3D electricity

leddriver21Opqrstu3D specialises on 12 volt LED light. Until now, I could only build lights which use over 2.5 watts of power. This, because the smallest LED drivers were constant current. For under 2.5 watt, you need constant voltage. It’s too technical to explain here; read this on Wikipedia if you want to know more.

Some weeks ago, I discovered a relatively small constant voltage LED driver on AliExpress. Normally, you have to buy a minimum of 500 pieces, but this little Chinese princess was available in any amount. I ordered 10 pieces and three days ago they arrived. I tested them and they do what they have to do. Now, opqrstu3D will start building (new) lights based on this new driver. Some of the light shades are already printed and most of them will be hanging from the ceiling like Thrill. All I have to do is design and print a hiding place around the new driver. This print will connect 220 volt from a ceiling to a 12 volt light bulb in an opqrstu3D printed light shade like ‘BellLight’.

BellLight © opqrstu 2016
BellLight © opqrstu 2016

print time

One of the major problems in 3D printing is the amount of time it takes to print perfect things: higher print speeds cause unwanted irregularities. So, when opqrstu3D designs things, I always try the keep them as small as possible. Sometimes this is not an option. Six months ago, I designed and printed GGJK, a wonderful light. A very small LED driver from China allowed me to design a minimal basecamp for this light. This way opqrstu3D reduced print time substantially. But an unforeseen problem arrived on the scene; the basecamp was too small to guarantee stability. GGJK could stand up, but that was it. To build a really functional GGJK, it’s basecamp needed some adaptation. Opqrstu3D talked with Gerard, 12VoltLightDesign, Schoone about this problem and he advised to design a slanting base: the base of the basecamp is big, but it gets smaller layer by layer. I tried and printed a new and very steep basecamp. Without support! Printing this thing plus lid took almost 7 hours at perimeter print speed: 20 mm/sec, layer height 0.3 mm. I am not happy with the increase in print time, but very happy with the new design, because on this basecamp GGJK gained the highly required stability.

GGJK © opqrstu 2016
GGJK © opqrstu 2016

Gary 3D

garyMeet Gary. A 3D printed light designed by Gerard Schoone.

Gerard knows a thing or two about 12 volt light design.
He asked me to print two infill only cones. A week later he amazed me with a wonderful light called Gary.

Both cones (Ø: 180 mm) are moveable, which means you can change looks and light intension.

Usually, opqrstu3D designs & 3D prints complete light systems. Gerard teaches me to design lights with a reduced amount of printed parts. Together, we see a very bright future for new 12 volt lights like Gary. This is only a beginning. The only problem, we are designers, not sellers: we need a commercial human to market our 12 volt light systems.

3D printed flexibility

Today, I printed a new version of KK001. This light has a built-in 220 to 12 volt transformer. The KK001 trafo is rather big, so the light needed a big space to hide it. The printing of this hiding place took too much time, so I started looking for a smaller transfomer and some months ago, I discovered a very small and cheap LED driver. Now, I could design and print a much smaller ground part for my lights, which I did. Opqrstu3D was very happy with it’s little Chinese princess. Until I used it with one 1 watt LED bulb only. The LED worked for 3 minutes, then it suddenly stopped. I unplugged it and tried again: the same thing happened. The LED was undamaged, but very hot. Opqrstu3D did not write about this this, because mounting a 2,5 Watt LED solved the problem. Meanwhile, I asked Frank form topledshop.com if he knew what was happening and of course he knew: This little princess produces constant current which works fine with 2.5 to 3 watts. At 1 watt only, you need a constant voltage transformer.

Last week, I bought a constant voltage 12 volt transformer at TopLedShop. Today, opqrstu3D designed and printed a hiding place around it and mounted the original KK001 light shells. Again, an example of the wonderful flexibility in 3D printed product design.

