Vera1 : from print to paint


#1

Hi all,

I have been working non stop since I got my printer (a few weeks ago) creating one of my robot designs from ages past (see my profile image). I’ve had lots of challenges, light bulb moments, and hit and miss prints –  I still have a lot of questions and hopes for reliability and features, but overall the form1 has surpassed my expectations by a long shot.

Thanks a lot to the users who have posted information and results so far!!

I would be happy to share some of the trails and tribs from the process, but first here is a blurb from my site (polyopticslabs.com) and some pics. This final object is made from over 20 printed parts:

Special thanks to Luke and Virginia of the Formlabs team for answering all my questions via email and at the NYC 3d printing expo in person: Thanks!!

-Brian

V.ulpes E.xploration R.over A.lpha 1.

The neural imprint of specifically selected adult Red Foxes are fused with advanced AI subsystems and embedded into state of the art robotics: The V.e.r.a.1.​

This process, know as “biologically enhanced artificial intelligence” lets nature handle many aspects of the final software resulting in a truly alive rover who’s natural instincts and evolved species traits make the perfect compliment to our tightly controlled on board operating system.

The V.e.r.a.1 exploration rover is able to naturally adapt to any environment, create solutions on the fly, and learn from its mistakes.


#2

Very nice design, thanks for sharing!

Cheers


#3

Thanks Damien! Painting it actually takes much more effort than printing it, thanks to the form1. I do get surface curing errors as well as fittings off over .05mm in some cases. I haven’t done the calibration part printing test that was posted in the other thread, but once i am finished with this project i plan to.


#4

OMG, wow that is fantastic! You did an amazing job painting it. What type of paints are you using? You seem very experienced painting on objects. I guess you have a huge plastic model hobby collection?


#5

Also, how fragile and durable is it?


#6

Hi Richard, thanks a lot!

Compared to most model painters I think I have a long way to go! I don’t have a lot of painted models, but I did do a lot of  test painting and technique training to get the look I was after for this model before I started the project. I use Vallejo paints and an air brush where possible, then lots of touch up work hand painting the scratches and extra details.

Durability is an interesting question. At first I had modeled all the surfaces with 1mm thickness so be most efficient with the resin. Most of cured parts were quite rigid at this thickness, however they seemed to be very prone to print problems, including holes and peeling, but the biggest problems was with the fittings. At 1mm, the parts seemed a lot more likely to slightly bend or warp on the edges and since the model has so many tight fitting parts, this was a problem.

I upped most surfaces to be between 2mm to 5mm thick and this drastically improved the part quality although there are still some fitting issues. Another positive side effect was that the parts are now a lot more rigid and less fragile.

The most fragile areas are the arms that hold the radar dishes. They do exhibit a pretty large amount of flex though which I think helps them to avoid snapping.


#7

Congrats - that’s super cool. I agree that the paint looks great, though I also really like the basic white version too :wink:


#8

Wow! That looks fantastic!

Thank for sharing the photographs and your work process.

G.


#9

Thanks guys, here is a link to a video that shows the form a little better, although its not as sharp as the stills.


#10

Very cool.


#11

I have been printing away making now 3 of these robots, which has taken 6 full build platforms worth of parts.

There have been a couple of stumbling blocks.

The first serious issue was that after rearranging the parts in preform, the front head panels would no longer fit together well after printing, leaving 1mm+ gaps. I re oriented the head panels in preform by 90 degrees and fortunately the issue was resolved, which leads me to believe there is definitely some give and take on the the accuracy from axis to axis.


#12

After that, I was able to continue to build the 3 models and 6 full print beds of parts by printing the same .form files repeatedly. I took a break for 1 week while busy at work but last night I got back to printing and loaded up and printed one of the same files.

To my dismay, many of the parts failed. Support structures were flimsy and broken, some parts did not print at all, some printed fine, but all of the parts felt very soft coming off the build platform and while removing them I found I could press into the bases as if the resin was not fully cured.

Upon post examination of the resin vat, I found that:

  1. I now have 3 small sized fog spots (about 1cm x 1cm each) on the vat floor, where 3 of the failed parts were.

  2. In some tiny places there were cloudier shaded resin wisps (hard to describe, more like spots than webs), that were pure liquid and when stirred up blended away.

I am curious if my 1 week wait had any effect on the resin, if I should have covered the printer in a black sheet or something else?

At any rate, after cleaning the vat and stirring up the resin I am reprinting the same batch of parts.

