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3D Printing Filament Guide

? 3D Printing Filament Guide 2017: ABS vs PLA vs many materials


Updated February 2017


 

The next wave in the prosumer FFF 3D printing evolution isn’t about 3D printers, it’s about the plastic filament used to make 3D prints. This is a comprehensive list of available filament, plus a guide with tips on how to choose the right filament for your next creative project.

While a new prosumer 3D Printer enters the market almost every day and the printing techniques is still advancing with each generation, most are actually perfecting existing concepts, especially with Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) 3D Printers (also known as FDM printers). They’re getting better at printing more accurately at higher speeds, but the increments are getting smaller. This is not because the technique has reached it technical limits, but it’s chemical limits. The problem that withholds FFF printers to get a lot faster is that after Fusing the Filament to it’s molten state and extruding it accurately, it has to be cooled down to get solid again. Most new FFF Printers have active coolers to help with this, but there’s a limit to how hard you can blow air onto something before it will deform instead of cool—or sound like a jet engine.

When you’ve accepted that 3D Printing takes time, you can open your eyes to getting creative with different kinds of filament. And that’s where innovations are going a lot faster right now! In this post I will write about the many special kinds of 3D Printing Filament that are on the market today. Some require a 3D printer with special features to print well, but many actually work well in almost every FFF printer, maybe even yours!

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Three 3D Scanning facts about the Wacom MobileStudio Pro

Last week, Wacom — the company known for its professional drawing tablets — announced the MobileStudio Pro. At first glance, it’s simply the successor of the Cintiq Companion, the stand-alone pen-display loved by many illustrators and graphic designers. But for this new version, Wacom has included features that will appeal extra to 3D artists and creative professionals that want to add 3D scanning to their workflow.

Here are 3 things you need to know:

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HP Sprout 3D Scanning Review - 3D Capture Stage with Sneaker

HP Sprout Pro 3D Scanning Review

3D scanning is getting increasingly popular, and affordable. This not only leads to lots of new 3D scanning hardware you can connect to a computer or tablet, but also integrating it into these devices. There have been quite a few manufacturers that have build Intel RealSense depth sensors into laptops and tablets, but HP has taken a different approach. The company that “reinvents everything” has build a all-in-one desktop computer, that has a bit more emphasis on all. 

The Sprout by HP, as it’s called, not only has all the computer’s hardware inside the 23.6 inch touchscreen, but also has an integrated Sprout Illuminator. This overhead device houses a digital camera, Intel RealSense 3D Camera, a reading lamp and a DLP projector. The latter projects a second screen down onto the TouchMat a pressure-sensitive placemat that can be operated with fingers as well as the included stylus.

The Sprout comes with many applications that are specifically designed to use the TouchMat. It contains all kinds of creative apps that let you draw, make music and even stop-motion animations. It also comes with many educational apps. Some of them even use Augmented Reality (AR) to overlay virtual information on top of printed classroom materials.

I am, however, not going to talk about any of these features. There are many reviews online that do this already. In this review I’m just going to test the Sprout’s 3D scanning capabilities. But I’ll go quite a lot deeper into this than any other review out there.

My review hardware was kindly provided by Dutch Sprout Reseller De Rekenwinkel, which even made a dedicated website for the machine.

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Shining 3D Einscan-Pro 3D Scanner Review

A few months back I reviewed the Einscan-S, an affordable (€1090) desktop 3D scanner manufactured by Shining 3D. In this post, I’ll take a look at their latest device, the Einscan-Pro, kindly supplied by the France-based 3D Printing and Scanning store Machines 3D.

As the name suggests, this new model is aimed at professionals. When it comes to structured light scanning from a tripod, the Pro is a greatly improved version of the S. But on top of that, it’s also a handheld 3D Scanner. That makes it a direct competitor to established handheld 3D scanners like the Artec EVA and Creaform Go!SCAN. But while those and similar scanners are priced in the €15,000 – €20,000+ range, the Einscan-Pro starts at a competitive €3990.

However, this base model cannot capture color out of the box. If you also want to scan textures you can get the Color Pack for an extra €600 (€700 is you buy it later). And for yet another €600, you can get the Industrial Pack, which includes a Tripod and an electric Turntable. As you can see in the header image, I’ve tested the scanner with both packs.

