Surface Zits… Gone!

That’s right!  I finally tweaked the settings to the point where I got rid of many (if not all) of the surface blemishes I was experiencing before!  Here’s the before picture:


As you can see, there are quite a few bumps and inconsistencies, as well as some overextrusion!  In order to fix that, I realized there were several features I didn’t have turned on or adjusted correctly:

  1. Within Simplify3d, you can specify retraction GCODE that is run whenever a retract is triggered, which I didn’t realize!  Hyrel printers use 2 special GCODE commands (M721 and M722 for anyone who’s curious) to retract and prime again, so I inserted 3 unprime instructions, and 1 prime instruction!
  2. Overextrusion?  That means I have to decrease the flow rate!  Upon decreasing the flow rate to around .8, it turned out much better!

Now without, further adieu, the after picture!


While it’s still not perfect (you can see some amount of vibration in the surface finish), it is remarkably freer of surface bumps, blips, or overextrusion.  For reference, here’s the two in a side-by-side comparison shot (before adjustment is on the left):

Now, there are two things left to work on with Simplify3d before it is completely perfect:

  1. smoothing out the surface finish
  2. support – I realized the surface wasn’t looking as good underneath the support because the support was too far away from the print.  fixing that should make the surface look better.

Until next time!  It’s been a long saga, but Simplify is almost there!!

John (aka The Mad Printer)

It prints, but it needs work!

Well, I have simplify3d printing nice breakaway supports and printing without error on my hyrel!  However, the settings still aren’t optimal.  I still have surface zits, and I’ve had quite a bit of trouble with the surface finish where the part touches the support.  I have a few things to try…

1.) I haven’t tried turning on the wipe nozzle feature in simplify3d.

2.) I might try playing with retraction some more and increasing it.

3.) If I increase support density, maybe the surface will get better since there will be smaller gaps to bridge.

4.) I’ll investigate the ooze control settings closer.


Sorry for the short post this week everyone, but now I’m getting into the real nitty gritty of refining the printer.  More to come soon!


John (aka the Mad Printer)

Computer Problems are fun :|

Well, I’m finally getting the chance to post after some computer problems rendered my computer that had Simplify3d inoperable for a few days!  But, now that it’s fixed, I’ve been doing some more work with refining support material and my simplify settings.  I’ve noticed two things that I need to change…

  1. While the support material does its job of holding up the parts of the print it should, the surface finish isn’t the best (See below pictures).  I have never seen support material come off as nicely as this did!  What the rough surface finish tells me is I still have some tweaking do do with the specific part of the support where it contacts the part.  My guess is that I need to increase the density of the dense support (simplify3d’s term for support that contacts the part) to 80 or 90%.  In theory, the smoother and tighter the surface of the interface between support and part is, the better the surface of the part will turn out!  I’ll be testing in the coming weeks to see if that’s true


2. I’ve noticed that there are a lot of blips and surface zits on the print.  In order to fix
that, you can look into settings on simplify3d for “ooze control” and movement
behavior (it can compute paths that avoid having to retract as much as possible!).


Look for more prints soon that will hopefully address those issues!

John (aka The Mad Printer)


New Project!

Hey everyone, this post is a little longer than normal, but that’s because this will get turned into a guest blog post for a company called MakePrintable (more about the service they offer at the end of this post!)!!

Since I’ve been playing with Simplify3d settings for my Hyrel for the past i-don’t-know-how-many posts, I figured it would be good to switch it up and do another cad project!  Much like my BMW Gear project ( for those of you that are new or haven’t seen it!), this was a project to cad a replacement part that wasn’t sold anymore!  This time, it was a little less complicated than the BMW gear, but still as important to the product that it goes to.

A friend of mine came to me with a problem: his camping tent uses plastic clips to anchor poles to each other so it can stay up.  However, over time, some of the clips had gotten lost, and he couldn’t find replacements!  Instead of buying a new tent because a few clips were missing, he gave me the actual clip and asked if I could reproduce it.

Seeing the clip, the design was simple enough (below) (just a crescent shape with a hole in the middle)!


So, given that, I got to work!  I took a head-on picture of the clip’s profile, like so:


I had to take this picture a few times, because I wanted to ensure that I got the sharpest profile I could.  Specifically, I needed that level of detail in my photo because I was going to trace the profile in Inkscape in order to get the most accurate reproduction of the clip!  Just like the BMW gear, I imported the image into Inkscape and used the bezier tool to trace the curves!  When I was satisfied that I had the desired profile, I exported my tracing to a .svg file format.

Why .svg do you ask?  Well, I can then take the .svg file and import it into Autodesk Fusion360 (my cad software of choice) as a sketch, thus giving me a base from which to construct the 3d version!  Upon importing the sketch, I then took it and extruded the sketch to the exact height of the clip.

If you were paying attention enough, you probably have a few more questions ;), namely

  1. If you imported a sketch of a profile and extruded that, you wouldn’t get the hole in the clip!
  2. If your imported a sketch of a profile and extruded that, you wouldn’t get the lip on the top and bottom of the original part!

To both of those, I say “you are absolutely correct”.

