BeagleBones At MRRF

[Jason Kridner] – the BeagleBone guy – headed out to the Midwest RepRap Festival this weekend. There are a lot of single board computers out there, but the BeagleBoard and Bone are perfectly suited for controlling printers, and motion control systems thanks to the real-time PRUs on board. It’s not the board for you if you want to play retro video games or build a media center; it’s the board for building stuff.

Of interest at the BeagleBooth were a few capes specifically designed for CNC and 3D printing work. There was the CRAMPS, a clone of the very popular RAMPS 3D printer electronics board made for the Beagle. If you’re trying to control an old mill that is only controllable through a parallel port, here’s the board for you. There are 3D printer boards with absurd layouts that work well as both printer controller boards and the reason why you should never come up with the name of something before you build it.

[Jason]’s trip out to MRRF wasn’t only about extolling the virtues of PRUs; Machinekit, a great motion control software, was also there, running on a few Beagles. The printer at the BeagleBooth was running Machinekit and apart from a few lines of GCode that sent the head crashing into the part, everything was working great.

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MRRF: (not quite) Chocolate Clock

[Jason] is a woodworker. At least, he was until he saw his first 3D printer. While he may still work in wood, he particularly likes adapting scroll saw patterns for 3D printing. His clock started as a woodworking pattern for use on a scroll saw. To adapt it for 3D printing, [Jason] scanned the plotter-sized pattern pieces into Inkscape, where he was able to do things like add bevels before sending the pieces to OpenSCAD.

tall chococlockAs you might imagine, a great deal of work went into this build, beginning with the scanning. [Jason] starting scanning last October and finished in January. Printing started January 9th, and he told me the final pieces were printed early this morning. We know you want all the details, so here goes: this build took just over six rolls of PLA at 20% infill. It’s 48″ tall and about 24″ wide. It was printed on what [Jason] referred to as his “very modified” Replicator 2. He glued the pieces together with Testor’s, and that took about 30 hours. All through the project, he kept meticulous notes in a spreadsheet of print times and filament used.

We were honored to be among the first to see [Jason]’s incredible clock build at this year’s Midwest RepRap Festival. He would like to take it on tour this year to the nearby Maker Faires. If he can figure out how transport it safely, he’d like to show it at World Maker Faire in NYC.

GT2 Belt Drive Conversion of Printrbot Simple

The early versions of the Printrbot Simple at about $300 were cheap enough for even the most cash-strapped hackers to put on their desks. Obviously, for that cost, a lot of design compromises were needed to keep it cheap. Sometimes, changes carry forward to the next iteration at no cost increase. One such improvement in the current version of the Printrbot is the belt drive. Unfortunately, if you have one of the late 2013 – early 2014 wood models, it is most likely being driven by a fishing line that loops over a rubber hose attached to the stepper motor. [jason] describes the process of upgrading the Printrbot Simple to a GT2 belt drive , using the designs posted by Thingiverse contributor [iamjonlawrence].

The trouble with the fishing line drive was that it would tend to get loose over time and needed to be pulled taut. Also, it affected precision when the line tended to wander over the drive shaft. The good thing with having rapid prototyping tools is you can make bootstrap improvements using them. Once the parts for the upgrade were printed, [jason] only needed some bearings, GT2 belts and pulleys to complete the upgrade. For those wanting to upgrade their old Printrbot Simple machines, [jason] guides you through the whole process via some detailed photographs and listing out the gotcha’s that you need to be careful about.

The Midwest RepRap Festival – Awesome Stuff in the Middle of Nowhere

It’s time once again to venture out to Goshen, Indiana for the Midwest RepRap Festival. It is the largest 3D printing con in the entire world where no one is trying to sell you anything. With a qualifier like that, it doesn’t have to be very big, but last year over 1,500 people showed up to the Elkhart county farm show complex and this year many more people are expected.

On the list of attendees is Taulman 3D, makers of fine, odd filament, Lulzbot, [Johnny] of Ultimachine, creator of the RAMBo board, MakerJuice, the FirePick Delta – the most skulled project on hackaday.io, and dozens of other people who make a living with 3D printing.

