Robot Chicken's PILLAR OF AUTUMN Build - 3D Printed

Discussion in 'Halo 3D Modeling' started by RobotChicken, Feb 12, 2017.

  1. RobotChicken


    Okay, I've narrowed it down to just 2 printers, unless you guys know of something I haven't discovered yet. I'm curious to hear your thoughts about them before I buy.

    MAKEiT PRO-M MatterHackers - 3D Printing Supplies

    BCN3D Sigma MatterHackers - 3D Printing Supplies

    I'm not yet leaning more to one than the other because they each have their pros and cons. What do you guys think?
  2. mblackwell1002


    Hmmm...I'd go with the Sigma. The bigger build plate is nice, plus they have an add-on for a 12x12. that IDEX feature is reaaaaly handy with dissolvable supports. it would decrease print time as well, because one extruder could be printing dissolvable filament while the other prints the actual finished material, aside from the hotends bumping into each other.

    check out reviews first, though.
  3. RobotChicken


    I've been reading/viewing reviews all day and I'm really leaning towards the Sigma now. I don't think the 12x12 add-on is for larger build volume (according to one of the reviews I watched) - they said it's build tape that actually needs to be trimmed down for the Sigma. I wasn't able to find out much (yet) about the Pro-M, which isn't a good indicator for me. Plenty on a Pro-L, but not the Pro-M. I really do like the printer interface on the Sigma and its automated calibration. I haven't seen at all where both extruders are moving at the same time. Three hours of looking at reviews and each one shows one extruder parked while the other is printing. But, it's got full-metal heat ends, heated build table, automatic nozzle wiping, large build volume, independent dual extruders, metal enclosure - I'm really liking that printer thus far. The one (and only) downside is it takes strictly 3mm filament. I've got 6 spools of 1.75mm Dremel filament (most unopened or barely used) that I wouldn't be able to use with the Sigma, so I'd have to buy all new filament if I went with the Sigma. But when I compare that against the Pro-M interface I think it's not a deal-breaker. What keeps me undecided is the Sigma's maximum resolution is 50-microns, and the Pro-M is 10-microns. That's a big difference in print resolution, but the Pro-M seems rickety to me (no support of the extruder frame, 3D printed parts construction) and I really don't care for their LCD interface compared to the Sigma. The Sigma looks to be a much sturdier construction. There are some really cool non-Dremel filaments out there that I'd be able to use with either of these printers. I think I'll wait for kaween to toss in his 2 cents and a response from MatterHackers to some questions I sent them before committing to a purchase, but based on features/design/calibration-ease/IDEX/etc the Sigma seems more appealing. I also just learned of the Ultimaker 3 (and the more-desirable Ultimaker 3 Extended) but now we're getting a little too pricey.

    Those of you 3D printing people who are following this build, would you recommend PLA or ABS when I get to actually printing this thing, and why? Since I'll be needing to buy new filament anyway if going with the Sigma and since I'm such a noob at printing, I'd like to hear material suggestions and why. I really like the ability either of these printers will provide for dissolvable filament, either PVA (PLA) or HIPS (ABS), and I'm also intrigued by "conductive filament" for 3D printing internal wiring either on this build or future projects. I hear some people prefer ABS because of its characteristics but I also hear it can be fussy to print (lifting corners, warping, etc). I honestly don't know if PLA is good or bad - it's just all I was able to use with Dremel so just had to live with that. I've also thought about printing the various windows and lights in translucent filament using the second extruder and backlighting them, but I want their edges to be crisp without any potential "color bleed" so I still think it might be better to print those as holes, clean them up as needed, and fit chip LEDs flush with the outside surface after painting.
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2017
  4. mblackwell1002


    I use ABS+ It's super easy to sand and doesn't curl like regular ABS does. PLA is really hard to sand in comparison. Plus, you can 'weld' ABS or ABS+ parts together with acetone. The stuff kaween and I buy is called Esun ABS+ silver. Silver behaves better than the other colors. ABS filaments do curl, but if you have a heated enclosure, it behaves like a well-trained dog.

