My friend Rob Flickenger recently had some dental work done – and managed to score a 3D model of his skull generated from a panoramic x-ray as a bonus.

We got together at a local hackerspace to do a few prints on my Makerbot Replicator 2.

The model looked great – but I was a bit worried about some overhangs – specifically the teeth. One option was to turn on “support material” in Makerware’s slicer – but that adds print time – and removing the support material can be a painful process.

The first few small-scale prints we did came out surprisingly well. It seems you can get away with some pretty tricky overhangs as long as the distance to the nearest surface below isn’t too far. The first layer or two of the overhang ends up “drooling” – and kind of turns into an unintended support.

Rob did some clean-up and manually added a few small supports using MeshMixer.

The final full-size print took 10.5 hours.

The skull was printed in PLA at a speed of 110mm/s.

As with all longer-prints – I covered my build platform with blue tape and then wiped it down with alcohol. For whatever reason – the alcohol makes the PLA stick to the tape fiercely – and virtually eliminates any concerns with curling / peeling. The downside is that the tape usually tears up when removing the model (but re-applying tape is much preferable to a failed print).

I did the time-lapse video using a cool little utility – Webcam Timelapse.

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5 thoughts on “3D Printing Rob’s Skull

  1. What is your extruder speed while traveling settings? I'm trying to print faster without using sailfish as I'm not too comfortable messing with the firmware, great print btw!

  2. I commonly do 110mm/s.

    The steppers don't seem to have any trouble with that.

    Where I think most people run into probs is with the extruder keeping up (I've done the extruder upgrade – which I highly recommend)..

  3. to clarify – I commonly do 100mm/s both print and travel.

    Suspect faster is quite possible. Makerware itself goes to 150mm/s for travel on the high quality setting (not sure what the rational is). That's faster I'd trust it going for a large print.

  4. Thank you, I'm currently trying to print at 110/150, I suppose 150 kinda shortens the print time a little bit. I already upgraded the extruder, best upgrade so far,that and a glass platform. any other upgrades you would recommend?

  5. I'm also using a glass build plate – but have it covered in thin layer (1/32") of garolite LE for nylon printing. I can just put tape over that for PLA printing.

    If you haven't played with Nylon – google nylon 618. It's worth playing with. Also – wood filament is fun.

    I think the thing to do with print speeds is to push them up a bit periodically – and at somepoint things will fail. Then – you can fall back a bit.

    My 110 mm/s is probably fairly conservative.

    The –big– upgrade I recommend is to get Makerware 2.2.

    Been playing with it – and the slicer tweeks are awesome.

    Specifically – the new rafts basically solve any peel-up problems – and somehow magically peel off easily.

    The rafts also compensate for most minor platform un-eveness.

    Support material is also better implemented.

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