What NOT to do 101: Learning to fail from 3D printing

Let’s be honest. 3D printing is hard. Not just because it builds (pun intended) upon the intersection of science & art. It’s a field that despite growing popularity, is evolving lightning fast.

One Month of Hiccups
One Month of Hiccups

For those of us at the affordable spectrum of FFF 3D printers (aka Cartesian hot glue guns), we kluge together whatever resources we have available to force a desired outcome. For me, a 3D printing newbie, this involves an impressive amount of hot glue, filament, 4 letter words, filament, sand paper, more filament, nail clippers and…..even more filament as I try, try and try again to push the limits of human-scale 3D printing.

Over extruding with the bed too close to the hot end
Over extruding with the bed too close to the hot end

As rather impatient non-engineer who just recently learned the difference between a Crescent and Allen Wrench, 3D printing has been quite a journey. My evenings and weekends are all too often filled with endless Internet searches in order to decipher forum lingo and to deduce how to maximize my chances of print success.

Admittedly I also have the benefit of an amazing team to give guidance and correction. Despite the advantage, I regularly make an incredible amount of mistakes as I try to be independent. I have a profound respect for those more fluent in large-scale 3D printing that model success after success online. However, I’m finding I learn more from the fracasos I inspire at least a couple times a week while currently supervising three Gigabots running 24/7.

"Raffling" off failed prints to friends at a re:3D party

So, in the sprit of transparency, and urging of my Coaching Fellowship Mentor Monica Phillips, I’ve begun to document my failures.  My hope is that perhaps that these confessions help another amateur or, at least give my teammates & other lovers of additive manufacturing some comic relief.

Here’s the first of the series. If you’ll excuse the vertical video and amateur filming, we’ll do our best to post one a week to our What Not To Do YouTube Playlist, and perhaps coerce some other members of our team & community to share their laughs, tears, and lessons learned as we work together to take 3D printing to new dimensions.

~ High Five


2015 re:3D Summer Internships are Live!

Yep, the rumors are true! The next round of re:3D internship openings are live!

The summer we will have a full cadre of interns spanning design, hardware, marketing, and software.  Positions range from fulfilling creative to outright crazy projects and we can’t wait to get started with our newest batch of teammates when the program kicks off June 1st.

Think you’re up for the challenge? Check out all of the positions at: www.re3d.org/careers/ and submit your application here by May 10th!

2014 Summer Design Intern Alberto showing off his Gigabot inspired monocle.

Questions? Contact: info@re3d.org

See You At SXSW?!

It’s seems like it was only yesterday since we launched Gigabot on Kickstarter at SXSW in 2013. Two years later, both our Austin and Houston teammates have returned to reflect on the past and look to the future with Gigabot, OpenGigabot, and a few surprise announcements. We’re also honored to be considered for a SXSW Innovation Award and can’t wait to share 3D printed prosthetic hands, board games, a huge Reddit Alien, giveaways and some crazy furniture with the friends we encounter in exhibit halls, tents, bars, hotels, and retail stores. If you plan to attend any of the events below, please say hi or share a Gigabot selfie online!

Here’s a list of where you can expect to find Gigabot and the re:3D gang: 

