Germia - gaming world

3D printing with PLA - printing, sanding, smoothing, gluing

PLA print of bird skull I modelled in Meshmixer and smoothened with resin
After my first article about 3D printing, that focused on use of 3D printing in cosplay, I had a lot of requests to write more, especially about filaments and post-processing, so here you go!

Everyone who buys a 3D printer struggles with the decission what to print first, how to print it and what 3D printing filament is best for it.
And because the last mentioned thing is one of the most important  - let's look at my experience with filaments and some more info and my own research of PLA filament.

Best starting filaments

Everyone who is starting with 3D print is always searching for the same question:
What is the best starting filament?

My story:

I searched for it too and studied different approaches to that theme, but never received complete info I needed. Eventually I bought 2x1kg of black ABS filament, because I've learned from the internet, that ABS is better, because it is easier to smooth afterwards and much stiffer than PLA never allowing your 3D printed parts to break.
And it was a fail from my side. I still have both ABS filament spools almost full - I've used one roll once and never used it again. Always try to search for complete info before buying anything!

PLA vs. ABS

I mentioned these filaments, that were in most videos and articles considered best starting materials. But what are the differences?


PLA 
ABS after and before vapor smoothing with acetone
(source: Allthat3d.com)

  • Easiest material to work with - you have bigger safe margin for making errors by setting your printer. 
  • It's also biodegradable - your failed prints won't burden the mother Earth (they still will, but they will eventually disolve easier than other materials). 
  • Even you can sometimes read, that ABS has better overall characteristics, consider very wisely if your part will be often mechanically under stress and if your answer is yes, then after that start to consider ABS option. I have to admit, that I printed already a lot of stuff and I never experienced any kind of stress related issues on PLA prints. 
  • You do not have to own a 3D printer with heated bed in order to print it.
  • And when I said it is easier to print with PLA, it can handle bigger overhangs and longer bridging than ABS.


ABS  
Thi is how your ABS print
without enclosure can look like
((taken from 3D printing group on FB)

I do not like working with ABS and I'm afraid it will influence my valuation of this kind of filament, but I try to explain why.

  • It is not biodegradable (sorry, mom Earth), 
  • you have to own a 3D printer with heated bed 
  • and having a flawless print from ABS seemed to me harder than having a flawless print from PLA. 
  • The most important thing, that is often forgotten by many is, that ABS produces fumes by printing, that you can actually smell very intesively and people are still discussing about the safety of living in those kind of fumes. 
  • Also, ABS print is relatively sensitive to temperature changes - it has to cool very slowly or it will crack or it can curl and warp during 3D printing, so it is recommended  to have a full enclosure built for your printer or a more expensive printer with it's own enclosure. 
  • And yes, there are also positive sides of ABS coin - supposedly, it is much more durable in terms of flexibility and strenght 
  • and it can also be smoothened with Aceton which is in comparison to PLA's Tetrahydrofuran much cheaper alternative (but you don't have to use neither one).


Maybe you ask why people still try to compare both filaments even that PLA offers better characteristics. It's simple - for some people it is very tempting to get rid of printing lines on the surface with vapor smoothing (and they have often never heard of tetrahydrofuran, since I'm one of the first people to try it) and they are happy with better hardness and (endurance of the material - PLA is not so flexible and strong, but it can handle more weight before breaking). They maybe own an enclosure and they don't get fails by printing like the one on the picture.


If you expect more durability from your print, there are some filaments, that try to combine the best of both, but writing about them would be for too long, so if you want to learn more, try to find more about PLA+ or PET-G.



I choose you, PLA

In the comparison above, I tried to include all the things I thought were relevant for you to decide which filament to use as starting filament, but to be honest, most companies will make this choice for you and you 3D printer will be delivered with a spool of PLA. Good choice!


Best PLA manufacturer

If you are familiar with preparing STL files for printing, in most programs, there is a choice of PLA manufacturer, that will adjust the settings according to a manufacturers recommendations. And I recommend you starting with recommended settings and try a few test prints. With trial and error by printing those test prints, you can learn more about the settings needed for that particular filament and adjust them in the program you use (for example Slic3r, Cura, ...)
The fanciest looking filament
Vertigo Galaxy by Fillamentum

In my short experience, I tried only few manufacturers and I recommend Plasty Mladec PLA and Fillamentum PLA (no sponzorship included). I also tried some cheaper ones, but I wasn't really satisfied with the look of the print and the trial and error time was much longer than I expected. Some cheaper PLA's also do not react well to smoothing with tetrahydrofuran. Be careful also about some really cheap filaments - some may come tangled on the spool and it can then stuck by feeding the filament and the printer will continue working without any filament extruding. Some cheaper filaments can have an uneven surface, so it can clog your nozzle. And some cheaper filaments may come wet, that would cause a really wierd outcome in the print. Invest more money into filament and you will be a happy printer owner.

Adjusting the settings

I cannot give you the right answer to that question, but there are steps you can take always to make your print succesful.
1) If you print a free 3D model, consider  printing settings described by the designer for your build.
2) If you are used to use one manufacturer, start by setting it to that manufacturer's recommended settings and try to print test prints to see which settings are ued for the best results. Test prints can include printing Benchy, 3D printer testing models (picture).
It helps you to find the right settings and know the boundaries of your printer/filament (for example in printing overhangs, bridges, ...)

