Week 1: Modeling

I think I want to build a 3D chocolate printer for our MIT Lab for Chocolate Science (which is actually a student group, not a lab). Naturally, I first searched within the How to Make/Fab Academy archives to see what others have done, and I found an exciting variety of projects.

Next I turned to the broader internet, which led to more ideas:

Deciding to focus on the nozzle component, I made a CAD model and some sketches:

The tricky part will be the tempering, though...

To model my early conception of a 3D chocolate printer, I decided to focus on the printer head. Despite having worked at Autodesk for a few years, I'm a total noob at CAD. So after a brief excursion through Antimony and FreeCAD, I decided to try my hand at Fusion360 because-- like the people I know on the Fusion team-- the software is super friendly. Also there are excellent online tutorials.

It took me a while to figure out the workflow: thinking in 3D, flatting the model into a particular dimension in 2D, and then extruding out into 3D. I spent an embarrassingly long time making a funnel:

I had some fun with the built-in coil maker, to model the heating coils that may or may not be necessary for the printing head. Finally I came up with some shapes floating in space that vaguely resemble what a chocolate printer head might look like:

How do the funnels connect? Why is the second heating coil floating in space? What happened to gravity? The world may never know... The problem is, I'm in the earliest stage of imagining what my project could be-- and trying to learn CAD at the same time as sketch out designs quickly became too frustrating. With a sigh, I picked up my graph paper notebook and made some 2D sketches instead:

I resolved to come back to CAD modeling and make a chocolate-flowing animation sometime soon, after I develop a better grasp of thinking and drawing in 3 dimensions! And once I figure out what I actually want my project to look like, of course...

Update: actually learned some CAD skills

Since this isn't particularly evident of my actually knowing how to do 3D-modelling, please see my Build Something Big page for proof that I successfully made a 3D house that fits together (while following basic laws of physics).

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