posts tagged with the keyword ‘3dprinting’


DCRL Coat Hook

I’ve printed a coat hook before, but this time I’m doing it for school. This is the DCRL Coat Hook for the class “Digital Craft: Machines that Make” in the Digital Fabrication + Design area at UWM, taught by Frankie Flood.

The assignment was to create a 3D model of a coat hook using Rhino, and then print it. I’ve been using OpenSCAD for years, and before that I used Sketchup, so Rhino is still fairly new to me. I used it a bit last semester, but mostly just to explore it and for 2D laser cutting.

Rhino v1

My first attempt was mainly about getting comfortable in Rhino. I’m so used to the way I work in OpenSCAD, and even the way I work in Inkscape, that I found Rhino a little lacking in certain things. I’ve gotten more used to it since I started, but I still see room for improvements to how it works. Version 1 was all about unions and differences and fillets. It worked, but I wasn’t entirely happy with how rectilinear the form was.

Rhino v2

Version 2 was a bit more curvy, and while I was starting to like it more, the non-symmetrical parts bothered me. I did print out version 1 and 2 for our first class discussion, and I noticed that many students went out there with their designs, while mine tend to be very functional and utilitarian. I also have a good grasp of what is possible (and not possible) using hobby-level FDM/FFF. I don’t know if this helped or hindered my design, as I tend to think about the process I’m using at the time. (Sometimes, but I’ll get into that later.)

Vector outline

Eventually I ended up drawing version 3 in Inkscape, as I knew what I wanted it to look like, and it was an easy path to get exactly what I wanted, design-wise. I exported the file as a PDF, which imports nicely into Rhino, to get my 3D object. I also tend to look at replicating and/or extending existing workflows I already have.


I typically find the desired size of objects by drawing them on paper. Here’s some of my early sketches (on the left) and the later ones (on the right) that I did before modeling in software.

DCRL Coat Hook v3

Once I had my vector PDF imported into Rhino I was able to extrude it to the desired height. Rhino lets you type in the height numerically while creating the object, but not after you’ve created it. It’s a bit frustrating, but I’ll get used to it. I then added the screw hole and a counter-sink hole. (I later realized I didn’t properly angle the counter-sink hole, which would have been easy to do. Perhaps for the next revision!)

I also thought about how this design could be used in other digital fabrication techniques. For instance, since the form is essentially an extruded 2D form, it would be easy to create a version using a CNC router or mill. After the profile is cut you could rotate it 90 degrees to get the screw hole, or just use a drill press. You could also cut a piece of pink foam, using a CNC machine, or by hand using a hot wire cutter, or any cutting tools, and cast it in metal (again a simple drilling operation would be needed to add the screw hole.)

If you’d like your own copy of this coat hook, you can grab it from Thingiverse or download from Youmagine.

Here’s a few photos of the final printed piece. There’s a few more photos in the DCRL album on Flickr as well.

DCRL Coat Hook

DCRL Coat Hook

DCRL Coat Hook

DCRL Coat Hook

DCRL Coat Hook


Mounting Plate

It seems that when I ordered parts from Inventables, I forgot one thing! Seems I didn’t have this Motor Sub Plate that I needed.

Mounting Plate Plans

Luckily Inventables provides technical drawings and CAD files, so I grabbed the PDF file and opened it in Inkscape…

Mounting Plate 2D

I had to delete a lot of the measurements on the drawing, but when I was done I had a file that I could easily laser cut. But alas! I have no laser cutter at home… No worries, a bit more work on the file (changing all the curves into segmented lines, connecting all the disconnected lines) and I was able to save a DXF file…

Mounting Plate STL

And the DXF file was easy to import into OpenSCAD and extruder as a 3D (well, 2.5D) file and get an STL file, which can be printed on a 3D printer, which is what will be happening in a few minutes…

Digital Fabrication… it’s a thing.


Wax Ring

The folks from Solidscape dropped by the DCRL at UWM to talk about their 3D printers that can print with wax. These are typically used in the jewelry industry for lost wax casting, but also used in the medical, dental and engineering fields.

Wax Ring

The resolution of the prints was simply amazing. They’ve also got some unique things that their printers do, like milling the build plate flat before each print.

Wax Ring

Their machines are not cheap, starting at $25,000 and going up to $55,000, but the quality is pretty amazing, and depending on your needs, that price may be cheap.

Wax Turbine

Obviously lost wax casting in metal is a prime use of these pieces, but there were a lot of other applications mentioned, including multiple methods of creating silicone molds.

Wax Turbine

The details was pretty amazing, and not even in the same ballpark as what I’ve seem from any FDM printer. If you get a chance to see the output from a Solidscape printer, do it. It’s pretty impressive!

Wax Head

Wax Head

Wax Tire

Wax Tire

Note: Frankie has better photos and more info!


Grace Choi

Grace Choi is pretty awesome. She’s come up with a way to print makeup using a hacked inkjet printer. Yeah, what? You can check out this HOW TO, or just check out how she plans to disrupt a huge and extremely profitable industry.

I found her demo to be a bit unpolished from the software end, but she seems to know that there’s a great opportunity for developers to fill that gap.

I’m not really into makeup, but I am into 3D printing, and disrupting entire industries is definitely an interesting proposition. Here’s a bit of what Grace had to say that really illustrates the kind of person she is.

“One person alone can’t disrupt this entire beauty market,” Choi says. “Together, as a community, we can disrupt it. I’m willing to take a hit financially because my number one motivation is for change. This is a very important social mission for me. I think of Mink as an educational tool for kids, and one that can get girls interested in technology. I don’t need to be on some billionaires list. I’m aggressive and I’m going to make this happen. Before I die, this [beauty revolution] will happen.”

And if that’s not enough, there’s also this one:

“The makeup industry makes a whole lot of money on a whole lot of bullshit. They charge a huge premium on something that tech provides for free. That one thing is color.”

Definitely one to watch…


Wheel 1-Up

We’re planning a Nerdy Derby event at Maker Faire Milwaukee, and like last year, I wanted to 3D print a bunch of wheels, and yes, it is fun designing strange wheels. Most of my designs this year are refinements from last year, and I wish 3D printing were as simple as hitting “print” and walking away, but that’s not always the case.

Wheels 4-Up

I found that if I printed one object, it worked fine. If I tried multiple objects, things were failing, either with one or more objects, or everything. I’d try to print two wheels at once, and one would work, the other would fail. Slic3r allows you to generate the G-Code needed to print files, and has an option to print multiple objects, either by printing them all at once, or one at a time. Both of those options just weren’t working for me, for whatever reason. (My 3D printer is a RepRap I built myself, and yes, it has issues now and then.)

But you know the old saying… if you can’t fix it in hardware, fix it in software! So I did… You’ll notice that the image above shows four wheels with a small square connecting them. I ended up pulling an STL file into OpenSCAD (my favorite 3D modeling application) and then duplicating it four times and adding a small 1mm tall square between them to connect it all into what the printer would see as one single object.

Wheels Printed 4-Up

It worked! I’m now seeing much more success with printing, and getting sets of 4 wheels connected with a thin piece of plastic that’s easy to remove. Oh, I should also mention that our friends at Inventables were kind enough to donate some filament to this cause, so if you have fun building a car with 3D printed wheels at Maker Faire, be sure to stop by the Inventables booth and thank them for making it happen.

(BTW, MegaMag is printing way more wheels than I am, and going 40-Up!)

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