Evolution of a Blog

This blog has evolved as I have as a maker. It starts at the beginning of my journey where I began to re-tread my tires in the useful lore of micro electronics and the open-source software that can drive them. While building solutions around micro-electronics are still an occasional topic my more recent focus has been on the 3D Printing side of making.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Another 3D Printed Diorama

I wanted an "in-situ" scene for pictures of painted AFVs and had used a city scape diorama...
 ...and one based around my Bailey Bridge model...
...but they both relied on backdrop photographs and I wanted something stand alone.  Not to mention that a T-34 is not really going to be seen crossing many Bailey Bridges?

In any case I came up with the below which does what I ask of it but still needs a lot of help with the road!

The Diorama
View from Spot Hiding Across the Fence
Ariel View
This is, of course, a couple of 3D Prints.   The surface and the cliff are two prints that could have been done as one had I been thinking.  The trees are prints, as is the fence.  Finally, obviously, the tank is a print.

Yes, the road is a mess and needs a redo!  I am rather pleased with the cliff though.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Pushing the 3D Printing Resolution Boundary

For my Ultimaker 2+ anyway!  

My last, honest, post of a 3D Printed AFV just for the sake of showing print quality. Namely because I can not do much better. This was printed on an Ultimaker 2+ at a resolution (layer height) of 40 microns using a 250 micron nozzle (for sharp details). The print took almost 14 hours. My printer is capable of 20 micron resolution but as you would expect that would take over a day!
Even at this resolution you can see artifacts of the printing process though they are pretty tiny. With a naked eye, and looking from 12 inches away, you can just make out some layering, and I mean just.
My conclusion would be that a consumer 3D printer can produce an amazingly detailed print if you have the right printer and a lot of patience. Still not something that you are going to buy, plug in, and press a button to make work by any means though!
I am now printing an Archer to go with this tank as I was informed that the Valentine XI is a command tank for an Archer AT unit (and the Archer looks like a cool print as well).  


Sunday, April 17, 2016

The "Patience Required" Aspect of 3D Printing

3D Printing is not foolproof and because it takes so long to do a print you may not even know that you have an issue for hours.  Hence the patience.  Additionally, as you chase higher and higher quality the threshold between success and failure also narrows.  In this case I was trying to do a print using a 250 micron nozzle at 100 micron resolution.



First Attempt - Scuppered by Human Error

I use Simplify3D as my slicer and it usually does a particularly good job of handling support material.   In this case it did not and I did not check the slicing rendering as I should have done.  This resulted in the brake plate printing really poorly.  I could have caught this earlier but don't usually observe a print once it has gotten off to a good start.  Four hours later I see that I am going to be doing another print.


Second Attempt - Scuppered by an Under Extrusion Issue

The first couple layers of this print went down well so I left it on its own to print...and did not come back to it until the build platform came down.  At that point I realize that something went south.  A 250 micron nozzle has a lower tolerance for issues than does a 400 micron nozzle and obviously something had pushed this one over the edge.  I did an atomic clean and wrote off another four hour print!

Third Attempt - Finally we Have a Good Print

Very happy with the quality of this last print and especially with the detail of the controls...which are hard to see given the white filament!  The brake plates are still not great but the geometry of that part of the model is really challenging for my printer.



Saturday, April 9, 2016

3D Print Technologies - Three Tanks from Three Technologies - Costs

This article is a continuation of the discussion "3D Print Technologies - Three Tanks from Three Technologies"

Here is a chart of costs based on 3D Hubs quotes for a print of the Jagdpanther that we used for our test case:

Range of Low Costs
TechnologyLowHigh
FDM9.5914.48
SLS13.5518.4
SLA9.6832.99

Some comments on the above:
  1. These are selected costs from the low-end of costs given that pricing on 3D Hubs is all over the place.
  2. There are relatively few SLS printers in the market place and most are in Europe
  3. The low end for SLA is not representative of costs.  Most costs for an SLA printer will be higher than the above
I think a little more focus on FDM print costs might be more useful than further expounding on SLA or SLS printing...which I can't really do any hows as this has tapped out my knowledge.  Here is a chart that presents the costs to print one of our tanks (actually a tank destroyer):

HighLow
Cost of Printer1,800.00500
Maintenance per Year100.0050
Lifetime Maintenance300.00150.00
Lifetime Printer Cost2,100.00650.00
Life in Years3.003.00
Cost per Month58.3318.06
Printing per Month153.60153.60
Cost per Print Hour0.380.12
Time to Print5.085.08
Machine Cost of Print1.930.60
Filament0.770.27
Cost of Print2.700.87

Some comments on the above:

  1. Above costs are in GBP (exchange rate to the dollar is about 1.42 at the moment).
  2. You can spend more on an FDM printer and you can also spend less but these are two good price points at each end of the range.
  3. Maintenance would be for things like replacement parts, nozzles, and upgrades.
  4. Cost of print time was calculated based on how many hours my printers have been used (average of five hours every day).
  5. The actual model shown in the previous article was not printed with super expensive filament, which I do use for some things, but rather with the first notch up from the stuff I used to get on eBay (20GPB as opposed to 14 or so). 


