Stepcraft kit

Starting with the Stepcraft CNC router

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About three months ago I bought a Stepcraft CNC router, following the advice of a friend that already has it.
It’s not an industrial CNC router, but you can play quite with some stuff given its size and the ability to cut aluminum.

Stepcraft is a German company that also has a branch in the USA. The machine went through a kickstarter campaign successfully.
Since then they have improved documentation and the available information, and have also added optional upgrades to perform tasks such as laser cutting, wood engraving, vinyl cut, 3D printing, etc.

What I liked more from Stepcraft is the community behind their product. The Facebook group is very active and there is a lot of sharing, ideas to make, suggestions, solutions, etc. And of course there is the brand support.

I bought the 840/2 kit version, the biggest one. And with this the HF500 Spindle and aluminum base to add sturdiness.
Assembling instructions are excellent, with step by step videos.
So the assembly did not have any relevant issue.

Stepcraft kit

Stepcraft kit in the middle of the assembly

I did some screw ups, like tightening one of the axis too much to the point of making it bend without noticing because it was covered.

Or break the first mill out of stupidity. Looks like the “Hello World” for coders applied to CNC routers 😛

First cuts were done with MDF, making basically siple 2D cuts. I painted and varnished them afterwards.

I made names, hashtags, logos, PacMan and its ghosts, etc…

First thing Natalia name, my girlfriend 😉

Next steps are testing with other materials and other mills. But I’ve been over a month now tied in a 3D project for a multinational company where I am 3D modeling a prototype and 3D printing several versions and materials options. When this is over I’ll come back to the CNC router.

I leave a small gallery of stuff I’ve been making or still work in progress 😉

A petar

Mini MakerFaire Barcelona 2016

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[Reviewing my blog I found a post that was never published. From February this year. Here it goes as is]

Last Sunday we went to the Barcelona Mini MakerFaire, that took place at CosmoCaixa. With our 3d Print Barcelona group.

It’s not the same to organize than to exhibit, clear enough. We just sorted out what we were going to do in a couple of meetings.

For the Printer Party it took us a month and a half with weekly meetings, it is really not the same 😉

We went around 10 volunteers from our group. I was even a bit embarrassed when sending such a big list of participants to the organization, but well, they know us..

Some stayed the whole day, while the rest were shifting between morning and afternoon.

The group article is in this link, so I am going to explain the most personal piece.

A petar

Few members of the group in  full action

The place got really crowded, we honestly did not know how it was going to go in such a far place, but it was already full the moment they opened.  And it got even more full during the day!

On Saturday I printed the group logo, in big size, so I had to make it in two pieces. First the “3D” that I could finish at home, then I had the “Print Barcelona” to do the they after during the faire because I had to bring the 3d printer to CosmoCaixa the afternoon before. All unloading was done this day.

Logo 3D

The logo, the piece made at home

So I started another print during the faire.

Logo 3D 2a parte

A failed printing attempt

We had fail samples already, but well, here goes a fail in time. If you look at the right side you will notice a warping. Lack of hairspray was the verdict 😉

Due to my involvement in LynxCross gym, a functional training a bit special because it includes vertical moves on a wall, I no longer follow the maker and 3d printing movement as I did in the past. There is a lot of DIY in my gym, if anyone is interested or curious to see it he is welcome! it’s in Sants neighborhood.

So that these type of events come in handy to get up to speed quickly. You can see things lije a 6 extruders 3D printer, or someone growing up mushrooms with a system automated with Arduino, and others in similar fashion that just keep me in surprise mode.

The most common were drones and 3D printers. We start to have some SLAs in Barcelona: one from Printhatshit, a new one from Raúl from Hangar and I saw another one shown by I did not have the time to talk to them.

Many known people from Barcelona circle between makerspaces and local shops, many of them from group members with a drive for entrepreneurship that have started their own business. And that unfortunately we see less by now, because they have to attend their own business!!

Plenty of good vibes between the people, David from 3D-Seed gave me a sample of PETG filament to test it, but I did not notice it was 1.75 filament and I continue with the old fashioned 3mm. Soon it will be three years with my 3d printer! so I had to give this sample to someone else in our group.