    PLA is good and all, it's just hard to glue and sand, thus my reasons for ABS+. kaween has been testing out some filament called "Devil Design" He says it's a really nicely printing filament, but you'd have to hear it from him...He's a pretty serious printing master, in fact, his nickname is MasterPrinterTheWise
  5. RobotChicken


    Actually, I learned yesterday researching PLA welding that you can weld PLA like you can ABS. Acrylic glue, like Plastruct Bondene-2, or chloroform or MEK will fuse PLA stronger than the PLA material itself (supposedly). With 0.05mm layer height I don't know how important sandability will be. I anticipate (and hope for) a lengthy post from kaween answering the various questions I've posted today. So that's one vote for ABS+.

    Update: Apparently the MAKEiT PRO-L is newer than the PRO-M (I would have thought the reverse, alphabetically) and supposedly can print a layer height less than 0.05mm. I still have issue with an unsupported frame design, 3D printed parts construction, non-enclosed print area, non-independent extruders, and the LCD interface, but the print resolution is very appealing, the MAKEiT printers take 1.75 filament (so I would be able to use my existing PLA with this printer, if not on the Pillar Of Autumn then on some other project), and the Pro-L (L for "large") has a build volume of 12" x 10" x 13" (i.e. BIG). Both the Pro-M and Pro-L have the ultra high-resolution, only difference is build volume (and a big difference in price). So darn it, now I'm undecided again. Anxious to hear kaween's thoughts on sub-100 micron printers. Maybe he'll know of one that's a DIY kit version at a significantly less price point.
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2017
  6. kaween


    Hey, If you want fast response, just mail me. My presense on is kinda sketchy these days due to ..... a little project I was working on. And health issues that came popping up back again .... ah well.

    1) "no". In fact, many printers won't even be capable of doing REALLY 0.1mm. You're battling the mechanical limitations of your hardware, the minimum stepper motor angle and stepper resolutuion, the repetitive precission of the hardware ect ect. S3D indeeds permits you to use insanely high resolutions, but those are meant for stuff like SLA printers, not FDM machines like ours. Some very good (and SMALL) machine can go down to 0,06 but that's about all that is realistically possible on affordable machine, and even then, only on the smaller build-size versions.
    2) A FF is basically what Dremel bought their hardware from. And then screwed up the electronics, the propriatary slicer blablabla. But once you have S3D that's not really that big an issue anymore. If/how recesses will be possible depends not just on your machine, but also on the used nozzle diameter and orientation of the print. If you're talking about resolution along the Z-axis, yes you should still be able to do that. But not on a flat surface printed one. FDM's have a much higher resolution along the Z axis compared to the X or Y axis.
    3) understanding extrusion width isn't that hard. Basically, it's just an other way of YOU telling how much the extruder motor has to crunch out plastic to the printhead. Why is it set to 0,48mm standard ? Because as a consensus, people will start from the idea that once filament exits a 0,40 nozzle, it _expands_ slightly, becoming 0,48. While this is dependant on used filament type and whatever, it's a "guestimate" which is pretty much correct-ish most of the time. Hence, yeah, you could change that to 0 and your slicer would then be force to simply tell your extruder motor to stop extruding. :D Within limits, better detailing CAN be reached by lowering this value. There's more to it than that, but that's the basic gist of it. Lowering below the physical width of the nozzle diameter is hence not sensical, as your machine simply CAN NOT reproduce such a "demand" by the user. In some way, there's not that much difference between "flow control" and "extrusion width", BOTH change the flow amount of the filament (hence, determine how much steps the stepper motor of your extruder should make to extrude 1mm of filament).
    So no, you can not hope to produce, say, 0.30 like correct behaviour by changing the extrusion width to 0,30 on a 0,40 nozzle.

