Bring The Smithsonian Home With 3D Printing

If you’ve ever been to Washington DC, you know the Smithsonian isn’t just a building, instead it’s a collection of 19 museums, 21 libraries, 9 research centers, and a zoo. Even though there are hundreds of affiliated museums, there is a way to bring at least some of the museum to you. The Smithsonian has a 3D digitization portal that currently features 124 models of items from the collection. Almost 100 of them have models you can download and print — or have someone print for you.

Printing yourself is probably the most cost-effective option if you already have a printer. According to the Smithsonian, if you want a 1/20th scale model of a T. Rex cranium, Shapeways will do it for about $21. If you want a 9-inch version of Neil Armstrong’s spacesuit, that would go for $130 or so.

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Testing Carbon Fibre Reinforced Filament By Building An Over-Engineered Skateboard

Advances in filaments for FDM 3D printers have come in leaps and bounds over the past few years, and carbon fibre (CF) reinforced filament is becoming a common sight. Robotics extraordinaire [James Bruton] got his hands on some CF reinforced PLA, and ended up building a completely over-engineered 3D printed skateboard. (Video, embedded below.)

[James] started by printing some test pieces with a 0.5 mm and a big 1.2 mm nozzle with and without the CF, which he subjected to cantilever deflection tests. The piece with CF was 20% stiffer than without.

[James] then built an extremely strong and cool looking skateboard deck with alternating section of the CF PLA and toughened PLA, totalling 2.7 kg of filament. It was extremely strong, so after bolting on a set of trucks and wheels, he did some mild riding at a local skate park, where it survived without any problems. He admits it was completely over-engineered, but points out in that the internal cavities in the deck is the perfect place for batteries on an electric long board.

Designing something from the ground up with the strength and weaknesses 3D printing in mind, leads to some very interesting and innovative designs, of which this is a perfect example, and we hope to see many more like it. We’ve featured a number of [James]’ project, including the remote controlled bowling ball he built for [Mark Rober] and his impressive OpenDog and Start Wars robots.

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Manual Mesh Bed Levelling For 3D Printers

In 3D printing, we often talk about leveling the print bed, although that’s not an accurate term. A bed that is level in our terms presents a flat surface that is parallel to the path of the print head, but within reason we care little about that. Instead we care more about it being parallel to the path of the head than it being perfectly flat. If we had a perfectly flat bed — say a sheet of glass — you’d think it might be pretty easy, but for some other materials it could be convex or concave or even have ripples all over the place. [Teaching Tech] shows you how to manually “level” the bed using a mesh but without using an automatic sensor. You can see the technique in the video below.

When you use adjustments to level the bed, you are tramming it, but only the very pedantic use that term for fine adjustment. But no amount of adjusting bed springs will get rid of bulges and ripples. A common solution is to use a sensor to measure the distance to the bed and form a mesh correction. Then, as the printer head moves in the XY plane, the software will adjust the Z-axis to rise over bumps and go down if there is a concave portion of the bed. What [Teaching Tech] is doing, however, is a manual mapping. You won’t need to add a sensor to your printer to take advantage of the method. 

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Multi Material 3D Printing Makes Soft Robot

When you zoom in on a fractal you find it is made of more fractals. Perhaps that helped inspire the Harvard 3D printers that have various arrays of mixing nozzles. In the video below you can see some of the interesting things you can do with an array of mixing nozzles. The coolest, we think, is a little multi-legged robot that uses vacuum to ambulate across the bench. The paper, however, is behind a paywall.

There are really two ideas here. Mixing nozzles are nothing new. Usually, you use them to mimic a printer with two hot ends. That is, you print one material at a time and purge the old filament out when switching to the new filament. This is often simpler than using two heads because with a two head arrangement, both the heads have to be at the same height, you must know the precise offset between the heads, and you generally lose some print space since the right head can’t cross the left head and vice versa. Add more heads, and you multiply those problems. We’ve also seen mixing nozzles provide different colors.

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Wipe Your Nozzle To Avoid Stringing

[Design Prototype Test] likes his Ender 3 printer. There was only one problem. When printing PETG — which is notorious for stringing — the hot end would pick up material and eventually ruin the print. The answer was to mount a cheap Harbor Freight brush somewhere and make the head pass over it after each layer. You can see the video of the design, below.

It sounds as though it worked well and after explaining the concept, he dives into the details of how he designed the fixture and how he mounted it. There’s a lot of good information in there about his particular toolchain and workflow.

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How To 3D Print Your Identical Twin

It’s possible to have an enjoyable weekend touring a city with a stolen cardboard cutout from some advertising display or other. However, it’s 2019, and 3D printing means you can go so much further. [Simon] of RCLifeOn went so far as to print a lifesized body double of himself, and it’s only slightly creepy! (Video, embedded below.)

The model was sourced from a 3D scan [Simon] had done with commercial hardware. An Optimus P1 industrial-grade 3D printer was used to print the parts, with total printing time being around 200 hours. Adhesive was used to join the various segments together, and the assembly was then sanded and primed, ready for paint.

Unwilling to tackle the task alone, [Simon] enlisted a professional painter to help put the finishing touches on the piece. The end result is impressive, particularly from a distance. [Simon 2.0] was then sent out to the city centre, aiming to raise money from bewildered passers by.

We suspect the market for custom body doubles will only increase as the technology to create them becomes more widespread. If you’ve tackled a similar project, be sure to let us know. Video after the break.

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East Coast RepRap Festival Comes Alive In Second Year

By pretty much any metric you care to use, the inaugural East Coast RepRap Festival (ERRF) in 2018 was an incredible success. There was plenty to see, the venue was accommodating, and the ticket prices were exceptionally reasonable. But being a first-time event, there was an understandable amount of trepidation from both exhibitors and the attendees. Convincing people to travel hundreds of miles to an event with no track record can be a difficult thing, and if there was a phrase that would best describe the feel of that first ERRF, it would probably have been “cautious optimism”.

But this year, now that they had some idea of what to expect, the 3D printing community descended on Bel Air, Maryland with a vengeance. In 2019, everything at ERRF was bigger and better. There were more people, more printers, and of course, more incredible prints. Activities like the 3D Printed Derby returned, and were joined by new attractions including full-body 3D scanning and a shooting gallery where attendees could try out the latest in printable NERF weaponry.

The official tally shows that attendance nearly doubled over last year, and with growth like that, we wouldn’t be surprised if the ERRF organizers consider relocating to a larger venue for 2020 or 2021. As far as problems go, growth so explosive that it requires you to rethink where you hold the event isn’t a bad one to have. The Midwest RepRap Festival, which served as the inspiration for ERRF, found they too needed to move into more spacious digs after a few years. Something to keep in mind the next time somebody tells you the bubble has burst on desktop 3D printing.

Trying to distill an event as large and vibrant as ERRF 2019 into a few articles is always difficult. Even after spending hours walking around the show floor, you would still stumble upon something you hadn’t seen previously. As such, this article is merely a taste of what was on hand. The East Coast RepRap Festival 2020 should absolutely be marked on your calendar for next year, but until then let’s take a look at just some of what made this year’s event such a smash.

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