Roger from BCN 3D Technologies gave me a spool of PLA from Colorfila also to test it. It is local filament, and I am hearing positive comments about it, good that we have local products to supports entrepreneurs from here.

Jordi from Makers and Bits gave me a 3D printed minion also haha.

I am printing the second part of the logo again, to have it done once and for all. when it’s done I will test this filament.

From our stand the most successful were the the Fails. We could not get much because I thought about it the evening before. We knew there were many shops, showing the marvels that can be done with 3d printing. What could we add as a non for profit group? well, showing the less nice part, the fails. We all go through it and it is good that people know that it happens and how to prevent them.


In fact right there the filament broke and I had a fail. You can avoid it, by keeping the filament in a zip bag with dryer material away from humidity, but I haven’t done it before.

The second thing with most success were the 3D printed letters, because we were giving them for free! we had so many spared from the Printer Party that we still have to giver. In fact we missed something important, to add a sign stating that they were for free, only someone thought about it in the afternoon.

And then another thing that was catching a lot of attention from kids was the 3D printed Tetris, because you can play to place the pieces at your will. Some kids were directly jumping into moving pieces around without even asking…times change. What is interesting is the lack of references in some cases, it’s not a modern game, and I was seeing some kids setting pieces on the top side, like a jigsaw. Anyone that has played with Tetris puts the pieces starting at the bottom without even thinking about it, just where the pieces would fall in the game 😛


I also met César and Sara from Makespace Madrid, that let me touch and hold the awaited “Manual de Supervivencia Maker” book. They made it happen, not without plenty of effort and issues that happen in such a project. In my case I contributed to the e-book version that I am already reading since few days.


Well, a full big day, with plenty of curious people, many creators and new things to learn.

Silent Running poster

Silent Running, the movie

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I recently watched the movie “Silent Running“. It is a sci-fi movie from 1972, predecessor of the well known Star Wars from 1977.

Silent Running poster

I did not know about the film before, and in fact I do not even remember how I ended up watching it. It was reading a reference somewhere, as it went in my ToDo list but unfortunately I don’t record any context about how tasks get created.

This is not an epic movie, there is action but not with the intensity we are used to nowadays. In fact it is a claim for preservation of our environment, with music from Joan Baez to add it to the ecologistic atmosphere.

Here the trailer:

The plot starts with a spaceship where its crew has been growing nature for several years: trees, plants, animals, etc.. nature that does not exist anymore on Earth and as a way of preservation attempt to restore it later. There are several ships with the same purpose.

But the team lead is requested to destroy everything, and then things happen but I am not going to explain more otherwise I would be spoiling the movie 😉

I thought it was not a very notorious film, but I was amazed with the amount of information available in the Web.

Things that make Silent Running special

  • the drones design: It is a real hack, given their small size. They were managed by amputees, custom made for each actor, using their arms as if they were the drone legs, giving a lot of humanity to their movements. They can be reprogrammed, e.g. there is a scene of a nice poker game.
  • the spaceship: That was a real old-fashion maker stunt of 8 metres long. Making the spaceship model took 6 months. There are shots taken near and with travelling, similar to what we see in Starwars some years later. Would have been easier with 3d printing, right?
  • the karts: they have a nice design. You just want to drive them!

Silent Running drone


To summarize, I believe it is another of these cult films that you must watch once if you are into sci-fi. The plot is not very well reviewed by critics, and I also found it lacking of content while the message is however pretty clear. On the bright side, the FX and the acting of Bruce Dern are really good.

Print the Legend

Print the Legend, the movie

By | 3D Printing, maker, Startup | No Comments

This weekend I finally watched the movie “Print the Legend“, it has been available in fact through Netflix since 2014.

Print the Legend

I was disappointed, because I thought there will be coverage of the open source movement in 3D printing, its origins with Adrian Bowyer and the RepRap project.

Nothing like this.

Focus is on the consumer and prosumer market: the creation and evolution of Makerbot and Formlabs. The star Bre Pettis and his fast evolution from maker to a corporate CEO, abandoning many of his initial values.