Thursday, April 7, 2016

More on a 3D Printable Model of a Dutch Windmill

This story started here.

The files for this kit are now available on Thingiverse.  Two copies are also for sale on eBay.

Finished Product - 1:160 or "N" Scale

The screw you see above is only needed on the 1:160 version of the model.  You will note below that there is an axel printed as part of the top of the windmill for the 1:100 scale kit.

The Printed Parts - 1:100 or Flames of War Scale

Rendering of the Printed Parts from Sketchup

Rendering of the Assembled Model from Sketchup

3D Print Technologies - Three Tanks from Three Technologies

Here is the precursor to this article.

Note that I am focused on appearance here and not on time to produce or costs.  I may try to tackle those aspects in another article at a later point but for now...just the cosmetics!

So here are images of three tanks printed by three different technologies and then base coated so they would be the same color (the FDM print was grey, the SLA print was white (but sorta clearish), and the SLS print was white).   All three prints are at 100 microns of resolution.  Note that full scale images are at the bottom of this post.

First, however, a quick look at the prints as they come out of the printer (but after support removal):
The SLS print is far left, the FDM print is in the center, and the SLA print is on the right.  Unfortunately I forgot what order I had used above so the rest of this page will have the order being FDM, SLS, and then SLA.  Sorry!

The images below are of the three models with a quick coating of Panther Yellow so that you can actually see details which are harder to capture in white.  The order is different to the above.  The FDM print is on the left, the SLS is in the middle, and the SLA is on the right.


Here are the side views of the three prints in the same order top to bottom as they were above left to right.

Finally, the close ups of the back of the vehicle and the details from that area.
Here is my commentary on the above.  No particular order just as the thoughts come to me!
  1. The quality when looking at details is SLA, then FDM by a margin, and then by more of a margin the SLS print.
  2. The cost of producing these prints (whether you own the printer or buy the print) are highest for the SLS and SLA prints and by far the lowest for the FDM print.  SLS and SLA printers are very expensive and expensive, respectively.  SLA material is expensive (not sure about SLS) but FDM printers and material are pretty cheap.
  3. The post printing effort that goes into preparing a print for use is the greatest for FDM, then SLA, then SLS.   FDM requires a fair bit of support removal and then cleanup from the removal.  You will note on the tracks of the FDM print that some of the support has not been properly cleaned up.  The SLA print also needs support removal but the process, while not trivial, leaves a very clean result.  The SLS print requires no support removal at all.
  4. The FDM print has some surface imperfections (holes) that are noticeable in this magnified image but are not to the unaided eye.  These holes are the areas at the corners where extrusions have not merged properly.  They are not uncommon but are also not supposed to be there!  I can tune them out but wanted to get this article done...so there they are.
  5. The surface of the SLS print is an artifact of the printing process where a laser is used to compress, not melt, plastic in a powder form.  This surface also seems to drink paint.  I don't like it for AFVs.
  6. The SLA print is the most predictable, the most crisp, and portrays less evidence of support material having been in place than the FDM print.
Based on the above, if I had no constraints I would want an SLA printer.  There are some major downsides to the SLA printer though with the first being the cost of the printer (though they are coming down) and the second is the cost of the material (resin) that it uses.  The other downside, for me anyway, is that resin and it's potential for mess and the requirements for cleanup of the print.  Support structure removal on an SLA print can be as challenging as from an FDM print as well.  I am sticking with FDM!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Designing a 3D Printable Model of a Dutch Windmill

I needed a new design project to stretch my skills so I went out to the Flames of War group on Facebook and solicited some ideas with the prize being a copy of the idea.   Here is the dialog from the ideation through the shipping of the kit to the ideator (new word)!

As many of you will know I am one of those 3D Printing evangelists but with a specific interest in the modeling side of FoW. I have a number of models (and a bunch of assorted bling) that I have been selling on eBay for the benefit of charity but now I need a new design challenge!
Attached are photos of some designs that I have done: a Bailey Bridge, a Field Wagon, a Well, and most recently the Stone and Steel Wall. I can't do vehicles or people/animals but I can do the more architectural kind of things.
With the attached as examples I am interested in some ideas. If I design to your idea I will send you a copy for free. As usual anything that I design will be available on Thingiverse with the rest of my stuff.