So it’s 3-4 times more affordable than it’s industrial competitors. That’s a great USP to have. I haven’t done in-depth tests with the EVA and Go!SCAN yet, so I’m only able to make comparisons with those based on specs. Of course, I will compare it to the Einscan-S and other scanners I’ve reviewed.

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How 3D Scanning was used to create the worlds of Star Wars Battlefront

A few months a ago I wrote a feature post about How 3D Scanning was used to create the Visual Effects for the Gotham TV Series because I like both 3D scanning and am a big fan of everything Batman. There is, however, one other piece of fiction that I’m drawn to even more: Star Wars. So I was waiting for an opportunity to write a feature post about a combination of 3D scanning and the Galaxy far, far away.

And then, last week, I came across this post by the Swedish game developer DICE, responsible for games like the successful Battlefield series, Mirror’s Edge, and the latest iteration of Star Wars Battlefront.

One thing that sets this “next gen” (it’s available for Playstation 4 & XBOX One) iteration of Battlefront apart from its predecessors is the stunning visual quality—especially of the wide open worlds that are very recognizable for Star Wars fans. With very realistic representations of the planets Hoth, Tatooine, Endor and Sullust, this game is the best way to interactively immerse yourself in the Star Wars universe. Or as Wired puts it: “Star Wars Battlefront Plays Like You’re Watching the Movie.”

Let’s take a look at what this means through an in-game screenshot before I continue:

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Tutorial: Share your 3D Scan in Pokémon GO-style Augmented Reality (AR)

3D Scanning beyond 3D Printing — Part Two

 

In Part One I showed you how you can view and share your 3D scans Online and in Virtual Reality by using a service called Sketchfab. A great free alternative to expensive full color 3D prints! But there’s another technology besides VR that has caught a lot of media attention lately—AR or Augmented Reality. And I’m not talking about headset based AR (or Mixed Reality) like HoloLens, but the kind that just requires a smartphone or tablet—like Pokémon GO.

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How to View and Share your 3D Scan in Virtual Reality

3D Scanning beyond 3D Printing — Part One

 

I’m amazed by the developments in 3D scanning since I started researching and writing about it in January. In particular, I like that the technology of 3D capturing has quickly become affordable and will continue to do so with sub-$500 smartphone-based 3D scanners and free photogrammetry apps.

Besides capturing objects in 3D, people seem to really like to have themselves volumetrically digitized, or in less funky words: 3D Selfies are the new Selfies.

One thing I also noticed is that 3D scanning is still very much tied to 3D printing. The scanners themselves are sold by stores that also sell the printers. And manufacturers of affordable 3D scanners—like the XYZ scanner and Sense scanner I reviewed earlier—are still marketing them to consumers as accessories to desktop 3D printers.

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Seeing VR as a Creative Tool changed my perspective

It has been a while since I wrote about VR. The last time I mentioned is was in a post where I said I was moving away from this new medium after being immersed in it for over a year.

The reason for my departure from Head Mounted Displays was that after my first VR experiences, the wow-factor had quickly—and totally—evaporated. I could wow newcomers with it, but my Oculus Rift DK2 and first-gen Samsung Gear VR became dust catchers on a shelf before I sold them in the end of 2015 (with a surprisingly high profit).

 

two-guys-with-many-vr-headsets-drinking-coffee
Back in 2015, when the future looked bleak…

 

More specifically, the reason I stopped caring about VR was the lack of interesting content. None of the “VR experiences” I tried—passive ones, games and certainly not 360° videos—could convince me that this medium had a future beyond Wii-like first-time wows and corporate trade shows.

I still think this is true today. None of the available or announced VR content is going to make it the next thing every consumer wants—certainly not at the current price and probably not even at any price. A $2 Google Cardboard viewer will be fun enough for kids for years to come.

There will never will be a mass market for VR as an entertainment technology: consumers aren’t going to watch full sports event with it, watch movies with it or play full games with it.

This made me believe that VR technology has no future at all. I wasn’t going to spend $2000 of my hard-earned money on a HMD and a overpowered gaming PC.

But then I tried Tilt Brush—a Virtual Reality 3D painting application acquired by Google in April—for 5 minutes. And ordered an HTC Vive and a Gaming PC (Alienware Aurora with Nvidia GTX 1070) the same day.

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