Monday, July 7, 2014

3D Printing is Awesome!

Hi Friends,

Okay, a slight change of pace today, no VMware, Citrix or storage today.  BUT, and it's a big but, I wanted to share my latest obsession with you.  I heard about 3d printing awhile back, but the machines were still way too expensive and I just couldn't justify the price for a new toy.

If you haven't heard of 3d printing, let me explain!  Basically, it's like drawing a 3d object with a hot glue gun.  Most things are printed in plastic and so far the most popular plastics are ABS and PLA.  ABS comes from petroleum and PLA comes from plants.  I've only printed in PLA so far, the cool thing is it's biodegradable, and it smells a bit like pancakes cooking when it's building the object!  :-)  Probably not a good idea to sniff the vapors while it's printing though!!

So you buy a big spool of your filament in the color you want and the diameter your printer will print.  Here's what the stuff looks like in a natural color, but there's tons of colors to choose from, even glow in the dark!

You put the filament on a holder, either on the back of the printer, or something else you have in mind, feed it into the printer and away you go!

When I get a bug about something, I usually start researching like crazy, looking at reviews, prices, etc.  So I got the bug and started looking into getting a printer.  I really like looking on Amazon because they have machines, plus they have pretty good reviews.  I'd heard of the MakerBot and started looking into them.  They have some great machines and a huge community of folks that have created things to print and share them because they are just cool!  Take a look at the MakerBot's site thingiverse and you'll see what I'm talking about!!  Being the frugal gentleman I am, I kept poking around and found a company called FlashForge and their Creator printers.  They had some really good reviews on Amazon and a really competitive pricing, so I pulled the trigger and got the Creator X printer.

When it arrived it had broken switch, probably damaged during shipping.  I emailed the company and they were VERY responsive and sent me a new switch.  I was very impressed with the support I got from them!

They also send you two random spools of filament, unfortunately I got two rolls of ABS and wanted to print in PLA, so luckily I ordered two rolls of PLA from Amazon the same time I ordered the printer.  I got black and glow in the dark.

Let me tell you, this 3d printing is challenging stuff!  There's lots of useful information out there, but you have to find it and make sense of it.  The big challenge is heat, speed and feed.  The nozzles can be heated to a specified temperature, the plate can be heated, then you have to decide how fast the motors will move and how fast the filament will flow out.  Like I said, a bit challenging when you're first starting.  After a few duds I found a good speed, heat and feed and decided to tackle a pretty big project.  I found a really cool clock on thingiverse and started printing!  I'm just amazed how talented some people are!  If you follow the link, take a look at the individual pieces, he drew each one in a CAD program.

So here's the almost finished product, it's missing the dial and hands.  It's built, but I'm running into friction problems.  Unfortunately the model was designed to used metric rods and I could only find imperial diameter rods. :-(  So, I had to drill the holes a bit and unfortunately I didn't do the best job.  I haven't given up hope yet and hopefully will have a running clock soon!

This clock is actually very cool in that it doesn't use a pendulum to regulate the release of energy, but uses a balance and spring like the way a watch works.  Yep, that spring is printed too!  Trust me, I've probably printed a dozen of them because I keep breaking them.

So while I'm pondering how to fix my manual clock I saw a really cool robot clock on thingiverse!  I rushed out and purchased a little quartz clock from my local hobby store and got to work printing this guy out!, some assembly required!  :-)

He's not quite done yet.  There's a clock dial that gets put on the disk and then a chest plate and back piece that I've printed, but don't have shown here.

I've got lots more I want to do, so expect updates from time to time.  If you've got any questions, feel free to ask, the learning curve is pretty steep when you start 3d printing.


No comments:

Post a Comment