It's surprising how rapidly the capability and capacity of affordable 3D printers has increased.
There were several exhibitors at Maker Faire in NYC last week showing off printers with print envelopes large enough to print really big objects. Of course the print times can be extremely long, and there is also the issue of warping with large parts. Still, the results were very impressive and encouraging.
3D printing makes it incredibly easy to crank out new parts on a whim.
For example, I'm about to make the trek to California for RoboGames and want to use a Contour ROAM2 HD action camera to capture some of the action - especially ComBots with the massive steel robots trying to inflict mortal damage on each other. I have the camera and have access to all areas of the venue. What I don't have is three hands. I always carry my Canon 5D Mark II for the still images and some video, and I have a light Nikon bridge camera for competition videos. The challenge was to find some way to operate the Contour that was basically hands-free.
After considering, and disqualifying, several approaches, I finally decided to use my bicycle helmet. I tried the stock Contour helmet mounts, but didn't like the way they felt - primarily because the camera sticks off to one side and is heavy enough that it is noticeable, and irritating.
It only took a few minutes to take some measurements of the top of my helmet and design a short plug to slip inside one of the air vents. Printing a test part to check the fit took a bit longer, of course.
Surprisingly enough, the test part fit perfectly without any modifications. The next step is to add the top flange for the camera. The mount is a snug fit, so I plan on securing it with some tape or velcro because I want it to be easily removable.
We'll see how it works this coming weekend when it is put into real use at RoboGames 2013.
Design World has an online webinar scheduled for next Tuesday, December 4th, featuring Chong Pak of Olloclip explaining how they used 3D printing technology to design and manufacture their 3-in-one lens system for the iPhone camera. According to the webinar registration webpage:
"Olloclip has created the ultimate 3-in-one lens system for your iPhone that fits in your pocket and takes your picture taking ability to the next level. Product design in the most recent years has been impacted tremendously by 3D printing and Olloclip’s camera lenses are no different. Whether it’s wide angle, fish eye or a macro picture view, this development in camera phone technology has been made possible by Objet 3D Printing. Please join Chong Pak of Olloclip and Objet Geometries as they discuss product design within the iPhone era and how 3D printing can help engineers design, create and ultimately bring products to life faster.
Attend this webinar to learn about:
-Olloclip and their fast hitting iPhone accessory
-3D printing and the design process
-Objet’s multi-platform capabilities"
I'm not sure what Andrew Mazzotta does for a living, but I do know that he has a boatload of 3D printers and is racking up numerous hours testing and evaluating them, which is all to the good.
This week he compares the Makerbot Replicator to the Lulzbot AO-100, and throws in a few comments about the Uprint SE Plus for good measure. It's not a rigorous, detailed evaluation, but is quite valuable since it's based on his actual experience as a user of all three printers.
When you're printing plastic it's really easy to quickly end up with lots of small bits and pieces of stray plastic all over the place. This is especially true in the bed area where you're extruding plastic, getting stringers (hopefully not too many or too often), etc.
Normally they don't cause any problems and are more of a nuisance that a hazard. But there are exceptions, as I found out a few weeks ago. My printer had been operating quite consistently and without any major problems, to the point that I developed enough confidence to leave it running printing a large part overnight.
Thingiverse, the design sharing site, is pretty amazing but is still in its infancy as far as being user friendly and feature rich. One of the features that it is currently missing is the ability to follow Thingiverse users as they upload new designs or print new parts. There are quite a few friends and fellow designers on Thingiverse, but I don't want to be bothered going back to the site regularly to find out if they have uploaded something new. Unfortunately ,Thingiverse doesn't have a 'follow' function and doesn't have RSS feeds easily discoverable on its webpages.
However, it turns out that RSS feeds are enabled on the website, you just have to know where to look. Go to the Thingiverse webpage for a user that you want to follow, then look at the webpage source. In the webpage <head> section you'll find several lines that look like this:
That's the RSS feed link for the user. Add different parameters after the URL, like "/things", "/made" or "/likes" to create the links for things that they have designed, made, or like. Add the feeds to your RSS reader, and you're in business.