It is a very wide theme for longer explanation and I am afraid I would have to appel on you to do your own research according to your printer, your used software and your used filament to get your setting to desireable outcomes! I also recommend joining 3d printing group on facebook - I've learned a lot of useful info just by reading people's posts.


PLA and bed = friends?


As I've already mentioned, you don't have to use heated bed if you print with PLA. But if you own one, do not hesitate to use heat according to filament manufacturer you use.
Sometimes it is still hard to find the best balance in "sticking":

PLA doesn't stick to the bed:If your PLA doesn't stick to your bed, it will stick to your nozzle, make it dirty and can cause overheating. And yes, your print won't print. You can enhance the stickyness of PLA by cleaning the bed with some window cleaners (Isopropyl alcohol) or Aceton. Do not touch it afterwards - even you don't see it, your fingers are oily and can cause non sticking of PLA.
If this doesn't work, try to use painter's tape layered on the bed.
Oh and if the problem is still relevant, just ask yourself if your heatbed is leveled well and well configurated.

PLA sticks too much to the bed:
I have this problem all the time. Always try to find solution, that doesn't require you to damage your bed or the print by trying to get it free from the bed (credit card, pressure of your hand). Try to preheat the bed for better result. When I'm really lost, I use shears or a scratch tool or a razor blade and I'm forced to go through the risk of damaging the print/the bed.


The print is done, how do I smooth it?

This is probably the most asked question even I find more important to get the process of printing properly first. Sometimes the post-processing is used to hide flaws during printing, which is okay, but it is really time-consuming. But usually the post processing is here to get rid of the printing lines. The printer works by putting layers and layers of filament on each other and each layer is round. Each layer has round edges and that means, there are layers of material with small gaps inside them. And those visible layers are mostly unwanted, so post-processing is here to help you out!

As I've said in my first article about 3D printing from a point of view of cosplayers, for me as a cosply judge it is really important to see, that the printed part is post-processed well (and that it doesn't have any common printing fails), since I usually do not have much chance to know if the person printed and modelled the part by him/herself.

So, what are your options when it comes to getting rid of the print lines?

1) Finer printing

Choose finer quality(layer height) of the print in your program (Cura, Slic3r, Prusa Control) for finer and smoother outcome. Usually there is possibility to choose between 0,1-0,3 mm. This won't stop you from postprocessing your print, but if you decide to sand your print, this will allow to save time later.

Disadvantage: longer printing time and more filament will be used.

2) Sanding

This is the most time-consuming post processing way (but maybe the cheapest), but if you decide to use only sanding papers for smoothing out your print, you can use tools to help you out - belt sander, dremel. Start by using rough sanding papers and continue to the finer ones. I recommend using  higher quality sanding paper for sanding paints, that are water resistant.

Disadvantage: very long post-processing time.


3) Primer and filler (+sanding)  


If you like the option of sanding, but you want to make your process less time consuming and more effective, use primer&filler. Spray your print with a spray and seal the gaps between layer lines. You just then sand it a little to even out, and there goes your perfectly smooth print. And if you are using good product, you can even print on lower quality (bigger layer height) without worrying about the result.
And if I say good product, I mean primer and filler, that had a grey color (for plastic), not beige. The beige primer and filler doesn't fill as much as we want, the grey one does.
And if you are still lost which product to use, try THIS or THIS.

CAUTION: Always wear mask by spraying primer and filler on your prints. Imagine what happens to your lungs after breathing the cement for filling gaps in the print. Your lungs won't be happy about that.

Disadvantage: more expensive option.


4) Tetrahydrofuran + Aceton


As I've already mentioned by ABS filament, there is an option to smooth the print by Aceton vaporing. But it doesn't work for PLA. I discovered a product, that actually works for PLA - tetrahydrofuran and *methylene chlorid.
Both products can melt **PLA filaments pretty well and even I don't use for vapor smoothing, since I do not want to handle fire next to flammable chemicals, it should be possible to do.
OR you can go my way and just apply tetrahydrofuran on the print with a brush and even it takes several layers and the result is not so shiny, I feel much more safe that way and I feel like I have the fate of my print in my hands :D If you are struggling with finding the needed product, I bought it here.

*I've never tried using methylene chlorid, but it should work according to this video.

*Tetrahydrofuran doesn't work on some filaments. I've experienced it by cheaper filaments, that it didn't work as expected, it just disolved as white colored stuff on black filament. It 100% works on Plasty Mlades filament tho.
Vapor smoothing by joesmakerbot

CAUTION: Always wear mask with chemical filters and gloves when working with Acetone, Tetrahydrofuran and methylene chloride. Read product description and safety instructions. All the chemicals are flammable.

Disadvantage: Tetrahydrofuran is a special chemical product used for welding plastic (for example for swimming pools). It is harder to get and in comparison with aceton much more expensive. If you decide to use aceton, tetrahydrofuran or methylene chlorid, always keep safety on first place.



6) Coating

XTC-3D coating by 3dprinting-blog
There is a special product, that you can use for coating your prints called XTC-3D. It is a special kind of resin, that sticks well to the plastic and makes the surface crystal clear as a result.
There are always at least 2 layers necessary for your print to look good, since the first one functions as a filler and the second one makes the surface smooth.

I've tried coating my prints with resin and it is one of the fastest and easiest ways for achieving crystal clear finish.
If your print is not going to be stressed or bumped in, I think you can use even a crystal resin used for casting or normal resin  or some people are using even nailpolish.


