3D Printing At Discovery Charter School – Part 9

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By David Lewis

“It’s Warped!”

Back from a week off at the beach we are again into a full speed exploration of what we think we can, what we are sure we cannot and what we are learning to do with design and printing. One of my biggest challenges as the mentor/coach/dad is getting The Herd to understand that most problems they encounter can be overcome.

  • Some of the problems can be resolved with patience and persistence
  • Some of the problems by stepping back and taking a fresh look at the problem
  • And – some problems need to be solved by “reaching out” to other resources and seeing how the same problem has been solved by others.

We are deep in the midst of one of those right now as we are trying to print the back plates for some customer LED Fireflys and the ion-source for my beloved employer. As the kids look to printer thicker and larger items, they are encountering more issues with warping.

At first they (at least Riley) was adamant that “There is nothing we can do” about the problem. Or that it was a function of the “ambient temperature” in the lab. The Herd is always certain and often wrong (as I guess most 13-year-olds are), so I went off and did a little research about warping. When I came back to them I told them that warping could be addressed through a number of factors and that there WERE resources and answers out there, but left it to them to find the answers. They did some digging. According to Riley, “Printing at a different speed and lower temperature for the item and a higher temperature for the raft seems to be a good place to start”. Their next attempt at a larger, thicker item got better results.

The big learning is that the answers ARE out there for the engineers and designers who are willing to push a bit and find them – especially when they have the internet at their disposal.

I tried to talk The Herd through the process of looking up real reference books via a card catalog at the library and got looks of horror and disgust from the team. Things have changed since I was 13.

Next, the ion source….

Part 10 >>

  • Zomboe

    You probably already researched this, but the best long term solutions to warping are either to use a heated bed or switch to PLA material.  I’ve been printing in PLA from the start and have never had to deal with warping.  Just don’t use it for any parts that need to stay rigid at high temperatures!

    • Rileys_Dad

      We are waiting on a couple of reels of PLA (Big thanks again to 3D Systems for their ongoing support of the kids efforts!)

      We have also been playing with raft temperature and extrusion temp:speed ratios

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