3D Printing Goes Hand in Hand with Iron Man Inspired Prosthetic

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It’s exciting how much 3D printing has enabled us to produce pretty much any shape for any purpose on the fly. Among the most thoughtful uses for the technology that we’ve seen are the many functioning and often beautiful prosthetics that not only succeed in restoring the use of a limb, but also deliver an air of style and self-expression to the wearer. The immediate nature of the technology allows for models to be designed and produced rapidly at a low-cost, which works excellently for growing children. [Pat Starace’s] Iron Man inspired 3D printed hand and forearm are a perfect example of such personality and expert engineering… with an added dash of hacker flair.

With over twenty years of experience in animatronics behind him, [Starace] expertly concealed all of the mechanical ligaments within the design of his arm, producing a streamline limb with all the nuance of lifelike gesture. It was important that the piece not only work, but give the wearer that appropriate super hero-like feeling while wearing it. He achieves this with all the bells and whistles hidden within the negative space of the forearm, which give the wearer an armory of tricks up their sleeve. Concealed in the plating, [Starace] uses an Arduino and accelerometer to animate different sets of LEDs as triggered by the hand’s position coupled with specific voice commands. Depending on what angle the wrist is bent at, the fingers will either curl into a fist and reveal hidden ‘lasers’ on the back of the hand, or spread open around a pulsing circle of light on the palm when thrust outward.

The project took [Starace] quite a bit of time to print all the individual parts; around two days worth of time. This however is still considered quick in comparison to the custom outfitting and production of traditional prosthetics… not to mention, the traditional stuff wouldn’t have LEDs. This piece has a noble cause, and is an exciting example of how 3D printing is adding a level of heroism to everyday life.

Thank you Julius for pointing out this awesome project to us!

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3D Printing of Parameterized Speaker Enclosures

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Despite what you would gather from looking at a mess of wires, carpet, and MDF in the back of a Honda Civic hatchback, building speaker enclosures is a pretty complex business. To get the right frequency response, you’ll need to take into account the driver’s resonant frequency, the volume of any internal components, and how well the speaker works when it reaches the resonant frequency. Heady stuff, but when [Rich] at NothingLabs started 3D printing his own speaker enclosures, he realized he could calculate an ideal enclosure automatically. Ah, the joys of OpenSCAD.

[Rich] wrote a bit of OpenSCAD and put it up on the Thingiverse Customizer, allowing anyone to manually enter a box volume, height and width ratio, size for a speaker hole, and even bass ports.

There are a few really cool features for this way of constructing speaker enclosures; assembly is a snap, and it’s most likely air tight right out of the printer. [Rich] printed an enclosure for a 3″ driver that has a frequency response down to 66Hz – an extremely impressive piece of work. Video below.

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An Electric Arc Printer for Rapid 3D Prototyping

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Additive manufacturing, aka 3D printing, is able to produce wonderful and amazing objects in relatively short periods of time. Items are now being created in hours, not days, which is an extraordinary leap in technology. However, waiting for a 3D printer to complete its cycle is still a lot like watching paint dry. It takes way too long, and occasionally, time is of the essence when prototyping products for a client. Sometimes you just need it done now,…not a few hours from now.

[0n37w0] is hoping solve this problem by working on a way to ‘print’ 3D objects using arcs of electricity. We are still trying to wrap our heads around how this will work, but from the looks of it, arc printing “is done by completing an electrical current on an area of granulated metal thus heating the metal enough to form a bond to the structure being printed.

The printer is comprised of four main components (the print bed, the lifting device, the control box, and the granulated metal supply bin). The supply bin feeds granulated metal, possibly by vibration, onto the print bed. A lifting mechanism is then lowered within electrical contact and the printing begins. After each layer, the object is raised.

To find out more, check out the Hackaday.io project page.

Homemade Nerf Blasters With 3D Printed Parts

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This spectacular bullpup nerf gun was developed by the guys over at Mostly Harmless Arms. It is complete with 3D printed parts in a variety of colors. The Extension Spring/Latex Tubing (ESLT) Blasters were based off of [Kane]‘s snapoid trigger design with 1/4″ aluminum for the plunger rods which worked out really well. [Prince Edward] adapted [Kane]‘s work and modified it with 3D printing in mind. The original post from 2012 gave an in-depth look into where the idea started.

The documentation for all the printed part files and high quality photos can be found on Nerfhaven. It is really nice to see such a clean design that can be fashioned together on a relatively small budget. This makes these playful nerf blasters easy to duplicate, allowing for a full out office war. Granted, access to a 3D printer is needed, but additive manufacturing devices are getting more and more common these days. Now it’s just a matter of seeing how well they work, which can be deduced from the videos after the break:

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Lost PLA Casting With a Little Help From Your Microwave

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[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.

3D Printed Virtual Reality Goggles

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Oculus, as we know, was acquired by Facebook for $2 billion, and now the VR community has been buzzing about trying to figure out what to do with all this newly accessible technology. And adding to the interest, the 2nd iteration of the development kits were released, causing a resurgence in virtual reality development as computer generated experiences started pouring out from of every corner of the world. But not everyone can afford the $350 USD price tag to purchase one of these devices, bringing out the need for Do-It-Yourself projects like these 3D printed wearable video goggles via Adafruit.

The design of this project is reminiscent of the VR2GO mobile viewer that came out of the MxR Lab (aka the research environment that spun out Palmer Lucky before he created Oculus). However, the hardware here is more robust and utilizes a 5.6″ display and 50mm aspheric lenses instead of a regular smart phone. The HD monitor is held within a 3D printed enclosure along with an Arduino Micro and 9-DOF motion sensor. The outer hood of the case is composed of a combination of PLA and Ninjaflex printing-filament, keeping the fame rigid while the area around the eyes remain flexible and comfortable. The faceplate is secured with a mounting bracket and a pair of aspheric lenses inside split the screen for stereoscopic video. Head straps were added allowing for the device to fit snugly on one’s face.

At the end of the tutorial, the instructions state that once everything is assembled, all that is required afterwards is to plug in a 9V power adapter and an HDMI cable sourcing video from somewhere else. This should get the console up and running; but it would be interesting to see if this design in the future can eliminate the wires and make this into a portable unit. Regardless of which, this project does a fantastic job at showing what it takes to create a homemade virtual reality device. And as you can see from the product list after the break, the price of the project fits under the $350 DK2 amount, helping to save some money while still providing a fun and educational experience.

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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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