Disadvantage: XTC-3D and resin are not cheap materials and I've never tried using nailpolish. It also doesn't copy the print very truely, so I wouldn't recommend it for functional parts like gears or ball bearing.


7) Heating - heatgun

Some people are even using heat for achieving  smoother results. I personally use heating only when I want to form my print somehow and I have to admit it is really tricky to find the right temperature not to boil or deform your print too much.

Just look at following videos what people thought of:
Heatgun smoothing

To be honest, I don't like heatgun smoothing a lot, but since PLA is reactive to temperature, you can use very hot water to clean out the support material more easily, or use heat whenever you want ot fix some flaws on your print by using soldering iron or woodburning iron.

Disadvantage: Heating is a risky way to smooth out your print. Even it is really cheap, controlling the amount of heating necessary is really hard and you can end up destroying your print.

8) Combination of more ways


I mostly combine more ways of post-processing according to a look I want to achieve and the use of the finished print. Do not hesitate to experiment by yourself, but alway have in mind, that safety must come first ;)


Glueing PLA parts together

Sometimes you don't get to print your print at once and it has to be assembled from more parts. What glue is the best to use with those parts?

There are some glues you can use or you can make your own glue!

1) Superglue 
bigger platic packaging allows you to
use the glue more than once

Is the most use glue for 3D printed parts. I don't like using it since I do not find it so "super" on a lot of occasions, but I  have to admit, that it is the fastest and cheapest choice for 3D prints. I only recommend to buy a bigger package of superglue not wasting your money on smaller tubes, that go hard after first use.



2) Epoxy

If you are not a fan of superglue, any kind of epoxy glue should be fine!


This lightsaber was glued completely by using
tetrahydrofuran paste.

3) Tetrahydrofuran (PLA) and Aceton (ABS) 


As I've said before, both are use for welding plastics, so it means the do not only dissolve plastic, they can glue it too. Just take a small amount of the chemical and mix it with small rests of the filament (for example with supports, failed prints) and let the plastic dissolve in it. Take the develop paste and put it on the glued areas. The chemical will vapor away and it will form an inseparable connection.







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This article was made with the support of my patreon followers and I'm really greateful to them!
If you want to take part in this and support me in making more of the content like this, you can join my patreon here :)
Thank you!


Yours
Germia

P.S. I'm working now on a 3D printing project I call Frankenstein, since it will be made from around 30 different models! Just check out my instagram stories :)

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Cosplayers and larpers are the same!

Appolyon from For Honor game is in fact
a fictional character, that only seems historical
As usual, I'm gonna write as first, what was the motivation to write this post.
I made chainmaille for my cosplay of Appolyon - just 30 cm of it, but still, it caused a lot of people to question the type of weaving I used, the types of rings I used and the overall characteristics of the whole maille.
And as I like the critique (since it moves me forward in lot of ways) from some point, it started to be kind of annoyning, that I had to describe to each and everone who commented things like that, that I am making a cosplay armor - not reenactment or larp armor, that I do not plan to fight in the maille, and that I wanted to achieve some lightness of it all whilst being true to the character - Photorealism.
Follow me on my social sites @datgermia for progress on this cosplay, I am working on it right now!

I spoke with my friends, that told me something like: "They are just larpers, the don't know nothing about cosplay..."
I feel like the (historical) larp community was always argueing and fighting on social media with cosplayers community and it is really not necessary - we are the same, guys, and we have to help each other!


Disclaimer: In this article, I speak as a cosplayer, I am no reaanactor, no larper. I consider myself armor-enthusiast. So even I'm trying to make cosplay armor, that is not historical and was never meant to be historical, I still admire historical armor, it's function adn look and I always try to learn about it as much as I can.
If I say something wrong, it is not intended to offend anyone and feel free to correct me.
I just wanted to point out, that our communities do not have to fight each other, that we can behave respectfully and  we should not force anyone in making stuff they don't want to.



Let's jump to this video by Metatron, that is a good insight into differences between armor (chainmaille) for reenactment, larp and cosplay just to explain the issue mentioned above:



Why are we the same?

1) We make costumes

It's great, that because we both make costumes, we can share knowledge about the costumes we made, what materials did we use and why did we use them. Share what are our plans with that costume and what material is the best for that purpose (larp, reenactor, cosplay).

2) We do roleplay

Isn't larp all about roleplay? Cosplayers love it too. Some less, some more, but we are the same in that matter!
Btw. the word cosplay even contains the world roleplay in itself!

3) We love our communities

Loving one community doesn't mean you have to hate others. We are not competing in any way and both our communities can coexist without a problem.
Always try to respect people from the other community and their choices even it is not something you like.
If you try to join the other community, try to respect others even more and learn from them and about them.

4) We are imitating a theme 

Both cosplayers and larpers (and reenactors - I'm not forgetting abotu them, but usually, their community doesn't fight on social sites as much as larpers adn cosplayers) are imitating something. We both are usually not designers with free chosing of materials, colors or look.
Cosplayers have to follow the characters they want to bring to real life - their color palette, they try to imitate the look and the feel of the materials they are wearing in game and at the same time make it comfortable to wear (as much as they can/is possible) and epic looking.
Larpers are trying to imitate the feel of the world they want to imitate and their garment has to fit in their world and has to be "practical" at the same time. If we are talking about historical larpers, they do not usually study a certain character, but a certain time in history - what materials were used for the garment, what colors and how to make the garment durable to withstand several days of rough time on larp.
Reenactors has to follow only historically accurate and historically used garments and equipment. They go for practicality and accurancy. No fantasy element is included.

