The last 20% takes 80% of the time

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The Maker said...

The last 20% takes 80% of the time

It’s a well known fact in project management and in making that the last 20% of the project takes 80% of the time!

Onna and I both agreed that it would be cool for the boat to be “cartoony” to match the fun colors of the project. I want to make it very colorful, and this is a really great opportunity to use multi color 3D printing. The thing is, I’ve never been able to get the multi color printing attachment to my 3D printer working properly – it’s a pretty complex upgrade, with a lot of parts that all need to be adjusted just so and work together seamlessly. Most of my 3D printing is functional parts… thing like brackets, repair parts, wheel, etc – for which color doesn’t matter, so I haven't had too much incentive to figure it out. Sounds like the time is now!

It takes me about a week, including a lot of online research and a lot of chatting back and forth with tech support in the Czech Republic (where my printer is made) to figure it out, but finally it’s working! The video shows the process of switching between colors. When the video starts, the printer is printing green and it needs to switch to blue. Before switching to blue, it needs to get rid of the remaining plastic that’s already melted in the extruder chamber. That happens on the side – on something called a purge tower. You can see the printer head moving off to the purge tower on the right.

Next, the green filament retracts up the white/transparent feeder tube. It’s being pulled by a gear at the top of the printer. Then, the filament selector moves to the right, moving the feeder tube in front of the blue filament. A different gear grips the blue filament and feeds it into the tube. When it gets detected by an infrared sensor need the extruder, the extruder gears grab it and start to feed it into the extruder. Of course, there is still a bit of green filament in the chamber, so at first, the filament coming out of the extruder would be a mix of green and blue. So the printer purges that mixed filament into the purge tower. And then it resumes printing the boat. This happens hundreds, if not thousands of times during the printing of the boat. 

I'm really happy with the result and very happy I’ve conquered multi-color 3D printing!

The Maker
Isabel Deslauriers
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