How to 3D print missing bits of an island…

After posting his first video just over a year ago, 3D maker Noob (less well-known as Joseph Casha), has already become one of the leading go-to channels for everything in 3D printing. He broadcasts live builds, 3D printer reviews, and all sorts of tutorials to legions of eager makers around the world. All from his home in an unlikely small town in Malta.

We sat down with the Noob himself on the beautiful island of Malta. He took off his helmet after riding his scooter across the island to meet us. With the towering presence of Vin Diesel and the smooth, measured voice of a masterful educator, it was easy to see the personality in 3D maker Noob that attracts thousands of devoted fans.

His steel-trap memory for technical details, model numbers, and programming specs were no less impressive. Here, he shares his rollercoaster ride in the world of 3D printing in his own words.

From the beginning

I started by watching some amazing 3D printing channels that existed already. 3D Printing Nerd (Joel Telling) offers great technical details and projects. Maker’s Muse (Angus Deveson) is a fantastic designer. Thomas Sanladerer has awesome guides and reviews. They first inspired me, and I was in awe of their knowledge.

farm

But I also felt that something was missing – a unique and less technical perspective that I could bring. I wanted to look at 3D printing through the eyes of a complete noob, someone who was interacting with the technology for the very first time, and learn about it together with my audience.

I bought my very first 3D printer, the Original Prusa i3 Mark 2 kit, and I was super-excited. I had never had a 3D printer or used one before, and it was fascinating to me. I couldn’t wait to open up the boxes! So unboxing and reviewing the Prusa i3 became my first YouTube video.

Now, I have 50 printers. Most of them are not enclosed, and they are fairly affordable. Desktop 3D printing has opened up manufacturing to people in their homes, so that now they can experiment and tinker with making their own things. That’s largely my audience.

I mostly review budget printers, so that I can recommend them based on print quality, surface finish, ease of setup, and usability. I really want more people to get involved with 3D printing, so I am interested in printers that are accessible to hobbyists. Budget 3D printers require much more hands-on tweaking when they come out of the box. I have spent many hours tinkering with the settings and doing upgrades to make my printers print the way I’d like.

Perhaps the simplest 3D printer to get up and running out of the box that I found, has been the Prusa i3 Mark 3. I had just started my own business printing customer parts, and I had orders to fulfil. After I assembled the Prusa kit, I immediately began printing customer orders with it, and I only reviewed it after it had been printing non-stop for 1000 hours. I didn’t experience any teething issues with setting it up, and the prints turned out fantastic.

I have noticed that manufacturers are now making better quality machines for a bit more in price, and people are willing to pay a bit more if it guarantees that the 3D printer will work out of the box. The Creality CR-10 is a perfect example of this, and it prints with amazing quality from the start.

chimera

Making with YouTube

I was always into gadgets and learning how things work. I would take a Nintendo apart and look inside. With every project I have ever done, I referred to people who knew more about it than me. I have always used videos to learn from others online.

YouTube was crucial in making my projects. I am now restoring my motorcycle, and using YouTube to guide me through it. I am always amazed by the willingness of people to learn and help others there. I also have some absolutely awesome Patreon fans!

Through ‘Just Joe’ (a new YouTube channel), I am trying out new gadgets and technologies, and sharing my experience with the world. I’m flying stuff and occasionally crashing it – basically being a noob at everything, not just 3D printing. That’s a great hobby for me. I’m still waiting for that one viral video!
It’s an exciting time for me now, because I am finally moving the printers out of the house and into my new studio space. There, I will have more room to do awesome projects, film videos, and have visitors, who can interact with the technology. This will hopefully be completed soon.

masterspool

I have also built my own 3D printer using different parts that I really liked. It brings together all the best things I’ve come across in my 3D printers. I made a test print with it recently, and it came out awesome!

I print full-time, 16–18 hours a day. I am collaborating with the local FabLab and doing all the 3D printing for their projects. Most recently, I made a full hand alphabet for an organisation that works with people with hearing disabilities. I have done projects on recycling leftover filament and plastic spool holders – you can take a look at it on YouTube, just check out hsmag.cc/qAdgik.

3D printing to me is, first and foremost, fun. I don’t want to think of it as a job, because as soon as you think of it like that, it becomes more of a chore. That’s why I don’t have a set schedule for posting videos. I only post when I genuinely come across something interesting or useful.

The YouTube channel alone isn’t enough, so I do many other 3D printing projects outside it. I always keep myself busy!

NoobRack

3D printing for everyone

It is still early days for consumer 3D printing. We are a long way from a truly plug-and-play machine that is as easy to use as, say, a microwave. 3D printers are still not attractive to people who are not makers and who will not spend time tinkering with settings. Setting up a 3D printer to print well is still a very hands-on, technical process that requires some practice.

The Ministry of Education and Employment in Malta recently invested heavily in 3D printers for public technical schools. As a result, 80 Ultimaker 3D printers made their way into schools across the country. However, the problem is that there are still very few people with the experience to run these machines.

I had the privilege of being invited to help teach students how to use the machines, design their own 3D prints, and build their own 3D printers from scratch. I have already presented a lecture on 3D printing at the University of Malta. Fortunately, nobody fell asleep!

It felt weird to be at the front of the class, teaching students. I myself was very bad at school and left at the age of 15. Now, it seems like the roles have been reversed. The students raise their hands to talk to me and call me sir!

operahouse

From Malta with love

There is definitely a lot of demand for 3D printing here, and 3D printing companies like Magigoo thrive here.

I am now working with designers to make a model of a Luzzu, a traditional fishing boat from the Maltese islands. I also want to recreate the Royal Opera House of Malta as a 3D model. It was one of the most beautiful and iconic buildings in the capital city of Valetta, before being destroyed by bombing in World War II.
I love this country. I want to keep promoting it and putting it on the map.

More features from HackSpace magazine

Subscribe