Both cosplay and larp worlds can connect in some ways, both can be really different in other ways. What stays is, that we make similar stuff with different approach and the most important thing is mutual respect.

5) We are misunderstood by "common" people

Both cosplayers and larpers are often misunderstood by media and "common" folk. Both communities' activities are often regarded as weird, the behaviour as childish and the costumes we make and wear as wasting our time. Do not prove them right in their childish meaning about us by behaving childish on social sites ;)

What is the main difference in costumes for cosplay, larp, reenactment


Cosplay 
COSPLAY
Overwatch group at Animefest by Creative Wolves

Cosplayer makes costume. It has to be accurately portrayed certain character or original design in to (maximally) be photorealistic. The material chosen for making the costume is up on the cosplayer, but whatever you choose to make the costume, the material should be portrayed the same as in game/movie or TV-show.

Larp 
Festival with LARP features
Junktown

Larp costume has to fit in the fantasy world, where larpers spend their time (Postapo, Hobbit, ...) and has to withstand their fights and their lifestyle during their convention.  That means they have ot go beyonf photorealism here and practicality shakes hands with look and feel of the costume. Some larpers go more into reenactment and the borders are not very firm there.

Reenactment 
REENACTMENT
guilfordbattlegroundcompany


Reenactors try to portray a historical time. They use historically accurate materials, they try to learn more about history and what was really used in history to make a garment. They try to imitate the historical look as accurate as they can. Sometimes using real historical armor or uniforms. And because reenactment involves even fighting, a lot of reenactors put a big emphasis on practicality, that is actually involved in making historical accurate garment.




What are we doing wrong?


1) Distinguish between your goals and goals of others


Some people do costumes, so they can party in them. Some people do them, so they can pose for photographers. Some people want their costumes to defend them in a fight. Some do them so they can walk around conventions without problems. Some people want to present them as museum exhibits...
Each and every person has different goals by making a costume of their own and they have to make the costume fitting for their goal in terms of used materials, durability, historical accurancy, ...

2) Distinguish between history and fantasy 


Even a armor can be inpractical,
 the cosplayer has to follow the design
Some people love historical armor, some people love postapo, some people fantasy, some sci-fi. I love all the things above and I know making an accurate costume in a community is hard. But let the people have freedom with their costume, let them work with their fantasy. If your historical community has some rules, do not apply them on other communities with more fantasy approach.

Even a game character can look historical, in fact most of the historical looking games are fantasy games and their armor is usually a mixture of different centuries, different styles and some part are often non-historical at all. Only few games are trying really hard to be as much accurate with armor and garments as they can (for example Kingdom Come: Deliverance).

For more about this, I highly recommend video under this text, or two historical channels - Shadiversity and Metatron for getting more knowledge about historical and fantasy armors, arms, garments and buildings.




3) Respect the material choices

If a material isn't fitting for you and you prefer wearability, do not force others to use that. Other people can prefer durability or other characteristics.
Remember the goal of a cosplayer is different than a goal of a larper. Try to think about choices of other people before telling them what is best for them.

4) Respect the community

If you are and experienced cosplayer and you come to larp community, do not tell them what materials they should use to make the costume look better or feel better. Do not try to tell them what is right.
As a larper, do not come in cosplay community telling cosplayers, that there is no costume without a proper blacksmithing or that you don't need a wig for your costume, since it is not natural for a woman in 12th century would wear a wig. You only piss people around you and with telling others what to do you would be regarded as really annoying.
The good approach either way is to study a community, to learn from it. Why cosplayers/larpers use this material: Is it because they are dumb or because they know what is the best thing for their purpuoses?
If you are a really good learner and you stay respectful, you can try to teach others (for example by holding panels, making tutorials) about techniques or ways of your community and let other choose if they want to use them or not.

5) If you still want to tell others what to do, know your stuff before hand


If you didn't listen to my advices above and you are still trying to force others in using your materials and your ways, listen to that:
From my point of view, everytime I got into conversation with a guy telling me what I should and what I should not use, what is more durable and what is more historical, I was able to catch them on their lack of historical armor knowledge like:
Why are you having issues with this armor with boobplates, but not with this other very unrealistic armor without them - it just looks more historical but it is actually not.
Why are you insulting my work put into my unrealistic chainmaille telling me that I should use stronger wire for historical look, but  in history, butted chainmaille was used very rarely?
Why are you highly regarding leather as authentic material even leather wasn't really used for making armor in history?


Haven Paladin Armor
Unrealistic shoulders, too big sword, boobiecups and a lot of decorations
but true to the original design
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And what do you think about it?  Let me know on my social sites :)



This article was made with the support of my patreon followers and I'm really greateful to them!
If you want to take part in this and support me in making more of the content like this, you can join my patreon here :)
Thank you!


