Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Hairspray, Bondo and other 3d printing basics

I have been working with the Office Solidoodle 3 for about 2 months now that there are lot of basics every 3d hobbyist should know. First there are a lot of online site that host 3d parts just ready to download and print the one i use the most is http://www.thingiverse.com/. you can search for just about anything you can think of and likely someone has made it or something like it. From there you just download it and open up your printing software and hit print right? well I wish it was that easy but its not like using a desktop printer. All parts need to be sliced into layers and not all printers use the same slicing software. So therefore many times models that where designed to run on a Makerbot will not print right on my Solidoodle. sometime just changing some setting can help. next is making sure that system is heated up to the right temps which once again is different for every printer. Thankfully Solidoodle has some good default setting for temps. Next step is heading the print Bed which once again has good default setting. Even with all this I soon learned that parts don't always stay in-place and if a part come loose from the print bed you might as well kill the hole job because it done. even if just the edges come up the part is warped and not usable. So when all the heating and other setting fail the trick is Hairspray. Yep good old aquanet hairspray its make the object stick much better if you coat the bed in it. You will not find this little tip on may of the basic user guides but if you as for help in the IRCs they will turn you on to it. Once your part is printed they don't always look perfect. The outside layers some time come out clean but other times come out with uneven melting. So now it bondo to the rescue to really clean up the edge and give it a more manufactured look. Now this just covers if you are using designs downloaded from a site like thingiverse. What if you want to make your own parts? well then you need to know who to use CAD or 3d modeling software. Thankfully there are a lot of free programs out there and if you sit down what a few how to videos you can learn them in just a few days, but it will take years to be a master. For the office I use Solidworks which i have been teach myself to use for over 7 years now. this is just a short write up to give you an idea of what you will need to know before you jump into 3d printing its not for everyone. However like any Job or Hobby its is a labor of love. for list of free 3d programs check this site http://www.3ders.org/3d-software/3d-software-list.html   

The Road to 3D printing

I have been working with a 3D printer for about a month now, but the road to get here is much longer then that. It started more then 10 years ago when i was still in college and my school got a few printers that were really just the beginning of the technology. I was enrolled as an Architecture student and we shared class rooms with many of the Engineering students. Meaning we all used the same drafting computer lab. Often I would come into class and find my PC already on with 3d models opened from the last student that forgot to log out. Or there would be 3D printed objects left out on display. I didn't have access to the printer, because it was in the CNC lab. I took a few tours of the lab when i got a chance but i would have to change majors to get access to the lab and work with the 3D printer. so I could only read about 3D printers for many years to come. Fast forward a few years and i was working in the drafting side of Architecture, right about the time of the big housing boom of the early 2000s. Jump a few more yeas to about 2005 this is when a lot of Architecture firms started to feel the market dropping and started laying off their drafting staff. So now I was with out work and no one was looking for draftsmen  in my field. Luckily I had a background with CAD and engineering because some many of the CAD classes had me molding simple production parts. I had taken these classes as a crossover so I could learn more CAD to use in my Architecture classes which still made most students do about 60% of their work on a drafting board. So I applied for any drafting Job I could find. I ended up at a X-Ray Security manufacturing job (think of x-ray systems at airports)  that need Drafts men to take the work load off the Mechanical Engineers, they new my work was all in a different field but were willing to teach me, because i knew AutoCad and they did all their work in that same program. However the company was also making a big change over to Solidworks and needed someone that knew both programs to translate all the Drawings from 2D autocad to 3D parts in Solidworks. I had played with solidworks in my down time when i was in that same CAD lab I shared with the Engineering students back in college. I was still a beginner but they gave me the job anyway. I spent the next 6+ years teaching myself how to use solidworks like a master, going as far as redesigning our office and creating many of the companies best selling products. My greatest being a Mobile X-Ray unit built into a van. we started with selling one and before I was laid off we were selling entire felts of 10+ to countries all over the world. So if they company was growing like mad why was I laid off? Well all their success lead to more government contracts, and governments like to work with Engineers with degrees, also the manager that haired me had moved on to a new company, and was replaced by someone who only had only thought Engineering. These 2 factors led to this manager taking on all the projects as and then having me do all the work and then taking full credit for the project. we had a team of about 6 ME but i was the only one that did not have a degree so i had to work under his direct supervision. This really hurt my reputation with the company and after he left to go back to teaching, I was left to only getting the simplest of projects until the company just figured they no longer need a draftsmen. In all this time I had still been tracking the progress of 3d printers. so once again I was out of work. Thankfully a long time friend of mine was looking for a expert in solidworks to handle prototype design, and this new office was looking to buy a 3d printer for their prototypes. So here I am. who knows where this road will lead next?

for anyone that would like to see my work check out my facebook album
work projects

        this is one of many mobile x-ray units I designed.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Welcome to 3d print that... this will be my blog for the day to day use and fun of working with my new 3d printer maybe if i post it here i will not talk my GF ears off so much... never mind. anyway I am working with the Solidoodle 3 it sales for about 800$ my office bought it about 3 weeks ago and i have been teaching myself how it works. I have taken a lot of video downloaded and printed lots of object from thing verse and even fixed a camera on it with a Ustream account so i can remotely check in on long print jobs over the next few weeks i try to this get this back log of info on to this blog. after that the plan is to get a printer for my home i just might build one from a 3d printed kit. or just save up the $.