Building A Half Toy Half Model Tank Robot

For some, the idea of several hours of painting and designing intricate models with minute details and features sounds like a delightful afternoon spent. Some of us would much rather just have it come already painted with motors so that it can move. [Cory Collins] sought to combine these two hobbies by building a highly detailed motorized tank dubbed Tankbot 2.3. (Video, embedded below.)

It’s based on a simple hexapod kit ordered online that includes a built-in Arduino compatible board (it’s based on the Arduino 2560 Mega). The legs were redesigned to match the aesthetic that [Cory] was going for. The redesign allows for an extra pivot in the leg mechanism. The turret section was designed and built on top of the base with support for a servo to turn it (though the firmware isn’t quite there yet). After all the parts were 3d printed, the laborious process of painting began. With some delicate airbrushing and some quick stencils cut for the decals, it was complete.

We are amazed by the types of kits and parts that you can find online and the fact that they’re usually inexpensive to boot. We’ve come a long way since 2013 when we covered a much simpler Arduino based tank.

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High Detail 3D Printing With An Airbrush Nozzle

On a fused deposition modeling (FDM) 3D printer, the nozzle size dictates how small a detail you can print. Put simply, you can’t print features smaller than your nozzle for the same reason you’d have trouble signing a check with a paint roller. If the detail is smaller than the diameter of your tool, you’re just going to obliterate it. Those who’ve been around the block a few times with their desktop 3D printer may have seen this come up in practice when their slicer refused to print lines which were thinner than the installed nozzle (0.4mm on the vast majority of printers).

Smaller nozzles exist for those looking to improve their printer’s detail on small objects, but [René Jurack] wasn’t happy with just putting a finer nozzle on a stock E3D-style hotend. In his opinion it’s still a hotend and arrangement intended for 0.4mm printing, and doesn’t quite fully realize the potential of a smaller diameter nozzle. After some experimentation, he thinks he’s found the solution by using airbrush nozzles.

As [René] sees it, the hotend is too close to the subject being printed when using nozzles finer than 0.4mm. Since you’re working on tiny objects, the radiant heat from the body of the hotend being only a few millimeters away is enough to deform what you’re working on. But using the long and tapered airbrush nozzle, the hotend is kept at a greater distance from the print. In addition, it gives more room for the part cooling fan to hit the print with cool air, which is another critical aspect of high-detail FDM printing.

Of course, you can’t just stick an airbrush nozzle on your E3D and call it a day. As you might expect, they are tiny. So [René] designed an adapter that will let you take widely available airbrush nozzles and thread them into an M6 threaded hotend. He’s now selling the adapters, and judging by the pictures he posted, we have to say he might be onto something.

If you’re more about brute strength than finesse, you might be interested in outfitting your E3D with a ruby nozzle instead.

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