posts tagged with the keyword ‘3dprinters’


Jay Silver

I’ve seen a lot of people share this post from Jay Silver titled The Maker Movement is Not About 3D Printers, which bothered me, because the Maker Movement can definitely be about 3D Printers, or Robots, or microcontrollers, or laser cutters. It can also be about sewing, and growing your own food, and building furniture, and hundreds of other things.

Why was this titled “The Maker Movement is Not About 3D Printers” instead of “The Maker Movement Is about Freedom”? Oddly enough, the second level heading is The Maker Movement Is about Freedom.

3D Printers provide freedom. They provide to individuals with a few hundred dollars the ability to design things, and make those things into real-world objects in an afternoon, at home, without having to deal with service bureaus or companies who might put restrictions on what your want to create. You can also order a bunch of parts on the Internet, get them delivered to your house, and build a robot. Was that possible 20 years ago? (At a reasonable cost, anyway?)

Maybe the jab about 3D Printers and robots was just there to create controversy, I don’t know… but it seems weird to single them out. I’ve had my ups and downs with 3D Printers, and yes, they do fail, and sometimes suck, but so do computers, and other tools, and people. Nothing is perfect… and maybe that’s a big part of the Maker Movement, recognizing that the world isn’t perfect, but realizing you can change it.


Imperial Gear

I find it interesting the way we address problems. Take for instance, this simple gear. For the Prusa i3 printers we are building at school we realized we didn’t have 8mm bolts, so we got a bunch of 5/16″ bolts, and then we realized we needed to print new gears…

Calvin started to edit the STL file we had, and I asked if he looked around for an existing 5/16″ compatible gear on Thingiverse. He said he didn’t even think of doing that, and got right to modeling. Sadly, Calvin’s new gear was slightly too small. The next day I mentioned it to Fred, and Fred decided to fix the gear. I told Fred that it might be helpful to just model the new bolt-head part and print it to see if it would fit. This has the advantage of printing much faster than the entire model. He took that advice, but it still didn’t fit.

Meanwhile, I found a gear generator library for OpenSCAD and tried to model a new gear, but that failed as it wasn’t fully parametric in regards to the number of teeth.

After all that, Fons came along and said “I’ll just put the hex head of the bolt on the grinder until it fits the gear that Calvin made.” Duh! A great hack to make it work!

While I loved the hack, I also wanted to make sure that others could easily have a gear that worked with a 5/16″ bolt and did not require grinding down the head. I’m also preparing for the future when a part fails, and someone needs to replace it, and doesn’t realize the bolt was altered, or heated with a torch to get it into place.

So I followed my own rapid-rapid prototyping advice, printed a few versions of just the hex head part until it fit perfectly, then dropped it onto the model of the gear, and printed a few. And they worked.

And then I uploaded the gear to Thingiverse and Youmagine in the hope that someone else who has the same problem in the future can just grab the one I created and get on with their day.

Sharing, it’s a thing.


RepRap Prusa i3

We’re making good progress on our RepRap Prusa i3 in our Machines that Make class at UWM.

We cut the Lexan frames on the large CNC router after we wrote the G-code in RhinoCam. There was an engraving, and then one inside cut, one outside cut, and some center drill spots we marked before drilling the holes on the drill press and then tapping them for 3mm screws.

We also cut all the threaded and smooth rods on the horizontal bandsaw and then cleaned them all up on the belt sander. I learned a few new tricks for cutting threaded rod as well.

I’m a bit tempted to rebuild my Prusa i2 as a (laser-cut) Prusa i3, or maybe just build a second printer. I’d like to have a 1.75mm machine at some point instead of just 3mm so I can experiment with more filaments.

I’ve also been working on a few new machine design ideas, one will be a drawing machine, and another is a platform for building CNC machines that trade in precision for low-cost. More on those in future posts.


Prusa i3 Parts

I’ve got a box full of Prusa i3 Rework parts! Well, not the full box, but we’re working on it. When I say “we” I mean myself and my team. This is all for a class titled “Digital Fabrication and Craft: Machines that Make”, which Frankie mentioned recently.

The class so far has been a blast! We’ve talked about the RepRap movement, and open source hardware and software used for 3D printing, and we’ve even designed a coat hook (yes, a nod to Adrian Bowyer.)

For the first assignment we are build Prusa i3 RepRaps, hence all the parts. We have a few MakerBots in the DCRL and the other students have been frantically printing parts. Meanwhile, I’ve printed most of my team’s parts on my RepRap Prusa i2. I sort of like the idea of my i2 making an i3. I may print enough parts to build out a frame and then transfer my i2 electronics and extruder over to it. Or I may just build another 3D printer instead.)

We’ve talked a lot about machines that make, and a little bit about MIT and what they’ve done. If you’ve seen the Othermill, you may or may not know it originated from an MIT project called MTM Snap.

And there’s more! For the second assignment each student needs to design and build a machine that can make things, and then we need to make things. Yes, we are rapid-prototyping rapid-prototyping machines. It’s a class made for makers, for sure.

One thing I’ve come to realize over the years is that you can design and build a thing, and you can design a product, and you can manufacture a product, and there are always compromises in process, materials, complexity, cost, quality, and fifty other things. A recommended reading in this area is Confessions of a Hardware Startup. Here’s an excerpt:

Our obstacle was that Jonathan had never intended MTM Snap for production. It was a design challenge experiment: to see if he could build a machine without screws. This is a great feature if you’re trying to save money as a graduate student, but from a manufacturing standpoint it had two major disadvantages.

Go read the whole thing if you’re interested in this. Since I’ve also been designing kits that are meant to be assembled and disassembled multiple times, I’ve seen similar (but different) challenges arise. But honestly, this all fits under the heading of “design” to me, because I still think design is about solving problems.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about the machine I’ll build. I probably won’t build a drawing machine right now (more on that later) but there’s a reason I’ve been researching the Othermill and been hankering to use a Shapeoko. It’s all coming together!

(See also: How To Make Something That Makes (almost) Anything.)


Idler Block

When you need a part for your 3D Printer, you just print a new one, unless the part you need breaks, preventing you from printing the part you need… or something like that.

I ended up making a replacement part from a piece of wood. Yeah, wood. I used a saw and a drill to make it. Ridiculous, but true!

Idler Block

It actually took me two attempts to make one from wood, but damn, it worked! I got the printer up and running again, did some prints that turned out fine, and then printed a replacement part.

The funny thing is, I’m pretty sure I printed a replacement part months ago, but I think it failed, or I lost it, or something else.

Idler Block

I took the opportunity to slightly improve and strengthen the replacement part in the hopes it will last a bit longer. I uploaded it to Thingiverse and YouMagine so I can easily find it when needed.

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