Thanksgiving is upon us, and we here at the 3DPPVD family have a lot to be thankful for this year. Our community has thrived and grown, Ocean State Maker Mill has launched, and we have had an amazing year of exciting events and projects. Thank you to everyone who has come out and helped us this year.

Of course in todays world, Thanksgiving isn’t just about turkey, family, and reflecting on the year gone by; it’s about SALES!!!! The 3D printing world isn’t letting us down this year with many vendors offering great deals on a wide range of products. We wanted to make sure our community didn’t miss out so here are a few of the sales we are aware of and think are worth checking out:

  • SeeMeCNC has discounts running for the next week and half. The best deals are today (11/27) and tomorrow (11/28) so don’t wait and miss out. Sales flier here.
  • Printrbot on Friday (11/28), is offering 10% off everything for 24 hours only. Along with the sales, they are launching multiple new products and upgrades so be sure to check them out.
  • Lulzbot is having a Cyber Monday sale with huge discounts on some of their products. It’s hard to say no to a $10 RAMPS board! Also check out my review of the amazing Taz 4 in the latest Make Magazine.
  • Afinia is offering $150 off of their amazing little workhorse of a machine – the H480 – until the end of the year.
  • PrintedSolid will help you stock up on all of your filament needs with daily deals starting Friday (11/28) and running through Monday (12/1).
  • MakerShed is now offering free shipping on any order over $50. With lots of printers in stock, this is a great time to save a chunk of cash getting it to your door.
  • MakerGeeks not only has great filament sales going on, but is also offering $150 off all Flashforge printers, now through Monday (12/1).
  • Proto-Pasta, while not having a sale, are launching two new filaments on Black Friday: Steel infused PLA and magnetic iron infused PLA.
  • 3DXTech is offering 15% off their entire line of filaments from Friday (11/28) to Monday (12/1).

So sit back and enjoy time with your family; there is no need to go out and get trampled to swipe up these deals. Enjoy your holiday and may your printers keep humming away.


With all of the materials testing we do here at 3DPPVD, we often get one question when we present our research to others:  “Where should I buy my PLA from? / Who has the best PLA?” PLA vs. PLA has not been in our purview… until now! We are proud to announce the 2014 3DPPVD PLA Shootout.

We are going to test multiple PLA products, from multiple vendors, to help determine who has the best PLA on the market. A series of tests will be given, to see which PLA 1) gives us the best print quality, 2) is the easiest to print with 3) has print quality affected by other factors; as well as answering other questions that are burning in our plastic-loving hearts. The hope is that by the end of our testing, we can give you a definitive answer on where your plastic budget should be going.

Of course there are many choices out there for PLA vendors, and it would not only take us forever to get through them all but would also break our meager budgets – so we need your help. We have created a survey to help determine whose PLA we should be testing, as well as take into account some other factors that might be influencing your purchase decisions and printing results. Please take a moment to fill out the 2014 3DPPVD PLA Shootout Survey. We will reach out to the top vendors that you guys use and ask them for filament to test with.  We will buy filament from those who don’t respond or don’t want to help out with the test.

If you are a filament vendor and would like to be included in our testing, you can ensure your spot by contacting us at and we will arrange to include you.  While we appreciate any and all help and participation, no special treatment will be given to vendors who provide free materials, as we are going to try to anonymize the process the best we can.




Removing the need to keep a full blown computer connected to your 3D printer while printing has been an enticing goal since the start of desktop 3D printing. We have seen multiple methods employed to help with this issue: SD Cards with LCD interfaces, built in memory to queue prints up in, and USB sticks have all been popular. Previously we discussed the usage of OctoPrint in conjunction with the RaspberryPi as a solution for network attached printing. Now a new project, AstroPrint, aims to rocket our printers into new heights of ease and usefulness.

The AstroPrint team is part of the current crop of startups working to build their products at BetaSpring, Providence’s startup incubator. I stopped by last week to talk with the team and take a look at the project. AstroPrint is based off of the much loved by our group OctoPrint distribution but heavily modified for a cleaner more simplified interface. They have also replaced the RaspberryPi with the more powerful PCDuino which sports built in wifi making networking greatly simplified. To round out the package they also include a cloud component capable of slicing your models without the need for you to pre-slice on your own hardware. The result of all of this work is a system that allows you to browse for models, slice them, and control your printer from your smartphone or tablet without the need for a computer.

I was pleased to see how far along with the system they are and was able to see a full working demo of the system. Over the next few months the team hopes to add in a few more features and work on scaling the system for the large number of users it will need to handle when it goes live. The team who hale from California only have a few more weeks left here in Rhode Island and hopefully we will get a further peak before they head home.

AstroPrint was launched live on Kickstarter a few weeks ago and fully funded in the first day. Any kickstarter backer who purchases a kit will also receive a lifetime free Pro membership to their cloud component. You can explore and hopefully consider backing their kickstarter campaign here.

More photos and video after the break.

