A tool for the people

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I just wanted to express something that makes me happy. I was going to tweet this, but I couldn’t get all the right words into 140 characters.

I’ve talked to a lot of people about 3D printing, across all ages and across all genders, and I get nothing but excitement about the possibilities.

What’s important is that it isn’t just the “yeah, yeah, people are excited about 3D printing” part, but rather that this is one of the few instances where a tool that you use to make something at home doesn’t have a gender-specific stereotype attached to it. What other tool can both the man of the house and the woman of the house fight over to make something on?

Sadly, one doesn’t get the same response across the board with, say, talking about a circular saw, or conversely, waxing poetic about a sewing machine; there are pre-conceived notions about who can/should use what tools in the world today.

What I like about MakerBot, as opposed to some other DIY 3D printer companies out there, is that they seem to get this. You see Bre showing off the latest Makerbot with giant geared hearts, fantasy play sets, blue rabbits, red robots, and brightly-colored remote control vehicles. Go to other companies’ sites and you’ll see lots of gears and boring parts to make more printers. They seem to be very short-sighted in what they see the use of their printers as being, or who their users are.

The community handles it very well. Take a trip over to Thingiverse. Yes you’ll see gears and parts to make more printers, but you’ll also see jewelry, robots, swans, sunglasses, and so many other things that are appealing to young and old, boys, girls, and even animals! This is what makes 3D printing so exciting to so many; anyone and everyone can make whatever they can imagine. Imagination knows no age, class, or gender bounds.

Personally, I hope it stays this way.

Still pushing the limits of size and resolution

As I mentioned in my first attempt at creating a very small headphone shirt clip, I wanted to revisit the design and make some adjustments based on what I had learned. I got a chance over this holiday weekend to do just that — take some more measurements, make some new designs, and print some more clips.

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Seeing things through to completion, learning all the way

Other than weekends, I only make trips to our studio where my Thing-o-Matic lives every so often. If I get tied up with life, my 3D printing plans can fall behind. Such is the case with a project I’ve had on my plate for a few weeks now: the pico projector holder bar I talked about before. Well this past weekend my plate was empty so it was a good weekend for lots of 3D printing. I managed to get the other bracket — the actual piece that holds the pico projector — printed, modified, and printed again. And I learned some things in the process.

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Pushing the limits of size and resolution

I like my Bose earbud headphones: they stay in my ear when I’m walking or jogging, and don’t bleed sound to folks around me like the stock white Apple ones. I really like the little clip that lets me attach the cable to my shirt, keeping the wires from that point on to my ears at a constant distance; I can turn my head in any direction and won’t be restricted by the wires back down to my pants pocket.

Walking to work one morning, thinking about how nice this clip is, I thought that I should try to make a similar clip for the white headphones, just to see if it could be done. And, of course, I could share it on Thingiverse.

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Free + 3D Printer = awesome!

For a test project at work, we’ve been working out a quick and easy way to attach a pico projector to a tripod, along with a small piece of foam-core to project onto, keeping both adjustable. We had worked out a set of wooden slats that would form a slide rule of sorts, allowing us to slide the foam-core back and forth but keeping the projector stationary, and a 3D printed piece that would wrap around the wood to keep the sliding part stay in the channel.

I went to Lowe’s to get some wooden 1×2’s to make our holder, and my first thought was to go to the large saw where they cut material. Quite often they will toss small pieces that are waste pieces after cuts behind the saw. These pieces of word are normally free. Well, I’ve never paid for a piece of this scrap, but I suppose they may charge in some places. Regardless, I was disappointed that they didn’t have much scrap. But, what they did have, were pieces of wood that were exactly the shape I was going to make with 1×2’s! I asked the gentleman running the saw where I could find those, and he informed me they were the pieces of wood that hold together the large pallets of lumber, and that they didn’t actually carry them. I explained what I was going to make with the 1×2’s and he said “well, you can just have one of these. I’ll cut it too if that’s too long.” Yes, please!

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A win for modularity

After making the new version of my remote control holder last week, and hanging it on the wall, I saw a problem. Really, it was an aesthetic issue rather than a functional issue, but something I wanted to correct none-the-less. When the remote was placed in the holder, it would rock to one side or the other. The bottom wing was flat while the bottom of the remote is curved; the space on either side of the remote between the wings was larger than the width of the remote.

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