Thursday, 15 March 2018

3D Printing Tools I Can't Do Without

There are few tools that I have found are absolutely necessary in 3D printing; these items are kept in easy reach and each do a slightly different job.

Starting from the bottom upwards:

  • The Scotty Peeler (specifically the SP-2 metal peeler). It's intended for peeling pesky labels but it's absolutely wonderful for getting a print separated from the build surface of a filament-based 3D printer. For larger prints where the Scotty Peeler isn't long enough to reach underneath, once an edge gets lifted with the Scotty Peeler a larger scraper can be used to lever the rest of the print. Invaluable, inexpensive, and available off Amazon.
  • Illuminated Magnifying Glass. Bought this at the dollar store. The plastic lens isn't the greatest, but the bright LED illumination makes up for it. Two AAA cells go into the handle and a switch turns on bright LEDs. I used to have a flashlight and magnifying glass together to illuminate and examine prints -- often while they were being printed. This all-in-one does the same job in a much handier package.
  • Tweezers are mainly useful for grabbing small bits and removing stray extrusions, like the bit of plastic from the nozzle after priming the hot end.
  • Deburring Tool. This item has a specialized use but well worth having. I use it for cleaning up prints. Ever have an edge that needs trimming, for example the inside of a hole or the outside edge of a print, and you can't or don't want to sand it? A cheap deburring tool from your favorite offshore discount place is what you need. If you have never seen one it might look a little strange, but it's a knife that you pull instead of push. You stick the metal curved part into the hole or lay it onto the edge, and drag it along. The sharpened side will cut off a tiny amount of material while it pivots around as needed. It's great for quick and easy cleanup of edges.
Lots of tools are useful but these have all found a niche for me. Especially the Scotty Peeler, that is absolutely #1 for me. If you 3D print and don't have anything like it, give it a shot!

Monday, 12 March 2018

2018 Hackaday Prize Opens

The 2018 Hackaday Prize has opened! $200,000 in cash prizes is up for grabs, and to get started all you need is an idea, an image, and documentation.

The Hackaday Prize has been running every year since 2014. This year's theme: Build Hope. There are many categories and there's even money set aside to help bootstrap promising ideas as the contest progresses.

Embedded below is a video that will tell you what you need to know. So if you have an idea you've been waiting for a reason or opportunity or helping hand to make happen, then the time do dust it off is now!

Friday, 9 March 2018

Using UV Resin to Smooth 3D Prints

I recently wrote up an article with the results of some experimenting I did using UV Resin to Smooth 3D Prints. UV resin is a syrupy liquid that turns solid when exposed to UV -- sunlight, for example. It's also used in SLA and DLP 3D printers like the Form 2.

The results were good. Skimming some resin from a Form 2 printer was perfectly workable for smoothing other 3D prints, and I learned what makes the resin work better or worse for this purpose and sorted out a workflow.

Monday, 5 February 2018

3D Printing Glue Sticks (it's not as dumb as it sounds, I swear!)

I put up a 3D model and info on GitHub to go with an article I wrote on making the PLA Glue Gun. The PLA Glue Gun is quite simply a glue gun that extrudes molten PLA instead of hot glue. For some purposes, that turns out to be remarkably useful.

Monday, 22 January 2018

3D Printed Star Wars Death Trooper Helmet Reveals Neat Inner Geometry

I printed this model of a Death Trooper Helmet (from Star Wars Rogue One) at 2 perimeter walls and 10% infill. While printing the thin sections, the infill pattern can't be discerned - it's just an inner line here and there inside the thin wall.

However, after putting all the pieces together I could see the patterns the infill structure made. I took some photos after putting a light bulb inside to highlight things.

It's pretty cool that even though the pieces were printed separately, some of the infill pattern geometry nevertheless appears to line up between the pieces. Neat!

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Review: The 3D Printing Handbook

Near the end of 2017, 3DHubs released the The 3D Printing Handbook which is an accessible design reference manual for the different 3D printing technologies available to hobbyists, professionals, and enthusiasts. The book covers different technologies, their strengths and weaknesses, and how to best design for their capabilities. It also has case studies of different 3D printing technologies and their impact in different industries.
3DHubs is a "3D printing as a service" site that connects people who want something 3D printed to people with 3D printers (and vice-versa, allowing 3D printer owners to provide a service.) Since the whole idea works much better the more people know about 3D printing, 3DHubs puts a lot of work into education to build familiarity with the concepts, with a large knowledge base with guides such as Practical CAD Modeling of Enclosures for 3D Printing. The new book is in a similar direction, aiming to be a reference for engineers, designers, and hobbyists alike.

3D printers are amazing tools, but they are not magic. Like any other manufacturing tool, a 3D printer has things that it is good at, and things it isn't so good at. A part needs to be designed in a way that works in harmony with the abilities of the chosen manufacturing method, a process knows as Design For Manufacture (DFM) and it's important whether you're just making one or two, or mass producing. The 3D Printing Handbook is a reference manual that not only guides people in choosing between different 3D printing technologies, but also guides designers in applying sensible DFM for objects that will be 3D printed.

That is the main focus of the book; a tour of what 3D printing technologies are available right now, their strengths and weaknesses, what industries they are used in, and basic DFM design guidelines for each. Everything is presented clearly and succinctly. Interested? 3DHubs has links to where you can buy the book in your preferred format.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Making a Tiny Luger P.08 on my 3D Printer

Made from individual parts
I made a teeny tiny Luger P.08 pistol on my 3D printer. Not just a model, but I printed the individual pieces and assembled them.

It wasn't easy. In fact, while the pieces themselves printed out astoundingly well considering their tiny size, at such a small scale the tolerances just don't match well. Pieces that need to fit into other pieces just didn't go. Being off by a fraction of a millimeter is quite a lot when the pieces are so small to begin with.

With a lot of patience and sanding of some of the larger components, I was able to do a pretty good (if frustrating) job of assembling the pistol in clear resin!

I have been asked about model kits but this is just a demo piece; I wouldn't subject anyone else to the amount of work it took to make. At least, not yet.

A gallery at is available as well.