Iowa Demolishes Its First 3D Printed House

It sounds like a headline from the future: the weekend before Thanksgiving, a bulldozer came for the first example of a printed home that was supposed to help the housing crisis in the city of Muscatine. Fortunately, it hadn’t been completed and sold yet.

Printing of this first house began in May 2023, and nine more were to be completed by the end of the year. Unfortunately, when tested for compressive strength, the cement mixture this first home was printed out of failed to meet the 5,000 PSI minimum required for the project. Rather than compromise on safety, the parties involved decided to knock it down and start over.

The goal now is to find out why the mixture, which met the strength requirements in laboratory testing, didn’t behave the same on-site. Currently, the plan is to start building the originally-planned second house in the spring, and begin construction on this first site after that.

The project is a collaborative effort between the Community Federation of Greater Muscatine (CFGM), Muscatine Community College, and Alquist 3D. Want to know more about the state of 3D printing when it comes to housing? Check out our handy guide.

Editors Note: The initial post initially indicated that the failed cement mixture contained hemp, but that has since found to be incorrect and the post has been edited accordingly.

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Art of 3D printer in the middle of printing a Hackaday Jolly Wrencher logo

G-code Goes Binary With Proposed New Format

G-code is effective, easily edited, and nearly ubiquitous when it comes to anything CNC. The format has many strengths, but space efficiency isn’t one of them. In fact, when it comes to 3D printing in particular file sizes can get awfully large. Partly to address this, Prusa have proposed a new .bgcode binary G-code format. You can read the specification of the new (and optional) format here.

The newest version of PrusaSlicer has support for .bgcode, and a utility to convert ASCII G-code to binary (and back) is in the File menu. Want to code an interface of your own? The libbgcode repository provides everything needed to flip .gcode to .bgcode (with a huge file size savings in the process) and vice versa in a way that preserves all aspects of the data. Need to hand-edit a binary G-code file? Convert it to ASCII G-code, make your changes, then flip it right back.

Prusa are not the only ones to notice that the space inefficiency of the G-code file format is not ideal in all situations. Heatshrink and MeatPack are two other solutions in this space with their own strong points. Handily, the command-line tool in libgcode can optionally apply Heatshrink compression or MeatPack encoding in the conversion process.

In a way, G-code is the assembly language of 3D printers. G-code files are normally created when slicing software processes a 3D model, but there are some interesting tricks to be done when G-code is created directly.

three resin-printed Single8 film cartridges, uncropped image

Re-Inventing The Single 8 Home Movie Format

[Jenny List] has been reverse-engineering and redesigning the Single8 home movie film cartridge for the modern age, to breathe life into abandoned cine cameras.

One of the frustrating things about working with technologies that have been with us for a while is the proliferation of standards and the way that once-popular formats can become obsolete over time.  This can leave equipment effectively unusable and unloved.

There is perhaps no greater example of this than in film photography – an industry and hobby that has been with us for over 100 years and that has left many cameras orphaned once the film format they relied on was no longer available (Disc film, anyone?).

Thankfully, Hackaday’s own [Jenny List] has been working hard to bring one particular cine film format back from the dead and has just released the fourth instalment in a video series documenting the process of resurrecting the Single8 format cartridge. Continue reading “Re-Inventing The Single 8 Home Movie Format”

CPU Cooler In A Printer’s Hot End

[Proper Printing] often does unusual 3D printer mods. This time, he’s taking a CPU cooler made for a Raspberry Pi with some heat pipes and converting it into a 3D printer hot end. Sound crazy? It is even crazier than it sounds, as seen in the video below.

Heat pipes contain a liquid and a wick, so bending them was tricky. It also limited the size of the heat break he could use since the two heat pipers were relatively closely spaced. Once you have the cooler reshaped and a threaded hole for the heatbreak, the rest is anticlimactic. The heatbreak holds a heat block that contains the heating element and temperature sensor. A few changes were needed to the custom extruder cut out of acrylic, but that didn’t have anything to do with the fan and mount.

Normally, a hot end assembly has a substantial heat sink, and a fan blows air over it. The heat pipe technique is a common way to move heat away from a tight space. So, the way it is used here is probably not very useful compared to a conventional technique. However, we can imagine tight designs where this would be viable.

Heat pipes aren’t the same as water cooling, even though some use water inside. A heat pipe is a closed system. The fluid boils off at the hot end, condenses at the cool end, and wicks the liquid back to close the cycle. On the other hand, you can use more conventional water cooling, too.

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A workbench with a 3D printer, a home-made frame of metal tubing and 3D printed brackets and phone holders. 3 iOS devices and 1 Android phone arranged around the printer with a clock and 3 different camera angles around the print bed

Even 3D Printers Are Taking Selfies Now

We love watching 3D prints magically grow, through the power of timelapse videos. These are easier to make than ever, due in no small part to a vibrant community that’s continuously refining tools such as Octolapse. Most people are using some camera they can connect to a Raspberry Pi, namely a USB webcam or CSI camera module. A DSLR would arguably take better pictures, but they can be difficult to control, and their high resolution images are tougher for the Pi to encode.

If you’re anything like us, you’ve got a box or drawer full of devices that can take nearly as high-quality images as a DSLR, some cast-off mobile phones. Oh, that pile of “solutions looking for a problem” may have just found one! [Matt@JemRise] sure has, and in the video after the break, you can see how not one but four mobile phones are put to work.

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Neat Soldering Station Design Has Workshop & Portable Versions

The warm and rather stinky heart of any hacker’s lair is the soldering station, where the PCB meets the metal (solder). A good soldering station lets you get on with the business of building stuff without worrying about piffling details like temperature and remembering to turn the thing off. The AxxSolder is a neat design from [AxxAxx] that fulfills these criteria, as it includes full PID control of the iron and an auto sleep feature. It will run from any DC power source from 9 to 26 Volts, so you can run it off your bench power supply and have one less thing to plug in. There is even a portable version for those on-the-go hackathons.

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Carbon Fiber With 3D Printing

[Thomas Sanladerer] wanted to make 3D prints using carbon fiber and was surprised that it was fairly inexpensive and worked well, although he mentions that the process is a bit intense. You can learn what he found out in the video below.

He used an advanced PLA that can endure more temperature than normal PLA. That’s important because the process uses heat and the carbon fiber resin will produce heat as it cures. The first step was to print a mold and, other than the material, that was pretty straightforward.

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