3D 6/27/22

News with Richard Bleil

To be perfectly honest, I have a problem.  See, I’m a technophile, and a shopaholic, and I’m an impulsive buyer.  My house is filled with gadgets and trinkets and tech that I rarely if ever use.  I have a Fender guitar, a Yamaha electric piano, historical piano and MIDI, my gun collection is up to, oh, maybe fifteen by now, I have two high-end cameras and several lenses from fixed to telescoping, and five computers (all of which do have their function in my life).  And, yes, now I have a 3D printer.

As I write this (about a week ago from its post), it’s about five hours into a fifteen-hour project.  I had a little trouble getting it started, but that is kind of the point.  The printer comes with half a dozen or so pre-loaded projects, and I’m using them to familiarize myself with the function, capabilities and shortcomings of the printer.  The first time I tried this project, it didn’t work.  I learned that I had loaded the filament incorrectly.  So, I cleared any potential jam, and instead printed a 3D frog, which, if all goes according to plan, is now in the hands of my friend for her plants.  Then I tried the big project again, and again, it failed.  There is an adhesive you need to put on the platform, which I had not cleaned properly or reapplied since the frog project.  So, I cleaned the platform (which is really just a piece of glass), reapplied the adhesive, and sent to bed shortly after restarting that project for the third time.  Now it is printing properly.  It’s called “mechanic”, and I think it’s a figurine, which I’ll verify (or discover otherwise) in nine more hours. 

I’m still in search of creativity software so I can create my own projects, but as it turns out, people are creating, and sharing, files for projects already.  I found one such site that I will probably join.  It has files for models, toys, art, and even practical items like hangers and clamps.  I’m thinking about creating a file for a small stool that says “sample” on it (my stool sample), a round plastic disk that says “tuit” (my round tuit) and a clip that can hold a quarter with an attached mini hammer (my quarter pounder). 

The printer can use a variety of plastic-like materials that are fed to the extruder from a spool.  Think of a long wire but made of plastic.  You can only feed one at a time, and although I have white, blue and transparent, I’m starting with a simple black.  Of course, you can always paint your creations once they are completed as well. 

This particular printer is built with a casing.  Some are very open design; this one looks like a very large microwave oven.  The printing area is 10”x6”x6.7”.  A friend of mine asked if it can print a house.  The answer is, yes, it actually can.  Not all at once, of course, but it could, if you were so inclined to do so, print one brick by brick.  If you want to build larger items, it can print pieces that will fit together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.  I’ve even seen things such as tables that were printed on these devices.

The interesting concept of this printer is that, from this point forward, when I need something smallish, I’ll think about if it is something I can print myself.  For example, I could print hooks, clips, and even toys if I can find or create the file to do so.  I’m sure it’ll take time for me to become proficient at creating my own, but it should be possible.  There are people who are even incorporating electronics in their printed pieces for motors, plugs and so forth.

I do have a couple of projects that I have in mind already.  I have a phone that charges on an inductive base without plugging it in, but I’ve discovered that it charges so slowly that, even overnight, it will only partially charge if the phone is not on the base correctly.  Seems like a guide with a base designed to incorporate the charger, and prongs that are the right size to guide the phone would be a great way to be sure it’s on the charger correctly even in the dark.  My car has a couple of USB ports that I can use to “project” my phone to the car screen, thereby making it possible (and easy) to use software on the phone for navigation, but the cords in the very small area are a mess.  Seems like a 3D printed box to organize that spot, and hold the phone, would be good to have.  And perhaps I should sell some of these things, before these printers are commonplace in every home.

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