More 3D printing on Mars

I’ve made some good progress with my 3D printing. I’m starting to make some useful objects rather than just printing stuff for its own sake or to try to test some characteristic of the printer (though I’m still doing that as well).

Reuleaux tetrahedron – this was really a test of how well the printer produces smooth curves. Generally I’m quite happy with it.

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Interlocking balls – one of the coolest things you can do with a 3D printer (at least if you are a big nerd) that is difficult or impossible with conventional manufacturing methods is to make interlocking or self-containing parts. My printer, which is a FDM (fused deposition modeling) type machine isn’t ideal for this. FDM uses a nozzle to extrude out one thin layer of material. Then moves up a fraction of a mm and does another layer on top of that. This means that parts that overhang a lot or are free hanging (imagine a stalactite hanging from the ceiling) need extra support material to hold up that part.  This material then has to be cleaned out. Other type of 3D printer like SLS (selective laser sintering) or stereolithography can do this without solid support material since they are supported by a bed powder or liquid resin respectively. Still got a pretty satisfying result.

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I’ve also started printing some practical stuff. Well practical might be an overstatement for some of this stuff but it is something other than test items.

Whiteboard marker holder – I was getting sick of there not being one around so I printed one up. The marker snaps in nicely. Also got to experiment a bit with making parts fit together since the clip and holder were printed separately. Successfully managed to make a snap clip to attach to the cabinet as well.

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Halloween props – We all dressed up for Halloween and I took the opportunity to print a couple things to give our costumes that final touch.

What is Super Girl without a super ring? Worked at printing with multiple colors which involves trying to pause the print at just the right moment and then switching the filament spool. This was particularly tricky on this part since on only wanted about 2 or 3 layers to be red and it was hard to figure out the right time. Took a few tries but turned out reasonably well especially after a touch up with red nail polish.

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I was a stereotypical Hawaiian tourist with a Hawaiian shirt, flipflops, lei and a 3D printed martini glass. The glass didn’t turn out quite as nicely as I’d hoped, but I was in a hurry and didn’t have time to try again. I tried using clear ABS in an attempt to hopefully end up with something that looked at least slightly like glass, but it ended up white pretty much. I also didn’t get the settings quite right and caused a pretty poor surface on the inside. I had to print it in two parts since it was too big to do all at once but the joint I did worked well as did gluing the parts together.

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Watch parts – this is the kind of thing I had hoped for when I was planning the whole 3D printing on almost Mars. Sophie’s watch broke and needed replacement parts. It needed a whole new buckle and pin (I used a nail). I also did a little strap keeper. It took a few iterations to get right but turned out quite nicely if I do say so myself. If it wasn’t pointed out it could almost pass for original parts.

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Anyway I’m totally happy with my choice of projects for the next 8 months. In the queue next are knitting markers and some space suit parts.

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5 comments

  1. I can see how smooth curves could be helpful in printing body parts, but don’t get any ideas…

    Very pretty! I think you need to print umbrellas now for those classes, and perhaps some suspenders to go with that belt!

    BTW, I did get one RSS to work well with email, the Cool Tools one; still working on XKTD…

    Like

    1. An umbrella would have been a good touch.

      Like

  2. Supergirl is on Mars?

    Like

    1. Most definitely

      Like

  3. mike_bigger@comcast.net · · Reply

    Hey Zak,

    Excellent work! Glad to see what you’re up to. Hoping you are challenged every day in a satisfying way. You are lucky to be on Mars at the moment. Elections just happened and the world is no less polarized, and probably no better off, hmmm… Thinking of you and your crewmates, and beaming positive thoughts your way.

    Best,

    MikeB

    Like

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