  • What: SXSW Interactive Panel “Building a Startup Ecosystem from Zero”
    • Where: Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon K , 500 E 4th St
    • When : 3:30pm-4:30pm March 14
    • Connect: #SXSW2015, #ChileAwake, @re_3D, @samanthasnabes, @startupchile
  • SXSW Create 3D Printing Meetup
    • Where: West Pincer Terrace Long Center
    • When : 11am-12pm March 14
    • Connect: #SXSW2015, @CreateATX, #SXCreate, @re_3D, @chief_hacker, @Enablethefuture
  • SXSW Interactive Create Tent: e-NABLE Hand Pavilion Sponsored by
    Hanger Clinic
    • Where: The Long Center for the Performing Arts, 701 West Riverside Drive
    • When : 11am-6pm March 13-15
    • Connect: #SXSW2015, @CreateATX, #SXCreate, @re_3D, @chief_hacker, @patrick_finucane, #openGB, #Gigabot, #innovationawards
  • SXSW Interactive Gaming Festival
    • Where: Palmer Event Center, 701 West Riverside Drive.
    • When : 11am-6pm March 13-15
    • Connect: #SXSW2015, @re_3D, @gerty, #Gigabot, #boardcraft, #necrovirus
  • Toy Joy/ Austin Rocks Live Gigabot 3D printing
  • Google/ Capital Factory Next Wave Entrepreneurs Lounge
    • Where: 1616 W Brazos, 16th Floor
    • When : 11am-6pm 13 March- 15 March
    • Connect: #SXSW2015, @re_3D, @google, @capitalfactory, @GoogleForEntrep, @re3dtodd, #gigabot
  • OwnLocal and Knight Foundation 2nd annual News and Schmooze
    • Where: Firehouse Lounge, 605 Brazos St, Austin
    • When : 6pm -8pm 13 March
    • Connect: #SXSW2015, @re_3D, #gigabot, @knightfdn, #ownlocal, @samanthasnabes
  • Speakeasy/ Falcon Ventures
    • Where: Speakeasy, 412 N Congress Ave
    • When : 6pm -8pm 13 March
    • Connect: #SXSW2015, @re_3D, #gigabot, @falconventures@MikeBattaglia
  • Reddit/ Daily Dot Meetup
    • Where: JW Marriott Room 508 110 E 2nd St
    • When : 3:30-4:30 15 March
    • Connect: #SXSW2015, @re_3D, #gigabot, @reddit, @dailydot, @katyjeremko
  • SXSW Innovation Award
    • Where: Hilton Downtown Austin, 6th floor
    • When: 6pm-8pm 17 March
    • Connect: #openGB, @re_3D, @patrick_finucane, @katyjeremko, @MikeBattaglia, #innovationawards, #sxsw2015

Want to invite Gigabot to your Film or Music Event? Contact info@re3d.org to chat!

SXSW Innovation Award/ Kickstarter Announcement

We’re incredibly flattered to be nominated for SXSW Innovation Award! The other nominees are amazing and we can’t wait to meet them! Check out the clip below to meet the team below and feel free to show your support by using the following social media mentions : @re_3D #openGB #InnovationAwards. Also, check back for a not-so -surprise Kickstarter campaign for OpenGB during SXSW where we will be seeking your feedback on what you want in Gigabot going forward!!

Forever grateful:


OpenERP—Taking Organization to A Whole New Level

Hello again! In this blog I will be discussing a behind-the-scenes technology called OpenERP that helps keep re:3D running smoothly and efficiently.

Did you know that there are over 1000 pieces in a Gigabot?

The re:3D warehouse has to keep track of inventory and make sure Gigabot pieces never run out. Last summer, re:3D started using a new system called OpenERP to do just that.

What can OpenERP do?

OpenERP is a software that has the power to organize an entire company. It manages the whole gamut from accounting, purchases, and inventory to keeping track of demand. It is structured in modules, and Erik Hausmann is striving to help re:3D make full use of its capabilities. Erik compares OpenERP to a “Swiss Army Knife for business” because it is highly valued for its integrative nature. It not only facilitates transactions in the warehouse, but it also increases re:3D’s small business efficiency overall.

Who is Erik Hausmann?

He’s our Innovation Ninja (formally Technology Innovation Officer or TIO). He manages our OpenERP. He spent six years in Deloitte Consulting working with SAP ERP for Fortune 100 companies in some of the largest systems in the world.

Who is Davydd Kelly?

Davyyd is an exchange student from Australia–he handles all the barcoding in our warehouse. Davydd is an expert in JSON and other open standards. He is working diligently to further refine warehouse processes.

Erik uses Ramen to Explain a Function of OpenERP

Erik survived on Top Ramen as a college student. One day, he looked in his cupboard and saw ten packets of ramen. He knows it takes a good chunk of time to go to the grocery store, so he sets aside an entire day for the purpose of restocking. He knows he should go shopping when he has one or two packets of ramen left as a safety buffer against hunger.

