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3D Printer Guides

3D Printer News, Reviews, Guides, and much more!


  • Feb 19 / 2015
  • Comments Off on Create 3D printed QR codes!

Create 3D printed QR codes!


This is the method that I use to generate a 3D model from a QR code.

1) Generate a QR code using a site like (remember, you can create a link to many things, including a website, a text message, a dropbox, etc.)

2) Save the QR to your computer. Open up an image editor and save a version as a .bmp or .jpg

3) Open up Cura, drag and drop the image file onto the bed.

You’re done! Print it out, put it on a window, and scan with your QR app of choice! Alternatively, you could save your platform as an .stl and then edit it onto something you’ve already created.



  • Feb 19 / 2015
  • Comments Off on Matter and Form 3D Scanner Thoughts

Matter and Form 3D Scanner Thoughts

matter and form scanner

I had a chance to play with the Matter and Form 3D Scanner briefly. I hesitate to call this a formal review, as my experience with 3D scanning is limited and I only had time to scan one model.

Overall, I wouldn’t say I was impressed. I’ve seen comparable, if not better results from using a Kinect, which is a fraction of the cost. For objects which do not have many features obscured by line-of sight, you’ll be able to get a decent looking model without too much effort. There are a lot of bad reviews for the MAF scanner floating around out there, but most of them are probably a case of expectations not matching with reality.

The “theory” behind the 3D scanner is simple: we know what a 3D model is, and we know what a scanner is, so we simply put the two together. However, the actual “practice” is a lot more complicated. In order to get a workable model, especially one suitable for 3D printing, a significant amount of post-processing is involved.

The first problem I encountered was getting the software to recognize the scanner. After power-cycling the scanner, software, and my laptop several times, I was finally able to get it connected. From there, the software was fairly intuitive. There was a brief calibration stage that involved identifying the darkest and lightest colors on the model, which in my case was the trusty coffee mug pictured above.

MAF software


The scanning process took a lot longer than I expected. I’m not sure if I was using the high-resolution setting, but the model had to do a full rotation at with the camera at three levels, and the whole process took close to an hour. The result (after cropping) is pictured above. Next time, I will make sure that the scanning takes place in an environment with light that remains the same color. I was next to a large window and the sun was setting, which gives a lovely reddish hue to the upper portion of the model.

Since I don’t have access to a full-color 3D printer, the discoloration that occurred was not of very much importance to me. My main goal with this scanner was to test the feasibility of “scan-to-print.”  The MAF software has an option to export directly to STL, which worked about as well as I expected. It was able to fill in the hole left from the “shadow” of the handle fairly well, but had trouble with the base of the mug, which I suspect is due to the color of that area. It also created a bulbous structure to fill the void in the interior of the mug, which sort of makes it look like it is full of a frothy latte or something. The image below is the result of the “export to STL” function, viewed in Cura.

MF Cura


I decided to print the model as is, without attempting to fill in any voids. You can use programs like MeshLab to make repairs, but wasn’t able to make much progress when I tried. Much of 3D design is still a mystery to me :-/

Below is a picture of the final result, printed at 50% scale on the Ultimaker 2.



Other than a little underextrusion, I am quite pleased with the result. I hope to have some more time with this scanner, but my first impression is that it is viable for small, simple objects, but will likely not meet expectations for many people, especially on something with a $600 price tag.


  • Feb 19 / 2015
  • Comments Off on 3D printed Music Box Customizer Helper

3D printed Music Box Customizer Helper


One of my absolute favorite things that I have printed so far is the Parametric Music Box by wizard23. It is extremely impressive not only because of its functionality, but also the fact that it is customizable! That’s right folks, you can “program” this puppy to play what ever you want! There is a helper link in his description (which didn’t play in Chrome for me, I’d try Firefox):

If you don’t feel like changing the notes and only want to change the song, though, just set up a document in notepad and copy and paste the text below:

Music Box Customizer


Xoooooooooooo = C
oXooooooooooo = C#
ooXoooooooooo = D
oooXooooooooo = D#
ooooXoooooooo = E
oooooXooooooo = F
ooooooXoooooo = F#
oooooooXooooo = G
ooooooooXoooo = G#
oooooooooXooo = A
ooooooooooXoo = A#
oooooooooooXo = B
ooooooooooooX = C
ooooooooooooo = Rest

Copy and paste your melody beat by beat, which each row corresponding to a single beat. Pin Nr Y set the total number of beats in your song. You can do multiple notes at once, so XooooooXooooo = C and G (a major 5th).

Example: Funkytown by Lipps, Inc.
(pin Nr Y = 16)


When you are done with your song, simply delete the carraige returns and copy the whole thing into the “Pins” section. Enjoy!

  • Feb 05 / 2015
  • Comments Off on Lithophanes!





lithophaneobamaMy far and away favorite feature of Cura is the ability to transform a photo into a 3D model that becomes visible when backlit called a “lithophane.” The way it creates this effect is by putting down more layers for the darker areas which allows less light to pass through. Make sure you set your infill to 100%, though. Obama ended up looking like he’s wearing a checkered suit!

I uploaded the Mona Lisa lithophane stl so you can print your own.

monalisa lithophane




  • Feb 01 / 2015
  • Comments Off on 3D printed trumpet

3D printed trumpet

3D printed trumpet

Genius reddit user HelpMyInboxIsEmpty made an amazing post on r/3dprinting today: A functional 3D printed trumpet. The only pieces that weren’t 3D printed are the rubber bands and the springs in the valves. He even shared the STL files: Printable_Three_Valve_Trumpet

Thingiverse link:

Link to a mouthpiece below. I’m  not sure if it is optimized for this trumpet.

