How To Make Almost Anything

Project 03

3D Printing

After this week, I can definitely see why some people aren't as fond of the 3D printer, despite its popularity with the press. (Spoiler alert: There's a lot of waiting involved.) Just for practice, I tried to create something that was functional, but found myself pretty limited by my Rhino software skills. That being said, each time I work on a project through Rhino, I pick up tools that will be useful in future projects, like how to use planar surfaces, and how to extrude holes/shapes out of another object. This week, inspired by some designs I've seen on Kickstarter, I wanted to create a cable stop that could also help me sort quarters for parking in Boston.

  • Design Challenge: Print a small object with a 3D printer that could not be made through subtraction | Scan something in 3D
  • Software: Rhino, 123D Catch
  • Machinery: Makerbot, 3D Wox
  • Date Completed: 10.04.16

The Design Process

Creating the Rhino sketch took about 2.5 hours, and largely went smoothly. It consists of an octogon with a circular hole for the quarters and a slot for the computer cable. But, I know this design can be made by subtraction, so I went back to the drawing

Rhino Version 1
My initial Rhino design

The printing process went pretty smoothly. I tested the print on the Makerbot printer with red filament. I did my initial print with a low, quick-speed setting, so the final was largely hollow and printed in 20 minutes. Now that I knew my design worked, But, I know this design can be made by subtraction, so I went back to the drawing board to see if I could come up with a new design.

The 3D printers hard at work
A few of the prototypes I made

For the second version, I made an added shelf midway down the quarter chamber, so that I could add a weight to hold down the cable stop, and the quarters could sit on top. However, I could not figure out in Rhino how to make a slot for the weight in time! So, I tried to print it anyway but the 3DWox software could not read my design, and printed something very strange. It looked a bit like the inverse of what I wanted printed. I went back to using Makerbot, and all sounded well until the filament got caught and snapped. (That moment when your print is ALMOST done, and then you need to start over?) In my next version, it did print correctly, but due to the awkward angle, I could not weed out any of the supporting filament, and it eventually snapped. In the end, I got two prints that I'm happy with. I have a long weekend coming up, and I really want to push my Rhino skills, so that I can make something a bit more complicated!

Second Rhino Sketch
Rhino sketch with a shelf
Final print that now sits on my desk!

As for 3D scanning, I experimented with Autodesk's 123D Catch. The app itself seemed to have some problems loading. Once I began processing the pictures, it would quit unexpectedly, freeze, or become unresponsive. Just for comparison, I decided to make a scanned version of the 3D object I just printed. I wouldn't exactly say I was "successful," as it turned out mostly to have a blobby mess stuck to its side, but it was fun messing with the app.

The blobby version