Of the expected attendees that are not specifically involved with 3D printing, I’m told [Ben Heck] will be there, along with someone from Adafruit and Make. The EFF might have a booth. A local radio station is doing a remote, and the servers at Wings, Etc. — one of the few area pubs — are going to clean up this weekend.

The event officially starts at 4:00pm today, Friday, March 20th. If you won’t be going the entire weekend, I’d suggest showing up on Saturday or Sunday. There will be far too many people there, and I’m slightly agoraphobic. We’ll be posting updates from the MRRF later on.

Clever Chemistry Leads to Much Faster 3D Printing

Resin printing, it can be messy but you get really great resolution thanks to the optical nature of curing the sticky goo with light from a projector. Soon it will have a few more notches in its belt to lord over its deposition cousins: speed and lack of layers. A breakthrough in resin printing makes it much faster than ever before and pretty much eliminates layering from the printed structure.

The concept uses an oxygen-permeable layer at the bottom of the resin pool. This inhibits curing, and apparently is the source of the breakthrough. The resin is cured right on the border of this layer and allows for what is described as a continuous growth process rather than a layer-based approach. One of the benefits described is no need for resin to flow in as the part is extracted but we’re skeptical on that claim (the resin still needs to flow from somewhere). Still, for us the need to work with resin which is expensive, possibly messy, and has an expiry (at least when compared to plastic filament) has kept deposition as a contender. The speed increase and claims of strength benefits over layer-based techniques just might be that killer feature.

The technology is coming from a company called Carbon3D. They are branding it CLIP, or Continuous Liquid Interface Production. After the break you can see a video illustration of the concept (which is a bit too simple for our tastes) as well as a TED talk which the company’s CEO, [Joseph Desimone] gave this month. Of course there is also the obligatory time-lapse print demo.

So what do you think: game changer or not, and why do you feel that way? Let us know in the comments.

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Adding Recycling Codes To 3D Prints

Every little plastic bauble you interact with has some sort of recycling code on it somewhere. Now that we’re producing plastic 3D printed parts at home, it would be a good idea to agree on how to recycle all those parts, and [Joshua Pearce]’s lab at Michigan Tech has the answer; since we’re printing these objects, we can just print the recycling code right in the object.

The US system of plastic recycling codes is particularly ill-suited for identifying what kind of plastic the object in question is made of; there are only seven codes, while China’s system of plastic identification uses 140 identification codes. This system for labeling 3D printed parts borrows heavily from the Chinese system, assigning ABS as ‘9’, PLA as ’92’, and HIPS as ‘108’.

With agreed upon recycling codes, the only thing left to do is to label every print with the correct recycling code. That’s an easy task with a few OpenSCAD scripts – the paper shows off a wrench made out of HIPS labeled with the correct code, and an ABS drill bit handle sporting a number nine. 3D printing opens up a few interesting manufacturing techniques, and the research team shows this off with a PLA vase with a recycle code lithophane embedded in the first few layers.

DIY Hololens Uses Pepper’s Ghost in a Box!

Entirely too excited about Microsoft’s Hololens, the DIY community has leaped on the challenge to make some hardware before the real deal comes out. [Sean Hall] has an excellent 3D printed prototype that makes use of the Pepper’s Ghost illusion to create a “hologram” for this pair of unique VR goggles.

Similar to other DIY virtual reality goggles we’ve seen, [Sean] has 3D printed the enclosure — but instead of slapping the smart phone right in front of your eyes, it’s mounted above the goggles, reflecting off of a mirror and then a piece of transparent plexi-glass, which produces a hologram like effect thanks to the concept of Pepper’s Ghost illusion.

The problem with any of these reflection-based-holograms is they aren’t always that easy to see, so [Sean] is planning to try out some 1-way reflective car tint to get a more visible reflection while still being able to see through the image. He also plans to add gaze tracking with some open-source software called Project Haytham. It’s a depth sensor using a Kinect, head tracking using a Playstation Move and maybe even a leap motion controller for virtual object manipulation.

Check out the current state of this hack in the clip after the break.

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