High-Impact PolyStyrene (HIPS) is one of the less known 3d-printing materials. Most people that have heard of it know it as a dissolvable support material used in combination with ABS, because it dissolves in d-limonene (and ABS does not). It is not frequently used as a printing material in itself.

The guys from Form Futura want to change that because they believe that HIPS could be a very nice primary printing material. They are bringing out a line of HIPS filaments in 1.75mm and 2.85 mm diameters, at the moment only in white but black, red and gray are planned. They asked us to test a spool of their 2.85mm white HIPS and see how it compares to ABS and PLA. We wanted to look at a number of characteristics: extruder temperature, print bed, warping, quality and ‘smoothability’ (i.e., can HIPS be vapor-smoothed like ABS with Acetone).

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Smoothing PLA

We’ve written before about smoothing ABS prints using acetone vapor. This works very well, blending the printing layers together for a smoother finish and increased strength. Acetone is not particularly toxic and easy to obtain (in the Netherlands, any chemist stocks it).

For PLA, however, acetone smoothing does not work. This is a pity, since PLA is much easier to work with than ABS. We found some solutions for smoothing PLA, but most involve rather dangerous-sounding chemicals such as Tetrahydrofuran and Dichloromethane. The one exception we found is Ethyl Acetate which seems to give good results and is (relatively) safe. This was something we wanted to try for ourselves.

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Testing Thermochrome EcoPLA filament

The guys from Formfutura were kind enough to give us some special filaments to test not so long ago. We have started our test with the Thermochrome filament.

Thermochrome filament is a normal PLA filament with an additive that makes it change color depending on the temperature. Under 29ºC it looks black and above that it starts getting white.

thermochrome roll
This is how the thermochrome roll looks at the room temperature (about 20ºC)

We tried our usual calibration Lego Brick in our Prusa i3 printer, which we have very much under control.

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Windows On Devices: Intel Galileo

Some time ago while reading about new development boards I ended up in a Microsoft site called Windows On Devices. In there they are promoting the Intel Galileo board and their dev environment with Visual Studio. To do so, they offer a free dev kit if you register and tell what you want to do with it (and they like your idea). So we’ve decided to apply explaining what Fabsterdam is and what we do with arduinos, pis, and 3d printers and some weeks ago we received a mail confirming that they’ll send us a dev kit (YEY!).

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How small can we print?

After we set up our Etsy Shop and had a few orders, somebody came out with a custom order a bit challenging for us. He wanted some markers for a card game (like Magic) and he loved our purple tentacle so he asked if we could print 15 mini purple tentacles.

The purple tentacle model is about 7cm tall and the base is 5cm diameter and that’s too big for a card marker so he asked if we could do it about 1-2 cm base diameter. We were worried that with that much down-scaling we will lose too many details, so we decided to experiment on ways to do it just to see if it was even doable. Continue reading