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Learning as I go 3D printing nests


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#1 Offline starcraftjunkie - Posted December 1 2017 - 9:19 PM

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Hello all,

 

My university has a decent 3D printer that collects dust and the people who bought it said I can use it free of charge (minus what ever filament I have to add). So what better way to learn how to 3D print through trial and error than building ant colonies!

 

Currently I am in the works in making my own plans through SketchUp and I am almost done: however, for learning how to use it I've been using free stl files (3d printing file type) off the web. I am using a Afinia H400 3D printer and has a 4.7"x4.7"x4.7" building platform. The included filament is ABS, however due to warping issues, I recently purchased some PLA filament that should arrive on 12/3/17.

 

Here are my trial and errors until I get something nice and presentable, as well as testing to see if they're even good for anything. I currently do not own any ants, but hope to get something soon, just don't have the time or the money to get a colony just yet. :(

 

ABS PLASTIC

 

Pwukm3d.jpg

 

Here is my first free design I printed. I have a couple of them due to reprinting. I eventually got them in acceptable shape. It's a modular design, where you can add cross roads, covers, test tubes, tubing etc. to it in any configuration you want. I think it's about 3x3 inches for nest area.

 

ZWt7GCa.jpg

 

 

 

Here is the second design, it's modular as well. These smaller ones go much easier because there less to mess up and they print pretty fast. This one is smaller at around 1.5"x2.5" or so.

 

Qp8NwOP.jpg

 

And this next one is the same one, but with some modular pieces on it.

1TfgXzL.jpg

 

v7Ropj0.jpg

 

I have a third design, but no pictures. I will take some soon as well as all the modular pieces. Again, I don't claim to be the owners of the original plan files, however I am almost done with my own design. If people post any interest, I'll keep on going. Also, willing to take any requests to design for any species (within reason). Just wanna test out and have fun.


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#2 Offline MegaMyrmex - Posted December 2 2017 - 8:35 AM

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One word-
AWESOME! Looks pretty good for Camponotus sp.
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#3 Offline starcraftjunkie - Posted December 2 2017 - 10:26 AM

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One word-
AWESOME! Looks pretty good for Camponotus sp.

Thanks, give me some ideas for different species and I'll make em when my new plastic comes! I think my next home made design will be for a tetramorium farm, which I believe requires more humidity. I also want to finish off my home made Camponotus nest that looks fancy.

 

 

Here are some extra modular pieces I was talking about in the original post.

 

9tY0OaE.jpg

Pay no attention to my photo bombing cat

YwWm7fR.jpg

 

 

 

Here is the last design, it's not modular, however it does have different configurations and also a mesh on the bottom to allow water to be placed in a tray and wick up through a medium and create humidity. This is the largest one at almost 4"x4"x2"

 

w2S1nwq.jpg

kGh7KIL.jpg


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#4 Offline MegaMyrmex - Posted December 2 2017 - 5:57 PM

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All I can say that this is PAWesome and I don't think that any ant colonies will escape or some other CATastrophe! Sorry, can't help eith the puns😁 they look better and you might be able to make a founding nest module too
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#5 Offline starcraftjunkie - Posted December 2 2017 - 9:57 PM

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All I can say that this is PAWesome and I don't think that any ant colonies will escape or some other CATastrophe! Sorry, can't help eith the puns they look better and you might be able to make a founding nest module too


Hey stop kittening right meow, I'm trying to be serious and this is not the purrfect time for silly puns!

A founding chamber huh? I wonder if a 3d printed founding chamber would be worth it over a test tube. I guess having a modular one that's a super small chamber that you can fill the sides with water medians up with. A founding chamber would cost like 25 cents to make lol

#6 Offline MaxGen - Posted December 3 2017 - 8:17 AM

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I bought a Creality CR-10 this summer and have been playing around whith prints much like you. 

 

Printing the nests is easy, completing them with a well sealed top is a bit harder.  I bought a small sheet of acrylic and have been using a scoring tool and snapping them.  It's never a perfect fit, but I found I can sand down the edges to get it to work.  Also, many of the port holes are metric (European).  I drill out the holes to make them fit our North American tubing.

 

Was tempted to buy a laser cutter to pump out the tops, but they are expensive.

 

I haven't seen the .stl for the second (small) nest you posted above.  Would you mind posting the link? 



#7 Offline noebl1 - Posted December 3 2017 - 8:35 AM

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I've been using glass (instead of acrylic) for the top, and design the top around the glass sizes I can get.  To help with the snugness, I also added 1mm strips (shown below in red) on all 4 sides I can trim to compensate for the for the subtle differences in the glass sizes.  I'm still learning, but here's one of my runs from this post http://www.formicult...carium/?p=45551 :

 

Screenshot from 2016 12 04 10 42 20

IMG 20161204 103413

 

 

I tried it with my tetramorium this year, but:

  1. Was too early  as still a small colony
  2. This design was a bit too humid I think for them
  3. My older printer I used to print this had too much Z variation so had enough gaps they occasionally could get stuck as such a small ant. 

