Exercise 02 > 3D Gcode

This exercise was based off of writing gcodes through a BeetleBlocks script and using them to 3D print. We tested out two different machines.

A link to a dropbox folder with all the gcode files is here



SPIRAL PENTAGON > BB gcode writer here

This 3D print was one of our first explorations and understanding of Gcode through BB. We started with a pentagone that would then slightly rotate by 5 as it stacked all of them. The beetle moves 0.05 in the Zdirection every new polygon.  We wanted to keep this simple in order to test out the GCode on the Lulzabot. By creating a shift at each layer, we start to see a sort of cantilever happen and having such a tectonic helped us understand the limits of the printer.



This print was a success in our minds as were trying to see how would the printer create the cantilever effect. The different layers of the print are clearly observed and more especially the apex of the polygon start to create some type of structure to the overall extrusion. We also started to notice that some extrusions were more tight than others and we can only assume that those are the moments keep the overall print together in order for the cantilevered moments not to collapse.

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TRIANGLE ROTATION > BB gcode writer here

Based on a drawing we used to generate drawings with the VinylCutter, we liked the idea of scale and rotation and wanted to explore what would happen once it is extruded.



The print failed because of the lack of support to the triangles that were getting bigger in scale. As the beetle starts with the smaller triangles and scales up to the bigger one, the base i smaller than the top of the object, therefore the corners of the triangles do not have support. The PLA started to fold itself over and wrap around the base yet the center of the overall geometry was maintained and played the core point of the 3D print.







The BB writer was created for a Lulzbot, so we spent some time adjusting it to print for an Ultimaker 2.

Before we adjusted it, the first couple prints on the Ultimaker 2 under-extruded to the point that they didn’t print past the first two layers.

However, the E value for the Ultimaker 2 (different than Ultimaker 1) is calculated using volume of filament (mm^3), which resulted in the same values in that were already in the writer. After a few tests increasing the E factor and decreasing the layer height, we settled on an E factor of 0.04 and a layer height of 0.1 mm. As Liz normally 3D prints on the Ultimaker 2 via Cura with a layer height of 0.06-0.15 mm for finer precision, 0.1 was a much more comfortable layer height.

Except for the first print, these were all printed with Gizmo Dorks Grey PLA. (The first print is Gizmo Dorks White PLA). There was no reason for the switch other than it was what happened to be in the printer between other prints for separate projects – though we have been told that the pigment in the filament tends to help finicky prints.

BB template for the Ultimaker 2 here.


SPIRAL > BB gcode writer here

This print was while we were still trying to correctly calibrate the gcode ultimaker.


While the gcode had many layers, we were only successfully able to print 2. .


We realized with the BB writer as it was, the printer would not move without extruding.


We wanted to refrain from attempting to fix so many problems at once, so we stepped away from the idea of retraction.


From here on, we only printed things that could be printed continuously without lifting up and traveling



SPINNING SQUARE > BB code writer here

These were some first attempts at a spinning square print.



The spiral angle was too far for the layers to stick past the first few.


We couldn’t get this reduce with the square script specifically.


For some reason, changing the polygon number past 360 resulted in the square not spinning in place.


We switched to an equilateral triangle.



SPINNING TRIANGLE > BB code writer here

This is the triangle spiral print.



While it actually worked in comparison to the square spiral, the edges are spiney, with little gaps, making it rough.


It’s a fairly interesting effect, albeit very accidental.





Next, we wanted to try to print something that was not inherently circular or based on rotation about an origin.



We printed this extruded brick outline after we created it for the wire bender and the wire bender stopped working for a couple days.


The filament snapped halfway through the print while we were not next to it (meaning we didn’t catch it in time to re-feed the filament and continue the print).


However, we did not reprint because it was a simple extrusion and a taller print wouldn’t add anything to our experiment.





In an unfortunate series of events, we were not able to recover the BB file directly associated with this gcode/print – it is a slight variation of the file for the previous print. We changed the script after exporting this code and basically, we can’t remember exactly what the amount of shift was or number of layers. Your guess is as good as ours.

As the last print was successful enough, we moved on with this idea.


We used the same gcode writer script, but adjusted it to move after every two layers, so that we came out with a slanted extrusion.


The print is a single pass width in the x direction (along the length of the bricks), and a double pass width in the y direction (between the bricks). This creates the gentle joint between the double pass.


This print was immediately successful (and super shiny).




SINE WALL > BB code writer here

Again, attempting to move away from the circular prints, we printed a sine wall. This was also to start to test the limits of overhang with the singular line wall on the printer since we had some issues with that on the twist prints.



The goal was also to print something that was fairly wall like, but supported itself although it was just a base of one single line.


This was also looking at a way of fabricating small “sheets” of material that were not flat.


We got a totally weird effect! The wall is really striated and textured. We actually have no idea why.


The wall stands up super well on it’s own and looks like a lasagna noodle.


This is definitely not the most efficient way to go about making pasta forms, but we are glad to know that it’s possible.




SINE WALL SCALE SHIFT > BB code writer here

After the success of last print, we wanted to push this idea even further.



(In the script above, we subbed the word altitude for amplitude. We were tired. Oops.)

We weren’t sure that the overhangs on the first sine wall would successfully print, but after they did, we wanted to make them more dramatic and produce something that did not just look like a noodle.


We adjusted the sine wall code to create an extremely dimpled sine wall that decreased in amplitude after each wave cycled through.


We got the same straight striations and reflective sheen. The print sort of feels like a cheese grater when you rub it between your hands.


We actually have no idea which way this picture was taken. It doesn’t look correct in any orientation. The wall both stands up straight and lays flat.

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