Yours
Germia




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How (not) to judge 3D printing in cosplay

This time it is not a tutorial based article. I just want to share my opinion with you and possibly find out your opinion too.
There is always some motivation behind each and every of my articles. And one of the motivations for this article was for example one comment I got when I shared my mini nuke prop. I wrote in the decription of the picture featuring the prop, that I made it and gave it to a fallout fan. And the comment was, that the prop was not made by me. After it I posted my work on birdskull, that I made for my Fury cosplay. This time also modelled and of course printed by me, awaiting the postporcessing. And some of the reaction were the same: "Can you go into a contest with 3D printed stuff? It is not your work." and some more...

my brid skull modelled and printed for Fury cosplay
You can clearly see the use of supports for the eyes and beak.
So I decided there is time to maybe educate people more about 3D printing a decribe every step you have to make to achieve good finished product, so everyone can understand it well and better understand the differences of 3d printed work with handmade stuff.

And to say I was the same like people writing me: When 3D print came into cosplay world I didn't think much about it. I thought, that you just put a model inside the printer and it prints that for you. You just sand it, paint it and wear it and that is just it. I've also heard opinions like "3D printing is cheating".
I think a lot of opinions would change with getting a 3D printer kit.






1) What is involved in making a 3D printed prop (for example mininuke)


how your failed print can look like
1) I got a 3D printer (kinda big investment for most of the ppl) + filaments, cabinet for it, smoothing and sanding stuff, ...
2) I had to assemble it and calibrate it (9 hours of assembling, 5 hours of calibrating)
3) I had to study a lot to know which filament to use, how to smooth your prints, how to calibrate the printer for each filament, which filaments are toxic, foodsafe, how they behave and what special needs they have, how to make you prints stick to the surface and how to make them not stick when they're done without destroying your printer, ... (several days of learning)
4) Right now - for each nicely printed thing I still got half of the filament as failed print, because I'm still learning and sh*t just happens.
Nukacola pencil/can holder progress was similar,
there was only no assembly needed and the painjob was easier.
You can still see some parts, that are really hard to sand,
that they have still visible lines from print.
5) Printing bigger stuff can take hours or days and you cannot just leave your printer working, since the prints tend to fail (filament stuck, bad adhesion of pieces, layer shifting, other printing fails) and some fails can even destroy your printer and in worst case - put it on fire (seen that too once). Some people solve this problem with installing camera devices to monitor their prints.
6a) I found the right model (no, I didn't model it - modelling will be an article on its own) and I had to make .gcode files from .stl files, so your printer can handle it - there you customize all the things the printer should do in matter of speed, quality, infill, supports, ... (more in 2nd chapter).
6b) Or you can make the model on your own. But 3d modelling is HARD if you don't have any courses behind you and don't know where to start. I started by editing existing models to learn how all the brushes work and since I have a lot of experience with vector graphic, where you have to work sith shapes as well, I was relatively fast learner. You basically go from making basic shapes or editing existing stuff (my lightsaberemitter guard) to using brushes form making organic stuff (my bird skull - 2 days of work on it) to making exact shapes with functional design (I'm still not that far and a long way awaits me), that is for example this mininuke.
7) The mininuke printed like 85/100 quality (there were some minor cosmetic issues - I used a cheaper filament), so I had to sand down the not so nice parts and fix failed parts with wood burning iron.
Every printer an filament prints in different quality adustments and sometimes it can have some uneven spaces, bulks or different "fails", that you have to fix in post processing. 
8) I made 3 coats of primer and filler (not cheap stuff), that I had to sand down after every coat - it took me the whole day. This part is the most important! I've seen a lot of cosplayers just take the 3D printed prop and paint it. There almost no work involved in making a 3d printed prop without modelling it yourself, printing it yourself and POSTPROCESSING it. That is what makes the difference between good and bad print - the lines from printer should be not visible at all and the surface of the print should be smooth!
Remember that because rought print is like foam armor with badly glued joints.
9) When I thought the surface was smooth enough, I sanded it down for the last time and then I spent 2-3 hours of assembling and painting. I used real iron nails for bottom part. Painting makes a big difference in what you can get from a 3d print!!!
You can watch me painting mininuke HERE.
DAT famous mininuke, 3D model by PowerHobo

So even my printer "made" the physical shapes of the mininuke, and I didn't even model it (I do not think i am able to 3D model functional or precise models yet)), I think there is still a lot of work involved!

This part of article was just a description of a working process. When I say "made" it means, nothing would exist without your work involved. You cannot just say my 3D printer made it for me, because it is not true, and you can give credit to the author of the file, which I am always giving in longer description, not in a first sentence, that explains what the thing is - but even the author did not make the physical thing for you.

In the following part of the article, I will describe the adjustments of your printer, that can severely influence your print. It may be a little boring for someone, but I think it is vital to understand, that printer does not make all the work for you. It is up to you to tell it what to do!
But still, if you are not interested, skip to part 3 - judging of a 3D printed part.



2) How hard printing actually is


I've already described, what you need to do to make your own prop like my mininuke. But what adjustements are you making actually on your printer? Why the printing fails so much? Why it is actually not that easy as it seems on a first glance? Why it takes so long to print?

