μRepRap: Taking RepRap Down To Micrometer-Level Manufacturing

When the RepRap project was started in 2005 by [Dr Adrian Bowyer], the goal was to develop low-cost 3D printers, capable of printing most of their own components. The project slipped into a bit of a lull by 2016 due to the market being increasingly flooded with affordable FDM printers from a growing assortment of manufacturers. Now it seems that the RepRap project may have found a new impetus, in the form of sub-millimeter level fabrication system called the μRepRap as announced by [Vik Olliver] on the RepRap project blog, with accompanying project page.

The basic technology is based around the OpenFlexure project’s Delta Stage, which allows for very precise positioning of an imaging element, or conceivably a fabrication tool. As a first step, [Vik] upgrade the original delta stage to a much reinforced one that can accept larger NEMA17 stepper motors. This also allows for standard 3D printer electronics to control the system much like an FDM printer, only at much smaller scales and with new types of materials. The current prototype [Vik] made has a claimed step accuracy of 3 µm, with a range of tools and deposition materials being considered, including photosensitive resins.

It should be noted here that although this is a project in its infancy, it has solid foundations due to projects like OpenFlexure. Will μRepRap kickstart micrometer-level manufacturing like FDM 3D printing before? As an R&D project it doesn’t come with guarantees, but color us excited.

Thanks to [Tequin] for the tip.

Fastest FPV drone, pending official confirmation. (Credit: Luke Maximo Bell)

Got To Go Fast: The Rise Of Super-Fast FPV Drones

Generally when one considers quadcopter drones, the term ‘fast’ doesn’t come to mind, but with the rise of FPV  (First Person View) drones, they have increasingly been designed to go as fast as possible. This can be for competitive reasons, to dodge enemy fire on a battlefield, or in the case of [Luke Maximo Bell] to break the world speed record. Over the course of months he set out to design the fastest FPV drone, involving multiple prototypes, many test runs and one failed official speed run.

The components of the third FPV drone attempt, as used with the world record attempt. (Credit: Luke Maximo Bell)
The components of the third FPV drone attempt, as used with the world record attempt. (Credit: Luke Maximo Bell)

The basic design of these designed-for-speed FPV drones is more reminiscent of a rocket than a quadcopter, with the upside-down propellers  requiring the operator first lifting the drone into the air from an elevated position. After this the drone transitions into a level flight profile by rotating with the propellers pointing to the back. This gives the maximum thrust, while the body provides lift.

Although this seems simple, flying this type of drone is very hard, as it’s hard to tell what is happening, even when landing. [Luke] ended up installing a camera in the nose which can rotate to provide him with different angles. Tweaking the flight computer to deal with the control issues that occur at speeds above 300 km/h.

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Hackaday Links: March 10, 2024

We all know that we’re living in a surveillance state that would make Orwell himself shake his head, but it looks like at least one company in this space has gone a little rogue. According to reports, AI surveillance start-up Flock <<insert gratuitous “What the Flock?” joke here>> has installed at least 200 of its car-tracking cameras on public roads in South Carolina alone. That’s a serious whoopsie, especially since it’s illegal to install anything on state infrastructure without permission, which it appears Flock failed to obtain. South Carolina authorities are making a good show of being outraged about this, but it sort of rings hollow to us, especially since Flock now claims that 70% of the population (of the USA, we presume) is covered by their technology. Also, police departments across the country are in love with Flock’s service, which lets them accurately track the movements of potential suspects, which of course is everyone. No word on whether Flock will have to remove the rogue cameras, but we’re not holding our breath.

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How Thermal Post-Curing Resin Prints Affects Their Strength

Tensile strength of resin parts. (Credit: CNC Kitchen)
Credit: CNC Kitchen

Resin 3D prints have a reputation for being brittle, but [Stefan] over at [CNC Kitchen] would like to dispel this myth with the thing which we all love: colorful bar graphs backed up by scientifically appropriate experiments. As he rightfully points out, the average resin printer user will just cure a print by putting it in the sunshine or in a curing station that rotates the part in front of some UV lights. This theoretically should cause these photosensitive resins to fully cure, but as the referenced Formlabs documentation and their Form Cure station indicate, there’s definitely a thermal element to it as well.

To test the impact of temperature during the UV curing process, the test parts were put into an oven along with the UV lamp. Following this uncured, ambient cured and parts cured at 40 to 80 ºC were exposed to both tensile strength tests as well as impact strength. The best results came from the Siraya Tech Blu resin cured at 80 ºC, with it even giving FDM-printed parts a run for their money, as the following graphs make clear. This shows the value of thermal post-curing, as it anneals the resin prints. This reduces their impact strength somewhat, but massively improves their tensile strength.

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Ford Patent Wants To Save Internal Combustion

There’s no doubt the venerable internal combustion engine is under fire. A recent patent filing from Ford claims it can dramatically reduce emissions and, if true, the technology might give classic engines a few more years of service life, according to [CarBuzz].

The patent in question centers on improving the evaporative emission system’s performance. The usual evaporative emission system stores fuel fumes in a carbon-filled canister. The canister absorbs fuel vapor when under high pressure. When the engine idles and pressure in the cylinder drops, the canister releases fumes, which are combusted with ordinary fuel/air mixture.

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Custom Mouse-Making: Clay Is The Way

For something that many of us handle all day long, it sure would be nice if mice came in more sizes and shapes, wouldn’t it? Until that day, we’ll just have to find something passable or else design and build a custom-shaped mouse from scratch like [Ben Makes Everything] did.

First, [Ben] played around with some modelling clay until he had a shape he was happy with, then took a bunch of pictures of it mounted on a piece of wood for easy manipulation and used photogrammetry to scan it in for printing after cleaning it up in Blender. About six versions later, he had the final one and was ready to move on to electronics.

That’s right, this isn’t just mouse guts in an ergonomic package. Inside is Arduino Pro Micro and a PMW 3389 optical sensor on a breakout board. [Ben] was going to use flexible 3D printed panels as mouse buttons, but then had an epiphany — why not use keyboard switches and keycaps instead? He also figured he could have two buttons per finger if he wanted, so he went with Kailh reds for the fingers and and whites in the thumb.

Speaking of the thumb, there was no room for a mouse wheel in between those comparatively huge switches, so he moved it to the the side to be thumb-operated. [Ben] got everything working, and after all this, decided to make it wireless. So he switched to an Adafruit Feather S3 and designed his first PCB for both versions. Ultimately, he found that the wireless version is kind of unreliable, so he is sticking with the wired one for now.

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STM32 Draws On Scope

Drawing on an oscilloscope’s XY mode isn’t a new idea. However, if you’ve ever wanted to give it a go, you’d be hard-pressed to find more information than the nearly hour-and-a-half video about the topic from [Low Byte Productions]. You can check out the video below.

If you prefer to jump straight into the code, there’s a GitHub page. While the code is specific to the STM32, you can apply the ideas to anything.

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