Weeks 3-5ish of 3D printing: so, who wants to print something?

Added on September 6, 2012

The fall semester has started up, and I’ve been spending more time focusing on semester-long goals and ideas, which is to say I got a little bit lazy on the documenting of my 3D printing work! If you follow me on Flickr, Facebook or Google+, I have posting a steady stream of photos of 3D prints, I just hadn’t gotten around to collecting them all into a weekly round-up like I was planning to. Heck, I’ve even already begun losing track of which week I’m on (5…ish?).

Important lessons learned over the last couple weeks

I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job of learning many different parts of the 3D printing workflow, even picking up some basic 3D modelling tools here and there as needed. I’ve gotten a firm grasp on the basics of the intricate slicing software (Skeinforge is a beast), and have also been doing a lot of personal-time research on 3D printing mechanical design and getting up to speed with the DIY 3D printing community. Believe me, there is some amazing work going on all the time in this field, it’s just amazing. Paste extruders, color mixing, multiple extruders, big delta-robot printer designs, the list goes on and on – we’re living in the future! There are interesting and unexpected things happening pretty much every week (even every day, if you look closely enough), so be prepared to get overloaded with “so did you hear”‘s from me if you know me :P

Improvements to the Replicator

A couple weeks ago, I printed four new stabilizing feet for the bot, and last week I got around to adding 1″ felt discs to the feet to (supposedly) help with vibration. I don’t think it’s doing much, but they definitely are making the machine feel more “solid” as it doesn’t slide around as easily now.

I’ve also printed out some acrylic window holders, and cut up some plexiglass to make cool windows for the bot. This not only makes it look cool, it also helps the heat inside the build area stay constant and less susceptible to horizontal air currents.

Week 3 photos

Printed out an awesome gigantic “big cellular thing” designed by nervous system, as well as some basic glasses. Tried to print a copy of M.C. Escher’s “Relativity” (created by Gershon Elber), but not all of the finer details came out well. Also attempted to print a couple of 4-stage planetary gear trains, but the various intricate sockets and parts didn’t come together well :(

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Week 4 photos

Was busy enough with school this week that I didn’t really need to print anything, but I did anyway. A 3D knot, included with the ReplicatorG software, as well as a Bukobot Fly, which didn’t come out too well. That flyer needs to be printed out raftless, which means directly on the bed with no support. This is more difficult than it seems! I’ll get it eventually! Finally, a chunky bracelet that was shown at a few fashion shows!

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Week 5-ish photos

Printed out a nifty puzzle box that I came across on Thingiverse, just for the fun of it. The tolerance is pretty surprising – I didn’t expect it the ‘feel’ of the thing to be so solid and tight. I wouldn’t be surprised if the thing could actually hold water! Also came across a nice set of NEMA 17 motor mounts and a pen carriage for wall plotters that I just couldn’t pass up.

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What’s coming soon

For one of my classes (and for personal enjoyment), I’m developing a series of ‘digital media’-themed workshops aimed at giving students regular doses of informal and fun activities they can participate in to play with technology in creative ways. Up first, an “introduction to 3D printing”, which I hope will be able to be made available to all students, not just those in the Art department. The focus will be on learning the entire process of 3D printing from basic 3D modelling to how to operate the MakerBot Replicator! I’m also planning some even more relaxed topics like using Minecraft to make models, learning how to make kinetic sculptures with DIY Play-Doh, and more! If you want to get involved in any of this, follow me on the social media network of your choice (links at the top of my site) and make sure that I meet you in person sometime!