Climax moment when they decide to close the design and abandon Open Source Hardware. Zach Hoeken leaves the company with a clear declaration of disagreement with the new direction, he states it clearly in this post. I remember the comments for that period, but it is better to see the person explaining it in video.

I was shocked by the amount of people that were dismissed by the company, due to “not matching” the management point of view. With this accelerated growth all types of friction appear and you can see how they have to professionalize, up to the point of the big hit with the sale to Stratasys.

It is funny to know all the time across the documentary that Bre is going to stop being the CEO of the company…while he appears putting his life on it, loosing friends, loosing even his own identity for the company. As they say in The Godfather: “It’s not personal, it’s strictly business” 😛

Regarding FormLabs the most interesting piece is the Kickstarter campaign tha they ran -they closed 2.9 million dolars- and what it meant for them in terms of commitment, big delays to deliver, etc.

There is also an episode of founder leaving the company due to conflicts related to the direction to follow.

It seems this is the normal pattern in these startups with fast growth. Frictions show up, frictions that in a small group would be sorted out differently.

What is really sad is that a documentary just limits itself to this part of the planet like there was nothing else happening at the same time. Ultimaker is an example of startup very linked to the RepRap project beginnings and still operates from the Netherlands with an Open Source philosophy.

To summarize, it is worth watching “Print the Legend”, but have in mind this is a partial vision, only in USA, of the history.

Lasercuter engraving

Lasercut workshop in Betahaus

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Recently I attended a lasercut workshop in Betahaus Barcelona.

Gerard was in charge, and he put a lot of effort to make everybody happy about the outcome, giving even the chance to cut something nice for each one. We could bring our own project.

They have a big Chinese lasercutter, I don’t remember the exact size but the largest side was sort of 130 cm.

We saw the process step by step to prepare the file for cutting or engraving, requirements from this particular lasercutter and the software to manage it.

In addition, we saw the particular aspects that are usually learnt by trial and error. Which speed and power is needed for each material and the impact you can get by the combination of those into a same material.

There was a really interesting tool for engraving on wood, a wood piece that had engraved on top a matrix with all the combinations of speed and power, so you could have an idea of the outcome for this lasercutter and easily pick what you need depending on the effect choosen.

The workshop was planned for the morning plus lunch, but we continued in the afternoon to do a couple of things, an engraivng in acrylic for another participant, and in my case an engraving of LynxCross gym logo. With color!!!

Lasercuter engraving

Lasercutter engraving the LynxCross logo

Thanks to the matrix piece we decided how much engraving we wanted, so how much deep we were going to burn the wood. Then with this we could cut a similar pattern with some coloured thin wood to get the perfect effect.

I have pictures of the piece engraved and the coloured woods glued on top, but I cannot state its finalised yet because I need to protect it with some varnish.

You can see here a pic of the logo in our gym. Love it!!!

Logo LynxCross

The logo, before gluing and polishing. The brown marks around the letters are due to the resins when wood burns, they disappear with polishing.

What do you learn in this workshop?

In addition to learning how to use this specific machine and you get access to it at a lower rate, you see all the process starting at the design and you need to adapt it to define the areas for cutting or engraving.

And an overwhelming world opens up with plenty of things you can make: from simple logo engravings on wood, to objects in three dimensions with 123d Make by mounting object sections. And if we start with other materials, yay!!

Thanks Gerard for all the effort and help!

Wall yesterday

LynxCross gym is ready

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So much time of silence…

In fact I did not stop writing but I’ve been publishing somewhere else: I was writing on my mountain activity blog sisifoescalador about the stuff I do in the weekends, and on blog, well, because we have to put interesting content there for our clients and this is the most important SEO activity you can perform.

The lynxcross gym is ready!

Building the gym has been an interesting experience, because I moved away from the more or less clean digital fabrication world to the traditional maker jobs: wood working, painting, furniture assembly, boulder wall setup, climbing holds fixing, etc…

Here are some pics of the evolution of the space.

