Making stamps

New task: make stamps for an activity with children! We need 10 stamps to use on a “passport” for the children that will come every day for different activities. Just the right occasion to use the flexible PLA we bought quite a while ago, because stamps must be rubbery :) So, there are many ways to make a stamp, but having no 3d modelling abilities I had to find quite a complex workaround and here we are.

1: the actual design for the stamps was made with a graphical software and exported as a PNG.

2: the png file was transformed with the great tool “2D design to 3D Print Creator” on Shapeways, and exported as an x3db file

Shapeways | 2D Design to 3D Print Creator 2014 08 01 10 35 04 2014 08 01 10 35 13

3: Netfabb to the rescue!! Just fire it up and open the file, then you can save it as an Stl. If you forgot to do it, you can mirror the design so the letters don’t come out written backwards (yes, we’ve done it!)

Netfabb Basic 5 0  messico fabbproject 2014 08 01 10 33 45 2014 08 01 10 33 59

4: now we have to add the back of the stamp, you could have done it before maybe, but we were not certain how it would come out when extruding it so we decided to add it now. I use Tinkercad, just import your stl, design a flat cylinder and stick it on. Obviously this step can be greatly improved, feel free to add any ideas in the comments!

3D design Copy of Messico | Tinkercad 2014 08 01 10 48 15 2014 08 01 10 48 45

5: and we finally have a printable stl file!! We chose to print it with Ultimaker’s Flexible PLA
I strangely had no problems printing with it, obviously I drastically changed the speed (10mm/sec) but when in a hurry to finish a piece I increased it I had no difficulties. I wanted to exclude retraction but left it by mistake and had no problems.

Cura  14 07 2014 08 01 10 55 05 2014 08 01 10 55 14

The first experiment was with 200° and the details peeled off, so we tried with 235° and it sticks wonderfully. Using these settings we found out that it kept the finer details, and when using it with ink it looked much better.

IMG 7633


IMG 7636IMG 7635

IMG 7634

Maybe slightly melting the last layer (touching a heated surface) would improve the final effect making all the lines disappear.

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Cura with Printrbot!

Wonderful news, now Cura works with all Printrbots :)

The new version of Cura (14.07) has finally decided to add all Printrbot’s to the initial setup wizard, so when you install it for the first time it just asks which printer you have, and configures everything accordingly.

Though this already made my day (as I was having horrible problems connecting my Kubuntu based laptops with the printrbots) I still had the problem of how to manually change filament, move the print head and so on, as my printrbots don’t have controllers like the ultimaker.

But searching the web I found you can very easily add a Pronterface UI to Cura, and happily change filament, check temperatures and so on :)

Just hop on File-Preferences and choose the Printing window type. 

Preferences 2014 07 17 10 56 19 2014 07 17 10 58 38

Next time you hit the “Print with USB” you will have a cute little Pronterface window (ooooh, old memories!)


Just another note: In the initial settings for Printerbot simple, maker kit 2014 the nozzle is set at 0.4mm, check if it really is so as the size has been changed various times. I found this handy note on the Printrbot forum


The Getting Started Guide says that all Printrbots currently ship with 0.4mm nozzles.
The convention for identifying nozzles is based on notches (or “rings”) cut into the sides (vertices) of the hexagonal brass “nut”.
No notch = 0.5mm
1 notch = 0.4mm
2 notches = 0.35mm


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our 3d scans printed out

I just finished printing the scans we recently made, and you can clearly see why translucent plastic is not a good choice for this kind of print.

IMG 7324

The details are washed out and and the infill is what stands out most.

IMG 7328

IMG 7329


Black in my opinion is the best choice, but also other lighter colors show off the details pretty nicely.

IMG 7295

Scanned with Skanect, printed out in PLA with Ultimaker

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3d Scans

After a long long time, here I am again :)

A huge thanks to my friend Gregor that poked me asking how come I wasn’t posting anymore. The reason is simple, I changed job and while I still work with 3D printing I have also other things to carry on so blogging just slipped away. But I’ll try to update sometimes, I have a huge amount of things to show and have been working on many exciting projects.

Today for instance I have to print out some scans we made saturday of kids that had their birthday on the same day as our Science museum, right now Giacomo is on the printbead, then it’s the turn of Marcello, Savita and Sara :)  

Cura  14 03 2014 06 23 12 00 32 2014 06 23 12 00 37

The scans were taken using a Kinect and Skanect software.

2014 06 23 12 07 33 2014 06 23 12 07 53


2014 06 23 12 08 47 2014 06 23 12 08 49

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Cura: no top and empty prints!

After quite a long time I had to print out something with Cura, and all my prints turned out horribly: thin walls, no top, no infill. I just couldn’t remember what I printed the last time with that software and how I had changed the settings. And unfortunately Cura has n’t got a “revert to default settings” option.