  1. The hole was added in once the extrusion was complete with the correct measurements and placement
  2. I decided to get rid of the top and bottom of the lip to increase printing speed and print cleanup.  That, way, if there wasn’t any lip (which, by the way, is a small 90 degree overhang), there wouldn’t be a need for support material, and I could make a bunch of these clips for my friend very fast!

But enough jabbering!  Here’s the completed clip next to the original clip:


I do have to say, it ended up looking pretty good!  Of course, I printed the clip using Simplify3d on my Hyrel.  Honestly, I think it turned out fairly well, as the PLA is actually stronger than whatever type of plastic the original clip was made from (I can flex the original plastic with my hand, but not the PLA).

Now, thankfully, my clip wasn’t very difficult to cad, so there isn’t much to go wrong.  However, sometimes when cadding really complicated things, the final product needs some repair or slicing and dicing.  From my previous posts, you have seen that I tend to use a combination of Netfabb and Meshmixer for this (Netfabb for repairing and cutting already genereated STLs and Meshmixer for repairing, simplifying, and smoothing the 3d meshes that make up stl files).

However, as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, MakePrintable has a pretty interesting service they offer: a cloud-based STL repair and mesh editor in one package!  I haven’t done too much playing around with it, but from my initial look on their website, it seems like a very interesting product!  In addition to repairing stl files, it can take your stl and fix more complicated things like non-manifold edges.  It can even reduce the number of triangles in your model in order to optimize file size vs. printability.

One big benefit (from looking at their screenshots) seems to be that their interface is a little more intuitive than that of Meshmixer.  With Meshmixer, you have to know some targeted pieces of information.  For example, reducing the number of polygons in Meshmixer is done via a process called “Quadric edge decimation”.  MakePrintable just seems to have sliders to allow you to adjust that, making it slightly easier!  Give it a try (if you are so inclined) and comment with your thoughts.  I’d love to know!


Until next time,

John (aka The Mad Printer)

The Longest Print…

Well, after a very busy week at work and elsewhere, I finally had the time to sit down and write a blog post!  This one (as the title suggests haha) is about the longest print I have ever done on the Hyrel, which I just completed.  I made a new cupholder assumbly for my car!

I was fairly happy with how it turned out!  It’s an absolutely gigantic piece that took up most of the Hyrel bed.  And, at 30% infill, it ended up being fairly heavy too.  I made the infill dense so that it would sit nicely in the place where the stock cupholder assembly normally goes.  The best part is, thanks to the gecko-tek plate I have, the bottom of the print came out nice and shiny!

If you’re thinking “hey, the surface finish of this 3d printed part looks a little different”, you would be correct!  I sanded it smooth to 1500 grit.  Sanding plastic was a very interesting process, compared with sanding the wood-infused filament I posted about a while ago.  The biggest difference is that, when you apply a power sander to it, plastic tends to heat up and melt instead of sanding well.

The melting of the plastic happened when I used a belt sander.  However, there’s always the right tool for the job!  As soon as I switched to an orbital sander, it worked like a charm without any melting!  I ended up being able to go all the way from 80 grit to 1500 grit with the orbital sander without issue.  The only thing I wish I had done was insert a few more top layers so that the bottom didn’t have that holey appearance.

However, I’m more than pleased with the fact that the Hyrel printer was such a trooper!  In order to print this cupholder, it took (drumroll please)……. 55 hours!

Hopefully I’ll get some time to start going on the kylo ren mask again, so stay tuned to find out what I post about next!

John (aka the Mad Printer)


It Works!!!

Well, after much tweaking, I finally got some amazing results with Simplify3d on my Hyrel!  In order to do that, I slowed printing speed down from 33mm/s to 25mm/s, and modified the GCODE a little bit since it wasn’t communicating everything it should when it changed layers!  Doing those two things resulted in the best surface finish I have ever seen from any printer I’ve worked with so far:simplifyCube.jpg

All the infill was rock solid and strong, and the surface looks great!!  nice and shiny on all sides.  After printing this cube, I decided to run the dragon with supports again.  And, low and behold, it came out very well!


The supports were nice and strong now, and they removed very easily, preserving all the detail of the dragon nicely!  Now comes the real test….. printing the Kylo Ren mask again!  Remember that project from several posts ago????  Now that I have good support material settings, it should be a lot easier to print (hopefully).  That will be the next project!  Stay tuned everyone!


John (aka the Mad Printer)

More Simplify3d Fun!

Well, I got a few things working very well in simplify3d!  Support material prints at the new, faster speed from last post, and I can now run prints that were directly generated from Simplify3d without having to manually edit GCODE!  Now that the basic functionality of Simplify3d works, it’s all about customization and refinement!

There are still a few problems with the way prints come out of Simplify3d:

  1. The infill is fairly weak.  In order to fix that, I’ve first tried to change the infill pattern to honeycomb instead of grid!  If that fails, the next step will be to reduce the printing speed.
  2. While support prints, it is fairly week and brushes off too easily.  To address this, I’ll increase the density of the support material.

There is an awesome plus side though!  The surface of the part looks pretty good.  Here’s a picture of what the most recent Stanford Dragon I printed looks like:


Until next time!

John (aka The Mad Printer)