Monday, December 23, 2013

My New House

Well a printed one, that is.

In SketchUp I modeled the house with window and door cutouts, then added the window and door frames to be printed separately. The roof (whose two pieces are sitting in the house), were also printed separately, in two halves that could be glued together but fit pretty well on their own.

The house itself took NINE hours to print, but the rest of the pieces were much faster.

I needed to snap pictures quickly, since my kids are itching to steal this house for their Lego Friends characters....

Anyone can design anything in 3D!

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Friday, December 13, 2013

Look What I Made Today

This was really fun - a pencil holder with my business name. The letters were printed separately, then each one fit into its spot on the box. The tolerance was exactly right - no glue needed and those letters have no wiggle room.

This was printed in several parts - each letter is separate and the pencil holder was printed as one part with a color change after the base.
This model required some trial testing first - to see if the pencil hole would work, and to see if the letters would fit. The first trial showed I needed to leave more space around each letter.

The trials showed that with 0.15mm offsets all around each letter, they fit perfectly. Now everyone in my family wants their own...

Anyone can design anything in 3D!

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Monday, December 9, 2013

What's Coming in Our December Projects?

Here's what will be going out to subscribers to our Projects of the Month on December 15. Lots of fun stuff to keep you busy through winter break!

Logo Tracing

Have a favorite sports team or band? This project shows how to use simple tools to create a model just from tracing. Great for 3D printing! (And yes, I grew up in Baltimore :)

Curved Ramp

We saw another project using the amazing Shape Bender plugin, and this project shows another use for it. You start with a simple object . . .

. . . and bend it to fit a specific curve. Something like this would be nearly impossible to model without Shape Bender!

Water Vortex
This project starts with a digital image of spiraling water . . .
. . . and ends with the painted 3D model of a water vortex.

Don't get bored if you're snowed in this month! Subscribe to our Projects of the Month.

Anyone can design anything in 3D!

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Sunday, December 8, 2013

3D Printed Ornament

Every year our wonderful next-door neighbors invite my kids over to help trim their Christmas tree - my kids love opening their boxes of ornaments and throwing tinsel around. (Not to mention the chocolates and cookies that come with the visit.)

Each year we make them something to add to their tree. So now that I have my loaner Afinia printer, what else could I make but a customized ornament?

First I found an image of a tree that looked easy to trace:

I imported the image into SketchUp, and used arcs to loosely trace around the tree. It's easiest to do this in X-Ray view, so that the picture can be seen through the SketchUp faces that are created.

I then used the Offset tool to separate the three segments of the tree, pulled up everything 3 mm, then pulled up the white parts an additional 2mm. The names were added with the 3D Text tool, and curved with the amazing Shape Bender plugin. And luckily I remembered to add a small hole at the top.

I set the printer to pause at 3.1 and 5.1 mm to change colors: first black, then white, then red for the names. Here's how it turned out, after about 90 minutes of print time:

 And here you can see the vertical layering:
 And here it is on the tree, fitting right in!

 Today it's snowing on the East Coast, so I have some time to start planning out my next printing project. I'm thinking about personalized pencil holders....

Anyone can design anything in 3D!

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Friday, November 22, 2013

I'm Hooked on 3D Printing

Yesterday I got a very nice delivery - the FedEx guy knocked on my door with an Afinia 3D printer. One of my upcoming releases will be a project book on SketchUp for 3D printing projects, and John Westrum from Afinia is a strong supporter of this project. So he agreed to lend me one of their printers so I could test out the projects I'm writing up. So now I'm like a kid with a new toy, and I'm obsessed!

(As as aside, I wanted to try a variety of printers for this book, and approached MakerBot and Cubify as well. No response, hmmmm.)

Anyway, I've had a small problem in my kitchen for a while, and I always thought that my first 3D printing project would a solution for this.

We never put a "real" tile backsplash behind our sink, and over time our kids have made 6" x 6" tiles at the local paint-your-own-pottery place, and we've decorated with those. And until now I used Velcro strips to attach them to the wall. But for the tiles right behind the sink, moisture gets into the Velcro, the stickiness gets lost, and the tiles fall (sometimes loudly, but they've never broken). So I wanted to create some little supports so that the tiles could just lean back against the wall.


