, etc). Personally I use a 3M 6300 respirator with a 6001 (black) organic vapour cartridge when working with ISO alcohol, and a P95 or (better) P100 particulate filter. This should filter 0.3 micron particles with 95%-99.97% efficiency, but may not be effective for particles in the dispersion (which are smaller at 30-80nm size). Here’s a great article on safety when dealing with engineered nanoparticles. Superglue is not a refreshing drink.
You’ve been warned. I take no responsibility for any health/safety issues arising from this post.
To produce amber tinted resin, I mixed a minuscule amount of the nano particle dispersion pigment into a tray of Clear V2. I think it was on the order of tenths of a gram or less. The dispersion is an incredibly light, granular substance - a bit like ash or cotton candy. It took quite a pile to even register 0.1 grams on my scale, which lacked the precision needed to accurately calculate the final ratio.
On my first attempt I tried a 0.125% ratio of pigment to resin (by weight), but that turned out to be way too much pigment and came out too opaque.
I strongly advise you go slowly. Add a little bit of pigment, and thoroughly mix it into the tank to assess the color before adding any more. The grains will sort of spiral out into long strands as they begin to dissolve. You can transfer the pigment grains using tweezers or a very small spoon (don’t use it for eating afterward!), but I found it simplest to bend a small triangle of paper in half to create a little scoop that could be easily disposed of afterward.
If you use RIT dye instead, I suggest mixing at a ratio of 0.625% (by weight) for the Apricot Orange powder dye, or less than 0.5% of the Tangerine liquid dye. After mixing, pour the concoction through a paint strainer (e.g. 100 micron) to filter out large particles that didn’t dissolve, and reduce speckling in your print (not required for the nano dispersion).
Adding more pigment results in a darker color more true to the actual Form 2 cover, but also reduces transparency. I like being able to see the vague outline of the crystal and interior through the lid. Coincidentally, the color I wound up with was a near perfect match to the tint of the original Form 1 / 1+ lid (which is less amber and more orange than the Form 2).
If you’re in a hurry you can print right away, but for best results let the mix sit in a dark place for several hours (or even days) to fully dissolve. Occasional stirring wouldn’t hurt.
The tinted resin prints great using the same settings as the Clear resin. You can either print in Open Mode, fill an old Clear cartridge with the mix, or otherwise “trick” your printer into thinking it’s a standard resin. Depending how you proceed, you may get some warning messages during printing that require manual acknowledgement / override to continue (e.g. periodic resin level errors or cartridge empty warnings). If your printer is still under warranty, it may be safest to print in Open Mode (which is intended for experiments like this).
Alternative approaches suggested by other users include epoxy dyes, food coloring, or just dipping your final printed part in a colorant (here are some examples using iDye Poly in IPA, Sculpt Nouveau and others).
The zip archive includes ready to print
.form files, optimized for 100µm. Here are the parts you’ll need to print:
To minimize post-processing work, almost everything prints directly on the build platform, without supports. Some of the parts are more sensitive to base compression than others (e.g. the display panel, glass overlay and butterfly logo). Some tolerance is baked in, but if you find they aren’t the right thickness and don’t fit together correctly, you may need to tweak the Solidworks files for your printer / build platform / tray (refer to the Troubleshooting section below). Newer versions of Preform allow you to add extra material to the bottom of your part. I’d love to hear feedback whether your print “just works” or needs tailoring.
The form files include extra copies of some of the smaller, more delicate parts, to mitigate against damage during removal or curling in post-processing. The prints will probably run 7-8 hours in total. To keep your alcohol clean, you may want to run the Clear first and Amber / Black last. The dyed resin will tint everything it touches (including your alcohol).
Most of the parts can be easily detached with the removal tool from the stock finishing kit. A few (mainly the thin glass panel) come off easier with the scraper knife. For the smaller ones (like the butterfly and glass), gently ease the knife or removal tool under an edge and peel or pop them off. Some parts like the display panel include reverse chamfers along an edge to give you a purchase point - look for them facing the outer edges of the build platform.
Beveled parts like the orange lid pop off very easily by wedging the removal tool underneath one of the beveled corners and levering the corner slightly upward.
Always push blades away from you, and keep your fingers clear of the path of motion. Parts are MUCH easier to remove fresh after a print, when the build platform is still warm.
Tiny parts like the button, collar, butterfly, glass and wiper should be handled with tweezers. Since they’ll slip through the perforations in the normal rinse basket, I use a small plastic cup or Ziploc-lined jar with just enough alcohol to cover them.
The inner floor of the gray base can be wiped with your gloved fingers or an alcohol-soaked Q-Tip to prevent blotchy residue from forming around the lettering.
The Jig tool is just used to aid magnet installation and accurately bend the worm gear paperclip. You can tear it from the supports without worrying about cosmetic blemishes.
If post-curing, make sure to keep the thin panels flat, and rotate or flip them so they cure evenly and don’t curl.
