18 November 2012

A Dabble in 3D Printing

3D Printing! 

All the crazy makers are doing it. (Seriously, go to Makerfaire and it's pretty hard to distinguish between a 3D Printer peddler and a schizophrenic homeless person). It's all the rage, but I've never needed to use it, nor have I really wanted to (til now). The stuff made from the >$1000 range printers doesn't come out THAT nice, and you need something that expensive to prevent sagging, drooping, and problems and other unwanted stuff. Meh, 3d Printing. 

3D printed parts are weak, even if the plastic is ABS. Just take it from Charles Guan's experience of making n front wheel forks (which eventually all broke) for his various electric scooters where n is a decently annoying number. 

But still, it's pretty cool stuff, especially because of the efforts of the Makerbot, Reprap and Ultimaker communities, which have paved the way to making 3D printing more inexpensive and readily available to your average Joe. Or Daniel. The parts don't come out too well because the technology is new-ish still, but it's getting there. 

I want in on the madness, just a taste, to see what it's all about. Will I find a good use for it? Like making panels to hold switches? Or will I just make myself some figurines?

And where does one go to find things to 3D print? 

THINGIVERSE.COM!


Man, this is cool! Yes. 


I will be using a MakerBot Replicator available at the IDC (Where we had 2.00Scooter). The software looks just like the Arduino IDE to appeal to the Maker masses, I suppose. 


 After letting the machine heat up and putting down a fresh layer of painter's tape to prevent the parts from sticking to the printing surface, the machine was off pooping down ABS! Look at it go! Or don't, because it will take hours. 


And hours. Until your parts appear! If you look closely, though, there is some kind of mistake on one halfway level of printing. 




One of these pieces fell apart as a result :c And I had to krazy glue it back together. 



These parts are looking MUCH better. Look at that honeycomb inside! You can pick what percentage of the solid is filled, with 100% being slower but much stronger. 


 Top view of the pooping...



And they're done!



There's still some residual chipping, but man, these parts came out alright. Really, this machine is impressive. 



It's a heart! D'aww! :D I want to make more things. maybe a 3D model of Samus Aran, or some concepts for future projects, or panels for placing switches and stuff. We'll see. Maybe I'll even make my own 3d printer...

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