    As for printers ...... not wanting to burst your bubble but the given price tag doesn't really influence the fact that ALL 3D machines this side of 10.000USD all have "their moments". :D
    Sure, some will be more reliable than others because of their material choice, build platform size, nozzle cooling/heating system, ..... but even a 4000+ Ultimaker3 _will_ break down far more than, lets say that 75USD inkt jet printer you bought 5 years ago.
    That's why people who depend on having a constantly working machine never have just _one_ printer. Not 2 even. They have _several_. :D

    Hope you find these answers halfway useful.

    mblackwell1002 likes this.
  7. RobotChicken


    Thanks, I'll pm for moving this out from what's supposed to be a build thread...
  8. kaween


    Also, I don't like to discuss stuff I've no personal experience with. I can't really say much about the MakeiT machines as I don't have acces to any of them nor have seen any of them up-close.
    MEK can _indeed_ be used to fuse PLA, but MEK isn't readily available in several countries. The issue with PLA (for mechanical stuff) CAN be -for example- the much lower impact resistance of PLA visavis even regular ABS. (it's about 10x more brittle of the top of my head).
    While there's stuff like "enhance PLA or PLA+" or whatever, and yes that is indeed substantially stronger, my suggestion would be that if you want to avoid ABS(+) for what ever reason, look at PETG as replacement. It has some odd issues too (oozing can be a pain) but it's mechanically really nice.

    Look, sub-100 micron ..... I just don't know. FDM ? As rule of thumb, a really, really good one would have a "real" layer resoltuion of 0,06 at best using a standard 0,40 nozzle.
    Could you go below that ? Probably. But not using a 0,40 nozzle -realistically- I think. But keep in mind that's my opinion, not a clear cut fact.
    FACT is I know a lot of brands have been boasting absurd resoltuions ... since a long time now. If however these resolutions are really attainable or just an "eye of the beholder" thing, I can't really say.
    mblackwell1002 likes this.
  9. RobotChicken


    According to the MakeIt 3D site, the Pro-M/L have "real" 50um layer height with 0.4mm nozzle. Each of the printers I'm considering advertise 50um resolution, which is different than what others advertise as 100um resolution. Photos of prints from the machines is impressive, but typically just a frog, lizard, or vase. Still waiting to discuss specs with MatterHackers to find out more. (They've actually tested, used, and reviewed both printers.) I do value the opinions here from people with more experience than I about 3D printing and that's why I asked. After reviewing comparisons between PLA and ABS I'm thinking PLA would be a better choice for this specific project, and I might not need to be too concerned about sanding if the printer resolution specs are true. Am I right in guessing that optimally a model's total height should be an even multiple of the layer thickness to be printed, or does that not really need to be a concern?
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2017
    mblackwell1002 likes this.
  10. kaween


    People knowing much more about 3D stuff than me (that's about 99.9% of the guys out there I think) would probably murder me for this kind of over simplistic stance but if you're looking for a detailed, no-mechanical-load print for say basis of a cast, small representation model with sharp, small details ... stuff like that ? Then by all means go PLA.
    But even for larger parts, armours even, better PLA can be used that compensates for the original issues of normal PLA (brittle, temperature vulnability, ect ect). And it's easier to print than ABS+ is too.
    But please, please take Trevors' advise to heart : don't judge ABS+ as the same thing as ABS. By all standards, it's way superior to ABS in really every single aspect and it does away with about every single bad thing you've heard about ABS as printing material.

    No, the optimal heigth doesn't really bear a correlation between layer heigth and model height and I'll tell you why too.

    What DOES bear a correlation is the ratio between layer heigth and mechanical resolution, and that has to be checked for every specific type of machine.
    What do I mean with this ?

    Take a normal stepper motor in a 3D printer : 1/16th step resolution, 1.8 degree steps. (there's more to it that that : the used toothing on the belts, the ratio of the used rods .....)
    Now, let's ask this printer to do a certain movement, and one motor revolution causes the printer to move a certain distance X.
    Hence the machine will subdivide distance X with the amount of steps the motor allows to do 1 full rotation.

    Hence when picking a layer heigth, best thing is to have a layer heigth that is a multitude of said X/steps so the motor driver doesn't have to try and interpolate the demanded position.

    Real world example : you could compare it to running a TFT monitor at it's native resolution or at lower resolutions. As long as the lower resolutions would be a same identical size factor compared to the original minimum dot size, your image will remain clear and sharp. Shifting from that will result in a blurry picture and you'll have to rely on software tricks (Cleartype was invented to counter for this effect) to keep the image sharp.