KK001 2016 © opqrstu 2016
KK001 2016 © opqrstu 2016


Today, 12 volt LED bulb’s are getting better and cheaper, but they do not run on 220 Volt. You can buy all kinds of 220 volt LED’s, but these are quite expensive. Can 3D printing help us to connect 12 volt LED’s directly to 220 volt light systems? Some posts ago, I designed and printed JellyLight. It connects a 3 Watt, 12 volt LED to a regular 220 volt home system, but is not easy to assemble/use.

Now there’s FullMoon, a very simple three parts 3D printed light. FullMoon fits easy in almost any modern living. Opqrstu3D printed it on 3D4makers transparent PET-g and tested it in the opqrstu studio. This light is much easier to assemble and has an ‘infill only’ printed light head. The ‘infill only’ structures create an organic, silky or moony look.

FullMoon © opqrstu 2016
FullMoon © opqrstu 2016

Creatr is printing on it’s original old nozzle again and as predicted: FullMoon looks perfect. For your information: a complete FullMoon needs an eleven hours print job (0.3 mm layer height). To assemble this light, you need a constant voltage 12 volt LED driver, some wires, some very small screws, two small connectors and a 3 watt/12 volt LED. Save energy!

nozzle confusion

Today, I spent four hours to get Creatr on the road again. A major and so far unknown 3D print problem occurred and the robot still refuses to do some decent printing. It started with a normal problem called clogged nozzle. Irritating, but unavoidable. Opqrstu3D solved this problems many times. Retract the filament, remove the nozzle and replace it by a clean one. (Put the clogged in acetone and clean it the next day with a needle.)

Some months ago, I ordered new nozzles. Leapfrog sent a new model and unfortunately this model did not work for Creatr 2013. Bad news, because the old model is out of production. Weeks later, when I was at Leapfrog HQ testing their new printer called Bolt, opqrstu3D asked LPFRG to look again. They did and three new, old nozzles were found. Today, I mounted one of them. After changing nozzles, it is a good idea to check if Z-axis is still okay. This was not the case, so I adjusted it. Normally, opqrstu3D does this digitally in Slic3r, but today I tried it manually. It is tricky, but I want to control my robot in every inch. I got my wrench and it took an hour to re-level the bed. I started printing again, but until now, Creatr only produced crap. Opqrstu3D changed filament, re-adjusted Z-axis and even mounted another new nozzle, but the robot refused the act normal.
Four frustrating hours after the clogged nozzle, it was time to relax and have some coffee.

nozzlesDuring coffee, I reviewed my activities, took a closer look at the spare nozzles and noticed, what might solve the problem tomorrow: new, old nozzle look like old nozzles, but they are not exactly the same! The old nozzle (right) has a pointy head, while the new, old nozzle (middle) has a rounded head, just like the already rejected new model (left).
The main problem today was a very bad first layer, the main problem with the already rejected new model was: a very bad first layer. Tomorrow, I will mount an old nozzle, adjust the Z-axis again and opqrstu3D is pretty sure: Creatr will start printing nice again.

We skip time and yes, after I mounted an old nozzle and re-leveled the print bed, Creatr is back were it belongs: printing things the way opqrstu3D wants it: almost perfect.
But there’s bad news! I contacted Leapfrog, told them this story and asked for a solution. How can I get new old model nozzles? “Impossible, these nozzles were manufactured in China and the company that made them does not exist any more.”

Opqrstu3D has only two old nozzles left. I clean them and use them again and again. One thing is sure: they do not get any better. When they are finished, Creatr becomes useless! A great, three years old, 3D printer (€ 2.100,- ) will be garbage, because a very small but essential part is no longer available! Bad news (death sentence) for the robot and everyone who still uses this robot to create wonderful things. To test Creatr on an old nozzle, opqrstu3D designed & printed a new light (next post). Leapfrog said it’s time to buy Creatr HS. Opqrstu3D thinks: “It’s a shame, but this is how the world works today: at the age of three, machines must be recycled, because it’s too expensive to support them any longer.

