Archive for category 3D printing

Making a new 3D printer

V3 Working on a 3D printer in a heated chamber. Why? Well look at the crack in the green dinosaur.

What happens is the hot (DSCN8230230C) plastic is laid down onto the old cold layer of plastic. Then the plastic cools and a new layer is laid on top. That layering builds up and shears, resulting in the plastic separating. To prevent this, one builds the parts inside a heated chamber. Why are there so few heated chambers on standard printers? Well, bad news, it is patented (expires in June 2020). Good news, not selling the product and can do it for my own things.

A key issue with the heated chamber is that it needs to be around 90C. This temperature is bad for motors and acrylic isn’t too strong at that temperature so I designed away. Above is the Version 3(ish). Version 0 first though!V0

Version 0 was a wooden structure mounted around the Kossal Delta printer. This design was cut out of wood and was mostly complete, but there were several key flaws with the whole setup.  The largest being that the arms hit the frame and the holes in the frame were too large. This caused the whole design to fall apart and was taken apart shortly after being built. Didn’t even take a photo of it it was so bad.


Version 1. I removed some of the panels so you can see what is going on here. This was based off of the Prusa design. The bed would move along a set of rails while the Z would lift the X axis. I was planning on using door sealing brushes along the gaps to prevent air flow. In the end, this was a good design but required a lot of table space. The design was then changed.


Version 2 was almost complete! I think there was a photo of it on a prior post. It is shaped like a house. The bed moves vertically while the head moves in the XY directions. The head is following a H Belt design. This design is good in theory, but requires very stiff joints to ensure that the carriage is moving correctly. This design is popular in the industrial quality machines, but wouldn’t work out too well. Too much shaking in the joints.

V3 Version 3 is what is being built now. it follows a different setup. More complex and requires more rods and parts, but is more stable and simpler in design. Fewer parts in the main assembly and less chance of failure. It is also the house shape, but a simpler design on the outside overall. Hoping to get this one done next month.


Unless, of course, I change the design again.

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Makin’ Filament…


We’re really enjoying the wide world of 3-d printing at think|haus but we’re facing an odd reality. We’re dealing with the cost of filament and the piles of misprints that occur as a natural result of the iterative design process.

To solve this, we’re starting to make our own filament using the Filastruder that was acquired by one of our members.

The filastruder takes pelletized plastic and turns it into plastic string suitable to feed to one of our 3-d printer.

Ultimately, we’ll be building a grinder that reduces a misprint to the right consistency to be feedstock for the filastruder.

Think of all of the plastic things in your life that you could drop into the grinder and have come out as filament that goes right into the top of a 3-d printer and makes the next thing.

That’s pretty cool.

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Event: 3D Printing Build Night (sponsored by Instructables)

Instructables June 2013-06-06

Date: Friday June 21, 2013 – 7pm
Place: think|haus – see side bar for details
What: Come out, learn how to do 3D modelling in 123D and Tinkercad – maybe even get a print of your design!
You need to bring: A computer with a recent web browser

Open to Members, non-members $5/pay-what-you-can

Register Here

Details: So we’ve decided to go ahead and jump on the sponsorship bandwagon again. And hey – you can be part of it! We’re going to spend about an hour working on some learning and then spend some time playing and at the end of it, we’ll have completed the requirements and $150 worth of what we designed will be printed at Shapeways!

This is a first step in getting full Instructables Sponsorship – which would be kinda awesome for the space – and since there’s a limited number of sponsorships available, I’d like to get in sooner as opposed to later.

Instructables is sponsoring monthly build nights at makerspaces and hackerspaces around the world. Each month is a different theme and we will send you materials to run a workshop at your space. In June we are running 3D Printing Build Night with 123D and Tinkercad. Experiment with these free 3D design tools and receive $150 worth of printing credits from Shapeways! Details below (please read all the information).

How to Participate:

  1. Host a Build Night: pick a night in June (any night) to host the 3D printing build night. At the event play around with 123D, Tinkercad, or both.
  2. Share your work:
    • 3D Models in 123D Gallery: Post all models created at the build night in the 123D Gallery or the Tinkercad gallery. We want to see all experiments with the 123D products and Tinkercad from beginner models to more advanced uses. These must be posted 2 days after the build night. You will receive $150 in 3D printing credits to Shapeways after posting these models.
    • 2 New Instructables: post 2 new Instructables from the build night that incorporate your 3D models and/or prints. These can be posted after you receive your printing credits.Sign up for an Instructables account here.
  3. Instructables Sponsorship: use the build night as a launch pad to bring your makerspace towards Instructables sponsorship. Individual projects can be included towards the sponsorship AKA get people to post new Instructables to count towards sponsorship.
  4. Brownie Points: After the build night post a forum topic on Instructables about how your event ran. Include pictures, stories, etc… This is an example from the May build night @ Noisebridge.

