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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Back to Italy and lots of news!

So yesterday we came back to Italy after the great 3dprint show we attended to in London. I still have to show you a ton of pictures (from the art exhibition, the catwalk, the various stands, scans…) but as soon as I reached home I started to empty my mailbox and there are so many interesting things I have to share that I will postpone all the rest and dig right in.

  1. MAKE has released it’s new Guide to 3D printing!! We will have to wait a bit to have our hands on a paper copy but we will certainly buy the digital version. And you can go right now and check their 3D printer testing results. The PrintrBot Simple got Best value (and as it’s one of the printers we use and recommend it’s a big satisfaction) and The solidoodle has been rated “Buyer Beware”. Again we can vouch in, we never managed to get much out of it!
  2. Makerbot Academy Math Manipulative Challenge: a new Challenge by makerbot that aims to gain math manipulatives suitable for teaching visual math to kids K-12. As we are always looking into 3d printing and education we are sooo looking forward to the results of this challenge. Hope to see some good stuff coming up!
  3. African fossils has a new website from which you can download 3d models to print out on your 3d printer! More to come on this topic as we are proud to be “partners” in this effort to take prehistoric fossils in all the schoolsAfrican Fossils
  4. We got our hands on the book “Getting Started with MakerBot” and will talk about it soon and we are looking forward to two new books on 3D printing that will be released shortly (unfortunately only in german at least at the beginning).
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