    So why not just use stepper controllers that permit microstepping (1/128 or 1/256) ? Because the end result will not simply be a same type of improvement in quality : your motor can't even decern the difference -mechanically speaking- between said steps, and microstepping controllers often lack the needed current drive to power the stepper motors with sufficient torque to allow precise and fast movement, thus skipping steps, producing exactly the counterpart of what you were aiming for (better resolution). Microstepping can however be an advantage for some stuff (where silent operation is needed, or totally jerkfree movement, thing for example a camera controller) and totally worthless for others (think "big ass fast moving Delta printer"). Some steppers therefor have a sort of "hybrid" setting, where the physical lower stepper value 1/16 gets internally subdivided to a higher one : while not directly changing the physical resolution of such systems, it does allow for a smoother movement and less issues with the difference in behavior of the stepper due to electrical oddities like overshoot and ramping.

    Long story short ? Smaller isn't automatically translates in better prints, at least when Z-layer heigth is concerned.

    While you could discuss this is true too for the totall heigth of the model and from a theoretical viewpoint you'd even be right, you're talking about such small tollerances over the full heigth of the printed object, way smaller than the thermal end-expansion of the top layer would be, so hence it's _insignificant_.

    However as I tried to explain earlier : choosing a layer heigth that is not a full rounded multitude of the machines X/Steps would mean it will try to interpolate between steps, something which put a greater strain on the motor system, generate more heat, slower prints and a lower quality as it's a "non native resolution" for the printers' movement system.

    The optimum value is totally dependant of machine to machine as motor, transmission system and used stepper drivers all have their saying within this process and to make the optimum decission, you'll need this info from the MFG'er.

    That being said, in the real world, I probably wouldn't be able to judge from a printed result if they were printed using stepper-optimized values or not.
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2017
  11. RobotChicken


    So, I've spent a considerable amount of time researching printers having the following features (in order of importance, to me):
    • < 100um layer height
    • Dual extruder
    • Automatic or assisted bed leveling
    • Reliable
    • Reasonable or large build volume
    • Less than $5000
    Below is what I've come up with as candidates. They are all dual extruder with bed leveling (or they wouldn't be on this list) and support PLA, PVA, ABS, HIPS, etc. I'm not including prices because I'm not trying to advertise sales for any of these printers. I would like to know if any of you have used any of these printers, what you like about them, and what you don't like about them. If you know of other printers meeting the above criteria please let me know so I can include them for consideration. Thanks!

    Printer, Min Layer Height, Nozzle, Build Volume

    ShapingBits 3FXtrud 30 Duo, 0.02mm - 3mm, 0.2mm - 0.5mm, 300mm x 300mm x 300mm

    Ultimaker 3, 0.02mm - 2mm, 0.4mm, 197mm x 215mm x 300mm

    BCN3D Sigma, 0.05mm, 0.3mm - 1mm IDEX, 210mm x 297mm x 210mm

    MAKEiT Pro-M, 0.05mm, 0.25mm - 1mm, 200mm x 240mm x 200mm

    MAKEiT Pro-L, 0.05mm, 0.25mm - 1mm, 305mm x 254mm x 330mm

    Airwolf3D Axiom Dual, 0.04mm, 0.35mm - 5mm, 300mm x 200mm x 240mm

    Mass Portal Pharaoh XD 20, 0.01mm, 0.2mm - 0.8mm, 200mm diameter x 200mm tall

    FormBot T-Rex 2, 0.4mm, 0.05mm - 3mm, 400mm x 400mm x 470mm

    Xinkebot ORCA 2, 0.05mm - 3mm, 0.4mm, 400mm x 400mm x 450mm

    There were plenty of other great printers I found but each was missing one feature or another, like too small build volume, no auto leveling, single extruder, etc. This one is a worthy mention because it prints in full color up to 0.05mm layer height but, alas, only single extruder: A High Resolution Full Color 3D Printer

    Anyway, be sure to post any feedback you might have. I'd like to get a machine ordered. :)
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2017
  12. RobotChicken


    Really. Nobody? Well, by slowly eliminating candidates for one reason or another, it seems I'm down to either a MAKEiT Pro-L or a Mass Portal Pharaoh XD. They each have their pros and cons so it's a difficult $4K decision with practically no online reviews for either of those machines. :unsure:
  13. kaween


    Well, i wasn't going to post my opinions as you already know them :D -for all others : Robotchicken and me have been mailing on the subject quite intensivly over a period of the last couple of days).

