Friday, November 16, 2012

3D-printed blade guards

I recently attended a conference where one of the conferees had a makerbot and was offering to 3d-print items for people.  I was pretty excited about this -- in addition to being my first real-life experience with a 3d-printer, I had just seen the ladybird prop guards that had been uploaded to thingiverse and really wanted a set.
So, just as has been described, we downloaded the STL file and brought it into the CAD package.  We flipped the blade guard over so the arm attachment part would be on the bottom, and duplicated it so that we would print 4 in one go.  All of that would pretty straightforward.  We then fiddled with some parameters regarding plastic thickness, print speed, etc.
You can drive the makerbot directly from USB, or you can generate and download (via memory card) the "tool paths" which are in "G code" (not sure about the details here, we were going pretty quickly).  The advantage of downloading (as it was explained to me) is that you're free to use the software to continue working, and that sometimes the printer will stall waiting for data.  Here you can see the print started by laying down a lattice that will make it easy to remove the pieces from the tape.
I'm not sure why we had the pieces of tape.  I'm assuming it made it easier to pop completed items off cleanly.

Here you can see the prop guards starting to take shape.  As you can see in the video below, the unit runs quietly, and it's rather hypnotic watching it  work.
This is a couple of minutes into the printing. The entire print took about 22 minutes.  Always put your product logo in a  prominent spot!
Here's what came out, after trimming off the substrate.
But there was a problem... one of the parameters was a bit off (I didn't hear which one), so the rings printed with a hollow void between the two sides.  I think if you glued the rings together with thin CA it would be strong enough to work pretty well.
But not necessary... because we have a 3D printer!  We bumped up whatever parameter and printed a new set with fully formed rings.

The ladybird is sadly waiting for a new motherboard, but as soon as I get it I'll put the rings on and follow up as to how well it works.

But for now, I have to say my first sip of the 3D printer koolade was pretty tasty and I'm looking forward to trying some more!

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