Custom 3D printed designs with Makerbot’s Customizer

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Although having a 3D printer means you can create custom object of your own design, that doesn’t change the fact that most object printed on Makerbots and RepRaps are copies, or slight derivations, of already existing object. If you need a gear, just go grab an OpenSCAD file for a gear, and a custom smart phone case can be easily made by modifying an already existing one. The problem with this approach, though, is you’ll need to learn OpenSCAD or another 3D design tool. Enter the Makerbot Customizer, a web app that allows you to create custom versions of other people’s work right in your browser.

The idea behind Customizer is simple: someone creates an OpenSCAD file with a few variables like the number of teeth on a gear or the number of turns on a screw. Customizer takes this OpenSCAD file, puts sliders and radio buttons on a web page, and allows you to create custom objects based on user-created templates.

Already we’ve seen a lot of Hackaday readers send in some pretty cool customizable things, like [Bryan]‘s coil form for DIY inductors and [Greg]‘s customizable PVC pipe couplers. If you already know OpenSCAD, it’s easy to create your own objects that are customizable by anyone on the Internet.

Signing your 3D prints

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For all the 3D models out on the Internet, including the STL files on Thingiverse that are copied by other makers every day, there hasn’t been a good way to put your John Hancock on a three-dimensional piece of plastic you’ve designed. [Chris] has been thinking about the fact that an STL file released on the Internet is completely out of the creator’s hands for a while now, and he finally came up with a good solution to signing 3D prints.

[Chris] had been looking into ‘stamping’ a maker’s mark on the first few layers of a print, but this wasn’t always practical. Sometimes the bottom of a print needs to be a smooth surface, so [Chris] moved his initials up a few layers into the main body of the print.

By subtracting a 1.0 mm-thick version of his initials from the interior of a print, [Chris] is able to put his maker’s mark on the inside of a 3D object, visible only for a short time during the production process.

The signature isn’t impossible to remove, but it does give a little bit of credit to the original designer, all without some strange DRM scheme or metadata attached to an STL file.

You can check out [Chris]‘ printer laying down a few layers of his logo after the break.

[Read more...]

Printing puzzles with plastic parts

A decade or so ago, a line of jigsaw puzzles called Puzz3D brought the joys of fitting pieces of cardboard together into three dimensions. If you’ve ever put one together, you’ll remember being slightly disappointed at these 3D puzzles – they were made of two-dimensional foam board and only lived up to their expectations on the vertices of their 3D objects. Now that just about every hackerspace in the land has a 3D printer, it might just be time to create better 3D puzzles, and [Rich Olson]‘s OpenSCAD library is up to the task.

There are a few other tools that cut 3D models up into smaller objects, but none of these had the features [Rich] wanted. He created a library that is able to position the puzzle cuts anywhere on the X and Y axes, adjusts the kerf for a tighter or looser fit, and exports one piece at a time for 3D printers with a smaller build area.

Right now the library is limited to generating up to four interlocking pieces, but [Rich] says the code should be easy to modify for a truly absurd 500-piece puzzle of the Taj Mahal,

Zeppelin on the Fisher Price record player now thanks to a 3D printer

[Fred Murphy] went ahead and revised his method of making custom records for a Fisher Price toy record player. He’s now able to 3D print the discs. The toy works much like a music box, with a comb in the “cartridge” of the record player and notches in the record that pluck the fingers of the comb as it turns. He had previously developed a subtractive method that let him mill records out of a solid piece of plastic. But this additive method means less waste.

The music creation portion of the project is the same as the previous version. That’s because it’s pretty hard to outdo the C# software he wrote which serves as a composition studio. The difficulty comes in getting a clean print for the disk. The ridges on the discs are 0.7mm so you’re going to need a well-aligned printer with fine resolution. [Fred] printed in both ABS and what he calls “Vero clear” plastic. The former works but he got better results with the latter.

Rendering OpenSCAD in the browser

If you haven’t heard of it, OpenSCAD is a really wonderful tool for 3D modeling.  While it doesn’t have the traditional graphical interface of AutoCAD – it’s basically a programming language for 3D models – OpenSCAD is able to create very complex parts with only a few lines of code.

That’s all well and good, but what if you wanted to edit OpenSCAD parts in your browser? Enter OpenJsCAD, an OpenSCAD interpreter written entirely in Javascript and able to be embedded in a web page.

OpenSCAD allows for two types of modeling – constructive solid geometry, or taking 3D primitives and stretching, scaling, and intersecting them to create a 3D shape, or extrusion from a 2D outline. Quite a few RepRap parts were designed in OpenSCAD, and the lightweight interface and open source nature means it’s perfect for designing stuff to print on your Makerbot.

Tip ‘o the hat to [Gordon] for sending this one in, and we really have to commend him for writing his own online scriptable CAD exporter before finding out about OpenJsCAD. He may be a little late to the online OpenSCAD party, but we have to agree with him that an online 3D solid editor would be an awesome feature for Thingiverse to roll out.

Drag and drop images for 3D printing

This piece of software called OmNomNom works with OpenSCAD to turn 2D images into 3D models. It’s literally a drag-and-drop process that renders almost instantly.

Here the example is a QR code, which is perfect for the software since it’s a well-defined black and white outline in the source image. But the video after the break shows several other examples that don’t rely on this simplicity. For instance, the Superman logo, which uses four different colors, is converted quite easily. There’s also a depth map of [Beethoven's] bust that is converted into a 3D object. The same technique can be used to create terrain from topographic source images.

Once the file has been converted to a model it can still be tweaked like normal. This allows you to customize size and depth to suit your needs. This is where OpenSCD comes into play, but if you don’t use that program you can still export an STL file directly from OmNomNom for use on your 3D printer.

[Read more...]

Your face in chocolate

We think in might be absurdly vain, but wouldn’t it be fun to give everyone in your family a chocolate modeled after your mug this holiday season? [Eok.gnah] has already worked out a system to make this possible. It consists of three parts: scanning your head and building a 3D model from it, using that model to print a mold, and molding the chocolate itself.

He used 123D to scan his face. No mention of hardware but this face scanning rig would be perfect for it. He then cleaned up the input and used it to make a mold model by subtracting his face from a cube in OpenSCAD. That needs to be sliced into layers for the 3D printer, and he used the Slic3r program which has been gaining popularity. Finally the mold was printed and the face was cast with molten chocolate. We’d suggest using a random orbital sander (without sand paper) to vibrate the bottom of the mold. This would have helped to evacuate the bubble that messed up his nose.

You know, it doesn’t have to be your face. It could be another body part, even an internal one… like your brain!

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