Pro Tip - For a super transparent crystal, don’t rinse that part in IPA. Leave the whole build platform in the printer for a couple hours after the print to let all the resin drain away, then remove the crystal and place it in a UV oven or in sunlight (on a solar turntable if possible) until the thin coating of resin cures.
The clear glass panel is thin enough to be fairly transparent straight off the build platform, but you can lightly sand and polish it with Novus if desired. I don’t bother, as my efforts tend to just make it foggier (I guess I stopped too soon). I tried the above technique (dipping it under a thin coat of resin), but I think the glass panel is too small and thin - a blob always clung onto whatever corner I pulled out last, leaving the thickness uneven, and it was really hard to handle the wet part without marring the surface. You might be able to print and process a larger piece, then cut it down to size. I’m contemplating a spinning setup to use centrifugal force for a more even coating. If anyone has success improving the optics of these parts, drop a line here!
This takes some time and patience the first time you do it. If those qualities in short supply, you can always skip the more difficult bits.
The Lid and Base each have a matched pair of tiny sockets along their front lip for you to inset magnets. They provide alignment and a positive “snap” sensation when the lid is closed, keeping it secured against the base. They can be installed by using the paperclip as a “grip” tool to pick up the magnet, and the Jig as a sleeve to hold the magnet in place and keep it from sticking to the paperclip when the latter is removed.
First take a paperclip and unfold one of the bends to produce a straight end. Use it to gently clear any uncured resin or debris from the sockets in the Base and Lid. Then insert it into the large end of the Jig until it protrudes out the pointy end. Allow one of the magnets to grab onto the protruding end of the paperclip. The flat surface of the magnet should be stuck to the end face of the wire.
Pour a very small, thin puddle of superglue onto a flat surface (e.g. a few scraps of paper thick enough to prevent the glue from leaking through), and dip the magnet into the glue. Make sure the glue only coats the bottom and sides of the magnet; try not to get any on the top surface.
Using the paperclip, press the magnet into the cavity. Then with your other hand lower the jig until it pushes against the top surface of the magnet. Swiftly pull up on the paperclip. The jig will hold the magnet in place and prevent it from following the paperclip back out of the socket.
Take away the jig, and If needed use a non-metallic tool or your fingernail to adjust the magnet. Ensure it’s firmly seated into the socket, and aligned correctly (i.e. it should be seated flat, with the top exposed surface flush with or parallel to the upper surface of the Base).
Repeat the procedure for the remaining three sockets. IMPORTANT: Take care to install the magnets the correct way around! They need to attract each other where the exposed faces will meet.
Before installing the second magnet in a pair, you can confirm you’ve got it oriented the right way around. While it’s still stuck to the end of the paperclip, briefly wave it near its mate. You should feel it being repelled. This means the repelled end will be inserted into the cavity, leaving the attracted face pointing out toward its mate.
Next install the paperclip into the Tower. It slides in from the bottom, through a hole in the table, continues up the vertical channel, and is seated into a slot at the top (behind the build platform). The bottom end is cut, and secured in place by looping it around a short locking post on the left side.
You can fiddle with a pair of needle-nose pliers to secure the clip, or use the Jig, which is designed to pre-bend the paperclip for a perfect fit. (There’s also a third option: a built-in “jig” on the lower right interior of the Tower. Although still functional, it’s a remnant of earlier installation techniques and is ignored for the remainder of these instructions).
To pre-bend the paperclip, first insert it into the Jig, the exact same way as in the previous step. Then place the pointy end of the jig on a flat surface like your table, and push the paperclip down so it rests against the table. This ensures the end of the paperclip is flush with the pointy end of the jig.
Now bend the top side of the paperclip down 90° through the slot on the top of the jig (A). Then rotate the paperclip counterclockwise across the horizontal slot (B), about a quarter turn until it hits the stop. Bend it upward, back over the top of the Jig (C). Finally, make one last bend by hand (D) to bring the remainder of the wire roughly in line with the centerline axis of the Jig (E). Twist the whole paperclip clockwise to remove it from the Jig, and it should look something like image (F). You’ve formed a hook exactly where it needs to be.
Push the straight end up through the bottom of the tower, then rotate the paperclip counterclockwise so that the hook catches on the lock post (you might need to push up at the same time with a bit of force to clear the post). Use the Flush Cutters from your Finish Kit to trim the paperclip, and if neccessary, lightly squeeze your needle-nose pliers to crimp the hook securely around the post.
Take a blue LED and test it to make sure it works. It’s easy, just push the battery in between its leads. The flat side of the battery (positive) goes against the larger lead.
The legs of the LED need to be bent so it can slip in behind the bracket. Hold the LED upright in front of you so the long leg is on the right, and short one is one the left. Now bend the head of the LED toward you about 60°. You want the crease to be around 2-3mm from the bottom surface of the LED casing. Then slide the LED behind the circular bracket on the right hand interior of the base, and insert the LED forward into the bracket. Some force is required, and you can use needle-nose pliers to help press it in place (just be careful not to crack the LED casing). I suggest dabbing some superglue around the sides of the LED casing before installation, to be sure it remains permanently secured it in place.
