Wednesday, July 20, 2016

M3D Micro: Chameleon 3D Ink Prints Beautifully

For our upcoming 3D ThinkLink Lab Immersion class, we decided that not only would it be fun to let the students explore the color-changing properties of Chameleon 3D Inks; but, also highly instructive in the subject of Thermochromatic materials.

We purchased every single Chameleon color offered by M3D for our exploration.  And, since we will have at least 10 cadets and we're limited in our number of available Micro printers, we needed to print out the samples before the class begins.

The Gap

 I have finally settled on the gap that works best for us using PLA.  Our 3D Systems 3rd Generation Cubes came with a "Gap Tool" that is a strip of plastic that measures a uniform thickness of .10mm thick.  I am now using this to set the baseline gap and corner offsets of the M3D Micro.  While I have not found the need, I can increase the gap simply by increasing the Bed Height Offset on the Calibration Tab of the Micro client software.

The Scope of the Print Task

We printed 12 sets of each color in groups of four at a time using two different printers.  They were print with a layer height of 350 microns and density of low.  Each group took approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes.  Each sample has a printed number indicating a specific color.

Genie Blue Ice Test Sample
This means that we have printed 120 objects using Chameleon 3D Ink, non-stop, over a period of several days.

The Print Experience With Chameleon

I was very pleasantly surprised by the overall experience of printing with Chameleon 3D Ink.  In fact, if I were to select a single phrase to describe the process it would have to be "Smooth as butter!"

And, I literally mean that.  

Removing the Chameleon is so smooth and easy.  It seems to have a slightly softer surface characteristic than regular PLA.  Chameleon has a unique tactile feel as it is separated from the build plate.  The texture reminds me of a plastic known as Delrin.  I use a palette knife (Nicole #7) purchased from AC Moore and/or Warner's "Apply" window caulking knife found in hardware stores.  Both items have a nicely sharpened blade.

I admit that I am easily amused.  But, watching the material change color as it is printed is just plain fun... as is watching it morph into a different color as it cools.  The color transitions are not always as expected..  For instance, I placed one item in the freezer for a few minutes.  It was a deep purple when it came out.  But, what is surprising is that it has remained a deeper color than those that were never placed in the freezer, even though it's been sitting out for a while.  This tells me that when we have the thermometers ready for our exploration in the lab, we are going to see some interesting results!

Not a Single Clog

I have to mention that I'm very impressed by the fact that even after hour upon hour of printing with the M3D Micro, I have not had a single clog.  Nor, have I had any warping with the Chameleon materials with the test objects.


Not a single reel of Chameleon 3D Ink has given even a moment's worth of trouble.  In fact, it's been a joy to print and remove Chameleon parts.  But, the real fun is going to come later as our cadets get to explore the variety of characteristics presented in the entire Chameleon line-up.  I'm really looking forward to it.  We'll be sure to create a video.

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