3D printers work by melting a long string of (mainly plastic) filament and placing layers and layers of materials on each other in a desired shape.


a) printing quality

You can adjust your printing quality in the program you use for preparing the models for printing (Slic3r, Prusa control, ...) and it influences the layer visibility and the time of printing:

b) printing speed

You can adjust the printing speed in different stages of printing. The right/wrong speed can have a big impact on the printing quality in terms of shape and smoothness:


c) filament (= printing string)


Each and every filament and I mean not only the material or the company making it, but each and every color of filament can have different chracterstics and would most likely need you to change the adjustments of your printer regarding speed, nozzle temperature, sometimes layer height, heating bed temperature.
There are several different materials you can print with, but the most used are PLA and ABS. But you can even print with nylon, carbon fiber, flexible materials or wood, but each filament material has it's own spceifics and if you read carefully, you have noticed, that ot study those differences and choosing the best material for you can take several days of studying.

d) nozzle temperature


Nozzle temperature is the tempareature of the device melting the filament to be extruded and shaped. It changes with each and every material and most of the filaments have on their box, what temperature is best for them. But tbh - you have to try it by yourself. The temperature can have a big impact on the quality of the print:

e) heating bed temperature


Some better printer have something called heating bed. It is the part of the printer, where the printed part sits and some filaments need the printing bed to be heated in order to stick to it. Temperature of heating bed can influence, if your print sticks to the bed and will be a success or if the print sticks on the nozzle, will mess up your pinter and be totally destroyed. If you make your bed temp too high, it can shift some layers of your print and it will look bad.

f) taking care of your filament

Even the filament you have needs to be cared of and can influence the result of your print. Tangled filament can stuck and your print can go on printing without extruding any filament. Wet or moist filament can make your print look bulky or there could be holes in your print. That is why your filament comes with silica gel absorbent of mositure and that is why you should stock it on dry dark place.

g) infill

Infill is a way of sparing some of the filament, making the inner part of a model lightweight, but still pretty sturdy. On the pictures, you see some of the adjustments you can do with your infill, that can influence athe look and the charactersitics of your print:



h) supports, brim, raft, skirt ...

To make sure your print will be successful, sometimes you have to make supports for the parts, that "overhang", you have to make rafts and brims or skirts. But I won't describe it so much, since it is for longer time. If you are still interested in more, just read this article about it HERE.

i) the list never ends

I am sure I explained in a short way some of the adjustments of printing, but this is not all, there are many other different stuff you have to do before printing, that I did not mention, but I think this list is enought to have just a slight clue, how extensive the work with 3d printer actually is.


3) Judging a 3D print


The smoothness of the print is affected by printing quality
(for ex. how many layers are used) and the post-processing (smoothing)
⏩ How much work is involved in the print
1) Did the cosplayer model the prop?
2) Did the cosplayer controll (own) the 3D printer?
3) Did the cosplayer assembled, sanded (or postprocessed) and painted the print?
Controll questions:
- What modelling software/printing software/printer is she/he using?
- What techniques are used for smoothing and painting?
- What glue is used for assembly?
- What kind of filament is she/he using and why?

⏩ How advanced the print is
1) How skilled a cosplayer should be to model this?
2) Does it do anything special?
- movement, opening, turning, ...
I know it can sound maybe very challenging, to make props, that actually do something, but 3D printing has almost unlimited options in this kind of matter.
3) How many parts it has and (how much time and money is involved)

⏩ How does the print look like 
1) Are there any common print fails involved? Layer shifting, Overextrusion, Layer splitting, Oozing, bad supports, wet filament, ... Look HERE at most of the possible print failures.
2) Does the 3D print look smooth?
If you spend more time printing a prop on much detailed option, there are more layers used, so the printing layers are not so visible. But even your print goes very detailed right from the printer, you still have to smooth it, so no layers are visible. There are a lot of ways how to do it, which I will describe in another article, but the post-processing is really necessary and it is also VERY time consuming and hard. And I have to admit I have seen only a few cosplayers actually postprocesssing their prints well.
3) How does the paintjob looks like
- Does it look realistic?
- Are the colors good quality, or does the original print color peeks through?
- Are there highlights and shading involved?
- Is it weathered (if it should be)?
I took two Immortan Joe masks from Thingverse to show you the difference of the paintjob you can achieve on the same 3D model as an example:
Mask used for Halloween, so the painjob
is made fast and inaccurate
Very good and realistic paintjob of this mask













⏩ Other stuff
1) How creative the use of the print is
Even when someone did not modell something, but uses it creatively or in an uncommon way, I think it can earn him/her plus points!

I try to find creative and practical use of models all the time:

Dragons can fix anything
Using 4 different models to pimp up the respirator













3) Comparison with other techniques

Comparison of different techniques is always very hard - we know the struggle between judging the armors and dresses and 3D print comes to this enviroment of unsure point distribution in contests...

I think 3D printing is the VERY SIMILAR to other techniques - it can make your life easier in some ways and harder in other.

What is easier and what I like:
⏩You can buy or download models for free, you don't have to know how to 3D model to 3D print
⏩No pattern making, no foam cutting and gluing and shaping, ...
⏩No further thinking about shape, allignment, scale, assembly, you can wathc this all in the computer.
⏩Very sturdy outcome - no heat in car destroys your props, almost no damage caused by travelling
⏩ Very convincing outcome if postprocessed well
⏩ Even the learning curve is very slow from the start, you get to know your printer with time and choose your fav materials and adjustments and become a 3D printing fabric very soon ;)


What is harder:
⏩Initial investment is very high (3d printer, filament, 3D programs)
⏩Learning is very time consuming from the start and involves a lot of fails (and money for the filament or destroyed parts)
1 character - so many different signature styles
Demon Hunter from Diablo 3 by
Poodoki, Tasha, unknown :(, Germia
⏩ 3D modelling is not easy and involves in it a lot of learning struggles and sacrificed time. ⏩ 3D modelling of functional or precise parts is much harder and really advanced.
⏩Sanding and smoothing is very time (and money) consuming
⏩ Printing with new and different filaments ivolves a lot of fails and it's really time consuming.