According to the designer, the 3D printed mouthpiece works as well as, if not better than, the metal ones. The trumpet, well, is a work in progress, but impressive none the less.

  • Jan 28 / 2015
  • Comments Off on Stream?



One of my many hare-brained plans is to set up a stream where models submitted by viewers and they can watch their prints in real time! Unfortunately, this requires me to have 24 hour access to a 3D printer, which, sadly, I do not. Keep an eye out! The link is

  • Jan 28 / 2015
  • Comments Off on Zortrax M200 Review

Zortrax M200 Review




The Zortrax M200 is one of the best desktop 3D printers on the market. It is competitively priced, reliable, and accurate. Although it’s technical specifications are rather run-of-the-mill (90 micron layer resolution, 200 x 200 x 185 mm build volume), the overall experience, and especially the surface finish, is highly consistent, even across overhangs and areas that many other 3D printers struggle with.


It’s hard to say how much of the excellent surface finish is owed to the solid construction, the slicer and it’s impeccable support generation, or the filament, but it all comes together in an extremely well-engineered piece of machinery. Setup time is minimal, and it does not need to be calibrated very often to deliver very high quality prints. Below are just a few examples of the type of print-quality you can expect:


A scale model of the head of Michelangelo’s “David”


A bearing that shows off Zortrax’s Print-In-Place (PIP) chops


A model jet engine from G.E.


A Cubic Trisection


Bird Feeder (from


A sweet Chevy. Anyone know what year? Looks like mid-50s to me.



Finally, a functional music box. If you try to print this, bear in mind that it needs a chamber to resonate on, such as an empty cardboard box. I was planning on getting a video of this in action but unfortunately one of the tines broke off and I will have to reprint. The preset song wasn’t very good anyway. Make sure to check out the customizer to create your own song.


Drawbacks are few, although the problems that occur with Zortrax are endemic to desktop FDM 3D printers in general: warping, difficulty in removing supports, and adhesion problems, where prints lift up off the bed. Iused an ABS slurry (acetone + ABS) which seems to help, although probably not for long.

The technical support seems to be somewhat lacking, which is to be expected of a company that was crowd-funded through kickstarter,  but I have faith it will become better with time.

Technical Specifications


Technology: FFF

Price: $2199

Build Envelope: 200 x 200 x 185 mm (8”x8”x7.5”)

Build Volume: 7.4 liters

Minimum Layer Height: 90 microns

Materials: Plastic

Release Date: June 2013

Useful Resources

User Guide: Zortrax M200 User Manual

Software: Z-Suite (requires serial number)



Support (General):

Support (Request):


When all is said and done, I would very strongly recommend the Zortrax M200. Hope you enjoyed this review, please feel free to leave comments below!

  • Jan 25 / 2015
  • Comments Off on How long does a roll of filament last?

How long does a roll of filament last?


Many 3D Printer companies are trying to use the same business model that printer companies use: relatively low upfront cost with absurdly expensive, proprietary ink cartridges. They don’t make any promises on how long it will last or how much you get, and insist on using vague benchmarking terms that don’t really answer your question.

Ultimaker is actually not guilty of this, as they use an “open filament system” which allows for a variety of materials to be printed that are not necessarily sold by them. However, I wanted to know how much a standard roll of PLA filament lasts under normal use cases. The short answer: a little more than 100 hours. This means if you’re printing every day for 8 hours, you will be out in about 2.5 weeks (Assuming an 8 hour work day and 5 day work week.)

One thing that I found which was surprising was the variation in material consumption rate depending on the model. My overall finding was that smaller models tend to use less material per hour than larger ones.

Bear in mind that this is NOT a scientific test by any means. There are definitely improvements that could be made to get a better answer. For starters, instead of using the estimated print time generated by Cura, I would want to time the prints myself. I’ve found that it is pretty accurate for the most part, but it would be nice to verify that. I would also like to adjust some of the basic settings: infill, print speed (which did not affect the time in the way I thought it would), layer height (which seems to behave linearly), and others.

I used the default settings for the Ultimaker 2 (100 micron layer height, 20% infill) and loaded up a few model files which I considered to be fairly representative of common use cases.I then scaled them up and recorded the estimated print time and material consumed. From there I calculated the speed at which filament is consumed in meters per hour. Since the filament is 90 meters long, I was then able to calculate the total print time in hours. Results are in the table below:

Model Scaling Factor Time (hours) Material (meters) Consumption Rate (m/h) Total Time (hours)
Bust 1x 0.83 0.6 0.722891566 124.5
Bust 2x 4.53 3.51 0.774834437 116.15385
Bust 3x 12.4 10.39 0.839256866 107.23773
 –  –  –  –  –
Checker 1x 0.98 0.91 0.928571429 96.923077
Checker 2x 5.45 5.15 0.944954128 95.242718
Checker 3x 15.3 14.87 0.970626632 92.723605
 –  –  –  –  –  –
Pawn 1x 0.52 0.28 0.538461538 167.14286
Pawn 2x 1.9 1.58 0.831578947 108.22785
Pawn 3x 5.32 4.55 0.855263158 105.23077
 –  –  –  –  –  –
iPhone Case 1x 2.36 2.05 0.868644068 103.60976
 –  –  –  –  –  –
Average 4.96 4.389 0.827508277 111.69922
  • Jan 23 / 2015
  • Comments Off on Guide to convert 2D images to 3D model

Guide to convert 2D images to 3D model

This youtube video details a method for translating a 2D image to a 3D model:

There might be better options, I know that 123D allows you to import SVG files as well, and this video is a couple years old. Hope it helps!