Scott Hanselman

3D Printer Shootout - $600 Printrbot vs. $20,000 uPrint SE Plus

February 6, '15 Comments [35] Posted in 3D Printing
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First, let's level set with a disclaimer. I am a smart enough person but a total beginner at 3D printing. I've been 3D printing for about two weeks using a Printrbot Simple Metal from Amazon that I got for US$599. Other than Amazon affiliate links (buy from my links and you buy me tacos!) I don't have ANY relationship with Printrbot or anyone in the 3D Printing space. I'm unaffiliated. This "shootout" is an interesting experience. I'm sure I did something wrong, or perhaps my partner in crime on this experiment, Brandon Potter, missed a step. Who knows? But this is how it went down.

Brandon saw that I was doing some 3D printing and mentioned they had a <$22,000 3D printer at his work and what did I think about doing a comparison? I had been having trouble printing with success, ruining at least 2 out of 3 prints, but recently got my Printrbot dialed in nicely. '

Here's my investment so far both in time and money.

So I'm into it for $722 and my time. I did NOT use a Heated Bed for my Printrbot Simple Metal but I am told it's a great upgrade.

Here's Brandon's company's outlay in his words:

  • uPrint SE Pro Printer and Dissolving Bath – about $22,000
  • 1 Spool of Model Material (Black) – $205.00 (produces 42 cubic inches of printing)
  • 1 Spool of Support Material – $200.00 (42 cubic inches worth)
  • Box of Build Plates – $125.00 for 24 (you need one for each print, so it costs about $5.20/each)
  • Soluble Concentrate – $149.00 for 12 bottles (dissolves support material, aka fancy drain-O)
  • Warranty Support – $2,000/year – because it does break from time to time.
  • Brandon says - Add a little bit of shipping, and for a mere $25K you’re ready to print your very own coffee cup.

We decided to print a coffee cup. I don't plan on drinking from it because who knows if the plastic will leech off, but it seemed like an interesting and common object. As a 3D model it has some nice curves, the handle overhang is a small challenge and it's something we can easily compare.

I printed one on my Printrbot and Brandon printed one on their Stratasys uPrint SE Pro. Then Brandon mailed me his cup and I'm sitting here holding them both in my hands.

Here is a timelapse video of my cup printing. My 0.2mm print took about 7 hours and this video is 90 seconds. I used Octoprint and the Raspberry Pi to create the video.

I downloaded the Coffee Cup model from Thingiverse as an STL 3D model. I ran the STL model through the Microsoft 3D Printing NetFabb online service to make sure the model was watertight. Then I loaded the result directly into Repetier and used Cura to slice the model into individual instructions for the printer. I made one adjustment to the slicing settings, telling it to make a "support structure" when it sees an overhang over 30 degrees. I was concerned about the cup's handle. Other than that one settings change which resulted in the support being added (which is easily pulled off after the print) it was a "printing as is." Brandon's model also used a support structure to print the cup and keep the handle stable so we decided this was pretty typical. He also printed on his pro printer with no changes.

My 3D model with support

Here is a picture of my setup. There's my printer on the right with some stuff I've made and my box of tools/crap on the left. You can see the spool, the printer (the red lipstick looking thing is where the hot plastic comes out), the Raspberry Pi and the tape that I print on. I can print objects up to 6 inches on a side, so a big 6 inch cube. If I paid more money I could get the 10 inch model, but so far for my hobbies I'm happy with that size. I can break things up and assemble them with acetone or bolts if I want to make larger models. One fellow 3D-printed a whole full-sized motorcycle with a small printer and assembled the parts.

My 3D Printing setup with Octoprint and a Printrbot Simple Metal

Here is Brandon's printer. Again, $600 vs. $25000.

Stratasys

By the way, is this a silly comparison? Perhaps. But no more than a Tesla vs. a Challenger Hellcat. Actually, I think my printer is a Geo Metro. But I get great mileage!

Ok, here's the prints. Feel free to click to zoom in to make your decision. Which cup came from which printer?

Coffee Cup 3D Print from a Printrbot Simple Metal on one side and a Stratasys uPrint SE Pro on the otherCoffee Cup 3D Print from a Printrbot Simple Metal on one side and a Stratasys uPrint SE Pro on the other

Coffee Cup 3D Print from a Printrbot Simple Metal on one side and a Stratasys uPrint SE Pro on the otherCoffee Cup 3D Print from a Printrbot Simple Metal on one side and a Stratasys uPrint SE Pro on the other

Here's slightly larger pics. Note I am not/have not moved the cups side to side. Left/right is consistent for this photo series.

