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Monday, July 22, 2013

Stress test? Pshaw

TurnRock's Super Stress Test is designed to push the limits of what home 3D printing can do... theoretically. In reality this was hardly a test at all for my Makerbot. I know I keep lauding it here, but I am really impress with the small details that MakerWare handles so well. So to really stress the test I reprinted the test at 75% and 50% of the original size to see what fell apart. Unfortunately I didn't pick colors that photographed well so I'll just have to describe it.

At 100% every detail of the model is present. The lettering, the thin fingers on the one side, the sloping ramp, the wire-frame ball, the thin wall bridging, the standing waves, the arches, the tiny cylinders, the hollow sphere... everything. At 100% Joe's Makerbot can handle it all. There were 2 strange things. First of all there were only 2 tiny cylinders where the original had 3 and the thin vertical wall in the corner of the rectangular hole didn't print, but the top managed to overhang itself just fine so that I thought it was part of the original design.

At 75% I accidentally broke the spiraling cones when I removed the print, but they printed well. The problems were the wire-frame ball fell apart, the lettering is illegible, and the tiny fingers were falling apart, some of them. But otherwise the rest of the details were present. In fact there are 3 tiny cylinders at this point and the vertical wall in the corner is back and complete.

At 50% it's amazing how much detail is still there. The lettering is still gone, the tiny fingers were gone, the cylinders were all merged into one blob, and the wire-frame ball was... actually it looks a little better at this level than 75%, but it was still a mess. But besides those few things the rest of the details were still, surprisingly, in tact.

I think that this "stress test" would be a good way for a designer to study to know how far they can safely push design and have it be successful on home 3D printers. Go any smaller than what this test did on your details and you're asking for trouble.

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