Category Archives: Stuff we made

3D printer enhancement

My Innovation house project is the hardware portion of my research into extending the functionality of 3D printers. For further information you can visit the project website at ryanthecoder.github.io

Version 1 of my machine connected to the MakerBot Replicator 2
Version 1 of my machine connected to the MakerBot Replicator 2

Three dimensional printers have taken off in the past three years, and home models are now able to make intricate and interesting designs. As professional- and consumer-grade versions increase in popularity, extensibility will need to be addressed. This project explores the idea of expanding the normal 3D printer and adding a second range of motion. To test the feasibility of this I have built A electromagnetic crane attachment capable of inserting objects into a printed object.

Version 1 of my machine connected to the MakerBot Replicator 2
A side view of the crane arm and how it goes into the printer

The crane is based of the Shapeoko machine but features several modifications includingi a enlarged work area, a lighter frame and most importantly an arm capable of holding several tools. The first tool implemented was the electromagnet but others could easily be used. Development has begun with the Makerbot Replicator 2 but will include other 3D printers in the future. Here is a demo of the two machines functioning together.

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Announcement teaser and updates

A major announcement about Innovation House will be posted to this blog on Monday, 1/14/2014. Consider yourself teased.

In preparation for the Spring semester I have made a couple updates to the 3D printing setup. The red laptop connected to the Makerbot had died (after many years of dedicated service). The graphics card is failing. If you have any personal files on that laptop please transfer them off during the first week of classes. Then it will be fed to the wolves.

I have set up a new laptop to run the printer. It should boot into the administrator account, from which you can run the MakerWare application (the one with the “mw” logo). Please do not clutter the desktop with files. It is running Ubuntu 12.04. The administrator password is “digital” if you need it.

Since the build plate that came with the machine is getting pretty beat up, and Makerbot does not sell replacements, I decided to try to fab something. I bought some scrap 3/8″ lexan off ebay cheap (enough make 3 build plates). After lots of carefull sawing, and a bit of cursing, it seems to work. This new build plate is thicker, stronger, and much more scratch resistant than the original acrylic one. Please be careful removing it and inserting it. Start with the back clip and gently push it into place. It’s a very snug fit and I don’t want to break the clips. Although lexan is very tough, it can be scratched so let’s see how long we can keep this one from getting scratched up.

If you want to use the old build plate, I will leave it by the printer. Remember that you will need to re-level the axis if you switch from one plate to the other. I think you will like the new one much better, but I have not tried it with any really large or long prints.

The white board is accumulating a lot of warnings born of anguish. Is this our wailing wall?

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The case of the phone cases

After playing it safe on the first couple of attempts at vacuum forming, a couple members gathered up their courage and put their phones on the machine. A couple of nice phone cases were the results. I’m not sure I’d drop melted plastic directly on to my phone, but it was fun to watch and I guess all’s well that ends well.

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