Coffee Cup 3D Print from a Printrbot Simple Metal on one side and a Stratasys uPrint SE Pro on the other

Coffee Cup 3D Print from a Printrbot Simple Metal on one side and a Stratasys uPrint SE Pro on the other

Which is which?

The $599 Printrbot Simple Model printing at 0.2mm is on the left. The $20k uPrint SE Plus printing at 0.1mm is on the right.

The uPrint's base was messed up somehow. A bad start perhaps, but unfortunate as it's supposed to just work since Brandon used the one-time-use custom bases that the uPrint comes with. He also used the dissolving bath to take the white support structure off. You can see some of the white still there, perhaps it wasn't in long enough. My print had supports but I just pulled them off with my hands. Of course, if you have an intricate print with small parts that's not always possible. This is a very simple object, to be clear. It's not interlocking gears or something.

Here's the uPrint cup. Brandon said it took 8 hours and 22 minutes.

Coffee Cup 3D Print from a Stratasys uPrint SE Pro

Here's the Printrbot's cup. Note the "Z scar" (an artifact from the printer moving up the Z-Axis) on the print? On my print it ended up by the handle, but on Brandon's it ended up on the side of the cup, marring the print, in my opinion.

Coffee Cup 3D Print from a Printrbot Simple Metal

What's the takeaway? If we assume that I have a totally dialed-in well calibrated super cheap consumer/hobbyist 3D Printer and that Brandon has a $20k professional 3D Printer that's maybe got some calibration issues, they seem very comparable.

However, in real one-time costs my cup cost me 21.02 meters of filament, costing me perhaps $2 maybe a little more if you count the few pieces of tape. For Brandon and his Pro printer, in direct costs, he used $23.62 in model material, $2.06 in support material, and $5.20 build plate, for a total of $30.88 for this cup.

Naysayers will say that this isn't a great model to have chosen. Clearly my little Printrbot Simple Metal can only make things of a certain size, but it's clearly fair to say that it's a surprisingly competent printer when it's calibrated well. Additionally, if I were a 3D modeling shop with a Pro printer, I think I would definitely pick up a few sub-$1000 printers for basic stuff as the big printers may be costing you money. If I was a small business I would really do my homework before buying a pro printer that claims to be problem- and maintenance-free. Go read Brandon Potter's account of his "pro print" and compare notes!

NOTE: This post is intended in no way to talk up Printrbot nor to talk down Stratasys. It's a simple one time anecdote as it happened, using a simple model.

What do you think, Dear Reader?


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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The .NET CoreCLR is now open source, so I ran the GitHub repo through Microsoft Power BI

February 4, '15 Comments [35] Posted in Azure | Learning .NET | Open Source
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The hits keep on coming, Dear Reader. Just as we announced a few months back, .NET Core is open source. We said it would run on Windows, Mac, and Linux, but then the work of doing it has to actually happen. ;)

Go check out the .NET Framework Blog. Today the .NET team put the Core CLR up on GitHub. It's open source and it's under the MIT License. This includes the Core CLR source, the new RyuJIT, the .NET GC, native interop and everything you need to fork, clone, and build your own personal copy of the .NET Core CLR. What a cool day, and what an immense amount of work (both technical and legal) to make it happen. Years in the making, but still lots of work to do.

The GitHub repo has 2.6ish MILLION lines of code. They say when it's all said and done.NET Core will be about 5 MILLION lines of open source code.

The .NET Blog did a nice pie chart, but honestly, I found it to be not enough. It basically was a big grey circle that said "other 2.2M." ;)

I'd like a little more insight, but I don't know if I have the compute power, or the patience, frankly, to analyze this code repository. Or do I?

I decided to import the repository into Microsoft Power BI preview. Power BI (BI means "Business Intelligence") is an amazing service that you can use (usually for FREE, depending on your data source) to pull in huge amounts of data and ask questions of that data. Watch for a great video on this at http://friday.azure.com this week or next.

I logged into http://powerbi.com (It's US only for the preview, sorry) and clicked Get Data. I then selected GitHub as the source of my data and authorized Power BI to talk to GitHub on my behalf. Crazy, AMIRITE?

