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Adventures in 3D printing - rigid.Ink


One of the most bewildering things about 3D printing is buying filament. As the 3D printer market has exploded over the last few years there has become an increasing range of places to buy your filament from. With the addition of eBay and Amazon finding the right supplier can be difficult.

Things I have learnt

  • Cheap (unbranded) filament from eBay is generally a waste of time. Whilst this might be quite cheep it is not going to be of the best quality. Additionally, if you run out of a filament on a project it is going to be hard to get something that will match it.
  • 10m samples are a great way to try out a range of different colours from a company. This is not the best value for money approach but is a good way to get started.
  • Once you have found a company and a brand it is best to stick with it!
  • Print a range of 2cm cubes at different temperatures to find out the best temperature for the first layer and subsequent layers. I generally print the first base layer 5 degrees hotter than the rest of the layers to get a good initial adhesion.

After 5 months I have settled on using rigid.Ink as my supplier of choice and would definitely recommend them.

  • Very reasonably priced PLA
  • Very quick delivery times (usually within two days)
  • Excellent customer service - great humour!
  • Good tips and advice for new people, temperature range printed on the packet with advice that their PLA generally prints at a lower temperature than some of the other brands available.
  • They have a good range of articles to help you with printing with topics here including a customisable cheat sheet tailored to your skill level.

Their website can be found here


The Midas Touch

Over the summer Christopher (going into year 5) has been set some homework to research and present on the Ancient Greeks.

As part of his research he came across the story of King Midas and decided he wanted to make a model showing what would happen when Midas touched things. Christopher was really excited about 3D printing the parts of his model.


Christopher still has to design the background and base of the box and make a cardboard table, but the 3D printed parts are now made.

The links to projects are:





I will add some more photos when it is completed!


3D printing for dummies

Getting started with 3D printing

Back in April I ordered my first 3D printer, I had used several before and thought I knew a little bit about how to use one etc

I settled on the Startt 3D printer from iMakr which comes in at a very respectable £99.99 and can print up to sizes of 14 x 12 x 13 cm of PLA (although I have not printed anything that big yet!).

Startt 3D printer

Building the printer was relatively easy and was completed after a few nights hard work. Since buying the printer they have made a couple of modifications - most significantly being the ABS components. If I had bought the printer now some of the early issues I had could have been resolved with the upgrade.

So after building the printer I expected to be able to print straight away - this really wasn't the case. It took another week of trial, error, frustrations, desperate tweets to friends and tears before I managed to get the PLA to even stick to the bed.

You can guess what the issue was? Bed levelling!

After 5 months, 2 kg of blue PLA and many 10 m samples I can now get it to print perfectly each time. This is mostly in part to me now being able to level the bed fairly well each time and using buildtak!

What have I learnt?

  • 3D printing is a dark art and most definitely not a science
  • There are loads of great tutorial website, blogs and YouTube videos - use them!
  • Cheap PLA is a waste of money
  • Level the bed
  • Don't give up, keep trying
  • Slic3r really is nicer
  • Rigid.Ink has great PLA and awesome customer service
  • Level the bed
  • Have fun

I am now looking at getting my second 3D printer later this year (but don't tell my wife!)


Solder shaming

Have you ever experienced solder shaming?

During the recent Pimoroni birthday video the concept of solder-shaming came up. As someone who had experienced solder-shaming I know what it feels like!

What is solder shaming?

Making critical comments about the quality of someone's soldering particularly in social media. Often these are more critical than constructive!

What's the problem?

For many people the Raspberry Pi has brought them into the world of physical computing and digital making and this has meant soldering! There are many great tutorials on-line about how to solder and many good kits you can buy to get you started.

Soldering is one of those things which can be quite scary; you have hot tips, molten solder and the chance to get finders singed and in all the photos the soldering always looks amazing.

So, we should definitely give credit to anyone who picks up a soldering iron for the first time, and to be honest most people in the community do this and are positive. The negative effects of 'shaming' someone's new skills can dent their confidence and even put them off doing it again.

If I had listened to the negative comments five years ago I would have given up on physical computing immediately - but I am glad I stuck with it.



My components

Over the last few years I've built up a quite a collection of components for my various Raspberry Pi projects.


1 - 4 Various sensors
5 Ultrasonic position sensors
6 WIFI adapters
7 Pi Camera accessories
8 GPIO Header extenders
9 Neopixel strips
10 Arduino Uno
11 Various soldering projects
12 Ribbon cables
13 Wireless mouse
14 Breadboards
15 Camera mount
16 Power
17 Older Raspberry Pi models
18 Motor kits


19 Pimoroni home automation kit
20 Pimoroni blinkt neopixels
21 Arduino DAGU mini motor controller board
22 Servo motors
23 SD cards
24 Pimoroni Display O'tron 3000
25 Pibrella
26 Various soldering kits
27 Raspberry Pi Sense Hat
28 Various connection cables
29 Various hats
30 Digital oscilloscope
31 Various power connectors
32 4tronix Picobot
33 Various LCD displays (as you can never have enough of these)


34 LEDs
35 Various GPIO jumper cables
36 Relays (I love relays)
37 Various LED kits
38 Resistors
39 Jumper cables
40 Push buttons
41 A mini fan
42 Ryanteck motor kits
43 Buck converter
44 IR motion detector
45 Transistors