Before I start listing expensive photography equipment, I should mention that I have dedicated cameras and lenses for other photography. You can probably get similar results using a decent phone camera, but I haven’t done enough product photography with a phone camera to be able to give advice there. Some of the info here will be helpful with a phone camera, some will be more useful with a SLR-style camera.
I’ve been asked many times about how to take good photographs 3D prints, and it’s always hard to answer in a brief format. Just like giving advice with 3D printing, it’s hard to know what will be useful without knowing more about the hardware, software, experience, and intentions. Even in a longer format, photography is just too large of a subject to cover without skipping over a lot of important details. I actually started this post years ago, but every time I try to finish it, it just keeps growing. So I’m going to split it into sections, starting with the basics, and I hope to get to the rest someday.
There are a lot of parts on a 3D printer that I expect to be a fire risk, the hotend, the heated bed, the wiring, the power supply, the controller. Fans weren’t on that list, until now. Turns out there are several more points of failure to worry about with each printer, especially since I do run them when I’m asleep or out of the house.
Here’s my latest printer, it started out as a copy of Whosawhatsis’s Cranestyle Mini, but diverged when I had some difficulties getting the linear rails I ordered. The 12mm rails from AliExpress were delayed, then missing, then the wrong size. In the meantime, a friend gave me some linear guideways and a 14mm linear rail and I ended up building this printer around those.
This post started as a test to show why PLA is doesn’t work for designs that put a constant load on the part (part of the part failure series) and I was curious how ABS and 910 nylon would perform relative to PETG. But as is often the case, the some of the results were in line with my expectations, and others were a complete surprise.
This picture shows the kind of printing failure that frequently results from a poorly designed cooling duct. Most of the cylinder printed fine (still tuning this printer), but the part in the wind shadow of the cooling duct was still malleable when the next layer was added, causing the layers to buckle and bulge instead of stacking properly.
I’ve been experimenting with several new dual drive extruder designs for the latest printer I’ve been building. Every time I make a new iteration, I have to recalibrate the gap or tension setting on the extruder. Here are the steps I take to calibrate each iteration, which may want to try if you print one of these designs.
I’ve found wiring to be one of the most fragile parts of my 3D printers. Fans can often fail where the wires are connected to the PCB, which can be particularly frustrating failure since there’s often limited clearance for soldering and most fans are welded together, making them difficult to disassemble. Fortunately, a bit of preventative reinforcement can significantly reduce the odds of a broken fan.
One of the worst things a detached print can do is attach to the heater block. This case wasn’t too bad, but I’ve seen pictures where the hotend is encased in a giant ball of plastic. If this happens, turning up the temperature of the hotend will make the plastic easier to remove, I usually set it high enough to soften the plastic, but lower than normal printing temperatures. A brass brush is also very useful for cleanup. Watch out for any wiring damage during cleanup, especially around the thermistor.
When I change nozzles on my printer (which I do often to switch between nozzle sizes), I usually remove any remaining filament in the nozzle. It helps keep the nozzle clean and reduces color and plastic contamination the next time you use the nozzle. The process is similar to doing a cold pull, but quicker if you’re already planning to change the nozzle.