Screenshot (10)

After a few minutes of data chewing, I'm officially adding "BI and Big Data Analyst" to my resume and you can't stop me. ;)

What does Power BI tell me about the .NET Team's "CoreCLR" GitHub repository?

Here's what Power BI told me.

image

Let's dig in. Looks like Stephen Toub has worked on a LOT of this code. He's super brilliant and very nice, BTW.

image

Editing the query and looking at Dates and Times, it seems the .NET Team commits code at ALL hours. They are really feeling "committable" around 3 to 4 pm, but they'll even put code in at 4 in the morning!

image

Here's a more intense way to look at it.

image

One of the insanely cool things about Power BI is the ability to ask your data questions in plain English. Given that my SQL abilities have atrophied to "Select * from LittleBobbyTables" this is particularly useful to me.

I asked it "issues that are open sorted by date" and you'll notice that not only did it work, but it showed me what I meant underneath my query.

image

What about issues closed by a certain person?

image

I'm running around in this tool just building charts and asking questions of the repo. It's all in HTML5 but it's just like Excel. It's amazing.

image

Open issues from last year?

image

Average time to close an issue in hours?

image

It's amazing to be running queries like this on something as significant as the now open-sourced .NET Core CLR. I didn't need to be an employee to do it. I didn't need special access, I just did it. I'm enjoying this new Microsoft, and very much digging Power BI. Next I'm going to put my Blood Sugar and Diabetes Data in Power PI and encourage others to do the same.

P.S. Check out the code for the Core CLR Hello World app. When was the last time you saw an ASCII Art Linux Penguin in Microsoft Source code? ;)


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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The new Raspberry Pi 2 will run Windows 10 and run Universal Apps

February 2, '15 Comments [42] Posted in Win10
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I'm a huge Raspberry Pi fan. I've got three around the house, I use one for a Media Center, one for 3D Printing, and one for messing about. Now I'm gonna get a BUNCH more as the Raspberry Pi 2 has been announced and for a $35 computer that fits in your pocket this new version has some amazing things going for it.

  • Still tiny! Same size as a Raspberry Pi B+. My cases will still work. ;)
  • HDMI full sized! Ethernet! Camera port!
  • Still uses Micro USB for power!
  • BUT now it has...
    • A 900 MHz quad-core ARM Broadcom Cortex A7 with a BCM2836 system on a chip adds up to 3x to 6x the performance. Woof.
    • 1 GIG of RAM (shared with GPU)

Raspberry Pi 2I love using my Raspberry Pi as a "Dedicated Device." While it's clearly a general purpose computer, it's so cheap and powerful I'll use it for one thing and have it do that one thing well. Watch for water in my basement and text me if a sensor gets wet. A tiny Minecraft machine for my kids. A 3D Printing Print Server. A small games emulator. An open source media player.

And now it seems I'll be able to hack on a Raspberry Pi 2 running Windows 10 while I deploy a Universal Windows App!

Windows 10 is coming to the Raspberry Pi 2

Not only did the Raspberry Pi Foundation announce the Raspberry Pi 2, but it seems that Windows 10 will support Raspberry Pi 2 and we can get it free for the Maker community through the Windows Developer Program for IoT coming later this year. Last year Microsoft announced the Windows Developer Program for IoT and put Windows on the Intel Galileo board. Today Windows gets even better for IoT and Maker scenarios by supporting makers on RPi2.

This means you could theoretically have a Surface Pro 3 running a Universal App. Then a Windows Phone also running that same Universal App. And finally a Raspberry Pi 2 (note there's no shell) also running a Universal App. I could make my little Raspberry Pi 2 a dedicated device that runs Windows 10 plus my App. I can write code for it using the same languages, tools and techniques that I already know.

It's pretty clear that the way to go with Windows 10 from a developer's perspective is Universal Apps. You get a great development experience, good API coverage, tooling that makes cross-compilation easy, and now you can go from Raspberry Pi 2, to Phones, Tablets, Xboxen, the cloud and beyond. I'm pretty geeked.


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Creating exact 3D Models for 3D Printing with JavaScript and OpenJSCAD

February 1, '15 Comments [18] Posted in 3D Printing | Musings
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I have this 3D Printed Spool Holder on the top of my Printrbot Simple Metal 3D Printerl that looks like this:

Printrbot Simple Metal

It works great and fits my RioRand generic PLA Filament spool exactly. However, I went down to Fry's Electronics to get some filament today and all they had was small Makerbot spools. They were cheap, so I got two. When I got home I noticed that the hole in the spool is HUGE. It totally won't fit my spool holder.