Read More


I went out to Bay Area Maker Faire this year to present and represent 3DPPVD. We had a great time hanging out with many of our fellow 3D printing friends and fellow Makers. Above you can see my presentation “Advanced Materials for 3D Printing” from the Faire. Of course my wife and I were not the only members of our community representing out on the west coast. 3DPPVD attendees Brian Jepson and Anna France were both there fulfilling their duties as Make employees. Our Past presenter and frequent attender Wayne Loose was showing off his new company Modio, an offshoot of Modibot. Check out their demo video after the break. Read More



Often we get too caught up with the technology behind 3D printing and don’t spend enough time thinking about the wide range of things we can do with our printers. Sometime we need to stop and smell the roses and listen to a merry tune. Now with the Dreaming Pipes project on Kickstarter, your printer can create you a set of bagpipes (or a few other traditional instruments) so you can play your own tune. I’m really excited to see a project that is not only looking to use 3D printing to take a classic instrument to new levels but also make it affordable and easy for anyone to build. For a pledge of £35 you can get all the STL files you need to create a penny whistle, practice chanter, small pipes, and highland pipes. Of course instructions and bag patterns are included too. Continue after the break to see the creator demoing a set of 3D printed small pipes. Read More



One of the most exciting recent developments in the desktop 3D printing world has come from makers designing low cost but amazingly functional prosthetic devices. One of the most successful of these projects has been the Robohand project who’s work was documented in a promotional video created by MakerBot. The device created by Robohand can grip objects with the flex of the users wrist and was fully printed on a desktop 3D printer.

Now Adafruit is hosting a month long event to try to further the spread of this project. Every friday in October, they will be hosting a Google + hangout where fellow makers can share their progress in printing and helping to distribute these devices to those in need.

Adafruit reached out to us at 3DPPVD in hopes that our talented team of printing enthusiasts could join in on the fun. We invite all of you to join us this Friday, for the introductory hangout where members of the Adafruit team and other partners will explain the goals of the month long project.

You can find out more from Adafruit’s announcement here.



After months of watching updates that included cat shaped infill patterns and other nonsense, MakerBot has finally released their official support for dissolvable HIPS support material based on the research done here at 3DPPVD. They have branded their new filament line MakerBot Dissolvable and made it available to be shipped on the day of the announcement. MakerBot has priced their new filament at $65 a kilo which is an over 60% markup to the same material offered by Filaco.

With this new material MakerBot has also upgraded MakerWare to support printing support structures on a secondary extruder. Now on a dual extrusion machine, HIPS can be printed alongside ABS without the need to generate two separate models. They have also included color matching support and rafts for dual extrusion multicolor prints. This will eliminate colored scars in your prints from the removal of a different colored support material.

You can read more about our research into soluble support material here and find out more about MakerBots announcement here.

Finally, don’t miss Hack A Day’s coverage of some of our advanced materials research that was on display at this years World Maker Faire.


So you missed 3DP PVD’s CastMax build but really want to get into bot building with a little bit of help? Your are in luck! John Abella, friend to 3DP PVD and 3D printing fans everywhere is running his own class on October 5th and 6th. John will be guiding participants through the process of building the new Prusa i3 RepRap printer. John is hosting this class in Wilmington Delaware at the Double Tree hotel. So although this class is not in Rhode Island it could be a great 3D printing getaway!

For more information check out


3D printing is changing the way we create products and do business and now this is evident right here in Rhode Island. Go Go Dynamo from Providence is running a Kickstarter to help launch their new line of customizable toys, the Modibot. Wayne, the creator of Modibot has been a frequent attendee at our meetings and we hope to soon have him in to talk about his process for designing these toys and using Shapeways to produce products.

Modibot only has a few days to go before the end of their Kickstarter campaign so please consider backing them now to help them reach their goal!

Modibot Kickstarter


When printing with an FDM 3D printer, such as a Makerbot or RepRap, you run into problems when printing objects that have large overhangs or bridges within your model. While SLS printers can use their extra material to make spacing for working mechanics within a print, that can be difficult to achieve in FDM prints. FDM printers can print support structures that are made with excess printing material, which can later be torn away, however this excess material must be on the outside or accessible within the print.

The solution to these problems is dissolvable suport material. Dissolvable support material can be printed to create a support structure within your model, but can later be removed by placing the print in a solution that removes that material. Many materials have been tried for use with hobby printers but without great results… Until now!

I have been working with HIPS (High Impact Polystyrene) plastic from Filaco, printing in combination with ABS. When printed as a tearaway support structure, HIPS can be easily torn from the ABS – leaving an even finish behind. The real power, though, comes from the ability to remove the HIPS support material by dissolving it away. HIPS is soluble in a chemical called Limonene. When a print is placed in a bath of Limonene, the HIPS portions are completely dissolved away – leaving behind just the ABS sections. This opens up the potential for moving parts and more complicated structures to be printed in one print instead of multiple.


I made my prints with a Makerbot Replicator 1 with two extruders. My process was simple.

  1. Both extruders set to 235C.
  2. Heated bed set to 115 (HIPS sticks really well at this temp and I did not have any curling issues).
  3. Wait for print to fully cool. HIPS stays very pliable until it’s cool and will bend when removing from your plate if not fully cooled.
  4. Place in a glass jar with enough limonene to cover for 24 hours, agitating as frequently as possible. Time may vary depending on the amount of material used, so monitor status every couple of hours.
  5. Remove your print and rinse in fresh water.

Your print will maintain a pungent smell of oranges – but hey, that’s not so bad, right?