How Does it Feel When Working in a 3D Printer Company? Chapter 1
A maker must be very lucky to work in a 3D printer company. It is like a child to live in his wonder toy factory. I’m the lucky guy who lives in a such place. 3D Printer becomes my magic gate to the imagination kingdom. So here is my story with 3D Printing. I will spend a few chapters to tell the whole story about my adventure.
Chapter 1, The World Needs More Heroes
There is a famous word in Overwatch, “The World Needs Heroes”, I think the story begins with that.
So, it was April, 2020, I was trapped in my apartment in Nanshan District, Shenzhen, jobless and threaded by the COVID-19, playing Overwatch and be stressful all day.
One of my best friends told me that I could try to work in her company, which designs and produces 3D printers. Then I think, why not. So, I stood out and enter the story.
In some ways, she becomes my hero and creates a new maker for the community.
Met with 3D Printing
I did not recognize it as a thing I would love when I see a 3D printer for the first time. The team has already supported many organizations and schools with printers, printed masks or face shields, thousands of people who are nervous and suffering from the threating of COVID-19 get help.
I felt shocked and amazed when seeing the power of 3D printing. The world was suffering from the shortage of the mask and the COVID-19 is getting worse. But a lot of clever guys were making protective materials to help people overcome the difficulty. By now, we all know their name, makers. Their printers may have different model names, may belongs to different manufactures, may have different print volumes, may use different settings, but all a sudden, they all became heroes.
It’s quite a pity that I’m not a part of it.
But my story with 3D printing begins.
Become a maker
As a huge fan of Overwatch, Tracer, one of my main heroes becomes the first print in my 3D printing career. I put the STL into Cura, use the default profile to slice it, then I take the SD card to the printer and start my very first printing excitedly.
Everything is fine, until spaghetti shows when it comes to Tracer’s overhang hands. Yes, I forget to add any supports. I have no idea about what a support is. So, my first print went into a handless Tracer with many fallen spaghettis.
Luckily, that doesn’t make me a quitter. I started a new print, having full and automatic support on D.VA. The Ultimaker Cura, one of the most popular 3D slicers, has not released the tree support yet at that time. They released that feature in 4.7.1. Of course, it becomes my second failure in 3D printing. Supports cover on full of D.VA’s body, they are hard and difficult to remove. I spend quite a few afternoons on trying to remove those annoying supports. The supports even broke my hands.
After that, I learned to add supports with lower infill percent and choose its type based on prints. I start to set the support infill percent to 7, the print infill to 20, and switch between “everywhere” and “Touching Buildplate”. Supports become easy to remove then.
I start to enjoy the time of creating things and add bookmarks to endless prints on Thingiverse. My must-print list is growing, then I thought it was the time to have one printer by my own. Even though, I could not do the auto bed leveling process by my own.
So, I bought my first 3D printer from my own site, took the package from the factory, put it on my car and waiting for the time to knock off.
Luckily, it is an US version and our guy forget to switch on the power supply. So, my new printer become dead after a flash on the screen. I have to took it for fixing on the next morning. It has a new mainboard after 3 days when the technical support finally has time. As a maker, I hate to be weak and skill less, I learned everything on that machine after a few months.
After that, one of the best things shows up, free filaments. If you work in a 3D printer company and create contents, you have endless free filaments! One day, I mentioned that to a customer, said I could have no pay with such good thing like endless free filaments, we both laugh into tears. No one can imagine such feeling.
So, I start to print all kinds of prints with many printers in the company and my own printer my home. I took prints to the company every morning.
Getting Good on 3D Prints
Finally, my prints get to better with high quality. A lot of failures drive me to Google, YouTube and sites like all3dp, I solved them one by one. For example, the auto bed leveling process, I force myself to learn and manage it in the first week I bought it. I must have full master on my own machine, other than took it to fix every time when it has any issue;
Literally speaking, it’s an evolution between me and 3D printer.
Fixing issues on 3D printer, makes me learn a lot of things on the printer itself. Then some prints get me into nuts and provide me challenges.
The first thing is the famous, fantastic and annoying Collapsing Katana by 3D Printing World. I swear to print one at the first I saw it. Then it drives me into nuts. None of my swords extent out like that. So, I change slicer settings, searching for answers, test, fail and try again. I tried the g-coode files from others, I dig deep into some YouTube’s commands and wonder at the commands below the model itself. But nothing changes.
And it just comes out, after one next test that I changed some settings. Its extents out with that magic sound. I tape its top, then take it carefully and proudly to the company that morning. My 3D printing steps onto a new stage. I start to work on slicer settings and understanding how those settings effects on prints.
Some YouTuber used our printer, a 300*300*400 one, printed a full size Mandalorian Helmet and did a fantastic post processing, the whole thing is like the original helmet itself. Then it reminds me about the Cosplay thing. So, my previous job was about cosplay, making all kinds of props for Overwatch, movies, games or anything with famous IPs. I bough the digital copies of Overwatch on Switch right after beaning told that was my project to do. I was about to make props for that game.
Actually, my friend did help me with one of the prototypes, Mercy’s Crown. So, it became another print I must do. Luckily, the Ultimaker Cura, just released its 4.7.1 version, with the tree support feature. After checking a bunches of YouTube video, I started to use support blocks to reduce the supports to reduce the print time. Yes, it was one of the prints that takes the longest time.
Finally, I got a g-code file with over 100-hour print time. I printed it with my own printer and pray for its success. Thanks to god, I made it. The helmet was still my home. We made a few helmets after that.
So, when I’m getting good with 3D prints, I found that 3D Printers are my hero. It laterally brings my life back to normal and become my power to against COVID. Thanks to 3D Printing.
Creating is only the basic thing of 3D Printing and 3D Printers. It is us, the person behinds it and our stories to give is power and purpose.