posts tagged with the keyword ‘3dprinting’

2015.12.28

Shim

I needed a few shims to make something fit just right and I grabbed a piece of 3mm acrylic that was sitting on my desk, figuring I could easily cut it in the shop, but 3mm was just too thick. I could have tried to sand it down to the proper thickness, but at this point I would have had to cut three shims to the proper size, and get them all down to the correct thickness. (I didn’t want to use wood, as something would be sliding against the shim, and would wasn’t the best choice.)

OpenSCAD

I took some measurements with digital calipers, launched OpenSCAD, typed in the dimensions, and had a 3D object ready to be 3D printed in just a few minutes. While I did have to wait for the 3D printer to heat up, and print the pieces, I could easily do other work while I was waiting for the prints. I didn’t spend time cutting and sanding things to get them the exact size.

Sometimes 3D printing is the right answer, and sometimes 3D printing doesn’t have to be revolutionary or solve big problems, sometimes it can solve the (little) problem you have, quickly and easily, and that’s enough.

2015.12.11

Because when you’ve got a 3D printer… You might as well print things…

3D Printing

3D Printing

3D Printing

3D Printing

3D Printing

3D Printing

3D Printing

3D Printing

3D Printing

3D Printing

Also… OpenSCAD.

2015.08.19

Phoenix Connector Mount

Years ago my grandfather had shop in the basement, and he made things. He made doll furniture, and (wooden) snow shoes, and household items, and of course, lots of sawdust. My dad also had a work shop, and made many of the same things, and also made full-size furniture for our house. They both invested in tools over the years to make things.

I don’t think anyone ever said to them “You’ve got all these tools, and this great work shop, and you make doll furniture!?”

If you’re a Maker (and they both were) sometimes the joy is in the making… in the process… but it can also be the joy that comes from giving a gift to someone that you made yourself.

Phoenix Connector Mount

I like making things as well. Sometimes I just use my hands and some tools and whatever raw materials are on hand, but I also really like designing things using software that can then be fabricated by machines. I don’t consider this any less “making”, by the way.

I think I enjoy designing useful things in the same way I used to enjoy writing code. There was a problem to be solved, and if I could do it, or help do it, I would… and if solving a problem once for yourself can solve it for others in the future, even better. Most people agree that it doesn’t make sense to solve a problem that’s already been solved.

Phoenix Connector Mount

During a recent project someone needed to mount this Phoenix Connector to something, and a piece of Aluminum was found, and a square(ish) hole was made, and some holes were drilled, and there was probably some filing involved, but in the end, it worked, and that’s fine.

In my mind though, this was a problem that could be solved by designing and fabricating a part. Now, if this was a one-off, it might not matter as much, but if we build another one of these things, or use these connectors again, why spend time cutting and drilling and filing a piece of metal when we’ve got a 3D Printer in the shop?

Phoenix Connector Mount

To me, the promise of digital fabrication isn’t always about doing it the fastest, or the cheapest, but it’s about precision and repeatability. If Bob down in the shop can crank out a mount in 10 minutes, and it’s good enough, that’s great. But if Ted, and Laura, and Tim can take a file that I designed, and spit one out with a 3D Printer on a whim, and it’s the same every single time, that’s valuable. The knowledge and skill needed to create something is shared and distributed. Long after Bob and Ted and Laura and Tim leave the shop, someone could still make the thing, multiple time, precisely, because the problem was solved long ago.

I’m not dismissing hands-on making skills, or in any way suggesting digital fabrication is always a better choice, but in some cases, I think that if applied properly it can make things… better.

You can find Phoenix Connector Mount on Thingiverse and Youmagine.

2015.08.05

Laser Pointer Switch

I modeled a laser pointer switch which you can use with your cheap laser pointer to turn it on and do stupid things like throw it in the air while doing long exposure photography. (Actually, that’s not a bad idea! Or is it?)

Laser Pointer Switch

OK, these are really part of the Laser Maze we’ll be running at Maker Faire Milwaukee this year. The last thing I did for Laser Maze was the mounts, but Vishal is still doing most of the hard work on this project. (Thanks, Vishal!)

Laser Pointer Switch

If you want one, you can grab it from Thingiverse or Youmagine. And remember kids, laser are dangerous, don’t just go pointing those things around!

Laser Pointer Switch

2015.07.18

Sparkplug

Typically when I model 3D object with OpenSCAD I tend to create things that are simple and functional, but I had to create a piece that had some extra decoration to it, and wow did it slow OpenSCAD to a crawl!

I know about the special variable $fn, but I didn’t know about $fa and $fs, so I’ll have to start using those as well to see if they can speed things up. (I usually use $fn to go between “low res” and “high res” when it comes to rendering.)

OpenSCAD probably isn’t the easiest modeling software to use (unless you like writing code) but I like the fact that it’s open source, gets updated fairly often, is parametric, has lots of great info on using it, and there are a ton of free libraries for doing interesting things.

I was using Rhino quite a bit earlier this year, and while the Mac OS X version is now ready, it’s $300 for a limited time, and $500 after that, and is somewhat crippled compared to the Windows version. It can do some amazing things, so I’m still contemplating a license for it… Or I may find something else (open source, perhaps?) that fits the bill.

(I’ll probably be post more about 3D software in the near future.. Stay Tuned!)

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