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I’m actually got through all of my Makerboxes before the new one comes! After testing the February filament samples only a couple of weeks ago, I now found time to go through the March 2021 Makerbox Everything filaments. The Makerbox everything is a monthly subscription that includes eight samples of filament. Four of the filaments are easy to print and usually from the same manufacturer. The other four filaments are generally more exotic and come from a variety of manufacturers. In this post, I’ll share my results printing the samples from the March 2021 box.
Makerbox Easy Prints
FilaCube provided four samples of PLA2 for this month’s easy prints. I’ve used PLA2 filament from FilaCube previously and have been quite happy. FilaCube’s PLA2 was used to print my PyPortal Star Trek Clock. Their website says they focus on consistency. I will admit I find their filament to be very consistent and easy to print.
The four colors of PLA2 included in the Makerbox were: Iced Coffee, Leather Brown, Olive Green, and Classic Blue. Classic Blue was the 2020 Pantone color of the year. After looking at the four colors, my youngest son said it looked like colors that someone would use to make Loki. I have to admit he has a point.
The Makerbox recommended the following slicer settings for testing the samples:
- Hotend Temp: 180 – 230 C
- Bed Temp: Less than 40 C
- Speed: Not specified
I chose to print my temp towers between 200 – 220 C. I did use a bed temp of 50C. I know they recommend 40C or lower. But I have my basement very cool right now, and I couldn’t get any prints to stick under 50C. I used both my Ender 3 Pro and Ender 3 V2 to print the temp towers. The temp towers for all four samples looked great. A couple of the towers had some very light stringing on the bottom level. But that was so light that it rubbed off with no problem. I printed the temp towers and other test models at 50mms.
I used scaled-down versions of tikis created by Hex3D. I printed each of the pieces shown at either 210C or 215C. I didn’t see any difference in quality between the two different temps. The samples were all sliced using Prusa Slicer with a .12mm layer height. All of the tikis printed beautifully.
If you look at one of the blue tikis, you will see that I ran out of filament. I kept that to show how nicely the filament was printing the infill. You might also notice the green temp tower is short. After printing the tikis, I realized I forgot to temp tower that particular color. I ran out of filament before I could get a whole tower out.
Overall I have to say this lineup of easy filaments is by far one of the best I’ve gotten from the Makerbox. All of the samples printed great, and the color selection is stunning.
Here is a closup of the larger tikis:
Makerbox Explorer Prints
As usual, Makerbox provided four more interesting, or more challenging, prints in their Explorer lineup. Here is a brief look at each of these four filaments.
Polycast from Polymaker
This first one was weird. I wasn’t sure what to do with it at first. It is a product called Polycast from Polymaker. This product appears to be aimed at creating injection mold casts. That is a topic I’m interested in but currently have no way to test. So I decided to treat it like a standard filament.
The recommended slicer settings for this filament are:
- Hotend Temp: 190 – 220 C
- Bed Temp: Room – 60 C
- Speed 40 – 60 mms
- Cooling: Yes
- Other: Dry filament prior to use
I dried the filament in my dehydrator at 60C for 12 hours before using it. The temp tower was printed between 200 – 220 C, with a bed temp of 60C. The temp tower came out very nice at all levels. It printed very consistently and seemed quite durable.
As a test print, I chose to print a Mini Stay Puft created by Chaos Core Tech. It came out as an almost perfect print. Plus, it has a lovely gloss finish to it. I may not currently be doing any casting, but if I do, Polycast will be at the front of my mind for filaments to use.
In the picture above, there is also a little triangle thing. I wondered how well this would do for printing translucent items. It did great. I may use that as my new test diffuser when breadboarding LEDs.
U-HIPS Party Pink from Closed Loop Plastics
Sometimes I have no problems with these test filaments. And well, sometimes I have significant issues. This next filament from Closed Loop Plastics started out being quite a challenge. This U-HIPS filament is created by recycling plastic from cups and lids. I love the idea of a filament made in such a way. Plus, the Party Pink color looked pretty cool.