So in SketchUp, I modeled the wall and one tile. Exact dimensions are important when doing this!

I rotated the tile 2 degrees, made its top back edge touch the wall, and moved it up 1/4".
I created a block 1/2" on all three sides.

I used the Intersect Faces tool to get the intersection edges on one side of the block.


I hid everything but the block.
I thought (mistakenly as it turns out, but it's all about trial and error) that a 1mm gap would ensure that the tile would fit better. So I used the Offset tool to create a 1 mm offset around the hole.
I cleaned up the edges, and used Push/Pull to create the groove.

I used the STL Export plugin (it's free and available in the Extension Warehouse, works with the free version of SketchUp) to save the model as an STL file. (SketchUp Pro has STL export built in.)

Setting up the printer was pretty easy, considering I've never done this before (I've seen printers in action but never used one). Here's how it looks before I got it all going. It took maybe 90 minutes to get the spool and plastic thread set up, the calibrations (nozzle height, platform height and levels) just right, and to attach the perforated board to the printing platform. 


The printer has accompanying software that reads your STL file, and has options for moving, rotating, and scaling it. So you can't make significant changes to a model here, but you can do some little things. Here's my first attempt with my support: oops - the piece moved after a few layers, making the rest of the layers sort of go all over the place.

So I raised the nozzle 1mm, made sure to heat the platform for longer (maybe I hadn't reached 90 degrees C, not sure!), and my second attempt was perfect. It took about 17 minutes to print.

The frilly-looking bits on the bottom are the model's "raft." If you print on perf board as I did (because it was included with the printer), you should use a raft, which is extra, low-density material that can easily be removed later. It means you're not printing directly on the perf board, which would probably result in the bottom surface not being entirely smooth. I was a little confused about the whole raft concept, but turns out Afinia's software adds one automatically so there's no raft-planning needed.

And this is how easily the raft is separated from the model:


You can mostly tear off the raft by hand, and more stubborn bits can be removed with a knife (I never had to use a knife).

So when I tried out this support, it was a dud. The tile didn't lean far enough (just 2 degrees, what was I thinking), and could easily fall forward.

So back to the drawing board (aka SketchUp). This time I rotated the tile 5 degrees, resulting in a longer support. I also made the whole support shorter. And I didn't offset the groove - when I had that extra 1 mm all around, the tile was able to wiggle.


Success!  The tile fits perfectly . . .


. . . and leans against the wall on its own. It also took about 17 minutes to print: it's longer but a bit shorter.


I got three plastic spools from Afinia: white, black and red. Black supports will look much better with the dark counter in my kitchen, so I switched the spools - a process that took maybe 10 minutes (mostly waiting for things to heat up). And instead of printing out just one support, I thought I'd try three, so I could make sure they'd work spaced as shown below. They did!


So I printed out five more, and here's my improved kitchen! You can't see the supports but they're there, and doing their job. What's great is that we can easily switch them out, when the kids bring home more tiles.

Here's another thing I printed out, something I found from Thingiverse, just something cute for the kids:


Stay tuned for news on the 3D printing book. Suggestions welcome!

Anyone can design anything in 3D!

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Thursday, November 7, 2013

What's Coming in Our November Projects?

Twisting is the theme this month, in this set of fun projects! If you're a subscriber to our Projects of the Month (and why wouldn't you be at just $24.95 for 12 months?), here's what you'll get to create while the weather outside is growing colder:

Double Helix

We've done DNA projects before, but this one has a twist, literally. With the help of the can't-live-without FredoScale plugin, you can take a normal-looking ladder . . .

 . . . and twist it into DNA building blocks.


Candy Cane

Maybe it's a little early in the season for this one, but since we're already getting into the FredoScale plugin, here's another twisty model that plugin can help make. All you need to start with is a simple cylinder.

Zigzag Face

Since we're off-season already, maybe this one should have been included last month, for Halloween. In this project, which also involves twisting, you can take a "normal" face and give it a zigzag border. Kinda creepy, right?

Anyone can design anything in 3D!

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