What I’ve Been 3D Printing – Winter into Spring 2013 Edition

The six-hour winter

Winter came. And six hours later it was gone. Whew!

Winter has not stopped me from 3D printing quite a few new things. What I haven’t had time for, thanks to the craziness of day job, is finishing any of my big projects, or writing up stories around my smaller pieces. So, I’ve decided to just post some pictures and quick blurbs on what I have been able to accomplish, to serve as a snapshot in time and maybe some inspiration to someone looking for new things to try.

Yet another mundane thing

The house we bought had one of those dryer vents that had little plastic “fins” that cover the hole, and flip open when there’s air blowing out. One of those fins was missing and I knew months ago that I’d have to get a new one.

Upon measuring one of the existing fins I realized they were too large for my Thing-o-Matic’s heated build platform by about a centimeter. However, rotating the part 45-degrees on the bed allowed just enough space to get it in since corner-to-corner of a square is longer than the sides! Yay geometry!

I had some natural ABS filament which was a pretty good match for the existing fins, except for the years of outdoor wear, tear, bugs, and other “schmutz”. The end result fit perfectly, opens with the others when the dryer is on, and took less than an hour from design to completed (successful) print. (I attempted to print it three or four times without a raft, but my heated build platform seems to have a permanent warp on the extreme edges so a raft was necessary).

Whiskey time!

An old friend of mine lamented on Facebook that these nice whiskey glasses used in Blade Runner were pretty expensive. The rebuttals were that any hand-blown glass object will be expensive if it’s quality. I replied with a slightly sarcastic “Modelling and 3D printing in clear PLA in 3..2..”. About a week later I realized that I should, in fact, try to model the glass and 3D print it. It would be a good exercise in modelling a cool, but seemingly simple shape, testing if my natural PLA which sometimes prints clear can be really clear, and how to design something quite large that is meant for touching, holding, and everyday use.

I started in SketchUp as it was a very simple shape, but realized it was going to be a pain in the butt to get the insides right. I switched to Blender and quickly realized that the simple shape was not so simply. It was easy to create, but getting the subtleties were extremely difficult — lots of beveling, creasing, subdivision surfacing, and boolean operations were required. In the end I had a printable glass that wasn’t an exact duplicate, but more “inspired” by the original.

My first attempt at printing stopped about 45 minutes into it when I realized that I had to leave the house for a while and didn’t want to leave it going (I’m overly cautious like that). I did, however, see that there was no way I was going to get anything close to really clear with the natural PLA at the size I was printing; the small thin-walled items were great for going clear, but not larger thick-walled items.

Second print attempt, when I had plenty of time to let it go, went well until about an hour and a half into it when my filament got stuck on the reel and stopped feeding. What had been printed, however, turned out to be a great learning piece. Having made my original design based on the sizes I found listed online, printing and holding it made it clear it felt wrong in my hand — it was too large. Looking back at pictures from the movie, it never seemed like Harrison Ford was holding it comfortably.

I decided to scale down the object by a few percent, taking it from approximately 8.5cm a side to 7.5cm a side. My third print worked great all the way through its two and a half hour printing and I had a decent replica Deckard whiskey glass.

You can download the STL on Thingiverse.


I’ve been working on several other personal projects over the past few months, but don’t have any of them in a state ready to show. Most of them involve 3D printing some part of them, but also include a lot of electronics, so there are other things I’m trying to get right. A quick tease is this piece which is a hollow, two-part dried Italian poppy seed pod which will be painted and full of electronics. Why? I’ll explain when done. ๐Ÿ™‚

Italian Poppy Pod-like thing

One of the other projects needs some really finely-detailed parts which all my attempts on my Makerbot have proved too coarse. I’ve put this project on hold as I anxiously await my Formlabs Form1 3D printer. ๐Ÿ™‚

Keep looking for inspiration and ideas, and happy designing and 3D printing!

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