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.

Plan B: An Open Source Powder Based 3D Printer

Open Source Powder Based 3D Printer

3D printers come in all shapes and sizes. Most widely known is the FDM (fused deposition modeling) style, which was the easiest to adapt to a consumer grade machine. We’re still waiting for widespread availability of some of the more advanced 3D printing technologies — so you can guess how excited we were when [Yvo de Haas] dropped us a line on his open-source powder based 3D printer!

Powder based 3D printing is one of the most economic and easy to use technologies in the commercial industry because of one wonderful thing — no support material required! They work by laying down fine layers of powder which can then be bonded together either by laser sintering, or by using a binding agent applied by something similar to an inkjet head. Because of this, the surrounding powder acts as a support for any complex geometry you might need — you can quite literally print anything on this style of machine.

[Yvo] has just finished his own version of this style of 3D printer, called the Plan B. Mechanically similar to a regular 3D printer, his is capable of laying down fine powders, and then binding them together using a hacked HP inkjet cartridge. Check it out after the break.

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Disabled Chiahuahua Gets New Outlook on Life with 3D Printed Cart

Turbo the Two Legged Chihuahua

[Turbo] is a disabled Chiahuahua who has brought in quite a bit of media interest after [Mark Deadrick] designed and 3D printed some new wheels for the pup.

He was born without his front legs due to a genetic defect and quickly became the runt of the litter, as the other pups prevented him from getting much food — at 4 weeks old he only weighed 10 ounces! The couple owning the dogs didn’t want to give up on the little guy but weren’t sure what to do — most veterinarian clinics they visited didn’t offer much support, until they found [Amy Birk] at the Downtown Veterinarian in Indianapolis.

[Amy], the manager of the clinic, had little [Turbo] examined and determined that the there was nothing physically wrong with the puppy, other than his missing legs — this meant [Turbo] could still have a full and happy life — with the help of some extra wheels. The only problem? Dog carts are generally built for their canine users when they stop growing — not much available for puppies — nor would it be cheap.

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Lost PLA Casting With a Little Help From Your Microwave

lost-pla

[Julia and Mason] have been perfecting their microwave-based lost PLA casting technique over at Hackaday.io. As the name implies, lost PLA is similar to lost wax casting techniques. We’ve covered lost PLA before, but it always involved forges. [Julia and Mason] have moved the entire process over to a pair of microwaves.

Building on the work of the FOSScar project, the pair needed a way to burn the PLA out of a mold with a microwave. The trick is to use a susceptor. Susceptors convert the microwave’s RF energy into thermal energy exactly where it is needed. If you’ve ever nuked a hot pocket, the crisping sleeve is lined with susceptor material. After trying several materials, [Julia and Mason] settled on a mixture of silicon carbide, sugar, water, and alcohol for their susceptor.

The actual technique is pretty simple. A part printed in PLA is coated with susceptor. The part is then placed in a mold made of plaster of paris and perlite. The entire mold is cooked in an unmodified household microwave to burn out the PLA.

A second microwave with a top emitter is used to melt down aluminum, which is then poured into the prepared mold. When the metal cools, the mold is broken away to reveal a part ready to be machined.

We think this is a heck of a lot of work for a single part. Sometimes you really need a metal piece, though. Until metal 3D printing becomes cheap enough for everyone to do at home, this will work pretty well.

Cutting Records Out of CDs

3D Printed Record Lathe

Lovers of records rejoice! Did you know you can cut your own vinyl using something called a record lathe? [Beau Walker] just put the finishing touches on his 3D printed record lathe, and the results speak for themselves!

A Recording Lathe was once used for cutting records, and previously, wax cylinders – if you want to get really old school. [Beau], being an analog lover, decided he had to try making his own. He designed the whole thing in FreeCAD and got 3D printing. A single stepper motor drives the lead screw which moves the writing head back and forth as the record spins in place. As to not waste materials, he’s reusing old CD’s for his newly created vinyls. Two 25W speakers cause vibrations in the needle to cut into the disc, via a clever little mechanism.

The system works pretty well, but he wants to replace the turntable with another stepper motor for finer control of the recording — sometimes the turntable slows down during recording under load which messes up the sound. There’s a video of it in action on his site that we can’t embed here, so you should definitely go check it out!

Of course you could skip the middleman and go straight to 3D printing your records…

LittleRP, The Latest Of The Resin Printers

LitleRP Over the last few years, a few resin / stereolithography printers have been made a few headlines due to print quality that cannot be matched by the usual RepRap style filament printers. These used to be extremely expensive machines, but lately there have been a few newcomers to the field. The latest is the LittleRP, an affordable DLP projector-based resin printer that can be put together for under a kilobuck.

Instead of proprietary resins, the LittleRP is designed to use as many different formulations of UV curing resin as possible, including those from MadeSolid and MakerJuice. These resins are cured with a DLP projector, providing a print area of 60x40x100mm with the recommended 1024×768 projector, or 72x40x100mm with the alternative 1080p projector.

This isn’t the only resin printer that’s come out recently; SeeMeCNC recently announced their cleverly named DropLit resin printer kit, going with the same ‘bring your own projector’ idea as the LittleRP. With the price of the printer, both of these kits should cost less than $1000 USD. With the price of UV resin dropping over the last few years, it might be just the time to get in the resin printer game.

George Crowdsourcington: A 3D Printed, Community Built Statue

George Crowdsourcington and Distributed Ben Franklin

Macro 3D printing is some cool stuff — but it’s extremely time consuming and can be very expensive. Introducing We The Buildersa 3D printing crowd source site which creates large scale projects the whole country can enjoy.

Their first project was George Crowdsourcington — a 1:1 copy of the Baltimore George Washington statue made out of 110 individual pieces. They chopped the model up into 4″ cubes and created the website in order to organize and distribute the files. One of their sponsors, Tinkerine Studio, reimbursed the shipping costs for makers who helped print out parts! Since his creation, Crowdsourcington has traveled all over the country, making stops at 3D printing shows in New York, mini-Maker Faires, art galleries, science centers and more — he even did a short residency in the Adafruit office in Manhattan!

It was quite the success, so they’re starting a new statue called the Distributed Ben Franklin. This one has a whopping 198 pieces, and they hope to have it built in time for the Silver Spring and World Maker Faires.

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Restarting 3D Prints

Image of a 3D print which was restarted using a different material

If a 3D printer is interrupted during a print, it will usually result in a junk part. Resuming the print can be very difficult. A group of researchers at MIT have built an add-on for 3D printers that uses a laser scanner to evaluate the state of the print, and allows the printer to restart.

While this will allow you to salvage some partially competed prints, the interesting application is switching between materials. In the image above, the lower piece was printed in ABS. The print was interrupted to change materials, and the top cube was printed in PLA. This allows for prints to mix materials and colors.

The add-on was tested with the Solidoodle 3D printer, and can be built for about $60. It requires a laser mounted to the print head, and a low-cost webcam for performing the measurements. While the group will not be continuing work on this project, they plan to open source their work so others can continue where they’ve left off.

After the break, we have a video of the printer performing a scan and resuming a print.

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