What I dislike:
⏩ 3D prints do not involve your handmade touch/signature style - noone recognizes if you printed it or if your friend printed it. By normal foam armors or worbla, there are so many different styles - I have my own, everyone can recognize my work from others...

What I like:
⏩ 3D printing moves cosplayers on another level. Even worbla and foam are great materials, they have some limits and rying to make a convincing sniper rifle from those materials could be almost impossible. 3D printing also allows for better durability and it is yet another technique to show of with (If the technique wasn't by some people regarded as cheating :( ).

According to me, (we) cosplayers have problem with 3D printing in this matter:
You can make a 3D print even with only a little skill (if you download 3D modell, let it print by your friend) and there is smaller difference (or maybe just most people don't know) between bad 3D print and good 3D print (downloaded model, painting and layer visibility) than between good foam armor and bad foam armor (shapes, seams, painting, scale, decorations, material, typical handmade style of a cosplayer). That is why sometimes it seems much easier to make a 3D printed prop than a handmade prop.

And what do you think about 3D printing in cosplay? Do you still think it is easier or "cheating" to have stuff 3D printed? Don't worry, I won't judge ANY opinions, just make them well thinked and argumented ;) 


My Sith with 3D printed lightsaber emitter guards
This article was made with the support of my patreon followers and I'm really greateful to them!
If you want to take part in this and support me in making more of the content like this, you can join my patreon here :)
Thank you!


Yours
Germia
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What are you doing wrong with your social site? Tips and tricks by Germia

I find your lack of engagement disturbing
Photo: Butrix production
If you are struggling with managing your social sites, don't worry, I'm going to show you some secrets about social sites, that I've learned just by my own experience.

Disclaimer:
This will not be a lecture for advanced social sites management or marketing. This is just a small tutorial for cosplayer showing them what behavior is welcome and how to work on your social sites portfolio to gain followers.
And I repeat - it is not a marketing guide, I won't show any advanced marketing tools for social sites management, or give advices, that can profit companies selling merchandise.

1) Senpai companies are (mostly) on twitter


Try to work on your twitter page - I know it is hard to orient in and that the tweet length is sometimes very limitative, BUT:
Most of the companies, especially american companies, are using Twitter, so if you have cosplay from certain game developers, they are more likely to retweet you (twitter) than share you (facebook). If you tag a celebrity in your post, the celebrity will react to it with a tweet (tw) more likely than with a comment (fb,ig). The same goes for all bigger companies, just look at screens, even I have very little following on twitter, the companies and celebrities still react on twitter much more likely.
For example: Payday 2, Overkill studio, Heroes of the Storm official, 3M, Valkia, Carolina Ravassa, Jen Cohn, Might and Magic official, ...
And from a simple comment, you can extend the communication with important people further and maybe get new contacts or cooperations.























2) Your followers need you to communicate with them

This is one of the most important things! Speak with your followers, engage in discussion or conversation!

I've spoken with a cosplayer, that was really sad/pissed about her follower count, she even said it is unfair, because she is making much higher quality cosplay then cosplayers with much higher follower count. So I looked at her page.

Even she was making content interesting enough for her followers to comment, she did not respond to anyone who commented, even when it was a clear question. She didn't even press the simple like to let them know she's read it.
It can be excused if you have thousands of people on your social site, but if you have one comment by each post, it can be managed pretty easily.

And guys, if you don't have time to answer everything or react to every post, just let your followers know you've noticed them by pressing a simple like or writing a general comment for everyone. Or just ask a friend if he/she can help you with management.


3) Post (not so) frequently


Finding the right time and amount of posts on each social site can be a difficult task, but I can tell you what works for me:
- Post once a day/two days/regularly - posting once a day keeps people informed about what you do and it does not spam them (facebook, instagram). If you have more content to share, make instagram stories (they work!) or post more on twitter or google+.
- Do not post more than two posts a day (on facebook) - Even you post something interesting, people get spammed by you and they unlike AND you kill the reach of your posts. Save it for later or make instagram stories.
- Plan in advance - If you are working on a project you are excited about, do not post only your project. Plan in advance, make your content diverse not to bore or spam your fans too much with the same content. I dislike when cosplayers post every centimeter of progress on their cosplay everyday, it is spamming people and we do not like spam.
- Post your content in time peaks of your audience - Each community has it's time peaks - it is the time when most people are online and can see your posts. Also, post approximatelly in the same time - people love regularity and they will start to get used to see your post everyday at the same time and maybe will be excited about it.


4) Use all the channels you can

Posting on your page is normal, but what about sharing your content to discussion sites, viral sites or facebook groups? You never know what can bring you more exposition!

5) Instagram stories


I know it can be just a popular thing, but a lot of people watch ONLY instagram stories. Make them interesting, informing, exciting, enjoyable and lure poeple to know more about you on your pages. Be like-worthy!
And of course, successful IG story brings a lot of messages - answer them! People took time to write a message to you, so you can take time to at least push the heart button.


