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Interview with Digital Sculptor Paul Braddock

Posted by on in Artists

Why did you choose Ultimaker2?


I weighed up the pros and cons of the currently available consumer offerings, I needed something I could use for a range of projects from small scale to large, something that wasn't costly to run, and most importantly offered good surface quality. I spent weeks and weeks searching the web for quality printed examples. I was initially planning to go down the curable resin based path, but at the time there was a very long wait for the unit I had in mind, and further investigation led me to believe it might not allow me to do some of the projects I was planning.

The original Ultimaker had a good user base and web presence, with a good reputation for higher resolutions, reliability, and a good sized build volume. I still hadn't committed to it entirely, but then the Ultimaker 2 was announced, fully assembled with a heated bed, good specs and for less money than some of the other options I was looking at. I took the plunge and ordered one. 


What has been the longest time that you have had the Ultimaker2 print for?


I've printed a number of parts well over 24 hours in print time. As I type this I have a part that's been running for about 40 hours at 0.06mm layer height without issue. I can leave it unattended while I sleep or go to work.


Have you had any issues with the machine?


I had an issue with under extrusion. Under extrusion means not enough material is flowing through the nozzle caused by one or more possible reasons. This can result in missing, inconsistent layers, or at worse, a completely failed print. The user forum at is an invaluable resource for troubleshooting, the user base is passionate and willing to help each member get the best results from their printers. The Ultimaker team also have a presence on the forum and are usually quick to respond to questions.

To get around my particular issue with under extrusion, I concluded most of the issues came from tension on the material before it enters the feeder. I opted to do away with the stock rear mounted spool holder and printed my own design, it's a simple A frame type setup that uses a roller with ball bearings for zero friction material feeding. Since doing this, I've been able to print consistently for days at a time non stop.

Another cause was some play in the bowden tube causing it to become unseated from the hotend, this promoted some catching during retractions and subsequent blockage, but once diagnosed it was an easy fix.





Was there much of a learning curve from getting your 3D Geometry to printing on the Ultimaker2?


I didn't find the learning curve to be particularly difficult, once you're familiar with some basic 3D printing principals and requirements, it's pretty easy to prepare your models to suit. 


Are you able to have intersecting geometry in your final model?

Yes, there's an option in cura to ignore and combine internal cavities, but typically I use Dynamesh in ZBrush anyway so usually I'm only dealing with single skin, water tight objects.


Top 3 tips for preparing your geometry before printing


  1. For complex shapes, I generally cut models into parts, and when possible give myself a flat bottom to print from. It's not 100% necessary all the time, but certainly makes things easier. 

  2. Look at your overhangs and decide the best way to approach them. Free tools like mesh mixer offer a decent support generation method outside of cura, but I often find making my own custom ones in Maya is more direct and successful.

  3. Make sure any small features you want to be printed are large enough and clearly defined. Thin fragile parts can break off, or at least not print smoothly. The UM2 has a nozzle size of 0.4mm and this has a bearing on how small your parts or features can be.





How much time do you spend polishing the final model and what equipment do you use?


This depends entirely on what I'll use it for. I generally print things at 60 microns which gives a good finish right off the printer, this means the only cleanup work I need to do is remove supports (if used) and smooth out the overhung surfaces. I use a Dremel for this usually. I only print with PLA so acetone cannot be used for smoothing, however brushing on a small amount of MEK helps to blend in print layers, but care is needed as this substance is quite toxic and can blind you if it gets in your eye!

If I've printed in parts, I use Aves Apoxie sculpt to fill the seams.


Have you hand painted any 3D Prints, if so what are your preferred paints?


So far, the only painting I've done as been with metal based paints, that is paint with fine metal powder infused. I like to use bronze, then add an antique patina, and I've also used Iron. The Iron is cool because it'll rust with a solution of bleach and vinegar. Dry brushing the high points makes for a great worn metal look as a finishing touch.





What are you working on next?

I'm a real sci fi fan, currently working on a replica 1:1 scale Terminator Endoskull bust. I've seen a few printed on the web, but they're all pretty horrible, and none are accurate. When this is done I'll be aiming for a full reproduction chrome finish, I do not want this piece to look at all 3D printed, so that will be the challenge.

There's some other things in the works too that I'm keeping quiet for now.



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