Yet another hobby – 3D Printing

Like I needed another hobby…

My wife noticed someone selling a used XYZprinting Da Vinci 1.0 online and mentioned it to me. I’ve thought a lot about getting into 3D printing, but cost was one of several limiting factors. The price for this one was decent, so I did a ton of research on it. I found that, while it’s not the best printer out there and it’s not open-source (hardware or software), there’s a huge community for it and several hacks have been found for it. After talking the seller down on price a bit more, I met her and bought the printer!

The first evening, I printed two of the samples that come included on the printer itself. The first one, a keychain, printed in about 20 minutes and the quality was pretty good! I hadn’t done any calibration or anything… I just applied some glue stick to the print bed (as the manual says to do), picked the sample to print, and let it roll.  The second sample I printed was a twisted star-shaped vase. That one took around 2 hours to print, but came out looking great. I went to bed very pleased.   

On day 2, I printed the last of the three included samples, which turned out to be a small cup/chalice/trophy thing. It printed in about an hour and looked very good too. Three out of three samples printed well without any calibration or anything.  

Today (day 3), I printed my first non-sample objects. To do this, I’ve attached my Macbook Pro to the printer via USB. I pulled a few things down from Thingiverse last night and used the XYZware software to slice them (prepare them for printing). To make sure the general approach worked, I printed a very small piece that can be inserted into the printer itself and will supposedly help reduce some noises and improve print quality ( It worked great and printed in about 3 minutes.

The seller did not have the cleaning tools (a copper-bristled brush and small skewers to poke filament out of the nozzle if it gets clogged), so I ordered the closest things I could find on Amazon today. I also ordered a tube of grease to lubricate the bars (which articles recommend be done every couple months).

As I type this, the printer is printing the Maker Faire Robot Action Figure from Thingiverse ( I used XYZware to slice it and send the print job to the printer, but then I actually disconnected the USB cable. I read somewhere that the computer sends the print job to an “offlineprinting” file on the printer, so I decided to see if disconnecting the computer works. I started the print at 10:08am and it’s saying it will take roughly 4 hours total to print.  

About 4 hours later and the maker robot is done. It’s arms move as they should, but the head won’t turn and its legs are melted to his body (heated bed too hot?), so his hips and knees don’t bend. Oh well, my son still thinks he’s cool. 

Next, I printed some parts for the printer – a glue stick holder, a cleaning tool holder, some things to fill gaps in the case, and a bearing holder that reportedly breaks frequently. They all turned out fine after about 2 hours.   

Then, I tried to print a Lego-compatible bumper car toy. This was my first completely failed print. I guess the bottom didn’t stick well, so it started sliding around and ended up just being a mess. I’m not sure how to prevent this yet.   


Cinco FREE coming 5/2

I’ve created a new version of Cinco that will be FREE. It’s been approved by Apple and will be released on 5/2, just in time for Cinco de Mayo! This new version is iAd-supported, but the paid version (without ads) is still available for only 99 cents.

Remembering Steve Jobs

Regardless of your views on Apple as a company or its philosophies, it’s hard to argue with the impact that Steve Jobs had on the world of technology. Apple has released some of the most innovative and polished products over the past 35 years and Steve Jobs has had a direct influence on many, if not all, of those products. His influence is also apparent in the film industry, thanks to his involvement with Pixar Animation Studios. His passing away yesterday, October 5, 2011, is a dark moment in the technology world and the world in general, and will cast a shadow for quite a while. As I was processing the news of his death, I started thinking of ways to remember Steve as a technology innovator and mentor. This post is an effort to list some recommendations.

Watch Pirates of Silicon Valley, an entertaining and informative movie telling the story of the founding of Apple (and Microsoft) and the interactions between Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, primarily

Listen to the related episode of Buzz Out Loud, CNET’s technology podcast, for a poignant show including call-in remembrances and retrospectives

Read the reactions from President Obama, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and others

Listen to or watch Steve’s heartfelt and moving 2005 Stanford University commencement speech

Watch Toy Story, the first feature-length Pixar movie, and The Pixar Story, a documentary telling the story of Pixar

Cinco updates coming

I’m working on a few updates to Cinco that I hope to roll out over the next few weeks/months. The first of those, which I plan to submit very soon, will be an update that will provide some better error reporting back to me when the app does not work as expected. I know a small number of people have had some issues that I have not been able to reproduce and hopefully this update will help me track down what’s going on.