Windmills are poorly represented. The eastern front and parts of Europe were dominated by them and should be a far more common feature. Something that infantry can fit inside would be good with removable roofs.
LikeReply2March 22 at 10:42amEdited
Will Kostelecky Assuming that I am successful you will get your self a wind mill!
LikeReply1March 22 at 6:47pm
Idea Guy Will thank you so much! Windmills are really poorly represented. There are some available but few allow models to be placed inside.
Will Kostelecky The top part will lift off and there should be room for a large base inside.......it is a good idea for a design. Doubt that it will be cost effective to sell but folks with a printer should enjoy it.
LikeReply1March 24 at 2:42pm
Idea Guy  Excellent. I was in a windmill in the Canary Islands last year and thought "why are there so few 15mm scale windmills?" You can get some but most are solid resin with no internal space for troops.
Will Kostelecky Not that it matters but are you in the UK? Obviously easier to ship you the product when I finally finish (long way to go yet)!
Idea Guy  Yes I am in the UK.


Will Kostelecky Not sayin' that I am going to do it...
LikeReply4March 22 at 1:11pm

Will Kostelecky I am going to shoot for a rendition of the windmill that I pictured above. Not sure if I will be able to make it work in scale but will give it a shot. Not sure how long it will take either!
LikeReply4March 22 at 6:46pm
Another Guy  Here's a pic of a windmill and an UFO in my friend's game room, ha ha ha.

Will Kostelecky Have started...not much but a start. The assembled model will be to the left and each component to the right in printing position. I am going with as many pieces printed as possible under the assumption that this piece is likely to only attract folks with their own printer as it will take a long time to print!
LikeReply1March 23 at 6:20pm
Will Kostelecky Couple more hours in...
Will Kostelecky Some liberties taken but there are so many of these things that I think any design would bear a resemblance to one somewhere! My story is that I saw the one that I am designing just outside of Oisterwijk on a drive through the Netherlands one summer. Honest.
LikeReply2March 24 at 11:50amEdited
Will Kostelecky First test prints started for lower part of wind mill. Doing them in 50% of 1:100 scale for expediency
LikeReply6March 24 at 2:26pm

Will Kostelecky First print for fit tests showed some issues but went well none the less. Railings did not scale down to the 50% size of the test print though.
LikeReply3March 24 at 6:08pm
Another Guy  Railings could either be printed solid or simply left off and done with etched brass or similar.

Even so, looking very sharp!

Will Kostelecky Another Guy The railings will look much better when printed 1:100 but could also be sub-ed out as desired. Bigger issue is that I miss-calculated scale size of door and windows!

Will Kostelecky Slight design change set me back (added some height to the base and rescaled the door) but have finished the design for the bit at the top of the windmill that rotates. Have also measured for the fan blades. Estimate that the final product will take 24+ hours of print time.
LikeReply3March 25 at 5:35pm


Will Kostelecky Starting to print for first 1:100 sized assembly... The parts you see with the sails are the top of the windmill which rotates on the wheels for pointing into the wind.
LikeReply6March 26 at 3:24pm
Another Guy  That looks amazing smile emoticon

Will Kostelecky In case anyone wonders about all these posts...they will get melded into a blog article later!
LikeReply2March 26 at 5:00pm
Another Guy Absolutely brilliant
LikeReply1March 26 at 9:15pm
Another Guy I'm already imagining where my flower bowls (ISYN) might go 😮




Will Kostelecky Could have a first assembly tomorrow evening. Have to print the largest piece (six hours). Still some bits that need a physical fit to fine tune though.
LikeReply1March 26 at 9:53pm
Idea Guy wow its looking like a real show stopper. Pride of the table that will be for sure.


Will Kostelecky
 First assembly - 1 of 3
Another Guy  Trying to like this again...and again...
Another Guy  The thing isn't giving me the 'love' option but I would if I could.

Absolutely stunning


Will Kostelecky
 First assembly - 2 of 3


Will Kostelecky
 First assembly - 3 of 3. Some things need fixing, some expected and some less so. In this photo I am going to ditch printing the platform as a single piece in favor of printing the supports as add on pieces as they will look so much better. The sai...See More


Will Kostelecky
 The good news is that every part of this model should be printable on any well tuned printer (some of my designs require a smaller than average nozzle). The bad news is that no one is going to want to buy one from me given the print time and what I would charge! I will likely eBay a copy or two after I send Idea Guy his idea man rendition!