Noisebridge now has an Ember printer, and we are working on building a second one. The Ember is an open source DLP 3D printer, The DLP part meaning it prints objects using light to solidify a liquid into whatever shape you want. While using the printer is not really a complicated process, it can look that way at first considering how many steps are involved. Hence this page. This is all being written with the assumption that you have an .stl file of what you want to print. If you're out of ideas of what to make, or you're just lazy, I would suggest checking out http://www.thingiverse.com and downloading something from there.
safety stuff first: The resins used in the printer are both goopy and noxious. If you are working with the resins you need to be wearing gloves, and avoid skin contact with uncured resin. No tasting.
Success rate stuff: DLP printing can be finicky. Like “turn counterclockwise three times on your left foot before pushing start” kind of voodoo. I’m giving mostly the basics here instruction-wise. I’m happy to offer advice and training, but unfortunately a lot of figuring out what works will be trial and error on your part.
- Have something to print. See above.
- make sure it will print. This means making sure it will fit inside the build volume of 64x40x128 mm. your model may also need supports. I recommend using meshmixer for this. Instructions forthcoming on this part
- Get your model into .stl format if it isn’t already, and go to emberprinter.com, and log in as email@example.com, password noisebridge.
- Select “load from my computer”. Once it finishes loading it will try to generate an image of your model using fancy cloud things. This can take a while and isn’t necessary, so feel free to skip ahead by hitting the “next” button.
- Assuming you’re using one of the standard resins and aren’t trying to do anything too fancy, select one of the standard resin settings for a material, and leave the advanced settings alone. Most everything will look fine on the high speed setting, so try that first.
- Next up the software will start the slicing process, which can take a while if your model is relatively large, so be patient. Once it finishes you will be presented with a slide show of all the sliced layers. If you really want you can right-click and save it as a movie. Once you’re finished playing with the slider hit “next”.
- As of this writing, you will have 1 printer to choose from, named Biafra. Assuming no other prints are currently running, hit “print”, and the sliced files will be transferred to the printer. Once it’s there, you’ll need to hit the start button on the printer itself. I also recommend hitting “skip calibration” as well, unless something is going wrong.
- Be drawn in to the hypnotic motion of the printer at work.
- When the print is finished, you will be faced with one of the most annoying design elements of the Ember. The printer will tell you that it finished, and will ask you if your print turned out ok. But the Ember has severe self-esteem issues and will not let you do anything else until you tell it that it did a good job. So unless your print caught fire or something, just say “yes”.
- Make sure you have gloves on, then open the door and turn the handle to release the build platform. Don't drop it. Place the platform on the table, preferably on top of a paper towel or something. Use the handy scraper to carefully remove your print from the platform. The number one injury associated with 3D printing is people ramming the sharp end of the scraper into their hands, so don't do that. Be sure to get any solid bits attached to the platform so that you don't ruin the next users print. Lock the platform back into the machine and close the door.
- If your print has any supports on it, use the tiny wire cutters to remove these. Give your print a few sprays from the isopropyl alcohol bottle and dry it off. This will help get rid of excess uncured resin and make it safe to touch with your bare hands. You should still be wearing gloves at this point by the way.
- Clean up the area. Remove your gloves using fancy glove removal technique. Throw all trash into the giant bag under the table.
- Did you tell the printer it did a good job? OK. Enjoy your new whatever!
Questions are welcome and can be sent to chrisv on slack.