It’s been fun playing with an entirely different material than the metal I’m used to  in the form of the ABS and PLA plastics that most 3D printers use.

My CubeX 3D printer seems to prefer ABS, while the Cerberus 3D printer seems to work better with PLA.

Both, obviously, are a lot different that working with steel. Increasingly, I am playing with the possibilities of forms I can create in plastic that would be impossible in metal.

My latest adventure, however, has been trying to print a maquette, or small model, of a proposed sculpture. The particular model of Cerberus printer that I’m using can print an item about 14″ tall, but I only planned to print the maquette about 6 inches tall.

As you’ll see in the photo below, the base printed fine, but when it got to where the next section of the sculpture was attached to the base, my failure occurred. Apparently, the way the two pieces fit together was not stable. When that first section broke away, the printer began making a bird’s nest at its top as the section kept moving.


That sent me back to my CAD software, Geomagic, where I truncated the diamond rather than having it pierce the base, as it would in an actual, full-size steel sculpture (this piece would be 8 feet tall).

The second, smaller print stood up fine.

What I’m learning, though, is that I may need to make some adjustments in how I “build” my sculptures in CAD because it affects the actual structure of the 3D printed maquette or sculpture. When I was just using the CAD drawings for 2D proposals, the design was only about how it looked.

It also appears that I may want to adjust temperature as the piece is printing – what is required for, say, a base, as in this sculpture, may not be at all the same as other parts of the sculpture. In this case, the narrow sections seemed to heat up too much.

I don’t know if I will ever be able to print this sculpture, but it may stand as a challenge ….