This brings us to..

The Three Rules of 3D Printing

  1. All problems in 3D Printing can be solved by 3D Printing something
  2. The only things that 3D Printing people print is stuff to make their 3D printers work better.
  3. See rules 1 and 2.

So, I needed an adapter for my 3D Printer (which I have nearly a week of experience with, so fear me) and opened up Tinkercad.com to create it. Someone recommended Tinkercad as a great HTML5 website for doing quick designs.

image

I got lost in this app. I couldn't find a way to make two cylinders and simply center them within each other. You can nudge them around but can't center them against their own centers. I actually found forum posts going back to 2012 with members of the team saying "yes, we need that feature" but couldn't figure it out. It's a lovely app and my kids enjoy it but I feel like if you want absolute precision this may not be the place. Then I realized that perhaps this 3D Model was more of a math problem than a modeling problem.

Now I realize I'm biased, and I am a programmer, but with a small set of digital calipers and the excellent OpenJSCAD documentation I was able to create my adapter in just 10 minutes of hacking and just 7 to 12 lines of JavaScript (depending on how you count).

function main() {
return union(
difference(
cylinder({h: 40, r:26, center:true}),
cylinder({h: 40, r:15.5, center:true})
),
difference(
cylinder({start: [0,0,0], end: [0,0,24], r1: 52.5, r2: 26, fn: 50}).translate([0,0,-44]),
cylinder({start: [0,0,0], end: [0,0,24], r1: 32.5, r2: 15.5, fn: 50}).translate([0,0,-44])
)
).translate([0,0,45]);
}

From here I downloaded my STL (the 3D description of the object)...

OpenJSCAD

I then ran it through the Microsoft 3D Model Repair Service (a good idea to make sure all your designs are manifold and watertight).

Repetier

Then into Repetier and sliced into G-Code (instructions to the printer on how to move) and printed it with OctoPrint on my OctoPi.

image

I'm clearly not a 3D designer or modeler and I apparently don't have the patience for CAD tools that won't let me type in a direct number. I KNOW this should be 31mm in diameter, don't force me to use a mouse to "eyeball it." I was thoroughly impressed with the concept and execution of OpenJSCAD. Of course, OpenJSCAD is a JavaScript implementation of OpenSCAD, the "Programmers Solid 3D CAD Modeler" so I'll be exploring their software and amazing gallery as well! If you're creating anything with regularity that's more mechanical and less organic, OpenJSCAD or OpenSCAD is the way to go, clearly.


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Changing perspectives on your job - Will you renew your boss for another season?

January 30, '15 Comments [33] Posted in Musings
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LEGO Stormtroopers on a Wire

Within a single week two different friends of mine called me to talk about their job satisfaction. One didn't like the project they were working on and felt that when they were pitched the job they were sold one job but ended up doing another. The other friend felt like review time each year was a Musical Chairs-type parade of employees and they were left wondering "Will I be picked again this year? Will I still have a job next year?"

This is such a challenge to talk about as some of you may be out of a job and looking right now, but some of you may be in a job and thinking some of the same things as my two friends.

I'm pretty happy with my job. I like my boss and my team. Remote work is a challenge sometimes, but we are doing some great work. However, I never assume my job is granted. I never assume "Hey, I'm Scott Hanselman, I refer to myself in the third person and have Google Juice, I can't be replaced or canned."

At the same time, however, I DO feel good about my work and I think I DO provide value to my company. Therefore, I've changed my attitude about Annual Reviews. This isn't just the company's chance to review me, it's also my chance to review them.

Do I still want to work there?

My wife and I have been married 15 years. The joke is "She's decided to renew me for another season," just like TV ratings. Well, the Annual Review is my time to decide if *I* want to renew *my Employer* for another season. This is a small brain trick, or trivial change in thinking, but changes in thinking are the first step in changing your world view.

It also reinforces the impermanence of employment (and tech, and life, etc.) and makes it OK to broach the question. Do I still want to work here? And if you DO decide to "renew your boss for another season," remember you don't have to stay there forever.  One season at a time, while it feeds your spirit. When it stops, you should stop too.

This helped my two friends, and I wonder if it helps you, too.

* LEGO Stormtroopers on a Wire by Pedro Vezini, used under Creative Commons.


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.