Installing the cyclic LED to illuminate the upper portion of the tower is a lot easier. Test it just like you did the blue one, then holding it with the long lead on the left, simply push it upward into the hole in the center of the table.
Next the LED legs will be formed into battery contacts. You want them to press against the battery with a bit of static force. Double-check the longer leads of both LED’s are toward the outside (i.e. left and right side) of the tower, then bend them toward the rear corners. Twist the shorter leads together, and with your needle-nose pliers bend them into a small loop toward the rear of the Tower. You’ll need to use your Flush Cutters to trim the leads before you can complete the loop.
Install the battery by sliding it into the front of the Tower. The flat side of the coin cell should be down, resting against the ledges which protrude inward from the feet of the tower. If you did things right, a fair bit of force is needed to get the battery in place. If the loop made in the last step from the short LED legs protrudes too deep, you may need to sort of wiggle the battery into place from below. Once installed, the lower compartment should look something like this:
Turn the unit over and use the Flush Cutters to trim the positive LED leads:
Once you’ve confirmed everything is working, you can nudge or twist the battery forward slightly (toward the front of the unit) to turn off the LED’s.
Grab the Button using your tweezers, and dot the tiniest amount of glue onto one end face by dipping it ever so slightly into your glue puddle. Then insert it into the Collar. The Collar will act as a sort of light tube illuminating a ring around the Button, which in turn blacks out the interior portion of the ring, imitating the signature print button aesthetic seen on Formlabs printers.
Dab a touch of glue onto the front flat surface of the collar. The end face of a paperclip makes a great applicator. Then insert it into the Display panel. It slides in from the rear of the panel - i.e. insert it into the side with the progress cuts in it.
Next use your needle-nose pliers to carefully remove the supports for the window lintel on the Base. Pull them toward the back of the unit. Seat the Glass panel into the frame directly behind the window. The notched corner goes up and to the left.
The Display panel goes directly behind the Glass panel, with its flat side touching the Glass. It drops into a slot beneath the window, with the tab toward the right side of the unit (on the left when viewed from inside/behind). It will be held in place by the Tower, but I suggest dabbing a bit of glue along the top / bottom of the panel to bond it in place and prevent it from falling out if you open the unit. Doing this also reinforces the thin gray lintel above the window.
This one’s simple. Just press the Butterfly into the etching on the Base. Depending how much your print compressed, you might notice some small cavities and chamfers on one side of the Butterfly. That side faces inward, and the flat side faces out, flush with the front of the Base. You can dab a tiny amount of glue into the engraving first (using that versatile paperclip once again as an applicator) to secure the Butterfly and prevent its corners from curling up as it cures (unevenly) over time. Once installed, press the entire front face of the base against a flat surface (e.g. table) to ensure it bonds flush (but clean off any leaked glue first so it doesn’t stick to your table!).
If it hasn’t already fallen off, take this opportunity to remove the ultra-thin cartridge cap support from the Tower. I find the Flush Cutters are a perfect tool to snap off the small rectangular base of the support without leaving behind a messy edge.
Use a hairdryer to heat the area around the two hinge detents on the lid. This is necessary to make it stretch it enough to fit it onto the Tower. If you skip this step, you’ll likely damage your Tower or Lid. For me it takes about 45 seconds with the hairdryer on high. Once the plastic is warm and a bit more pliable than usual, insert one side into a hole, and pull the other side away until it clears the edge of the Tower, then guide it into the other hole. Make sure you put the lid on the correct way around. Place the Lid and Tower assembly lying on its back on a flat surface and allow the Lid to cool. Try not to operate the assembly while it’s hot (to avoid unnecessary wear against the temporarily expanded detents).
Pro tip - you might increase the lifetime of those hinges by using a Q-Tip to rub a small amount of dry grease (e.g. Graphite) into the holes before assembly.
Once cool, you can slide the Tower and Lid assembly into the Base until you hear them snap together. The LED’s should be operational.
Tray, Wiper, Crystal
Smear some superglue on the bottom of the Tray and install it on the tabletop of the Tower. The reason I wait until this point to add the part is so that I can test the lid operation and make sure there’s enough clearance on both sides of the Tray before the glue fully dries.
Next dab some glue onto the bottom edges of the Wiper and install it in the Tray. It goes near the right side. There’s supposed to be a rib and groove to help with alignment, but they need some adjustment and probably won’t help much. Take care to ensure the wiper is square with the tray and upright (not slanted) while it bonds.
Once the Wiper and Tray are dry, install the Crystal upside down onto the build platform. I rotate it so the two longest spires are at the back. Do a test fit before you glue, to ensure there’s enough clearance on each side for the Lid to close. When observed from the front, none of the Crystal should protrude past the left or right side of the Tower (i.e. you should see a margin of black on each side).
Congratulations, you made a BabyForm2!
Now take a picture and post it in this thread, and feel free to leave some feedback on the adventure for consideration in any future redesigns.