Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Lessons Learned After 1 Week of 3D Printing

December 24, 2014 With a new makerspace opened up right down the road and a very cheap 3D printing service available, we've been putting it to use for a series of test prints including a stamp and some keychains.

In addition to being fun and even useful, the projects also served the purpose of learning what can and cannot be done with 3D printing. The lessons learned will be applied to future projects. What were some of these things learned?

We learned how long it takes to print projects of different sizes. The keychains above took about 30 minutes each. We learned optimal thicknesses for objects printed in PLA plastic. 2 mm seems best. We also learned the limits of MakerBot Replicator 2's resolution at standard and high settings. The numbers just barely came out on the 50 mm ruler on the Helios Labs keychain.

Future projects? As we develop a direct understanding of what a 3D printer can do, we are thinking up some more substantial projects to apply this technology to. Already in the process of being designed is an automatic fish feeder using an Arduino. The parts will be 3D printed.

Each part needs to be designed with final assembly in mind. What strategies will you use to fasten the parts together? When it is printing from bottom up, will there be overhangs? The above design has glue in mind for most of the parts with bolts holding on the electronics cover.

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