Chris Garrett of MakerHacks - 3D Printer of the Month

Chris Garrett of MakerHacks - 3D Printer of the Month

Tell us about yourself and your experience with 3D printing

I'm an amateur maker, born in Calgary, raised in northern England (hence weird accent). People often assume because I admin so many FB groups, teach, and run my own community (, that I have some formal accreditation, qualifications, or professional experience, but outside of the IT/programming side I am a hobbyist like the majority of the rest of the maker community. Still learning, causing myself injuries, and getting unexpected results

I first saw a 3d printer in action back in 2010, when I first moved back to Canada, my friend Ben showed me this crazy machine that turned sheets of plastic (not spools) into 3d objects. Kind of like a vinyl cutter that built the object up in layers. Weird machine but inspiring, like stepping into a Star Trek episode! Next was the Calgary mini maker faire, where there were a whole bunch of machines running, from a makerbot cupcake through to some deltas. I knew then and there I needed one. 

At the time I just wanted to print small things, like enclosures for my electronics and robot projects, or figurines to paint, parts for RC, and so on. Of course I didn't quit wanting more, and now I have a severe case of "tool acquisition syndrome" ;)



What 3D printer(s) do you own?

Including this new one I am reviewing right now, I have 14 with more on the way :o
My latest is a dual extrusion machine, the Athorbot Buddy Couple. 

Most used is probably the Prusa Mk2 and my dedicated ABS printer, the Wanhao Di3. The two CR-10s and my Anet A8 get a lot of attention, the former because of the large print capabilities, and the latter because I use it to teach 3d printing, both in person and online.

There are new printers that I am most excited to try out but I had better not mention those in case they fall through :)

Chris was inspired by a visit to Calgary Makerfaire

What design software do you use most often? Why choose this over other software?

Tinkercad is what I use to teach because anyone can pick it up in 15 minutes, and no software to install. 
I use Fusion 360 because they stopped supporting 123D which I was more proficient at. Fusion is excellent for CAD/CAM with my CNC projects.

Onshape for collaboration, because it is excellent at allowing two people to work on the same model at the same time, real time!
Zbrush for characters and organic.
Indesign and Sketch for 2D vectors.

What is your favorite filament to print with? What do you like about it?

I can't pick just one! PLA for teaching and general use because it is easier and 80% of projects are fine with it. I like solvent welding and heat resistance of ABS. PETG is like a cross between PLA and ABS. TPU for anything flexible, like RC tires ...

Are there any additional tools, resources, or software you use often with your 3D printing projects?

I'm a member of Calgary protospace so I am working through the tools there as and when I can get access or trained (you are not allowed to use the really cool tools until you have attended training). I've got my own K40 chinese laser and a Sienci Mill One CNC. 

Software-wise I am a Simplify3D fan, but I also like Prusa Slic3r and Cura 3
Hand tools, all the usual (scrapers, allen wrenches, etc)

Is there anything you know now that you wish you knew when you first started 3D printing?

That everyone has bad printing days where nothing goes right and you feel like a failure. 

My first 3d printer was a terrible, crowd-sourced machine. Then I got a Printrbot Simple Metal and asked some really noob questions, got help, and then it clicked. I feel like a lot of people give up when they are in that dip of despair, it's one of the reasons I work so hard to help people now.

What common mistakes do you see new users make?

Trying to print without their printer being aligned, levelled, and cleaned.

80% of print failures are due to not spending enough time preparing the print bed.

Another mistake I alluded to above, thinking they can't ask a question they really need an answer to out of a sense of embarrassment. The only silly question is the one you keep to yourself.

What are the biggest challenges you face with 3D printing?

Other than storage? :)
Right now it is finding enough time in the day to do everything. I also have some printers in the garage for printing ABS and other smelly filaments, to try and get some added ventilation, but being in the garage is not optimal with our winters :/

I'm eyeing our new maker space, Fuse33, to see if having a corner there would be better.

What is your favorite project you have 3D printed? 

My Tardis, which I am just upgrading for Maker Faire. It is powered by a Raspberry Pi, and lights up, plays the theme tune, and makes sounds. 

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