Rick’s P-p-portal Gun

For this Halloween, [Dave Dalton] went all out on his [Rick] costume from the cartoon Rick and Morty. He designed and 3D printed a portal gun. No, not from Portal. Rick’s Portal gun, set for Reality C137.

He built it at Kansas City’s makerspace, called the Hammerspace Workshop. A 3D printed shell closely matches the cartoon depiction of the Portal Gun, but besides looking realistic — it actually works! You see [Dave] actually went and stuffed a pico projector inside so the gun would actually project portals when you use it — with sound effects even.

But our favorite part of the video is probably [Dave’s] excellent imitation of [Rick’s] drunken slurs.

I-i-inside this housing here, we-we-we’ve got all kinds of cool electronic gizmos, we-we got some stuff from Adafruit…

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Print Your Own Vertices for Quick Structural Skeletons

3D printing is great for a lot of things: prototyping complex designs, replacing broken parts, and creating unique pencil holders to show your coworkers how zany you are. Unfortunately, 3D printing is pretty awful for creating large objects – it’s simply too inefficient. Not to mention, the small size of most consumer 3D printers is very limiting (even if you were willing to run a single print for days). The standard solution to this problem is to use off-the-shelf material, with only specialized parts being printed. But, for simple structures, designing those specialized parts is an unnecessary time sink. [Nurgak] has created a solution for this with a clever “Universal Vertex Module,” designed to mate off-the-shelf rods at the 90-degree angles that most people use.


The ingenuity of the design is in its simplicity: one side fits over the structural material (dowels, aluminum extrusions, etc.), and the other side is a four-sided pyramid. The pyramid shape allows two vertices to mate at 90-degree angles, and holes allow them to be held together with the zip ties that already litter the bottom of your toolbox.

[Nurgak’s] design is parametric, so it can be easily configured for your needs. The size of the vertices can be scaled for your particular project, and the opening can be adjusted to fit whatever material you’re using. It should work just as well for drinking straws as it does for aluminum extrusions.

Hair Enthusiasts Rejoice! Synthetic Follicles Are Now 3D-Printable

If you’ve been performing painstaking hair-plug procedures on your 3D-printed troll dolls, then prepare to have your world rocked! [Chris Harrison, Gierad Laput, and Xiang “Anthony” Chen] at Carnegie Mellon University have just released a paper outlining a technique they’ve developed for 3D printing fur and hair. Will the figurine section of Thingiverse ever be the same?

The technique takes advantage of a 3D printing effect that most hobbyists actively try to avoid: stringing. Stringing is what happens when the hot end of a 3D printer moves from one point to another quickly while leaking a small amount of molten filament. This results in a thin strand of plastic between the two points, and is generally perceived as a bad thing, because it negatively affects the surface quality of the print.

brush_highresTo avoid this particular phenomenon, 3D printing slicers generally have options like retraction and wiping. But, instead of trying to stop the stringing, [Chris Harrison, Gierad Laput, and Xiang “Anthony” Chen] decided to embrace it. Through extensive experimentation, they figured out how to introduce stringing in a controlled manner. Instead of random strings here and there, they’re able to create strings exactly where they want them, and at specific lengths and thicknesses.

Examples of what this can be used for are shown in their video below, and include adding hair to figurines or bristles to brushes. Of course, once this technique becomes readily available to the masses, the 3D printing community is bound to find unexpected uses for it. 

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Tubular Tape Gun “Sketches” Furniture You Can Never Sit On

Sometimes you just need a life-sized model. When you do, reach for your (highly modified) tape gun and get drawing.

As the Protopiper team describes it, the “gun” is a computer-aided hand held fabrication device for imagining layouts of large objects — the main example they give is furniture. Want to make sure that couch will fit? Why not spend 10 minutes building a tape model of it?

Sound crazy? Kind of, but the device itself is rather ingenious. It takes normal tape, measures it, and rolls it into tube form, which results in a surprisingly strong structure allowing you to build 3D shapes quite easily. From a design point of view it’s quite brilliant.

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3D Printed Helix Displays Graphics in 3D

It looks like [Michel David] and his team at volumetrics.co have really upped their game: the game being production of a 3D volumetric video display.

We’ve covered an earlier version of the same technique, and still the best technical explanation of what they’re up to is to be found at their old website. But it’s a simple enough idea, and we expect that all of the difficulty is in making the details work out. But if you look at their latest video (just below the jump), we think that you’ll agree that they’ve ironed out most of the wrinkles.

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Printing Soft Body Tissue

If you are like us, you tend to do your 3D printing with plastic or maybe–if you are lucky enough to have access to an expensive printer–metal. [Adam Feinberg] and his team at Carnegie Mellon print with flesh. Well, sort of. Printing biomaterials is a burgeoning research area. However, printing material that is like soft tissue has been challenging. In a recent paper, [Feinberg] and company outline a method called FRESH. FRESH uses a modified MakerBot or Printrbot Jr. printer to deposit hydrogel into a gelatin slurry support bath. The gelatin holds the shape of the object until printing is complete, at which point it can be removed with heat. If you don’t want to wade through the jargon in the actual paper, the journal Science has a good overview (and see their video below).

The gelatin is mixed with calcium chloride and gelled for 12 hours at low temperature. It was then turned into a slurry using an off-the-shelf consumer-grade blender. A centrifuge was used to remove most of the soluble gelatin. Printing inks were made with materials like collagen and fibrin. The FRESH process actually uses liquid  ink that gels in the gelatin.

The printer uses an open source syringe extruder found on the NIH 3D print exchange (they never say exactly  which one, though and we had trouble matching it from the pictures). In true hacker fashion, the printer prints its own syringe extruder using the stock one from ABS and PLA plastic. Then you simply replace the standard extruder with the newly printed one (reusing the stock stepper motor).

The paper describes printing items including a model of a 5-day-old embryonic chick heart, an artery, and a miniature human brain model. Another team of researchers in Florida have a similar system, as well.

We’ve talked about bioprinting before and even mentioned how to make your own inkjet-based bioprinter. The FRESH method looks like it is in reach of the hacker’s 3D printing workshop. We cringe to think what you will print when you can finally print body parts.

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We Didn’t Know the Sun Could Do Digital

You don’t get much more old school than a sundial, and more new school than 3D printing. So, it is nice to see these two combined in this impressive project: the 3D printed digital sundial. We have seen a few sundial projects before, ranging from LED variants to 3D printed ones, but this one from [Julldozer] takes it to a new level.

In the video, he carefully explains how he designed the sundial. Rather than simply create it as a static 3D model, he used OpenSCAD to build it algorithmically, using the program to create the matrix for each of the numbers he wanted the sundial to show, then to combine these at the appropriate angle into a single, 3D printable model. He has open-sourced the project, releasing the OpenSCAD script for anyone who wants to tinker or build their own. It is an extremely impressive project, and there is more to come: this is the first in a new podcast series called Mojoptix from [Julldozer] that will cover similar projects. We will definitely be keeping an eye on this series.

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