66% or better

Three-Phase Submersible Thruster is Open Source and Awesome


Have you ever considered building some kind of underwater vehicle? It’s rather ambitious but [Dane] of Transistor-Man has designed and built a working submersible 3-phase electric thruster – and he’s released the plans online for all to share!

He decided to make this for his 3D printed canoe (another awesome project) which is possible due to his massive SCARA robot 3D printer. The thruster makes use of readily available off the shelf components, but with 3D printed cones for decreased water resistance and other manufactured parts. The housing is water-jet cut, and the poly-carbonate tube had grooves for seals made using a lathe.  The amount of detail in his build logs is incredible — he’s fully modeled all parts in what looks like SolidWorks and uploaded detailed images and designs of all the parts.

The trickiest part of the build was making it water-tight. His first test was to submerge it in a water bath for 8 minutes, and once that was proven, he filled the inside with 5W-20 oil to make sure it wouldn’t leak the other way as well. One of his project goals is for this thruster to work 1 meter underwater without losing more than 10ml of the coolant (oil) per hour.

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Designing And Printing A Custom Enclosure


So you know how to design a circuit board, assemble the parts, and have a functional device at the end of a soldering session. Great, but if you want to use that device in the real world, you’re probably going to want an enclosure, and Tupperware hacked with an Exacto knife just won’t cut it. It’s actually not that hard to design a custom enclosure for you board, as [Glen] demonstrates with a custom 3D printed project box.

[Glen]‘s board, a quad RS-422 transmitter with a PMOD connector, was designed in Eagle. There are a vast array of scripts and plugins for this kind of mechanical design work, including the EagleUP plugins that turn an Eagle PCB into a 3D object that can be imported into SketchUp.

Taking measurements from Eagle, [Glen] designed a small project box that fits the PCB. A few standoffs were added, and the board itself was imported into SketchUp. From there, all he needed to do was to subtract the outline of the connectors from the walls of then enclosure for a custom-fit case. Much better than Tupperware, and much easier than designing a laser cut enclosure.

Once the enclosure was complete, [Glen] exported the design as an STL, ready for 3D printing or in his case, sending off to Shapeways. Either way, the result is a custom enclosure with a perfect fit.


Plater Makes It Easy To Fill Your Bed Plate


If you’re a 3D printing power user, you probably try to fit as many parts onto a single print job as possible. Most printing software has this built in to let you do that, but [Grégoire Passault] and his team thought they could do it better with their program Plater — it’s open source too.

They decided to make Plater after designing Spidey: an open-source 4-legged robot that makes use of 22 3D printed parts. The first few times they printed this took a long time because they had to manually arrange the parts — there had to be a better way!

Plater is a fairly simple program that lets you take in a bunch of STL files, set your print bed size and part spacing and then it creates an STL with as many parts in it as it can, organized on your print bed. Then you just have to load it up into your favorite slicing program and you’re good to go.

Seems like an excellent tool to add to your metaphorical 3D printing tool-belt!

The Laser Cutter Attachment For A 3D Printer

cheapo If you already have a 3D printer, you already have a machine that will trace out gears, cogs, and enclosures over an XY plane. How about strapping a laser to your extruder and turning your printer into a laser cutter? That’s what [Spiritplumber] did, and he’s actually cutting 3/16″ wood and 1/4″ acrylic with his 3D printer.

[Spiritplumber] is using a 445nm laser diode attached directly to his extruder mount to turn his 3D printer into a laser cutter. The great thing about putting a laser diode on an extruder is that no additional power supplies are needed; after installing a few connectors near the hot end, [Spiritplumber] is able to switch from extruding to lasing by just swapping a few wires. The software isn’t a problem either: it’s all just Gcode and DXFs, anyway.

There’s an Indiegogo for this, with the laser available for $200. Compare that to the Chinese laser cutters on eBay, and you can see why this is called the L-CHEAPO laser cutter.

Turning A Laser Cutter Into A 3D Printer With OpenSLS


[Andreas Bastian] has been working on a device that turns an off-the-shelf laser cutter into something capable of selective laser sintering of powdered plastics into 3D objects. He’s put in a lot of work, but now he gets to see the fruits of his labor: he’s successfully printed a few objects out of wax and powdered nylon.

Unlike just about every other inexpensive 3D printer, [Andreas]‘ design doesn’t rely on either squirting plastic onto a bed or curing liquid resin with UV light. Instead, a fine layer of powder is spread over a build platform and melted with a laser. The melted layer drops down, another layer of powder is applied, and the cycle repeats until the part is finished. It’s a challenge to build one of these machines, but [Andreas] had the great idea of retrofitting an off-the-shelf laser cutter, allowing him to focus on the difficult task of designing the powder and piston system.

It’s an extremely interesting project, and most of the custom parts are made from laser cut acrylic: easily cut to size on whatever laser cutter you’re retrofitting with 3D printing capability. There’s a lot of info over on the Wiki, and a few videos showing the sintering process and powder distribution below.

Oh. One last note. [Andreas] developed this while at [Jordan Miller]‘s amazing lab at Rice University. There’s a lot of interesting things happening at this Advanced Manufacturing Research Institute, including bioprinting, DLP resin printers, and using inkjets for cell cultures. Check out this post for a great talk at the Midwest RepRap Festival.

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Automated Home Manufacturing Combining 3D Printing With Robotics

automated 3d printer

[Florian] has been hard at work creating this automated setup to queue jobs for his 3D printer in order for it to run while he’s not around. It’s not quite finished but the concept is there and he’s started doing some tests! 

He’s using the uArm, which was a highly successful kickstarter earlier this year – it’s an Arduino-compatible microcontroller driven 4-axis parallel-mechanism robot arm, based off of the industrial ABB PalletPack robot.

As soon as he got all the parts he setup a quick test to replace the build platforms using the uArm.

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Koch Lamp is 3D Printed with a Twist

Koch Lamp

[repkid] didn’t set out to build a lamp, but that’s what he ended up with, and what a lamp he built. If the above-pictured shapes look familiar, it’s because you can’t visit Thingiverse without tripping over one of several designs, all based on a fractal better known as the Koch snowflake. Typically, however, these models are intended as vases, but [repkid] saw an opportunity to bring a couple of them together as a housing for his lighting fixture.

Tinkering with an old IKEA dioder wasn’t enough of a challenge, so [repkid] fired up his 3D printer and churned out three smaller Koch vases to serve as “bulbs” for the lamp. Inside, he affixed each LED strip to a laser-cut acrylic housing with clear tape. The three bulbs attach around a wooden base, which also holds a larger, central Koch print at its center. The base also contains a PICAXE 14M2 controller to run the dioder while collecting input from an attached wireless receiver. The final component is a custom control box—comprised of both 3D-printed and laser-cut parts—to provide a 3-dial remote. A simple spin communicates the red, green, and blue values through another PICAXE controller to the transmitter. Swing by his site for a detailed build log and an assortment of progress pictures.