makerbot-digitizer

3D scanners are not that new as a technology, however with the increased interest in 3D printing in the last few years the interest in 3D scanners has also increased significantly, and that goes especially when talking about affordable 3D printers and 3D scanners. A 3D scanner should in theory allow you to scan a real world object into a 3D model that later on you will be able to print into a physical object again with the help of a 3D printer. This could be especially useful for people that are interested in 3D printing, however are not very keen on learning 3D modeling. You should however be very aware of the fact that 3D scanning, much like 3D printing, may be a bit overhyped and is not as easy as it may be represented by companies willing to sell you their products for 3D scanning. This is especially true when we are talking about more affordable 3D scanner solutions that are at a sub $1000 USD level, but can also be very true for models that going higher in terms of price at like $2000-$3000 USD that can still be considered as cheaper consumer oriented products. Nevertheless the concept of 3D scanning is something that we are also interested in with both its advantages and disadvantages at the consumer level of products as there are significantly better and more expensive professional models available, similar to such 3D printers, but our focus is on the more affordable solutions targeted at the normal users.

makerbot-digitizer-3d-scanner-results

The first thing about 3D scanners that is often not getting enough attention is the quality you can expect to get when you scan a real world object. You should be prepared not to expect a great level of detail of the 3D model that you will get as a result from a 3D scan, while the general shape and some of the detail will mostly be preserved, the finer details will most likely be lost. Also be prepared to spend some more time initially getting to know what the best conditions for scanning are and how to properly use your 3D scanner for best results. 3D scanning usually takes some time and this can greatly vary from one 3D scanner to another, and then you may also need some additional time to work on the scanned 3D model as well. The software that stiches all of the data that gets acquired during the scanning process that should create a solid three-dimensional model is not perfect and very often you may need to fine tune the model for the best results. Do note that most consumer oriented 3D scanners also do allow very limited size of the scanned objects and if they offer more freedom and larger scale scanning often the results are not as good as with smaller objects. Still 3D scanners are a fun thing to play and experiment with, just do not get unrealistic expectations on what the resulting 3D scanned models will look like. You should also be prepared that when you 3D print a 3D scanned object in a single color the final result may be even less detailed than what the 3D model you got.

On the images above you can see the MakerBot Digitizer along with an original Gnome figure that was created in a 3D modeling software and then printed in 3D and painted to make it look really nice. Then the figure has been scanned with the MakerBot Digitizer and printed again on a 3D printer from the scanned 3D resulting model. While the end result still looks quite good, you can clearly see that most of the finer details are gone and there are some differences in the larger details that no longer seem as distinguishable as on the original 3D print of the Gnome. Of course adding color might help in making the two Gnomes seem lore alike, however this is a good example that should bring your expectations from 3D scanners to a more reasonable level.

dsm-arnitel-eco-3d-printer-filament

Arnitel is a high-performance ThermoPlastic Copolyester (TPC) that offers you a unique combination of flexibility, high temperature resistance and strength. Arnitel Eco is manufactured using renewable feedstock, in fact 50% of its content comes from renewable resources, and in particular, rapeseed oil instead of mineral oil. This elastic product outperforms conventional rubbers according to the manufacturer across a variety of applications, and is available in hardnesses ranging from 40 to 70 Shore D. The Arnitel Eco 3D printer filament can be used with any 3D printer that supports PLA filaments as you need to have an extruder temperature of about 230 degrees Celsius for the Arnitel when printing, the same as for PLA.

The higher melting and printing temperature of the Arnitel Eco compared to other flexible filaments that can be used with 3D printers means that you can you can use the printed parts under higher temperature conditions where standard PLA for example will not be suitable. Arnitel Eco has a melting point of up to 200°C, depending on hardness, though at over 100 degrees Celsius it should not start melting for sure, unlike PLA that can start getting softer at over 65 degrees. Even at high temperatures the flexibility of the printed parts using Arnitel Eco the flexibility of the printed elements remain pretty good, so you do not have to worry about that either

As with other flexible filaments you may have trouble on some 3D printers that do not have filament feeding mechanism capable of properly using flexible filament, so you may need to upgrade or modify your filament feeded. The latest MakerBot Replicator 2 printers do not have problem using the Arnitel Eco flexible filament, though you may still get filament jams in the extruder if you are not using the proper printing settings. The rule that generally applies for using flexible filament is also in action here – use slower printing speed of about 1/3 of the normal speed you would use for standard PLA filament. So for example if using a Replicator 2 3D printer you will need to lower the parameter “Speed while Extruding” from 90 mm/s to about 30 mm/s. Depending on your 3D printer you may need to tweak a bit more the speed setting, especially if you are also printing small details where the movement of the extruder is not long enough to allow the cooling of the previous layer before applying the next one over.

makerbot-3d-printer-filament-spools

There are two main types of 3D printer filament that are widely spread and used by Fused deposition modeling (FDM) based 3D printers such as the MakerBot Replicator series for example – these are ABS and PLA, though there are various other alternatives also available. Both ABS and PLA are thermoplastic materials that start to melt when they are heated up, so that they can be used to form another object and solidify when they cool down.

ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) is a common thermoplastic often used in 3D printing, but it also has many more applications. 3D printing using ABS has some additional requirements from the printer such as a heated bed, so not all devices are capable of supporting ABS printing. The objects printed from ABS are generally harder and more durable, can be used with higher temperature before starting to soften (about 100 degrees Celsius or more), but are also harder to print and generally provide less detail to the printed parts. If printing with ABS you must be careful and have good ventilation as the fumes produced when ABS is melted for printing are not totally safe.

PLA (Polylactide) is a biodegradable thermoplastic aliphatic polyester derived from renewable resources, such as corn starch for example. PLA is probably the most widely used material for 3D printing as it is easy to handle and offers very good detail level. The only drawback that it has is the relatively low temperature that the material starts to soften – above about 65 degrees Celsius. It does not require the printer to have a heated bed like ABS for example, so it is more 3D printer friendly, especially to the lower cost models.

In general both ABS and PLA have their advantages and disadvantages compared to each other, so you should choose the material based on what you are planning to be using the 3D printed parts for. If you need to print in ABS you should be careful when choosing a 3D printer supporting ABS prints as not all do and it such cases it is better to go for a model that has support for both ABS and PLA. If you are new to 3D printing and are getting your first 3D printer to play with it at home, then it is better to go for a model supporting PLA as you probably will not need ABS printing capabilities. Both ABS and PLA filaments come in the form of thin round lines with specific diameter (1.75mm or 3mm are the most common) that are wrapped around a spool. The 3D printer filament is being sold in spools with the material calculated and priced based on its weight and not length of the line for example, there are already many available colors for both materials that you can find available from various manufacturers.

There are of course many other materials that can be used for 3D printing, though they are mostly experimental and you should be prepared to have some issues and tinker with your 3D printer’s settings should you decide to try them out. There are multiple alternatives for a flexible rubber type of filament available for 3D printers that will allow you to print rubber like flexible models on your device. You can also find filaments that contain carbon, wood and even small stone particles that when printed will create an effect making it like if the 3D printed object is made from carbon, wood or stone or at least looking a lot like that. There are also other kinds of interesting 3D filaments available, but again most of these are experimental and using them can cause some problems on your 3D printer such as jamming of the print head etc., so be careful when you decide to try these out.

top