As analogously applied to the warehouse, it is impractical to go looking into hundreds of cupboards to count Gigabot parts everyday. But OpenERP , an MRP (material replenishment planning system), can do all this automatically. While taking into account numerous delaying factors, it can order new shipments when the inventory of a certain type of part runs too low, meaning that a quantity has reached a set minimum. Moreover, OpenERP can even make forecasts about predicted inventory levels.

OpenERP as a Purchasing Tool

Major steps in finalizing a purchase include finding a lead (a likely customer), making a quotation, putting in an order, creating an invoice, and confirming delivery.

OpenERP is also a great tool for re:3D staff when working with customers. OpenERP can make quotes, record factors to an opportunity prediction (ex. There is a 90% this customer will buy our product), add and subtract products, and input discounts or tax. Not to mention it can also create invoices, confirm purchases, and oversee delivery. All this can be done in about five minutes for a quick user. You can find free invoice templates at www.bill.com.

Re:3D is excited to be using OpenERP and will be looking forward to expanding its own systems in the future while living by the open source standard they support.

Keep on printing,



3D Printing & Dimensional Accuracy

Several members of the Gigabot user community have recently inquired about dimensional accuracy in 3D printing. In this blog, I’ve attempted to explain the following concepts:

  1. Effects of poly count on circle precision
  2. Effects of perimeter order on circle size

One of the challenges with 3D printing is obtaining the correct size for hole features. Currently the preferred file format for 3D printing is the .stl (Standard Tessellation Language). The STL file format describes 3D images as a series of triangles of various sizes as seen in the figure above.

The number and size of the triangles is dictated by the “Preferences” settings of your CAD program. In the extreme example where the CAD model is saved as a “Low Poly count” then the circle or hole feature would be represented by six triangles and the top view would look as the figure below. When 3D printing this circular feature the tool path would follow the triangle geometry and produce a hole much smaller than the original CAD geometry.

The desire to more accurately represent a true circle would lead to increase the poly count to add more triangles to the model and might look like the below image.

The above image shows a poly count 10x greater than the original “low poly count” example. Increasing the number of triangles does in fact give the 3D printer a better, more accurate circular tool path but at a cost of requiring a higher throughput of data for motion control. If the positional data being fed into the printer has too much resolution

  1. The machine may not be capable of accurately recreating the resolution or
  2. The printer controller may not be able to process the positional data fast enough to maintain a decent print speed.

The happy medium is achieved when the poly count is great enough to accurately describe the circle for the needs of the printed part but yet keeping the poly count low enough to allow the motion control system to print the circle at a good speed.

Effects of perimeter order on circle size

The inside diameter of holes are affected by the order of operations in 3D printing. In the below image the slicer settings have Perimeters = 2. Notice the outside of the box and the inside of the holes have two perimeters. This is often done to strengthen the part and increase the print quality. Most slicing software allow the user to decide if the print starts with the inside perimeter and moves to the outside perimeter.

When starting with the inside perimeter the part has improved surface finish. When starting with the outside perimeter the part has improved dimensional accuracy for holes.

The below image shows the actual tool path for a series of circles with diameters ranging from 1/8” to 1”. Notice that each circle is made from many small line segments.


Also note: Different Slicing programs may also influence the dimensional accuracy of part features.

Additional information on dimensional accuracy in 3D printing [Slic3r Manual]

Is this helpful? What other concepts would you like us to explore?

Happy Printing,




Enabling the Future: Gigabot & Open Source Prosthetics

Jon Schull of the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) is the leader of a global volunteer network called e-NABLE. Volunteers build prosthetic hands out of 3D printed parts for young children all over the world, or send the parts so kids and parents can take part in the building themselves. The network really does “enable” people by giving them a “helping hand”.

