3D printers – toys for the surrealist’s playground

Apologies in advance: this post is more scattered than normal as there is no story here, just passion and feeling. And some pictures.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: 3D printers can, more easily than almost any other tool out there, turn dreams into reality. The barriers to the physical manifestation of almost any idea have been greatly reduced, and there is no reason that every thing one can envision shouldn’t be 3D printed, regardless of how silly it may seem.

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Cottage Frottage; or, making creative fun at home.

When I was 10, my parents sent me to stay with my grandparents in Pennsylvania for a summer. My grandparents, apparently not knowing what to do with a 10-year-old boy, enrolled me in summer school. Yeah, total bummer.

There was a week or so before school started so they took me to a toy store to get me something to pass the time with. I picked the Tomy Little Van Goes toy — basically a bunch of interchangeable plastic plates and a holder that you put paper over and rubbed to get the outline of different vans you could then color. I thought this was great, until three days later when I got bored with it because there weren’t enough of the kinds of pieces I wanted to see.

As I’ve been thinking a lot about crafty things for groups lately, I recalled my initial joy of this childhood toy, and the frustration at not having all the things I wanted it to. Then I remembered that I have a 3D printer! What a great thing to be able to design and print!

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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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