I checked the obvious menu choices: the infill was correct, I had a top thickness and in the expert settings I had already checked Solid infill top and bottom. But the prints continued to turn out empty and flimsy, even though I had installed the new version of Cura hoping it started out with default settings (no, it doesn’t, yuck).

And then I finally spotted the Spiralize option. Previously I though it was active only when choosing a 0 infill but I found out it overrides all other menu options.

So just beware: if your prints turn out strangely empty and without the top, check in the expert settings if the spiralize option is highlighted. Sometimes the solution is just too easy to be easily spotted ;)


Expert config

PS: I just saw that in the version 14.01 of Cura (and maybe also in previous ones) there is a “reset profile to default” so if all goes wrong, this is certainly something to try out :)


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Lisert checking his new print


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Programming a Lilytiny (or LilyTwinkle)

Change of topics today, because I have a new job (yeah!) that requires me to work much more with arduino than with 3d printers. So I’ve been scouring the web in search of help for some of the most strange topics and I had my share of problems when trying to program the small lilytiny I bought some while ago.

I chose a Lilytwinkle, that is identical to the Lilytiny but just comes preprogrammed with some cute effects so you can choose on which pin to attach your led depending on the light effect you want to achieve.

Electric  Lily Tiny Monsters by Monica Norton on Prezi

But my LilyTwinkle turned out to be a non programmed LilyTiny, so I had to program the damn little thing…. And the problems started because I found no real guide on how to do it. So as a reminder for myself, and to help out any other lost soul trying to program these small cute little boards, here’s my guide.

I bought this Tiny AVR programmer at sparkfun, and added the ISP Pogo adapter

Photo 2

Photo 3

I use a Mac, so I don’t need to add any drivers but Windows asks for other stuff and you can find info about it on the High-Low Tech page at MIT Media Lab. The webpage is not working anymore (yuck) but the internet archive will help us out luckily. 

Now it’s time to have a look at our Arduino, because we need to add support for these teeny weeny boards that are not included by default. You can download it from GitHub, and it’s the attiny file. Be careful that if you have already installed the Gemma and Trinket boards they installed with the same name, so be careful and don’t mess up the folders. You now will have a nice new set of boards from which to choose from, and I found choosing ATtiny85 (internal 1 MH clock) works for me. If someone has a different setup that works better please tell me, I have to admit I chose trial and error system ;)


And it’s time to write the code down, and start playing with the various effects. Map the pins like this (I know it’s obvious, but non the less someone out there will appreciate the obvious steps)

int led0 = 0;
int led1 = 1;
int led2 = 2;
int led3 = 3;

// the setup routine runs once when you press reset:
void setup() {
// initialize the digital pin as an output.
pinMode(led0, OUTPUT);
pinMode(led1, OUTPUT);
pinMode(led2, OUTPUT);
pinMode(led3, OUTPUT);


// the loop routine runs over and over again forever:
void loop() {
digitalWrite(led0, HIGH); // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
delay(500); // wait for a second
digitalWrite(led0, LOW); // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW



And upload it! Choose the right board, don’t fuss with the serial port and check to have in the Programmer “USBtinyISP”. Now stab the small board being careful to align the contacts in the right direction (check the picture!) and while stabbing it upload the sketch. If it gives you an error try a couple of times because sometimes the connection is not that perfect, but be stubborn and you will end up with your small lilyTiny doing just what you asked her to do.

Photo 1


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3d print show London, recap!

I had too many pictures as always, so here is a video with the interesting things we saw at the 3d print show, hopefully I’ll find some time also to write something more about my impressions :)

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Math prints!

Makerbot has announced it’s intention bring 3d printers in the schools through it’s Makerbot academy program, and launched the visual maths challenge. One of the first really interesting designs (that got featured immediately!) is as always from Gyrobot. He made a Seesaw Maths to teach addition, subtraction, division and multiplication by means of small weights added on a beam.

We printed it right away and it also gave us the possibility to check the settings of our ultimaker that has been printing really awfully recently.

IMG 5103

The printer is really unreliable and frequently gives a spongy finish to the object. We tried changing manually the temperature and speed of the printer while making the small weights to check the effect, and it really is interesting to see how much these 2 variables change the finished object.

Changing just the temperature

IMG 5093

Changing the speed while keeping the temperature at 220°CIMG 5095

IMG 5094

Posted in PLA, ultimaker | 1 Comment

Fiera del Radioamatore, Pordenone

Next weekend (16-17 november) we will be in Pordenone at the Radiohams faire with a booth on 3D printing for science and education. If you happen to be in the area pass by and greet us :)

Sunday afternoon there will be a meeting on “Work and open source” and Carlo will talk about Open source for science research.


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