In March 2020, my husband bought a 3D printer.
We’re both big geeks but he’s a bit geekier than me. He plays Dungeons and dragons, Starfinder and Pathfinder – these are all table top role play games.
He wanted to be able to print his own mini figs to use during gaming.
Then Corona Virus hit.
The UK government announced a UK wide lock down, and suddenly the 3D printer became something to channel my creativity into whilst my photography business was on hold. We’re not looking to make a business from this, just to make people smile and gain a new experience.
Watch the video below learn more about how we make a 3D print.
I had a really down day yesterday, and then this arrived.
Thank you so much, Jemima.
You have no idea how much this means to me.
By lovely coincidence today, I saw two swans on the river making a heart shape (no photo, didn’t have my phone on me) then got home to find this beautiful 3d printed heart from Jemima Willcox who made it for me as part of the #viralkindness movement.
Coupled with the clapping for the NHS last night, by the way people are coming together to support the vulnerable in our communities and the selflessness of all who choose to work providing essential services to us, I’m thinking (and forgive me if this sounds super sentimental) that, like Hugh Grant says in the movie, “If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.”
How does this all work?
We use an Elegoo Mars resin printer.
This type of 3D printer uses “mask stereolithography” (MSLA). This is a form of 3D printing used for creating models in a layer-by-layer fashion, using a special type of resin that hardens (or “cures”) when exposed to UV light.
These layers of hardened resin are built up layer by layer. The resin sits in a vat with a transparent base, and below that is an LCD screen that projects UV light.
A build plate gets lowered into the vat and sits just above the bottom of the tank, so there’s just a thin layer of resin between it and the bottom of the tank.
The screen then lights up and displays a shape in UV light, and this causes the resin sitting directly over the lit up shape to harden in a thin layer and stick to the build plate.
The build plate then gets moved up a tiny bit and it does it again, but this time the new layer of resin sticks to the previous layer – and this gets repeated over and over until the final model is finished.
To get the layer-by-layer instructions, you need to use a special program called a slicer – this takes a 3D file and “slices” it into the required layers, and the 3D printer uses these to create the model.
Once it’s finished printing, the model gets cleaned in isopropyl alcohol to clean any wet, uncured resin off and then we expose it to more UV light (aka the sun) to ensure it’s completely cured.
frequently asked questions
How long does it take from print to delivery?
This really depends on how complicated the print is, and what colour you’re looking to have it printed in.
On average it will take around five to seven working days from receipt of the file to receiving the finished article.
What colours can you print in?
How much does it cost?
Depending on the time it takes to make, and the materials involved we’d provide you with a bespoke quote.
Can you design me something?
I’m sure we could definitely try! It’ll really depend on what you want. We’ll do our best to make it happen or find someone who can help.
Are you helping front line staff with PPE?
We don’t have medical-grade resin and a lot of PPE prints are bigger than our printer can do. Most of the PPE prints are being done on a different type of 3D printer called an ‘FDM’ printer.
It’s really disappointing for us we can’t make PPE for people but we’re trying in our own way to help.
Is there anything you can't make?
We’re restricted on the size of what we can print. The Elegoo Mars has a build volume (where the item is printed) which is 4.53in x 2.56in x5.9 in or 11.5cm x 6.5cm x 15cm.
We are also avoiding PPE as we don’t have medical-grade resin and a lot of PPE prints are bigger than our printer can do. Most of the PPE prints are being done on a different type of 3D printer called an ‘FDM’ printer.
What file format do you need?
If it’s a 2D image like a logo, we will need this in SVG format.
If you have a 3D design, this can be in OBJ or STL format.
If you’re not sure how to create these files, let us know and we’ll help.
How will I receeive my item?
To make this easy for you, we’d appreciate it if you sent us a stamped addressed envelope.
For most items, a 1st or 2nd class large letter stamp will be fine.
In the press
We’ve been featured on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire talking all about how we started 3D printing, how it works and what we’re doing for our community.
Check out the video to hear the full interview.
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