3dreamz titanium

One of the first lights opqrstu designed and printed on infill only settings was 3Dreamz. Creatr printed it on a Leapfrog PLA (2013). Today, my robot re-printed this ‘old’ light on a ‘new’ filament: 3D4makers PET-G (titanium). Modern opqrstu lights use LWW to connect a LED light bulb to 12 volt, so I adapted the original 3Dreamz to LWW and here’s one of the big advantages of 3D printing: it’s easy to change and print an old model in a new future.

3dreamz © opqrstu2016
3dreamz © opqrstu2016

Opqrstu exposed it’s 3D prints at K= galerie, Amsterdam. These days are gone.
Sadly, todays K= is too old fashioned to expose and sell 3D printed products.

tissue engineering: testing PLLA

3D4makers has a new filament: PLLA. It’s a PLA that might be used in new medical applications like tissue engineering. Tissue engineering is a domain in medical technology and has emerged as a promising alternative approach in the treatment of malfunctioning or lost organs where patients are treated by using their own cells, grown on a polymer support, so that a tissue part is regenerated from the natural cells.

JP Wille, the founding father of 3D4makers asked opqrstu3D to test PLLA in infill only settings. Meanwhile, Slic3r updated their infill patterns with a pattern called ‘3D Honeycomb’. This new infill pattern should, in theory, provide maximum strength in all axes while using the least amount of material to do so. Today opqrstu3D tested PLLA on ‘3D honeycomb infill only settings and the results look very promising. The prints are light weighted, very strong and looking real clear. The cube is a tissue engineering test. As the pict also shows; PLLA is also a promising filament for non-medical prints.PLLA

Tissue engineering has nothing to do with boats and ‘kroonsteentjes’, it’s about growing animal/human cells in biodegradable materials. To demonstrate the possibilities of PLLA on infill only settings, I downloaded the model of an ear and a nose by addamay123. Creatr printed slightly adapted versions on PLLA, 3D honeycomb infill only.


3D print vlog

As a blogger, I use writing and pictures to present my adventures in 3D printing. Today it’s time for something else: The first opqrstu3D vlog. I am not very happy with the quality of the movie, but it presents an additional look at 3D designing & printing your lights. Enjoy.

raspberry pi 3D

About three years ago opqrstu3D designed it’s first light: YAN.
A week ago Nick Hall wrote on 3Dprintingindustry.com: “….The energy savings on offer with this system (KCc) are substantial and it’s such a simple idea that has been turned into reality by a man that was struggling to make his 3D printer work at all. … Now he has ironed out the bugs with his Creatr and tamed his robot, Kamper and Schoen (opqrstu) are turning into a force to be reckoned with and could take the home design world by storm.”

iBook12True words.
To fast forward this storm, I wrote an eBook about my adventures in 3D LED light printing, from YAN to JellyLight:
3D Printed Light.
It’s a free download, iPad/iBook/iMac only. Opqrstu opted for this format because of it’s great 3D widgets: you can ‘touch’ and move the models around with a fingertip. Pictures freeze an object, add a 3D render and the object is much easier to imagine in the real world. Download 3D Printed Light to experience the history of opqrstu3D light design.


Meanwhile, a Raspberry PI 3 was still waiting for a nice housing. Sometime ago, Creatr printed one, but this turned out to be a PI 1 or PI 2 case. Finally, I found a nice PI 3 case by Normand on Thingiverse. The robot printed it on 3D4makers transparent PET-G.
Great design and great printing: it fits perfectly around PI, no sanding, just print & fit!

RasbHere, PI 3 controls a 360º camera. On the back you see the battery, it’s bigger than the computer. Though, together they are small enough to be carried by a camera(wo)man.
A portable data storage device completes the job.

I’m thinking of using PI 3 to control Creatr 2013. At the moment, my robot has a problem:
to print, Creatr needs to be USB connected to a computer. When this computer is a PI 3 in a 3D printed housing with a TFT screen and Wi-Fi … best kept secret: at Leapfrog they are already there: their new 3D printer BOLT has a Raspberry PI 3 inside. Your computer contacts BOLT on Raspberry by Wi-Fi. You control BOLT by changing things on the Raspberry TFT screen! Meanwhile the opqrstu robot is still USB only.