3d printing is rapidly developing to be one of the hottest topics out there. The ability to print physical objects in your home, either for repairing appliances, or creating completely new items, is amazing. Almost every day there's some new story about 3d printing in the news, from printing robots, to 3d printing using chocolate, even 3d printing guns!

The fact that many of these 3d printer blueprints are open source means you can even download the plans and build your own, or find an easy to assemble 3d printer kit. Even if you already have a printer, you'll enjoy the 3d printer hacks for existing models, such as hacking the up printer to use spools instead of expensive cartridges, or 3d printing in multiple colors.

If someone is pushing the envelope on the capabilities of 3d printing, you'll most likely find it here first.

Electric Bubblegum Board

Electric Bubblegum Boards

The Mini Maker Faire in Atlanta was packed with exciting builds and devices, but [Andrew's] Electric Bubblegum Boards stood out from the rest, winning the Editor’s Choice Award. His boards first emerged on Endless Sphere earlier this summer, with the goal of hitting all the usual e-skateboard offerings of speed, range, and weight while dramatically cutting the cost of materials.

At just over 12 pounds, the boards are lightweight and fairly compact, but have enough LiFePO4’s fitted to the bottom to carry a rider 10 miles on a single charge. A Wii Nunchuck controls throttle, cruise control, and a “boost” setting for bursts of speed. The best feature of this e-skateboard, however, is the use of 3D-printed parts. The ABS components not only help facilitate the prototyping process, but also permit a range of customization options. Riders can reprint parts as necessary, or if they want to just change things up.

[Andrew's] board is nearing the 11th hour over at his Kickstarter page, so swing by to see a production video made for potential backers, or stick around after the break for some quick progress and demo videos.

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Introducing the F*Watch, a Fully Open Electronic Watch

As one of their colleagues was retiring, several CERN engineers got together after hours during 4 months to develop his gift: a fully open electronic watch. It is called the F*Watch and is packed with sensors: GPS, barometer, compass, accelerometer and light sensor. The microcontroller used is a 32-bit ARM Cortex-M3 SiLabs Giant Gecko which contains 128KB of RAM and 1MB of Flash. In the above picture you’ll notice a 1.28″ 128×128 pixels Sharp Memory LCD but the main board also contains a micro-USB connector for battery charging and connectivity, a micro-SD card slot, a buzzer and a vibration motor.

The watch is powered by a 500mA LiPo battery. All the tools that were used to build it are open source (FreeCAD, KiCad, GCC, openOCD, GDB) and our readers may make one by downloading all the source files located in their repository. After the break is embedded a video showing their adventure.

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3D Printing Models From Computer Games

3D printed Chivalry Medieval Warfare Mace

Wouldn’t it be cool to extract 3D models from your favorite video games and then 3D print them? As it turns out, it’s pretty easy to do!

In the following video tutorial he shows us how to extract the 3D meshes from a video game called Chivalry, Medieval Warfare. The game is based on the unreal engine which makes it super easy to get the files.

Quick note on legality: If you choose to rip 3D models from your video games and print them, make sure you’re just printing them for yourself, not to sell. 

To start, you’ll need a few pieces of software to help you out. First up is something called Umodel, which is an Unreal Engine Resource Viewer, which allows you to view and extract files from any game that uses the Unreal Engine. Once you find your model in the game directory, you can open it up in Umodel and save it as a .PSK file. From there you can open .PSK files with another program called Milkshape 3D, and then export in .OBJ file. Finally you can use MeshMixer to import .OBJ files, repair the mesh by removing the extra shells (you can use the cloud NetFabb service to help repair files for 3D printing as well), and then finally save as .STL ready to print.

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Mechanical Bird Actually Flies by Flapping its Wings

Flying Bird RC

Turns out you don’t have to be a multi-million dollar corporation like Festo to create a remote controlled, flapping bird robot. [Kazuhiko Kakuta] is a medical Doctor of Allergy, and in his free time he likes to build flying mechanical birds with his son.

It has just over a meter wingspan, weighs 193 grams, and it flies by flapping its wings. The majority of its components are 3D printed. If that’s not impressive enough for you as is, consider this. It it has no sensors, no gyroscopes or anything — it’s all manually controlled by [Kazuhiko].

And this isn’t even the only ornithopter he’s done. He’s also created something out of an anime film, Castle in the Sky. He even sells the designs for one of them, to be printed via Shapeways.

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Paper Plane Folding Machine Gun is a Mechanical Marvel

Paper Plane Machine Gun

A German man has just finished a very impressive Paper Airplane Machine Gun, or a Papierflieger-Maschinenpistole, which just sounds so much cooler. It actually takes a stack of paper, folds it into paper air planes and shoots them.

The device takes a stack of what looks like post-card size paper in the “clip”, forms them into paper air planes by a series of rollers and folding edges and then launches them out of the end. A cheap electric screwdriver powers the entire drive train, which allows him to shoot around 20 planes per minute (PPM?).

Sadly there’s really not too much information on how it works, nor the files to reproduce it. [Papierfliegerei], as he goes by on YouTube, decided to build this awesome contraption to show off just what 3D printers are capable of these days. He designed the whole thing in 3D CAD and had many of the parts printed off at a 3D printing company called fabberhouse.de, while the rest of the components are off the shelf.

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CNC Router Converted To 3D Printer

CNC Router Converted to 3D Printer

3D Printers have come down significantly in price over the past few years. Nowadays it is even possible to get a 3D printer kit for between $200-300. It’s arguable how well these inexpensive printers perform. [Jon] wanted a printer capable of quality prints without breaking the bank. After researching the different RepRap types that are available he concluded he really wasn’t up for a full machine build. He had previously built a CNC Router and decided it was best to add a hot end and extruder to the already built 3 axis frame.

The CNC Router frame is made from aluminum, is very rigid and has a 2′ by 2′ cutting area. All axes glide smoothly on THK linear bearings and are powered by NEMA 23 motors driven by Gecko 540 stepper drivers. The router was removed from the machine but the mounting bracket was left on. The bracket was then modified to hold the extruder and hot end. With 3D Printers there is typically a control board specifically designed for the task with dedicated outputs to control the temperature of the hot end. Since [Jon] already had the electronics set up for the router, he didn’t need a specialized 3D Printer control board. What he does need is a way to control the temperature of the hot end and he did that by using a stand-alone PID. The PID is set manually and provides no feedback to the computer or control board.

Huge Whistle[Jon] used liked Mach3 for controlling his CNC Router so he stuck with it for printing. He’s tried a few slicers but it seems Slic3r works the best for his setup. Once the g-code is generated it is run though Mach3 to control the machine. [Jon] admits that he has a way to go with tweaking the settings and that the print speed is slower than most print-only machines due to the mass of the frame’s gantry and carriage. Even so, his huge whistle print looks pretty darn good. Check it out in the video after the break…

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Bed Leveling with a Solenoid Actuator

Printer bed leveling with a solenoid probe
Ah, the woes of printer bed leveling. Unless you have a fancy 3D printer, bed leveling is a tedious task. [Rupin] got tired of messing around with his printer, so he decided to make his very own bed leveling sensor.

The goal was to create a Z-axis probe that works as both an auto-leveling sensor and as an end stop. He originally was trying to design something using a servo motor probe, but ended up chucking the idea since the motor was noisy and calibration was difficult.

He’s since switched over to use a solenoid actuator with an optoisolator to determine the position. The actuator extends an M3 screw which will touch the bed — as the position is adjusted, it is possible to adjust the bed using software for a perfectly level bed, every time.

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