Since this blog is about Bernie (and Bernice and Bernard and Beatrice and...) some of the first items I've been printing are copies of Bernie's bones. I've got a couple of brain cases, palate, etc. I'm considering a full skull, but the printer is not reliable enough to print the 60+ hours it will take to do a full skull. In fact right now after about 40 hours of printing the extruder barrel is broken. That's because it is inherently a poor mechanical design. I'm improving it and I'm waiting for some parts to get it running again.
There is an interesting balance required to print out these 'organic' parts. They don't have nice flat planes or straight edges - they are all curves, holes, overhangs, swells and shrinks. To do an overhang you need to have cool extruding temperatures and quick cooking of the extruded plastic so that it doesn't sag; to get good adhesion between layers you need slow cooling and hot extrude temperatures. And it really is true that different colors of the plastic need different conditions - mostly because the fillers change the physical characteristics of the plastic. Black is particularly hard to work with. So I think I'll mostly work with white and clear.
So here's some pictures. Here's the printer itself with the control panel in front.
Here's a hint - it is the one with the catalog number and the better underside (overhangs are difficult).
Here's the built-in control panel.
And here is how you do this process. Brown outlines are the traditional fossil prep steps. Green is the scanning steps. Blue are software steps. Red is finishing it up as desired. Lots of complicated steps to this process if you want to do it right!
Finally, here is a video of the printer in action: