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.
The Android Robot Walker STL is available on Thingiverse for download and 3D printing. It uses the Makerbot Windup Walker mechanism.
I had a wonderful afternoon visiting Makerbot Industries in Brooklyn.
This was my fifth visit over the past two and a half years. Every time the energy, enthusiasm, and creativity seems to have been cranked up by at least another order of magnitude.
Sublime (Brad) at Tantillus.org printed a fully functional hobby lathe using PLA plastic capable of cutting metal parts. Each of the parts necessary to build the lathe was small enough that they could be produced on an affordable 3D printer within the budget of most robot hobbyists.
The lathe design was the result of contributions from many people, though Sublime added his own touches/improvements. The surprising thing for me was that it is definitely possible to bootstrap from a low-cost 3D printer to create other tools that most robot hobbyists want for their home workshops.
I'll be posting more about Sublime's work and the creation of the Tantillus 3D printer in subsequent videos.
Designing and producing robot parts with 3D printers has become a reality with the advent of affordable devices like the MakerBot, but after you create the necessary parts, how can you attach them to each other in a reliable, robust way that will withstand actual use in the unforgiving real world?
Our friends over at I Heart Robotics have come up with practical solution - brass inserts that install in most 3D printed plastic parts using a soldering iron. According to their tests, the insert holding strength should be more than sufficient for most applications.