A lot of the big names in 3D printers were at the Midwest RepRap festival showing off their wares, and one of the biggest was Lulzbot with their fabulous Taz 3 printer. This year, they were showing off a new filament, a new extruder, and tipping us off to a very cool project they’re working on.
The new products Lulzbot is carrying are Ninjaflex filament and the extruder to go with it. Ninjaflex is the stretchiest filament we’ve ever seen, with the feel of a slightly hard silicone rubber. Straight off the spool, the filament will stretch to a little less than twice its original length, and in solid, printed form its a hard yet squishy material that would be perfect for remote control tank treads, toys, and 3D printed resin molds. With all the abuse the sample parts received over the weekend, we’re going to call Ninjaflex effectively indestructible, so long as you don’t try to pull the layers apart.
Also from Lulzbot is word on the new 3D scanner they’re working on. The hardware isn’t finalized yet, but the future device will use a webcam, laser, and turntable to scan an object and turn it directly into an .STL file. Yes, that means there won’t be any point clouds or messing about with Meshlab. Lulzperson [Aeva] is working on the software that subtracts an object from its background and turns it into voxels. The scanner will be low-cost and open source, meaning no matter what the volume of the scanner will be, someone will eventually build a person-sized 3D scanner with the same software.
Videos of [Aeva] below showing off the new stuff and talking about the scanner.
This isn’t the first time LulzBot has given away a few of their printers; a year and a half ago, they gave away eight AO-100 printers and they also donated one to our ‘ol buddy [Caleb] for TheControllerProject, a forum to connect disabled gamers to people who have the means and ability to make custom gaming controllers.
The rules for this giveaway are simple: Be a hackerspace, and display, “creativity and contributions to the free software and open hardware community.” It’s as simple as that. If you’re a hackerspace without a 3D printer – which would be somewhat astounding at this point – here’s your chance to get one of the best 3D printers around.
The contest will be open starting March 1 and ends on March 14, with entry requiring a hackerspace fill out a form somewhere on the LulzBot servers.
[Bam] from the LulzBot forums has successfully printed metal using his 3D printer and a Budaschnozzle 1.1 hot end. Well, solder to be specific — but it’s still pretty awesome!
He’s making use of 3mm solder purchased from McMaster (76805a61), which has a blend of 95.8% tin, 4% copper and 0.2% silver. It took quite a few tries to get it extruding properly, and even now it seems to only be able to print about 15mm before jamming up — a more specific hot end with a larger thermal mass might help. He plans on trying a thinner filament (1.75mm) as it might help to keep it at the proper extrusion temperature, which in this case is around 235C.
If you want to try this yourself, you’ll need a nozzle you don’t care about, bored out to about 1mm — any smaller and it won’t extrude at all. Be warned though, the solder will corrode brass and aluminum, and [Bam] notes that after going through 1lb of solder, the nozzle was closer to 2mm in diameter when he was done! Oh and for the love of hacking — use ventilation!
Stick around after the break to watch a video on a professional version of this system — which is essentially a repurposed welding robot, using electron beam direct manufacturing. These technologies can’t make nicely finished parts, but they excel when considering they can make near net-weight parts, requiring only a small amount of machining to finish.
If you don’t mind ending up with oddly shaped 3D printed parts you can get your printer to sing to you. The exhibit shown above is doing just that. The Lulzbot is being driven specifically to produce a certain frequency of sound with its stepper motors. The results of a few different songs are what’s hanging on the wall to the right. You can hear it printing Bizet’s Carmen in the clip after the break.
[Rickard Dahlstrand] hacked together a Python script capable of parsing a MIDI file and outputting a G-code equivalent that will produce the frequencies and durations necessary to hear the audio on a stepper motor. As we mentioned, he uses a Lulzbot but the script appears to include setting for Cupcake, Thingomatic, Shapercube, and Ultimaker. The parser script as well as the example G-code files for a library of classical music can be downloaded from his repository.
While browsing an oculus rift thread on reddit, I saw someone mention how nice it would be to have some actual mounts for external sensors on their Rift. The idea is that adding additional sensors or cameras will allow us to expand the capabilities of the rift. With something like the Razor Hydra, you can add quick positional tracking (the rift only tracks rotation, not position). With some webcams, you could theoretically do some stereoscopic augmented reality. Unfortunately, attaching all these things to the rift is a bit of a pain at the moment.
I had all the things right here in front of me to make this happen, so I did! I’ve quickly tossed together two accessories for the Rift.
1. a small bracket that feeds onto the velcro on the back. People will likely use this for “heavy” position sensors. They may be fairly light, but any additional weight on the front of the rift is unwanted.
2. A snap-on face plate that has a modular design. This wold be for mounting cameras on the front of the rift.
It’s not so much a contest, but instead a giveaway aimed at eight community-operated hackerspaces who come up with a great idea on how to use a 3D printer. If you’re part of a well-established hackerspace that doesn’t have a 3D printer yet, this is a great opportunity to get your hands on a very nice printer.
A while back, we acquired one of these LulzBot printers to print off some custom gaming controllers for gamers with physical disabilities (and to make some other cool stuff as well). Our boss man [Caleb] says the AO-100 is a great printer, and in my dealings and purchases with LulzBot, they seem like a great company with great support. We’re sure the hackerspaces that win these printers LulzBot is giving away will be able to put them to use quickly by making some really cool stuff.
Recently, we acquired a LulzBot AO-100. It was given to us, free of charge. After having it for about a week, I’ve figured out enough that I feel I can finally share my thoughts, impressions, and experiences. I will be completely honest about the machine. It was given to us, which is insanely awesome, but hey, I have to share the real information with the readers.
When we first started looking for a printer, we decided we didn’t want to build one from scratch. While that might seem initially to be the opposite of Hack a Day, there is a reason. I simply can’t build every tool I use from scratch. I have projects in mind that could benefit from a 3d printer, and I want to work on those. This meant that I was looking for a pre-assembled unit. Many people asked for an article on getting a reprap going, so we started to consider reprap based kits as well.
When LulzBot contacted us, I was initially skeptical. I mean, the name is lulzBot. Is this an internet troll? Is this somehow connected to Lulzsec, the hacking group? Did they seriously name their printer LulzBot? Well, as it turns out, they are legitimate. Not only that, we’ve seen them before, they are also AlephObjects, who sent in the video of the wall o’ printers working. Why did they name it LulzBot? The answer was basically, for the lulz. It is worth noting that [Jeff] has been a strong proponent for free software for a long time and that Lulzbot is built from the ground up to be completely open and shareable. You can go to the website right now and download the list of parts as well as all source code and configurations.
As you read further, please remember that the model they sent me was not their newest. They don’t even sell this model any more. Technically speaking, it is roughly 2 generations behind.