Playing the first days

Playing the first days

Mounting climbing holds

Mounting climbing holds

Building the Wall

Building the overhanging wall

The Campus fully mounted

The Campus fully mounted

It feels great to see the accomplishment, although there is still work to do to make it nice. Pics taken yesterday night

Wall yesterday

Wall yesterday

The space after painting

The space after painting

The grey painting was really difficult to get read of. In the case of the columns they will be covered by some smooth protective material, so nothing to worry on.

If you live in Barcelona or work there, we are in promotion period so you can try a class for free. Check at


We shutdown fabshub

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Well, after less than three months effort with the fabshub project, we have decided to close it down.

The main reason is that the two partners have a different view on how to approach the startup seed phase. And we are then blocked.

However I want to share what I’ve learned with this project.

“Fail fast and fail cheap” is really a good advice that we have put into practice, so now we are in a position to start new ventures. In fact, I am already starting something new with new people, of course still in 3d printing. If you want to know more you just have to follow the blog.

Things that I’ve learned. The famous lessons learned thing:


You have to spend more time with the name, or use someone with the right skills for this. Our name was decided in few hours mainly checking available domains than anything else, and that it sounded like our concept “fabs” for fabrication and “hub” for network. But truth is that nobody can pronounce it in Spanish and even in English it is difficult to remember. You find this when you face reality as soon as you start sharing your name with people. Better to start sharing before you register because it is more difficult to change it later. General advice is to check it with your grandmothera.

Concierge service

It is to provide service without a system in the background, so you are the system by managing everything by email. You learn a lot as it lets you have  a lot of communication with the customer and it is not rigid so you can find things unexpected in your future web design. On the other hand, it is a lot of work!!

Minimal costs

Keep as long as possible without costs or with minimal ones. In these three months we have only spent in business cards and the domain. The rest has been covered with our own time or with resources we already had (computers, 3dprinters, etc..). It is also recommended to settle the company when you start getting income. In our case the process of shutting down only took us the time to have a drink together, sign a document to end the partner agreement, and continue as friends. None of us will continue with the project.

Use your community

The logic tells you should do a project dedicated to a topic you love. If this is the case you are probably part of a community already. It’s really a good point of support and helps to start. People have supported us a lot. If you don’t have a community, better start with this. Internet is too big and you don’t have money for advertisement. Of course, it depends on the type of service.

Revenue per transaction

The revenue per transaction were really low and I was worrid about this. With average transactions around 25-30 eur the 15% commission only represented 3-4 eur. If you also substract PayPal commission to this, almost 4%, there is not much left for you. the break-even was about 40,000 transactions, and it’s a lot!

Marketplace model

In this model you have to ensure that both parts grow at the same time, so 3dprinters on one side and makers/consumers on the other side. If you have too many printers, the problem of the platforms with more success, you will have people waiting anxiously to get orders and they will get discouraged with the platform. If you have too many customers then you will not be able to fulfill demand and they will go somewhere else with their printing requests. In the peer-to-peer 3dprinting model the main problem is the lack of demand. Maybe it will grow with time when people understand the 3d customization potential, but it is not the case and if you want to evangelize you need a lot of money. Or maybe everyone will end up with a 3d printer at home, and then this business has no reason to exist.


Always look for the simpler. People do not waste time, if it is complicated -unless you have a high motivation- just abandon and go to something else or another service.

In fasbhub we had complexity on diffferent aspects. First, the number of services offered. It is always recommended to focus, but we wanted to provide a set of services for makers, and this brought us to include 3dprinting, CNC, laser cutting, vinyl cutter, 3d scanner and 3d design. too many things too start.

In addition to 3d printing, CNC router cutting worked well and the 3d design, location independent, was even better. Laser cutting was the most difficult part, because no one has a piece of hardware for hobbyists, and you end up with professionals. If the customer looks for price you are only adding your fee to the product, so no real value added.

