The name Vicky Somma is becoming synonymous with 3D printing–and sincere, fun inspiration. She taught herself how to use a printer and then became a motivating force for others with her infectious enthusiasm, finally even causing her husband, Ryan, to ‘catch the bug’ and begin making his own newsworthy items.
At this point we’ve covered both Sommas’ work, from Vicky’s lovely and meticulously fabricated Christmas ornaments, to Ryan’s customized Pachinko machine. More Somma goodness abounds this winter now, causing us to pine just a little for spring, as most of us realize–with lawns covered in blankets of snow–that it’s been quite a while since we heard happy chirping birds.
We are able to get a look at what Vicky Somma refers to as ‘her largest body of work.’ And it indeed shows what a long way Somma has become since receiving her MakerGear M2 and license for Simplify3D in April of last year. A programmer by trade, she intuitively took to what quickly became a hobby, originally teaching herself how to use Blender, and then relying on Shapeways to 3D print her models.
“It feels empowering to me, where everyone can be a creator,” Somma says about her design and 3D printing process.
Although the M2, like most, is a single extruding 3D printer, Somma has learned how to do an awful lot with that, employing a range of creative solutions to get what she wants during the fabrication process–including finding a way to print with multiple colors.
With the 3D printed aviary, Somma made a multi-colored construction after being inspired by her friend Joel Telling, who uses Simplify3D. She was able to come up with two unique software features which allow for multiple print processes, each applying to a separate filament color. She could then, within Simplify3D, use layer modification settings to cause the printer to start or stop operations when it reached a certain height, giving her time to change filament color.
“Before, I would manually pause the prints to change filament colors, which meant I had to stay pretty closely tethered to the printer (less than optimal when you are parenting small children),” she says. “Now I let my process run and finish on its own, and I start the next color on my time. It’s made me a much more engaged mother to my 4-year-old and my 2-year-old!”
For an enthusiast like Somma operating with one desktop in her home that is the very definition of a game changer in what she can create on her own–and how conveniently–as is displayed in her colorful birds, artfully turned out from the MakerGear M2. While the hardware and software offer a lot of help, Somma obviously came to the table with some strong aptitude for arts and crafts.
While just learning the process of digital design and 3D printing tobegin with was an incredibly empowering experience for Somma, she has grown so much with each step along the way–and is now able to use her new-found passion to make an income, selling her work on Etsy, as well as enjoying working on her creations at home with little ones around.
“Don’t be afraid of failed prints. This is not a medium to be afraid of failures. This is a medium to embrace failure! Everyone has them. Everyone. Even super-high tech companies with industrial printers have them,” advises Somma further. “Still afraid of failed prints? The only sure-fire technique I’ve found–get yourself a toddler. They don’t care if your overhangs are sloppy or if you have a stringy print. They’ll play with everything–good prints, bad prints, rafts, support material, skirt remnants, you name it. Everything is a successful print to a toddler.”
She also advises novices who are indeed serious about progressing to keep track of both their failed and successful models, suggesting they make a spreadsheet to ‘document each print.’ For the successes, this is extremely helpful when you want to make something again via Simplify3D. as you can simply go to your chart.
It just takes one look at Somma’s 3D printed aviary to see immediately that this talented artist has quickly become a master at her new craft. You also check out more of her work on Etsy. What are your thoughts on Somma’s technique for making multi-colored 3D prints? Discuss in the Vicky Somma’s 3D Printed Aviary forum over on 3DPB.com.