We’ve found the awesome singularity

tardis

Yes, that’s exactly what you think it is. A Transformer. That transforms into the TARDIS.

This masterpiece of pop culture is the work of [Nonnef] over on Instructables. After the inspiration to create this work of art struck, [Nonnef] started modeling this Transformer and TARDIS in clay to make everything fit together just right. After a good bit of 3D modelling, the Doctor’s robotic wife was ready for printing.

If you’re going to print one of these for yourself, be prepared for a very long print. [Nonnef] says the latest version took about 30 hours on his RepRap with a .35 mm nozzle. In the end nearly the entire Transformer came directly from a 3D printer, the only additional parts needed being a pen spring and a small screw. Paint is, of course, optional.

All the files are available on the Instructable.

3D printed bike shifter

Shifter

[Rich] is embarking on a fairly long bike trip in a few weeks – Seattle to Portland – and thought including some 3D printed gear on his ride would be a fun endeavor. His first idea was a printed belt drive, but the more he looked at that idea the less realistic it seemed. He finally hit upon the idea of creating a 3D printed bike shifter, and after an afternoon of engineering and printing, the shifter ended up working very well.

[Rich]‘s shifter is actually a friction shifter. Instead of ‘clicking’ into position, this type moves the derailleur gradually. It’s much more tolerant of slight misalignment, and most touring bikes – the type that would embark on long journeys along the coast of the Pacific northwest – have these types of shifters.

Total printing time was about one and a half hours, and was attached to [Rich]‘s bike with off-the-shelf hardware. He’s already put about 150 miles on his custom designed shifter with no signs of failure.

Easily 3D print mesh screens

easy-way-to-3d-print-mesh-screens

If you need a way to make openings in your project enclosures look nice just head on over to the 3D printer. In the image above [Alfred] is showing off the result of his Slic3r hack for printing mesh grills.

It’s important to note that you need to make sure you’re using Slic3r version 0.9.8. This won’t work with newer versions because starting with 0.9.9 the software will add a raft to the bottom of your design.

The grill can be in any shape you desire. It starts by modelling this outline, then extruding the edges downward the same distance as your desired mesh thickness. After importing the design file into Slic3r [Alfred] uses the support material settings to choose this honeycomb design. He then sets the fill density to zero. This means the design will not be printed at all, only the fill material, resulting in these honeycomb screens.

Slic3r’s a fantastic piece of software. Check out this interview with Slic3r’s lead developer.

Kinect full body scanner

kinect-full-body-scanner

Why let the TSA have all the fun when it comes to full body scanning? Not only can you get a digital model of yourself, but you can print it out to scale.

[Moheeb Zara] is still in development with a Kinect based full body scanner. But he took a bit of time to show off the first working prototype. The parts that went into the build were either cut on a bandsaw, laser cut, or 3D printed. The scanning part of the rig uses a free-standing vertical rail which allows the Kinect to move along the Z axis. The sled is held in place by gravity and moved up the rail using a winch with some steel cable looped over a pulley at the top.

The subject stands on a rotating platform which [Moheeb] designed and assembled. Beneath the platform you’ll find a laser cut hoop with teeth on the inside. A motor mounted in a 3D printed bracket uses these teeth to rotate the platform. He’s still got some work to do in order to automate the platform. For this demo he move each step in the scanning process using manual switches. Captured data is assembled into a virtual module using ReconstructMe.

The Kinect has been used as a 3D scanner like this before. But that time it was scanning salable goods rather than people.

[Read more...]

An interview with Shapeways

shape

It seems [Andrew] is an up and coming historian for the world of 3D printing. We’ve seen him interview the creator of Slic3r, but this time around he’s headed over to Eindhoven, Netherlands to interview the community manager for Shapeways, [Bart Veldhuizen].

Unlike the RepRaps, Ultimkers, and Makerbots, Shapeways is an entirely different ecosystem of 3D printing. Instead of building a machine that requires many hours of tinkering, you can just upload a model and have a physical representation delivered to your door in a week. You can also upload objects for others to buy. Despite these competing philosophies, [Bart] doesn’t see Shapeways as encroaching on the homebrew 3D printers out there; they serve different markets, and competition is always good.

Unfortunately, [Andrew] wasn’t allowed to film on the Shapeways factory floor. Proprietary stuff and whatnot, as well as a few certain ‘key words’ that will speed your customer support request up to the top of the queue.

As for how Shapeways actually produces hundreds of objects a day, [Andrew] learned that individual orders are made in batches, with several customer’s parts made in a single run. While most of the parts made by Shapeways are manufactured in-house, they do outsource silver casting after making the preliminary positive mold.

As for the future, a lot of customers are asking about mixed media, with plastic/nylon combined with metal being at the top of the list. It’s difficult to say what the future of 3D printing will be, but [Bart] makes an allusion to cell phones from 10 years ago. In 2003, nobody had smartphones, and now we have an always-on wireless Internet connection in our pockets. Given the same rate of technological progress, we can’t wait to see what 3D printing will be like in 10 years, either.

Smoothing PLA printed parts

tooth

We’ve seen a few advances in the finishing processes of 3D prints over the last few months that result in some very attractive parts that look like they were injection molded. Smoothing ABS prints is now a necessary skill for anyone looking to produce professional parts, but those of us using PLA for our RepRaps have been left in the cold. After some experimentation, the guys over at protoparadigm have come up with a way to smooth out those PLA prints, using the same technique and a chemical that’s just as safe as acetone.

Instead of acetone, the guys at protoparadigm are using tetrahydrofuran, or THF, as a solvent for PLA. Other PLA solvents aren’t friendly to living organisms or are somewhat hard to obtain. THF has neither of these qualities; you still need to use it in a well ventilated area with nitrile gloves, but the same precautions when using acetone or MEK still apply. It’s also easy to obtain, as well: you can grab some on Amazon, even.

The process for smoothing PLA prints with THF is the same as smoothing ABS prints with acetone. Just suspend the print in a glass container, pour in a tiny amount of the solvent, and (gently) heat it. The evaporated solvent will smooth all the ridges out of the print, leaving a shiny and smooth surface. You can, of course, hand polish it by dedicating a lint-free cloth and a pair of gloves to the task.

Interview: Another Kickstarter round for the B9Creator

The Dawn of the 3D Printing Age - Art by Dennis HarrounNearly a year ago, the 3D printing scene saw a few new printers based on a technology other than squirting plastic out of a nozzle. These printers used DLP projectors underneath a vat of UV curing resin to build objects one layer at a time with incredible resolution.

Probably the most successful of these printers is the B9Creator from [Michael Joyce]. His original Kickstarter took in half a million dollars – 10 times his original goal – and still managed to deliver all the kits to backers within 2 weeks of the promised date. Now, [Michael] is running another Kickstarter before taking his printers to select distributors. We played some email tag with [Michael] for an interview discussing the perils of a hugely successful Kickstarter, and the future of the B9Creator ecosystem.

Check out our interview after the break.

[Read more...]