The recommended settings for this filament was:
- Hotend Temp: 220 – 240 C
- Bed Temp: 100 C
- Speed: 24-45 mms
- Cooling: none – low
- Other: Enclosure and ventilation advised
I printed this on my Ender 3 V2, which is in an enclosure. I printed the temp tower between 220-240C and a bed temp of 100C. My first two attempts at a temp tower towards the bottom. In both cases, I lost adhesion to the bed. On the third attempt, I warmed my bed for a good fifteen to twenty minutes with the heat bed at 100C before printing. That seemed to work for adhesion. As the tower then printed the whole way through. But, the tower looked rough as heck. The overhangs were going all over the place, and even the tower parts of the tower were not even close to smooth. I decided to stop trying temp tower and try an actual print.
I chose to print a Pennywise Tiki designed by Hex3D. This file printed beautifully. I printed at a layer height of .12 mm and a speed of 40mms. The details all showed up perfectly. More importantly, the parts that were supposed to be smooth were, in fact, smooth.
Here is a look at the prints:
There is one big difference between the temp tower and the tiki prints. I used different slicers for each. The temp towers were created using Cura. I modified a PLA profile in Cura to meet the U-HIPS requirements. To do the tiki, I used Prusa Slicer. In Prusa Slicer, I started with a PETG profile and modified it accordingly.
This situation is a good reminder of why it is essential to use different slicers and techniques when dealing with various filaments. With this filament, I had feared at first that it would be useless to me. In the end, I found myself wanting a whole roll of this very cool color.
Thermochromatic PLA from Sandoz
The recommended settings for this filament were:
- Hotend Temp: 180 – 210 C
- Bed Temp: Room – 60C
- Cooling: 100%
I printed a temp tower from 190-210C, with a bed temp of 60C. The temp tower came out very nicely. I wish I had taken a picture of it at first. It was initially all kind of a white color when coming off the bed. But if you look at the tower now, it is a greyish type of color. The tower would start to slowly turn white when I would touch it with my hand.
As a test print, I chose to print a Mythosaur Tiki designed by Hex3D. A layer height of .12mm and speed of 50mms were selected from Prusa Slicer for the model. It printed out almost perfectly. A tiny version of it didn’t print quite as nicely, but I think that was honestly too small for that model.
Here is a look at the prints:
I then chose to test the color changing. The following few pictures show what happened after holding the right side of the model (as pictured) with my hand. Unfortunately, it is way too cloudy in South Dakota right now to test the sun-activating color changes.
The above color change happens quite slowly. It is kina interesting to watch the process happen. This is a filament I might keep in mind. I might use this to make some of the Hex3D mugs. That would be cool.
Matte Fiber HTPLA from Proto-pasta
Last but not least, is a sample of Matte Fiber HTPLA from Poto-pasta. This sample included looks like the Mahogany it is named after. It even feels like natural wood. I’ve always been impressed with filament I’ve tried from Proto-pasta, but I think they outdid themselves this time. Yes, I love this filament.
The recommended settings for this filament were:
- Hotend Temp: 195 – 220 C
- Bed Temp: 0 – 60C
- Speed 25 – 45 mms
- Cooling: Yes
I printed my temp tower between 200-220C, with a bed temp of 60C. There was some very slight stringing on the back of the temp tower, especially on the higher/hotter levels. But the bottom layer, 200C, was almost perfect.
I chose to print some Chewie tikis designed by Hex3D to test the filament. They all printed perfectly with a hotend temp of 200C. The best compliment I got with these prints was one of my kids asking if I carved them on the CNC mill. The picture below does not portray just how much they look like authentic wood carvings.
I think by far, this was my favorite filament from this month’s Explorer lineup. I plan to make refrigerator magnets using this filament and selling them at Cons and online. I could see this being a big seller!
Final Thoughts on Makerbox Explorer
It is evident from the previous paragraph that the Matte Fiber HTPLA from Proto-pasta was my favorite. But the Thermochromatic PLA from Sandoz was a very close second. I could see using both of these filaments for little trinkets to sell at cons and in the online store (coming soon).
Bonus Timelapse Video
I was doing videos of the day previously. Now I’ve decided to change that to show off various timelapse videos from prints I’ve done. This one is a print I did of an I Dream of Jeannie Bottle designed by Hex3D. The filament is Pink Grapefruit PETG from GreenGate3D. This filament was made for prints like this! There is a picture of the finished product after the video. The picture does not do this model justice, though (I need to get a photo booth set up sooner than later). It came out beautifully.