The other aspect of complexity sits in the 3dprint requests. Majority of customers bring objects that are not 3dprintable and require repairs or even in some cases cahnges suggested back to customers. I was doing all these checks and repairs before sending them to the printer owner, but in a scalable model it should be the recipient himself dealing with it. The best you can do is what 3dhubs has, an agreement with netfabb to access his API that provides automatic repair and provides the volume to be able to rate request properly.

But this is not enough to cover all the possible issues in a design. In addition FDM (plastic) printing is not friend of overhangs. You have to build supports and then take them out, more manual work to do that nobody likes.

we also find price calculation in the complexity topics. There are several factors that affect a 3dprinting cost for the printer owner. But everyone uses the price per volume. For example 0.50€/cm3.

But imagine you request a cube of 10x10x10 cm. This is 1000 cm3 and it will cost you 500€. The object is simple and almost void inside, only a fool would pay 500€. Here I considred a way to negotiate or a mechanism to adjust prices over 100€, to put a limit. The infill is also important. The more infill percentage, the more material used and the more time to print.


Another topic that worried me…if there are players in the market it is better that you do at least the same things they do (thsoe valued by the client), and something else better.

The normal customer wants quality finish, this is an assumption I did not validate in fact. For this there are  platforms like shapeways or imaterialise that provide objects with quality finish in different materials at your choice, and with competitive price.

The best advantage of p2p networks is the leadtime. you can get the object in 48h while other online printing platforms need 2-3 weeks. So, where I see more options is in the rapid prototyping for non-prefessional level, since the finish is not important but cheap and fast counts. In addition, there is the option to make adjustments through dialog with the printer owner. 3dhubs say people print iPhone cases in softPLA, a flexible material. But the truth is they don’t usually publish numbers about their transactions, just the number of printers in the network.

Another challenge is how to keep quality, you can make it autoregulate if you add reviews and feedback with ratings coming from customers, but currently there are no options to track non experts.

Make the client come back

Also known as Retention. This is a big challenge in a marketplace like this where the service is local, so it is normal to repeat transactiosn with the same people that delviered the first time. If your platform does not provide any additional valur apart form disovery of printers, people will bypass you. Why pay a commission if I get exactly the same by contacting directly?

I think this is not solved right now. So your LTV (Life Time Value) is the equivalent to one trnsaction. If your CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost) is lower you may have a viable model, but it does not seem to be like this for p2p printing.

Ok, already enough info. I think this model needs that 3d knowledge spreads more. if the current market players can stand it may work for them, but the online services are improving their costs thanks to economies of scale. The other big risk is that 3dprintes become another commodity and everyone has one at haome. End of business.

In the meantime, I will focus my efforts to make 3dprinters 😀

I start a new project! Web under construction here:


My new project

By | 3D Printing, maker, Platform, Startup | No Comments


I see now that I have not been writing for more than a month. But in fact this is not exactly true, since I’ve been writing but in the Fabshub blog.
This is the new project that I started with Esteban around five weeks ago.

What is Fabshub?

Basically, and based on the comments from people in several events from the 3d Print Barcelona group, we found that on hand there were people with willingness to 3dprint for others and on the other hand there were people with interest to 3dprint objects. so it made sense to create a marketplace.

In addition, as in our souls we are makers and we love the Maker world we also decided to include other digital fabrication tools such as laser cutters, CNC routers, vinyl cutters and 3D scanners. Those that need something to be made will not have to do it piece by piece. Everything will be available on the same site 🙂

If you need someone to make a design for you we will also have designers providing 3D modelling service.


What have we done up to now?

Well, defining the model, create a landing page, a blog, social networks presence (Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest), …don’t underestimate the amount of effort that all this represents.

With the first 50 registered users we ran a survey some days ago already. If you want to help you can take the survey here. It’s only six questions. Superfast!

And few days ago we ended the web design, the wireframes. Frankly speaking, the most tedious part. Although we know this will change over time, we need to start with something.

It’s like when you have a plan. Plans are never accomplished on time, but at list they serve as a guide haha.