6) Widen your audience by speaking english


I am so disappointed when I see a page of a cosplayer I like, but he/she speaks in language I don't understand.  By speaking english, you can reach much more people and be at once interesting for abroad companies and events.
I do not say you have to use english, but it is a possible way to widen your audience.
Don't be discouraged by naysayers looking for mistakes in your english or telling you you don't have right to use english on your page. It is your page and the language you're using is totally up to you!

7) Tagging, hashtags and post contents


There is a big difference in reach of content and it really matters HOW you present the content, so there are some tips and tricks for you:
- Short videos work
- Short decription = bigger reach
- Posts work better without links (and tags and hashtags on facebook)
- Picture makes any post better
- Important info should be inside the picture (ppl don't read description mostly)
- Tags make the reach worse
- Hashtags are good only for some sites - for example hashtags are great for IG, bad for FB, use them in limited numbers even on IG.

8) DO QUALITY CONTENT


Be careful, that by quality content can different people see different things. Some see quality content as a post that has the most likes. I see the quality content as something, that present yourself in a good light and gives back something to the people following you.
If you want to know, how the content you make influences your social media - you can always look in you engagement, likes and clicks breakdown on your pages (be careful you have to have a business profile on some social sites).

What is a quality content:

- Bringing back something to your fans: 
Giveaways, knowledge sharing (including WIPs, progress, materials used, ...), simple thank you posts

- Good quality presentation of your work:
professional cosplay photos, quality progress pictures with described materials, HQ videos of your cosplay, showing off your contruction of the cosplay or WIPs on good and detailed pics

- Humorous/viral stuff:
funny stuff that happened to you, memes or parodies. Be careful, since the line between funny and awkward is very thin and also it should be something not very regular.

- Your ideas or experiences:
sharing your ideas, experience or opinions can be sometimes little tricky - especially if you have controversila opinion. But still it is a high quality content since it is your original idea

- Traditional cosplay things like:
Before and after, in and out of the cosplay, makeup tests, material reviews, cooperations with companies, merchandise info, event info, ...


What is not a quality content:



- Selfies with friends & famous people:

People are not interested in who did you met if you are not writing more about that meeting - it has to have a meaning or story behind it to be more interesting. Random selfies are usually not a high quality content for a social site and they tend to have low quality (more in the blurred event pics).

- Random or blurred pictures from events: 

People want to see higher quality pics, not a blurred something on a grained picture made by a low quality phone camera.

- Suggestive or untasteful pics

I have to say that again - there is a traditional connection of cosplay and sexuality, that I do not like and I do not support. A lot of cosplayers go the easy way in making cosplays thinking about gaining followers through sexuality and showing off their body. We all know cosplay is very often connected to sexual themes and a lot of famous cosplayers show a lot of their body, but it does not mean you have to do the same.
And there is another thing - doing for example budoir shoots tastefully is really hard. It is hard to capture the body in a feeling or mood. And I've already seen some revealing cosplay shoots, that went wrong in different ways - cosplayer looks like she/he doesn't wanna be photographed or is ashamed of herself (I've seen a christmas casual photoshoot, where the model had only panties and sweater on and the poses were so awkward it seemed like she didn't even wanted to be photographed like this - if you are not comfortable doing it, do not do it), or the mood of the shoot went completely wrong because the cosplay was too suggestive, or the posing was bad (pic)... There are so many things, that can go bad. To make that simple - a lot of cosplayers think they can show exposed body and get likes, but they end up disappointed, because they have shown everything with only a little outcome. Think only about Christmas lingerie photoshoots - how many cosplayers have you seen doing it, taht looked really well thinked through, prepared and well photographed?
Suggestive or untasteful content can be something that keeps away the people interested in your work and lures people interested to see more of your body naked. When I've seen a cosplayer showing off her cosplay by sitting with her legs opened and her tiny underpants showing, I was already not interested in more of her work and closed her page - and I do not even remember who it was, since I've seen it on some kind of cosplay repost page.

- Bitching, crybabying, being rude:
I'm sorry I had to say that like this, but this is just a reminder, that if you share your ideas or opinions, you can always do it tastefully and respectfully to others. You don't have to mention anyone doing something negative, you can always tell the sentence unoffensively.
I do not want you to not speak about your opinions, but find the way how to do it without hurting anyone in process.

- Be careful about doing awkward stuff when aspiring to make viral content:
You never know what goes viral, but do not do something you would never find funny just because you are dreaming about doing viral stuff.

- Repetitive posts
Repetitive posts (showing the same stuff from different angles, showing progress pictures, where you made only 5 cm of embroidery on each, showing pics of your behind body saying you'vve just made pants too often, giving away one thing every day - prolonged giveaway) can be viewed as spamming and annoying. Keep away from them.
Go the right way
Photo: Milos Mlady photography


I hope this article helped you realizing what you are doing wrong/well on your social sites or helped you maybe think about the content you do and what do you want to achieve on your page. :)
And just a last disclaimer - Opinions in this article are just my opinions, I do not want to hurt anyone and I didn't even try to make an article about boosting  the followers on your page. It is just an article about tips and tricks and my opinions about what is right to do ;)


This article was made with support of my Patrons on my Patreon! There will be no time doing this without them!
I hope this article will be useful for someone and if yes, you can follow my work on cosplay (and other stuff) on my FACEBOOK PAGE or TWITTER or INSTAGRAM.

And if you like this stuff I do, you can support my work by donating on my PATREON.


Yours
Germia




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