How to print with elastic filament

Elastic filaments opened brand new areas for 3D printing. We are finally able to print something that bends, compresses and stretches. While TPE (ThermoPlastic Elastomer) filaments like NinjaFlex or FlexiSmart are still about 4 times more expensive than plain old PLA, they are not so expensive not to give them a try.

Unfortunately, due to the fact that they are elastic even before melted and extruded, they require special printing conditions. During my experiments with FlexiSmart I've came down to following conclusions:

  1. Because TPE is elastic, flow through the nozzle has to be as smooth as possible. If not, it will coil inside extruder
  2. Bowden extruder system greatly increases chance of failure. Friction of bowden, while small enough for ABS or PLA, is too big for TPE. Filament will coil. Direct extruder gives less chance of failure
  3. One has to pay big attention to the distance between extruder nozzle and bed. Usually it has to be a litter bigger that for PLA or ABS. In all the cases when I was switching from PLA to TPE, I had to raise nozzle a little. If not, TPE coiled. TPE has better initial adhesion than PLA, so rising a nozzle does not have side effects
  4. Filament retraction is a huge NO NO. Disable retraction since it will increase the chance of coiling significantly
  5. With no retraction it is a good idea to enable Combing. Nozzle, instead of taking the shortest route to travel, dripping TPE everywhere, will move above already printed layer. This greatly improves print quality
  6. Top printing speed is 30mm/s, but I recommend slower speeds. I have best results when printing at 15mm/s. On 25mm/s quality is still acceptable, but degradation starts to be visible
  7. I had best results of TPE printing on glass with 220deg nozzle temperature and 60deg bed temperature
  8. Not everything can be printed with elastic filament. Any thin vertical structure will come deformed. After all, it will move during printing due to a friction with extruder nozzle

While I was printing with FlexiSmart, almost all points from the above list will be true for other TPE (NinjaFlex). Temperatures might be slightly different, but general rules applies.

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Mechanical Bat: Bat Bot B2

Nature gave ability to fly to birds, insects and some mammals quite some time ago. We, as a species, learned how to fly only very recently. And let's be honest here. We are not very good at it. We need machines to fly. Any our machines are not very efficient at that task. They require huge amounts of energy to do it, need maintenance and make a lot of noise. Look at birds and bats. They fly for longer using less energy. And they do it with grace.

This is project that caught my attention only today: mechanical bat from University of Illinois called Bat Bot B2.


Bat Bot, from Caltech von PopSci

Take a look at that video. Maybe it's not stable or capable of longer flights yet, but I'm really, really impressed. One day I would really like to have an UAV like that!

Via Hackaday

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Relaxing Winter FPV Session

Winter is not the best time for FPV. Day is short, it is cold, it snows or rains most of the time. But sometimes, when sun is shining, there is a slim window ofopportunity to just go outside and fly. You will get cold, batteries will last shorter, but it will be worth it.

Some people will say it is boring. For me it's not boring. It's 100% relaxing…

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ESP8266 and DS18B20 – wireless ThingSpeak sensor

Here is another small project of mine: battery operated ESP8266 ESP-01 WiFi thermometer using DS18B20 and ThingSpeak API to collect data.

Before we proceed, you should:

esp8266 ds18b20 thingspeak sensor

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ESP8266 ESP-01 Low Power Mode – run it for months

Amazing ESP8266 ESP-01 WiFi boards have pretty irritating problem: theirs power consumption is pretty high. Minimal power consumption of about 70mA when doing nothing and above 100mA when when transferring data makes it rather impossible to use it on battery power for a longer period of time. Set of 2 AA batteries would be drained in less than a day. Not good.

There is a way to make ESP-01 work for months using something called deep sleep mode. When in deep sleep, ESP8266 disables almost all of its functions and reboots after specified period of time. There is one catch: ESP-01 is capable to enter deep sleep, but unable to restart and resume operation. XPD_DCDC MCU pin in not connected to RESET pin. To fix it, you would have to solder thin wire between XPD_DCDC and RESET pin just like on a picture below:

ESP8266 ESP-01 Deep Sleep hack

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INAV 1.6: Fixed Wing PIFF Controller

Another new feature of upcoming INAV 1.6 (BTW, INAV 1.6 ALPHA-1 has just been released) is brand new PID controller for fixed wings. I repeat: this new controller is used only on fixed wings, multirotors are not affected.

So, what is new about this new PID controller? First of all, it is no longer a PID (Proportional, Integral, Derivative). It is a PIFF (Proportional, Integral, Feed Forward) controller. What is the difference?

Traditional PID controller computes error between setpoint and measurement and feeds it to 3 modules: P, I and D.

PID controller

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How to connect APM Power Meter to Cleanflight and INAV

This topic was eluding me for some time now. It’s time fix the problem and finally present a short tutorial how to connect 90A APM Power Meter for flight controller boards like Naza32, SP Racing F3 or any other running Cleanflight / Betaflight / INAV software and equipped with Current Meter ADC input.

I will not show where to connect APM Power Meter to flight controller, since this differs from board to board. Some boards have dedicated pins, on some boards PWM input pins are used for Current Meter ADC. You have to refer FC documentation and / or flight controller software documentation.

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Hands on: Eachine DIY Suitcase

I like to travel light. Also when going flying. This is why I’m not the biggest fan of all those metal or plastic suitcases. Not my style. I prefer a backpack, mini quadcopter attached on the outside of it, flying wing in one hand, travel chair in the second. Done.

Sometimes suitcases becomes handy (after all they provide some privacy and protection), so when I saw this little Eachine DIY Suitcase I’ve decided to give it a try. Description says that it can hold ZMR250, so also should not have any problems with 220 mini quad. It does have a problem after all…

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