We are already taking orders via a form. Good practice since it lets us understand a bit what people are looking for, and the fact is that the majority have a maker focus. It forced as to take a service discoverer role using our contacts network: a CNC cut, a 3D scan, a 3d print but with a resin printer, and finally a normal object 3D printing…

Talking to people we also learned about other interest topics such as selling parts, additional services for makers like design and printing of PCBs, training courses, workshops to build 3d printers, …etc…

But this is for later. First thig is to have the basic service up and running 🙂

To finish

If you have interest to know or you want to provide any of the services described I encourage you to sign-up in our website

If you want to request services you can do it already!! just push the Request button and ask…

Roland iModela

3D printer training in MADE makerspace

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Yesterday I joined the training sessions that we ran in MADE, the Barcelona makerspace. I ran the training for one of our printers: the BCN3D. By chance it’s the same I have at home 😉

Is you are around Barcelona I encourage you to join, 100% maker / hacker atmosphere !

I prepared a short tutorial document with all basics steps such as preheating, using slic3r, printing, etc. This is for free use by makerspace members.

We did not touch the calibration and printbed leveling cause we were out of time. I just explained the main idea of where to adjust since this is not something to be done frequently.

We were not many and this is logical having in mind that it’s still August -sort of THE vacation month in Spain-, but several known faces showed up.

Fortunately we did sequentially so I could see the iModela in action, and the Up and his almost magical leveling system handled by software. Very cool.


Roland iModela

Roland iModela

Afterwards some of us just went out for a drink, as usual 😛

I haven’t started any project yet there, but it is a pleasure to spend some time there, chat with people, share ideas and end up doing something together. For sure better than tinkering alone at home 😀

Regarding the project topic, in fact I am starting a new project for a service related to 3d printing. Still working on the platform. More to come soon. Stay tuned!!

Tapon aceitera

Playing with OpenSCAD

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After short time playing with OpenSCAD I have to say I am amazed since I tried it.

I gues this is due to the concept of programming objects through a script, ans in addition this reminds me a lot stuf I did with POV (Persistence of Vision Raytracer) back in the early 90s.

This week I made a simple object, but practical.


Los tapones

The corks

The cork of my oil container (a very typical shape in Catalonia, see below) is broken and I need a replacement. Why not in PLA?

And by the way, I can do it with improvements.

So caliper at hand and let’s work to get measurements.





In OpenSCAD this is a simple cylinder. You can specify the size of both cylinder faces so make elements with angle, at the limit you can make a cone.


cylinder(h=10,r1=5, r2=0, center=true);

(code for a cone)

Tapon aceitera


Then comes when you make things more complicated.. .time for an upgrade. The upgrade of a cork is just adding a hole that lets the air in and the oil leak with continuity.

This is just another small cylinder and by difference with the bigger one you obtain the hole.

Next teak comes in the hole positioning. I did not want it in the center but in the side and with the same angle of the cork. Easy and quick, just trial and error modifying the angle parameter until you get it right.

But as i had the intention to upload the object to Thingiverse, I wanted to leave it with input parameters.

And this means the angle and position of the hole needs to be formula calculated.



Well, here google is our friend as always to refresh memory of maths quite buried in my brain. Finally, arctan is what I need.


With the translation of the hole in the cork face I have to do something similar to ensure it stays near the edge according to the input measurements.


Final result:

radius1=29/2; //larger width radius
radius2=24.5/2; //shorter width radius
height=21.4; // height

angle=atan((radius1-radius2)/height);//angle for the air hole
   cylinder(h=height,r1=radius1, r2=radius2, center=true);
   translate([0,(radius1+radius2)/2-3,0])rotate([angle,0,0])cylinder(h=height+10,r=1, center=true);
La aceitera y el tapón tuneado

The oil container and the upgraded cork

You can find it here in Thingiverse.

To finish, I still need to modify the code to be able to use Customizer.

If you don’t know it it is worth having a look, really recommended. By following defined rules Customizer is able to identify the input parameters for an OpenSCAD object, and the values range for each one. So any user, with no knowledge at all of the program, can modify the object in the Thingiverseweb to suit his own needs based on the parameters defined by the designer. After that it generates the STL file for you.

I printed in PLA. It is not ideal but I read that it is better than ABS if in contact with food.