 

Next iteration on the new printer will be with less space for the hydrostone and better handle the flushness for the glass.  Also lower on the height as will use small diameter tubing for these guys.


Edited by noebl1, December 3 2017 - 8:41 AM.

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#8 Offline Noah Norman - Posted December 3 2017 - 10:36 AM

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A problem I think you will face is that when you try and connect a new piece to where the ants are living, because once you take that block of they will start storming out, and you won't be able to connect it without killing some.

#9 Offline noebl1 - Posted December 3 2017 - 11:44 AM

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A problem I think you will face is that when you try and connect a new piece to where the ants are living, because once you take that block of they will start storming out, and you won't be able to connect it without killing some.

 

I had seen the modular nests designs on Thingiverse, and came to this conclusion too.  The tolerances of my printer at the time weren't too good, so having pieces perfectly slide past each other wasn't something I could do.  I also was looking to print them before I actually kept any ants, and started to release the pros and cons of them, especially after now seeing how fast they can be...  For now I have I have been experimenting with presized holes for tubing, and then can add/remove stoppers.  I've seen some other really clever designs on this forum too so love these kinds of posts :D


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#10 Offline starcraftjunkie - Posted December 3 2017 - 1:14 PM

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I bought a Creality CR-10 this summer and have been playing around whith prints much like you. 
 
Printing the nests is easy, completing them with a well sealed top is a bit harder.  I bought a small sheet of acrylic and have been using a scoring tool and snapping them.  It's never a perfect fit, but I found I can sand down the edges to get it to work.  Also, many of the port holes are metric (European).  I drill out the holes to make them fit our North American tubing.
 
Was tempted to buy a laser cutter to pump out the tops, but they are expensive.
 
I haven't seen the .stl for the second (small) nest you posted above.  Would you mind posting the link?

  


I'm at work, when I'm done I'll post it. I hope my design I'm making is better than the ones that are floating on the internet.

For the top, I was going to warp it with a heat source to try and make it fit well.

A problem I think you will face is that when you try and connect a new piece to where the ants are living, because once you take that block of they will start storming out, and you won't be able to connect it without killing some.

 

The modular pieces slide all the way through, to avoid killing and escapes, I'll ready the other piece and slide both through so the old one is replaced at the same time as the new one. I have no ants at the moment so I can't actually test this theory.

 

I've been using glass (instead of acrylic) for the top, and design the top around the glass sizes I can get.  To help with the snugness, I also added 1mm strips (shown below in red) on all 4 sides I can trim to compensate for the for the subtle differences in the glass sizes.  I'm still learning, but here's one of my runs from this post http://www.formicult...carium/?p=45551 :
 


 
 
I tried it with my tetramorium this year, but:

  • Was too early  as still a small colony
  • This design was a bit too humid I think for them
  • My older printer I used to print this had too much Z variation so had enough gaps they occasionally could get stuck as such a small ant. 
 
Next iteration on the new printer will be with less space for the hydrostone and better handle the flushness for the glass.  Also lower on the height as will use small diameter tubing for these guys.

Looks good, I was thinking about doing something like this where it's sandwiched between. My printer isn't very big so I usually tend to make smaller ones so if I avoid making the frame out of plastic, I could maximize and add extra pieces that are printed a separate pieces to make a large one and then use wood frames or something to hold it.

#11 Offline starcraftjunkie - Posted December 4 2017 - 9:44 AM

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Got my new spool, got it rigged up so I can print a 3D filament spool holder because the one it comes from only accepts 500g spools. This PLA plastic is like 10 times better than ABS, I'm really excited and happy to start making stuff.

 

 

I bought a Creality CR-10 this summer and have been playing around whith prints much like you. 

 

Printing the nests is easy, completing them with a well sealed top is a bit harder.  I bought a small sheet of acrylic and have been using a scoring tool and snapping them.  It's never a perfect fit, but I found I can sand down the edges to get it to work.  Also, many of the port holes are metric (European).  I drill out the holes to make them fit our North American tubing.

 

Was tempted to buy a laser cutter to pump out the tops, but they are expensive.

 

I haven't seen the .stl for the second (small) nest you posted above.  Would you mind posting the link? 

https://www.thingive...m/thing:2377968


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#12 Offline noebl1 - Posted December 4 2017 - 10:05 AM

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I gave up on ABS a year or so ago as 1. Fumes 2. Needs a good enclosure to keep it warm so it doesn't warp/break on large prints 3. Doesn't adhere well to the bed.  PLA is a dream in comparison :D   I've been doing some prints in PETG lately; stronger than PLA similar to ABS, but less fumes and easier to print.  However reserving that for stuff that needs it (like printer parts).  All my ant stuff has been PLA.


