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.

Clay 3D Printer Keeps It Simple

Clay 3D Printer

Artist [Jonathan] has built a 3D printer specifically for printing in clay. The part count is kept to a minimum and the printer was designed to be made with basic tools and beginner skills. The intent was to not require access to a plastic 3D printer in order to build this printer. Although this build’s goal was clay printing, the extruder could certainly be swapped out for a typical plastic printer version.

This Delta uses quite a bit of MDF. The top and bottom plates are MDF, as are the bearing carriages and extruder mount plate. 12mm rods are solely responsible for the support between the top and bottoms plates as well providing a surface for the LM12UU linear bearings. These bearings are zip tied to the MDF bearing carriages. The 6 arms that support the extruder mount plate are made from aluminum tubing and Traxxas RC car rod-ends. NEMA17 motors and GT2 belts and pulleys are the method used to move the machine around.

Getting the clay to dispense was a tricky task. Parts scavenged from a pneumatic dispensing gun was used. If you are unfamiliar with this type of tool, think: Power Caulk Gun. Clay is fed into the re-fillable syringes and an air compressor provides the 30 psi required to force the clay out of the nozzle. The pressure alone controls the rate of clay flow so it is a little finicky to get the extrusion rate correct. Depending on the size of the final sculpture, 1 to 2mm diameter nozzles could be used. For larger work, 1mm layer height works well. For the smaller pieces, 0.5mm is the preferred layer height.

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A Better Google Glass For $60 (This One Folds)

glassFor [Tony]‘s entry for The Hackaday Prize, he’s doing something we’ve all seen before – a head mounted display, connected to a Bluetooth module, displaying information from a smartphone. What we haven’t seen before is a cheap version of this tech, and a version of Google Glass that folds – you know, like every other pair of glasses on the planet – edges this project over from ‘interesting’ to ‘nearly practical’.

For the display, [Tony] is using a 0.96″ OLED connected to an Arduino Nano. This screen is directed into the wearer’s eye with a series of optics that, along with every other part of the frame, was 3D printed on a Solidoodle 2. The frame itself not only folds along the temples, but also along the bridge, making this HMD surprisingly compact when folded up.

Everything displayed on this head mounted display is controlled by  either an Android phone or a Bluetooth connection to a desktop. Using relatively simple display means [Tony] is limited to text and extremely simple graphics, but this is more than enough for some very interesting applications; reading SMS messages and checking email is easy, and doesn’t overpower the ‘duino.

SpaceWrencherThe project featured in this post is an entry in The Hackaday Prize. Build something awesome and win a trip to space or hundreds of other prizes.

A New Approach to Robotic Walking Looks More Like Kinetic Art

Flipping Robot

Here’s a really cool application of 3D printing and robotics by a fellow named [Maundy] – He’s created a very unique kinetic robot which relies on gravity to walk around.

All the electronics are housed in the cylinder as shown above. It can roll freely back and forth by some kind of mechanism inside (not shown), but the beauty of it is, when the cylinder rolls to one end, gravity takes over and the little robot actually flips through the air, reorienting itself onto its other feet.

Due to the flipping nature of the bot, it can even climb over small obstacles with ease – but this one can’t steer, so there’s no threat of them taking over the world. Perhaps with a modification to the control cylinder (turn it into a ball), the robot could orientate itself vertically, and then kind of spin in place in order to steer…

Anyway, you have to see it to believe it, so stick around after the break to see it in action!

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Print Tasty Treats With MIT’s Ice Cream Printer

Ice Cream Printer

Three MIT students decided that 3D printers just aren’t interesting enough on their own any more. They wanted to design a new type of printer that would really get young kids engaged. What’s more engaging to children than sugary treats? The team got together to develop a new 3d printer that prints ice cream.

The machine is built around a Solidoodle. The Solidoodle is a manufacturer of “accessible” 3d printers. The printer is enclosed inside of a small freezer to keep things cold during the printing process. On top of the machine is a hacked Cuisinart ice cream maker. The machine also contains a canister of liquid nitrogen. The nitrogen is used to blast the cream as it leaves the print head, keeping it frozen for the 15 minute duration of the print.

It sounds like the team ran into trouble with the ice cream melting, even with the liquid nitrogen added. For a single semester project, this isn’t a bad start. Be sure to watch the clip of the machine running below.

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A Fully Mechanical 3D Printer is Mind Blowing

mechanical 3d printer

It’s been a while since we’ve been seriously impressed with a project like this one. [Daniël de Bruin], a student at the Art Academy in Utrecht has just put the final touches on his mechanical 3D printer.

That’s right. Mechanical.

No computers, no motors, just the power of gravity. It could have been built 100 years ago.

The machine uses a 15kg weight to power the mechanism — it does need to be reset during the print, but that’s a small price to pay for this kind of mechanical automation.

He uses a type of clay in a paste extruder that slowly deposits the material on the build platform. To program the machine, there is a small guiding mechanism that follows the contour of a bent aluminum wire. This allows you to make any number of symmetrical and circular objects.

[Daniël] says he was inspired to build this machine because he loves 3D printing — but at the same time, he feels like it’s kind of like cheating. Beyond pressing the print button, there’s no real human interaction.

I love technology but how can I reclaim ownership of my work? Perhaps by building the machine that produces the work. Perhaps by physically powering the machine, which I built, that produces the work. in hopes of rediscovering the sense of having created something, I create.

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Break Your Frames? Print Some New Ones!

3D Printed Glasses

When [Aaron Porterfield] accidentally broke his glasses frame, he saw it as an opportunity, rather than an unfortunate event. He decided he was going to design and print new ones to fit his prescription lenses!

The trickiest part of taking on a project like this is designing the glasses around the pre-existing lenses, because typically, lenses are cut to fit the frame — not vice versa. This is why we’re particularly impressed with the project. [Aaron] was able to 3D scan the lenses using his camera phone and Autodesk’s 123D Catch software (free) to create the lens model! Once he had the lens outline, he scaled it properly by measuring its maximum dimensions with calipers.

Now this is where it gets a bit tricky – designing the frames. [Aaron] is using Rhino to do the design work, and he’s actually laid out the steps quite nicely for anyone who wants to attempt something like this. He describes in detail matching the curvature of the lenses, designing the frame around it, and of course actually fitting the lenses in place.

There is a small caveat to this entire project — The frames were printed on a nice Stratasys polyjet 3D printer — due to the geometry, it might be a bit tricky (or impossible) to print on a traditional hobby FDM machine. Regardless — making your own glasses is some serious geek cred. Nice work [Aaron]!

Connect 4 Robot Taunts You Before Kicking Your Butt

Connect 4 Robot

[Patrick McCabe] is a student at MIT and for his final project in his Microcomputer Project Laboratory course he decided to build a clever Connect 4 Robot.

The only criteria for the project was that you have to use the Cypress PSOC 5LP kit along with a 8051 micro-controller or equivalent (programmed in the same assembly language as the PSOC). All in all, [Patrick] had 5 weeks to work on the project.

He’s using a regular old Connect 4 game along with an assortment of custom parts. A stepper motor drives the token carriage back and forth across a 15″ aluminum channel using a timing belt. A servo releases the tokens, and all the other components, brackets, and other pieces were either made with his very own UP Mini 3D printer, or out of acrylic using the school’s laser cutter. It’s an extremely clean and well thought out build, and he’s actually uploaded all the custom part files (in SolidWorks format) online, for others to build their own.

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