    But yeah, kinda, what did you expect ? :)

    The greatest part of the guys&girls on this forum would already be over the moon getting their hands on a humble Wanhao.

    And at this point I would want to make clear : no bad word about Wanhao, I think they're excellent value for money if you don't want to assemble a machine yourself and take the time to upgrade the Mosfet circuit and some of the horrific cabling which the Wanhao comes with standard so the Wanhao changes from a potential fire hazard into a trusty 3D machine. While I joke about Wanhao, i've seen machines costing 10x more being guilty of exactly the same wrong doings. At least Wanhao had the guts to inform their customers about these issues, including a -for us Westerners pretty commical- personally delivered, humbled "begging for forgiveness speech" by the Wanhao CEO on their YT channel where this issue was thoroughly explained and all affected customers were offered free exchange and upgrade parts !! Imagine say, Tim Cook doing something like that. :D :D :D .

    The lowest price point of the bunch you're suggesting there is around the 2000USD mark which I'm sure you realise is .... well outside a typical cosplayers/generic hobbiests' budget, and you'd need to be a seriously driven cosplayer, or more realistically, a serious tech inclined nerd to throw that amount of cash at what is a non-essential purchase in any household. And that's said with the utmost respect towards all, techs and non-techs included. While 3D is gaining momentum, no doubt, it's very much hobby-level on

    Just saying. :D
    At the given price range I would be _shocked_ if you would have seen much, if any feedback at all on this forum.
  14. RobotChicken


    Yes, I guess I overlooked that point. (And the machines I've narrowed my list down to are more than double that dollar amount.) That's because I'm not purchasing for cosplay. It's an investment for high-resolution printing at home, the Pillar Of Autumn and any cosplay parts being only some of the uses....but not all. I've been shopping for high-precision, highly-accurate, push-the-limits layer height - things people here probably just aren't interested in when it comes to larger cosplay parts. But have fun printing something like this on a "cheap" machine:


    38.23mm x 6.76mm x 0.69mm

    The Z-height is less than the minimum layer height for many machines. I even considered SLA machines (printing parts in resin) but even though that might still end up being the route needed for this project (maybe I could just have the smaller parts of this build printed by Shapeways for me....) such a printer doesn't really have long-term potential in my home and the ongoing cost of materials is way more expensive than filament.

    (And I believe I was just named a "tech inclined nerd"! :D)
  15. kaween


    hahaha whatever gave you that idea. :)
    In case it would offer any comfort, "it takes one to know one". :D

    But yeah, the idea of letting a printerservice like Shapeways handle high-definition, small sized parts in something else than FDM has crossed my mind in the past too. But even they have ... afaik, a 0,1mm minimum detail standard in place -depending on chosen materials- (I could be wrong or it could have been changed these days ... and I'm pretty sure some of the details I'm seeing there must be flirting with that kind of resolution .....

    Unless you're gonna work on models for medical purposes (dentists ect), the current batch of SLA machines .... not really suited for "generic use", I agree, for a mutlitude of reasons that is.

    I mean, to give the other readers an idea of the type of resolution you are really hunting for :

    looking at your part, Z axis maxed out at about 2/3th of a milimeter ?


    .... compared to the head of a regular match ..... :D

    So personally, for that kind of stuff you want to do on Pilar ? I maintain heaving serious servervations in terms of FDM printing for this kind of resoltuions, and CERTAINLY when oriented flat like on your screenshot. The mere filament expansion on the surface would already exceed your capability to produce that kind of detail along that axis, independant of the precission any company would claim of reaching from a pure mechanical point of view.