Here are some of the bad parts:


#13

The resin tray might need to be replaced. Your resin could also be slowly reacting/outgassing? I don’t know. I hope it is not some other kind of failure. Good luck.


#14

I am happy to report that after cleaning up the resin vat, topping off with fresh resin and stirring, things are printing as expected again. I’ve printed 2 full platforms worth of parts (about 20 parts) and everything is looking good.

As stated earlier there is still some axis and/or placement related warping of the parts, and some areas that occasionally print with holes or a rough uncured surface. For my purposes here, I am getting what I need regarding finish, fit, and reliability.  I will wait until this project is complete before I get into the calibration tests.

Thanks for the suggestions Temujin, I suspect that although I emptied the resin vat before my printing break, what was left in there was part of the problem and that as I printed bad parts and refilled the tank, it was blended out or used up. I may have to replace the vat at some point during  this project, I will be keeping a close eye on its degradation.


#15

Would you conclude that loose particles of cured resin in the vat were the problem?

As an observer (I’m a web purchaser, I just missed the Kickstart and reside a broad so won’t see my printer for a while), I see a number of failures which might be put down to this and am thinking that we should ask Formlabs to recoment regular straining of the resin and cleaning of the tray, perhaps even as often as between each and every print.  If this does prove to be the case, I’d like Formlabs to recomend a suitable instrument and way of stopping it clogging.

Your thoughts and those of Formlabs would be appreciated.  Thanks for all the effort and energy of all you early printers…


#16

Just confirming what’s been described. I’ve seen the whitish residue in my tank too–I just stir it up and everything is fine.

I believe the residue is partially cured resin and it’s probably normal. I imagine if you use the printer frequently but don’t use up the resin fast enough, all the resin in the tank will eventually become cloudy and unusable, at which point you’ll need to replace all the resin in the tank. That’s just a guess though–I haven’t seen it happen here yet.

BTW, I throw a blanket over my printer when not in use to block out light. Last week we purchased some blackout material to make a proper cover for the printer. The orange box should filters most exterior UV rays but the blackout cover will insure that all UV is blocked.

G.


#17

Alan, I have not had any trouble with loose particles in the resin. In my experience when a part fails to print there is a solid glob roughly 1mm thick that covers the bottom of the resin vat and has am xy range that is larger but roughly resembles the part is was supposed to be. These left over globs are easily removed with the supplied tweezers.

As I described earlier, its more like cloudy resin that has been in the vat for a long time and possible exposed to the elements more than it should that leads to whole part failure, although there are many other reasons a part could fail as well. I routinely have warped or unattached supports and rough surfaces between supports (prints are better at odd orientations for a reason) as well as the x VS y and peel direction variations.

What I can tell you is that I have printed 120+ parts from the machine and am comfortable with the results. They require hand finishing and are not 100% accurate to the original STL file, however they do appear to be consistent from print to print, meaning that I am able to plan around the undesired effects and create a procedure that ends with constant result.

I am not making engineering grade parts and your millage will definitely vary. :slight_smile:

Greenlaw, yes that is what I have come across as well.  I’m not sure if I feel that a black cover is necessary, but I will keep that in mind as I mover forward. Thanks! :wink:


#18

Yeah, the blackout material might not be necessary–it’s probably more a peace of mind thing for me.

FWIW, I think it’s mentioned in the docs that you should avoid placing the printer in direct sunlight. Based on that, I wondered if a room with a lot of ambient sunlight might still have a curing effect on the resin, given enough time. Because our home has a lot of windows, I didn’t want to chance it too much.

That’s just a guess though and not based on actual research or recommendation from Form Labs.

G.


#19

This was a very helpful thread!!

Did you prime before painting?

I thought that you were supposed to leave the resin tank full, rather than emptying, if you’d be using it within a week or two… it seems like a mostly emptied tank could have resin residue solidifying on the walls, and not be as safe as just leaving it full?

I may get blackout material as well, where did you acquire this?

Thank you very much :slight_smile:


#20

Hi Stephen,

I did prime it grey first. It takes the paint just like any plastic model I have painted.

Regarding the resin vat – Yes I would have left the resin in the vat, however I also moved the printer to a new location and didn’t want to risk a spill inside the machine. It’s worth mentioning that during this movement the printer was in a hot room with direct intense sunlight for a few hours. Perhaps this environment was the cause of the resin issues and print problems.