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#13 Offline starcraftjunkie - Posted December 4 2017 - 11:45 AM

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I gave up on ABS a year or so ago as 1. Fumes 2. Needs a good enclosure to keep it warm so it doesn't warp/break on large prints 3. Doesn't adhere well to the bed.  PLA is a dream in comparison :D   I've been doing some prints in PETG lately; stronger than PLA similar to ABS, but less fumes and easier to print.  However reserving that for stuff that needs it (like printer parts).  All my ant stuff has been PLA.

Even with an enclosed system and a heated bed, ABS still warps on large and sometimes even on smaller prints. I'm making some PLA nests right now as a test and I like the shiny texture and the fact it doesn't smell like burning plastic all the time. No warping at all, I love it.

 

PETG, does it cost a lot more? I got hatchbbox firmament from Amazon and it's been doing just fine. I just don't like that it doesn't fit in the old spool holder, I am holding the spool up on a rod using duct tape.


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#14 Offline noebl1 - Posted December 4 2017 - 12:42 PM

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PETG, does it cost a lot more? I got hatchbbox firmament from Amazon and it's been doing just fine. I just don't like that it doesn't fit in the old spool holder, I am holding the spool up on a rod using duct tape.

 

 

 

I printed for 2 years mostly ABS and was a pita.  I had so many bed sticking issues, and got tired of using a slurry with acetone or expensive PEI sheets (they've come down in price a lot the last year.)  My first PLA print I couldn't believe how easy it was :)

 

Depends on the brand, usually reasonably close in cost, but can be a bit more.  I've been using Hatchbox as well and find it works fine.   It's not worth printing in PETG for ants IMHO as PLA prints easier, and doesn't need the higher temp support or strength I find.


Edited by noebl1, December 4 2017 - 12:47 PM.


#15 Offline starcraftjunkie - Posted December 6 2017 - 12:27 PM

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PLA PLASTIC

 

 

So, my PLA plastic came in. Impressed with it but gotta tweak it. Made some new stuff with it, almost done with my design though. Decided on a tetramroium because I've been showing too much love for Camponotus sp. I am curious though, would anyone buy these? I know I can't sell the ones I didn't design, but I'd be willing to design a custom one for people. Just not sure if there is a market for it.

 

These ones are much smaller. They were my first runs for the new plastic and don't look good because I didn't have the settings right.

hLJSq53.jpg

 

 

pxYPqMh.jpg

 

 

 

 

Here is after some tweeking and I produced something near production quality. I was really happy how this one turned out and felt like I made some progress. This one is much larger. Only tweek I would do is not make it hollow because the top supports sagged down. If I fixed that, it would look really great.

RMZUfdC.jpg

 

Fixed the warping bottom with this new material, very pleased with it.

 

bpsY6Op.jpg


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#16 Online T.C. - Posted December 6 2017 - 12:29 PM

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that's awesome. I love how you can hook them together.


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#17 Offline Mettcollsuss - Posted December 6 2017 - 7:44 PM

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Hey, I've tried designing formicaria on SketchUp before. I've got it all figured out except for the holes. How do you make the sideways holes for tube connections?

Currently Keeping:

  • 1 Brachymyrmex Depilis (Rover Ant)
  • 1 Camponotus nearcticus (Carpenter Ant)
  • 2 Formica subsericea
  • 1 Unidentified Formica species
  • 1 Unidentified Myrmicine genus
  • 1 Unidentified Lasius species
  • 3 Tetramorium sp.E (Pavement Ant)
  • 1 Aphaenogaster sp.
  • 1 Ponera pennsylvanica
  • Various Fish
  • Clea helena (Assassin Snail)
  • 2 Phodopus roborovskii (Roborovski Dwarf Hamster)
  • 5 Felis catus (Domestic Cat)
  • 2 Younger Brothers

#18 Offline starcraftjunkie - Posted December 7 2017 - 11:13 AM

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Hey, I've tried designing formicaria on SketchUp before. I've got it all figured out except for the holes. How do you make the sideways holes for tube connections?

For which design?

 

Also, give me a picture of it. It might need to be redone. SketchUp's push pull tool isn't the most friendliest tool to use on certain cases and shapes.



#19 Offline noebl1 - Posted December 7 2017 - 11:16 AM

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I'm slightly embarrassed to say I use Tinkercad.  I run Linux, and not many user or cost friendly options there.  I can kick out a pretty simple design pretty quickly with the Tinkercad site.



#20 Offline MonkeySword - Posted December 7 2017 - 12:27 PM

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I'm slightly embarrassed to say I use Tinkercad.  I run Linux, and not many user or cost friendly options there.  I can kick out a pretty simple design pretty quickly with the Tinkercad site.

 

Many of my first designs were done in TinkerCad and it is pretty powerful once you get past a few of it's quirks.  It is actually great if you want to make small mods to existing STLs too.  






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