    If I'm wrong (very possibly so), I'm open to be learned of a better way but honestly .... I think what you are expecting is borderline impossible using FDM.
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2017
  16. RobotChicken


    It's oriented that way just for highlighting the details in S3D (best angle relative to the "light source" for showing the features). It's also "half" of a part. In reality, I'd include the other half and rotate the model vertically, but probably a moot point because I think from a "quality of the finished part" perspective I would be better off having them made by a printing service on a machine I'll never be able to afford. I've bought aftermarket detail parts from Shapeways for various model kits and the resolution is pretty damn small. For now I think I'll just continue with the modeling and when the entire forward antenna array is completed I'll look around at other printing options and leave the at-home printing for larger parts. (At 1.3m this build will have plenty of those.)

    Like I mentioned in email, I could probably get away with gluing paper details to the PLA surfaces and their edges would still be visible after painting - and paper is pretty thin (probably thinner than I'll ever get from FDM printing). So currently re-evaluating printer options.

    Too bad I don't have access to one of these:

    ("And today's program is brought to you by the letters O, C, and D....")
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2017
  17. RobotChicken


    Okay Halo-nerds, even though I'm going to be painting the printed parts, I'd still like to use a filament color close to the ship color so areas where the paint doesn't reach still end up looking okay. As you can see from up-close actual screenshots, the hull color isn't quite as dark as it appears in the darkness of space:



    Which color would you suggest?






    I'm leaning towards the silver based on its hue and having a slight "metallic" look to it.
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2017
    mblackwell1002 likes this.
  18. mblackwell1002


    yeah, I'd say silver, seems to be the closest match.
  19. RobotChicken


    I agree - 4 spools of silver ordered. Also got some translucent colors to experiment with lighting effects. (Printer unveiling coming in a few weeks when it arrives....)
    mblackwell1002 and SI3RRA 117 like this.
  20. mblackwell1002


    que the drum roll!!!

  21. RobotChicken


  22. kapilsingh

    kapilsingh New Member

  23. RobotChicken


  24. RobotChicken


    I've been studying the hull texture and kicking around ideas because I really want to include it with this build. Best case scenario (which usually doesn't work out for one reason or another) is the texture gets 3D printed with the parts. If that ends up not being feasible due to machine capabilities then my runner-up plan is to photo-etch it and superglue to the hull. One glaring thing that bugs me about the texture map is it's not a seamless repeating pattern in all directions. Horizontally it's seamless enough to fudge it into being so without deviating much at all from the pattern, but vertically is a whole 'nother story:


    Notice about halfway up you can clearly see the texture edges. It's like that all over the bloody ship. I was hoping to get some suggestions here on what to do about that. There are really only two options, 1] don't change anything and have it look like it does in the game (which is not how it would look in real life) or 2] deviate from the "canon" texture along the top and bottom edges to create a seamless repeating pattern. (One thing to consider is I intend to be deviating from the stock texture anyway at hull edges and such - there are detail features like junction boxes and other "technical greeblies" that just wouldn't wrap around a corner edge in real life....but they do on the game model. So some details are indeed going to be tweaked to adjust for this.) Consequently, I'm favoring option 2 because I feel it would look more "realistic" and not like a sloppy modeling job when the average Joe is looking at it, and unless you were a diehard Halo fan and side-by-side comparing close-up screen shots with the printed model I'd bet you wouldn't notice any deviation because it would look "natural" with a seamless repeating pattern. What do you think?

    Another thing I'm planning to "deviate" on - the forward antennas boom has crooked texture on its sides:


    Notice how it's angled upwards towards the front instead of all the horizontal piping being parallel with the model? That just doesn't sit well with me so I will be "fixing" that. So as you can see, there will already be deviations from the true game model for what I feel are improvements.
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2017
  25. RobotChicken


    Well, based on overwhelming response I've decided to change the texture along the "tile's" top edge so the pattern repeats seamlessly. I think it will look better. At this point I'm busy modeling the texture tile that will be stepped across the hull's surface. It's probably going to take at least a couple weeks to finish that.

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