From e-NABLE Prosthetists Meet Printers Event Album

e-NABLE has developed quite a few wrist-activated prosthetic designs, but recently, they have added a mechanically driven arm design to their collection—the RIT Arm, developed by RIT. E-NABLE’s design collection is always growing so it can accommodate a diversity of situations. However, the new arm-activated prosthetics have larger parts than wrist-activated prosthetics, and it so happens that the print beds of the desktop 3D printers that had been in use were too small for some of the parts.

 e-NABLE Prosthetic Recipients

re:3D got wind of the news when several chapters of e-NABLE applied to the Great Big Gigabot Giveaway last summer. Not long after, re:3D’s Catalyst, Samantha Snabes, visited Frankie Flood at the University of Wisconsin and David Levin over the net, while re:3D’s Chief Hacker Matthew Fiedler visited the first e-NABLE conference, also the  first event re:3D ever sponsored. Before long, re:3D had donated a Gigabot kit to e-NABLE.

Jon Schull comments, “With their generous donation, Gigabot is helping create a world in which global communities can turn bigger ideas into bigger and more empowering realities. Sometimes bigger really is better!”

e-NABLE will be putting their Gigabot to good use right away:

“There will be a team of 4-5 students working on this design at the MAGIC ACT lab at RIT this fall and having access to this printer [Gigabot] will make their research and development, prototyping and print times much faster and more efficient.”

(From: http://enablingthefuture.org/2014/08/26/re3d-gifts-a-gigabot-to-e-nable-the-development-of-3d-printed-arm-designs/#more-1305 )


e-NABLE uses a variety of technology, such as exoskeletons and myo-electric engineering. However, mechanically driven prosthetics such as the RIT Arm prosthetic requires no electricity to operate. In situations where recipients have difficulty affording or maintaining devices with higher technological developments, or live in high-risk areas where expensive electronic parts are liable to be stolen, a mechanical arm would be invaluable.

In addition to the RIT Arm, e-NABLE‘s growing collection of prosthetic devices help address a wide array of specific needs. Other devices include:

  • The Raptor Hand
  • The Cyborg Beast
  • The Talon hand 2.X
  • The Odysseus Hand
  • The Second Degree Hand
  • The Owen Partial Finger Replacement
  • And more
e-NABLE Prosthetic Recipients

re:3D – Beta Pitching at WebSummit 2014 in Dublin

Hi Friends,

As you may have noticed, the re:3D crew hasn’t stepped out of the office much this year.

While we miss the community, our little team elected to spend our limited resources in bettering Gigabot, meeting as many customers as our gas tanks would allow, and getting organized as a full-fledged small business. Now that we have parts in inventory and an amazing staff to help with order fulfillment, we are pleased to announce that we have a little more bandwidth to be with many of you this week at Web Summit 2014.

We’d love to chat if you plan to attend and/or meet up with any media or companies you think would be valuable.

You can find us at the following events:

Belfast Summit: You can catch us on the Summit bus heading there from Dublin on Nov 2nd & back on Nov 3rd or at any of the scheduled events.

BETA Exhibit: Last spring we applied for a discounted opportunity to attend Summit as a featured start-up. We are honored to be selected for the BETA showcase. As a BETA startup we will be exhibiting on Nov 4th in the Hardware area, which is located in RDS Main Hall. Our stand number is HRD102

People’s Panel: Thanks to you we placed #5 out of hundreds who applied to Summit’s popular & entirely crowdsourced stage of speakers from around the world. For making the Top 10, we will be moderating a panel we proposed on  Nov 4th.  

Time: 16:19-16:34 at the Simminscourt Venue | Topic: Toilets & Trash-Will 3D Printers Save the World? | Panellists: Ion Cuervas-Mons, Asha Saxena, Tina Stroobandt

BETA Pitch: After 2 weeks judging over 1,500 applications, the Web Summit judges chose their top 200 companies to pitch during Web Summit. We’re delighted to share that re:3D qualified to join the PITCH BETA group! Watch us compete against the best companies beginning with Round 1 on Tuesday at 14:00 GST for almost $20K USD!

Finally, we were blown away when Samantha was selected as a Women in Tech Attendee!

Don’t have tickets, but planning to be in Dublin? We’ve also registered for the following side events:

Let us know if you or a friend would like to say hi!  We’ll also be making a couple of BIG announcements and traveling with some pretty cool prints we’d love to show off!

See you soon?