Sign Up: we are limiting this month to 25 spaces so it’s first come first serve. No more spaces available.


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Will 3D printing go mainstream?

Thoughts on the current and future state of 3D printing

Over on the Make blog, Dale Dougherty asked the question “How many people will own 3D printers?”  I posted a comment there, and I’ve expanded it a bit for this post.

In my view, 3D printers as they currently exist will remain tools for industry, hobbyists & makers. There are 4 things needed for them to break out as mainstream products:

1. Ease of use: current printers are finicky, requiring too much adjustment and have too high a printing failure rate. But the biggest impediment is the software. 3D design software is too complex, and the tool chain from design to print is too cumbersome. Simple design software, and a “print” button that looks after the rest, will be needed before these become household items.

2. Colour: current 3D printed items are boring. Printing custom bobble heads & action figures of your friends & family would be fun, but the painting required makes it too laborious. The ability to print colour items would greatly enhance 3D printer’s desirability. This can be through multi-colour, multi-printhead designs, or by using a combination of 3D printing and inkjet printing to “paint” objects during or after the print process. Alternatively, heat shrink colour printed skins can be made to put over objects, similar to the advertising wraps you see applied to cars, trucks & buses.

3. Simple, inexpensive, high quality 3D scanners: following on point 1, design software is complicated. If you have a broken part that you want to replace, it would be much easier to scan & print rather than try to design a replica in software. Scaling is also a reason for scanning – you have an object you want to replicate, but at twice the size, or half the size. Scan, resize, print. Or for customization – scan, modify, print.

4. Adoption of “designed for 3D printing”: this could, in my estimation, drive 3D printing more than anything. Think of the inconvenience and expense of the parts inventories held by companies & repair shops around the world. When a replacement part for a vacuum or a car is needed, you often find yourself paying a ridiculous price for the part, and/or waiting an inordinate time for it to come in. With current products, 3D printing can’t change this much, as most parts can’t be readily reproduced at sufficient quality. But what if product designers took this into account. What if a car company actively designed its cars so that as many parts as possible could be 3D printed. Dealerships & repair shops could install high quality 3D printers, and maintain a digital inventory of spare parts, which would be printed on demand for customers. No more waiting for parts, no more investing millions in spare part inventory and parts distribution systems. From there, one can see a progression to the home. Products that are sold can be designed for 3D printed part replacement. Just as you now can go on most manufacturer’s websites & download instruction manuals, you could go on their sites and download files to 3D print parts. Print the replacement part yourself at home, or take it to your local Kinko’s, Staples, or other 3D print shop. Companies could make these parts file downloads available for free, or charge a small fee for the download. In most cases, the 3D design files will already exist, as the product was probably originally designed this way. Many may think that companies won’t follow this path – they profit from expensive parts & built-in obsolescence, and hope you give up on repair & simply buy a new item. There may be many who will think this way. But there will be companies who will see “design for 3D printing” as a strategic advantage. They can market their goods as easily repairable, and green, in that they are not as likely to end up in landfill because of a small broken part.

I expect a market will also develop for “framework” products designed with 3D printing in mind. You buy the core component (electronics, mechanics, etc.) with the idea that you can 3D print the rest to customize your product. Buy the workings for a camera, 3D print the case to perfectly fit your hand. Or a case that moulds to your ski helmet. Just as clock mechanisms have been available for woodworkers, mechanisms for all sorts of products will be available for 3D printer owners. This market may be niche, but with the internet enabling both product discovery, marketing and commerce, niche can now be a viable business model.

The earliest hobby computers had toggle switches & blinked lights. They were of interest to a very small group who wanted to learn how they functioned, and who were fascinated by the process of building, programming, and making it work. Few people could see any reason why they’d want one. Using one as a calculator, requiring conversion to/from binary? Not a mainstream application, but it was the beginning. That’s the point we’re at with 3D printers today. They are difficult to use, and accomplish underwhelming tasks. We don’t yet have a VisiCalc for 3D printers. But I’m confident we will, and that 20 years from now, we’ll be doing things with our home 3D printers that today we’ve not even thought about.

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