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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Simple pot

This is a little pot that I'm quite proud of. It's a variation on a circular pot I made with a fluted top, but I applied the maelstrom
command in Rhino 3D. Since having the MakerBot I've really got into Rhino and feel quite comfortable with it, although it's complicated. I am sure beyond doubt that some of the ways I do things are sub-optimal and would make more experienced designers laugh!
However, the real reason I'm proud of this pot is that it was only by printing it that I found out how awful it was. It twists in your hand when you pick it up, which makes it fiddly. It looked great in 3D though!
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CNC Music!

About 22 years ago, I was doing a day-release Engineering course at a college where they had a CNC machine. After using it to make some parts for the robot we were building, the technician brought out a cassette tape (the code was stored on tapes) and pushed it into the machine. He hit go and the machine started to play music! The cool thing was that it was using the stepper motors of the table to form the notes by spinning at different frequencies.
I wanted to replicate this on the Makerbot and I found some sample code from here that had what I was looking for. Unfortunately, it didn't work for the Makerbot so I had to hack it. This resulted in Tetris Music!

12 interlocking rings

This is a print I did of this part . I printed this on a Heated Build Platform (HBP) with a double layer raft. The HBP is one of the latest additions to the Maketbot and took me only about an hour to build from the kit. As you can see, the two middle bolts almost impinge on the build and they actually did knock the plastruder head a bit when the raft was printing, so I think I might remove them for future builds.
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Finishing the whistle

The printer finished the whistle. It didn't work unfortunately due to there being too many wisps of plastic left inside the cavity. I used a pair of pliers to pull most of the out and the whistle blew loudly, but to date I've never managed to get the ball to roll around inside cleanly.
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This was one of the first things I wanted to print - a whistle I downloaded from Thingiverse. The printer not only prints a fully working whistle, but prints the ball inside it!
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Naked plastruder parts

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The Plastruder

Here are all the parts of the Plastruder (plastic extruder). Each part is covered front and back with protective paper or blue plastic polythene. It was a pain to get off, but kind of satisfying too!
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Z-axis drive bolts and X-axis motor

This is a close up of two of the z-axis spindles and the bolts that go on them. You have to make sure that each bolt is the same height so that the plastruder platform is level. Also in this picture you can see the X-axis motor pulley. One problem I have with the Makerbot is how loud this motor is. It vibrate the whole of the bottom of the cabinet.
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Z-Axis Drive Mechanism

All four spindles are driven at the same time by one stepper motor via this long belt and four pulleys. The Makerbot operator can also yank the belt to raise or lower the z-axis manually. This is done:

1. At the beginning, when you are centering the build platform and putting the nozzle right a 0,0,0
2. During the raft printing, to squish down the plastic.
3. At the end, if you haven't programmed in a lift at the end of the build.

To make sure I never made a mistake, I drew an arrow on the cabinet showing which way I should yank to raise the printing head!
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The Z-axis stage is made of plastic / perspec / plexiglass and mounted on four spindles. It moves up and down and sits on four bolts. It's a reasonable approach, but prone to wobble if the spindles are not 100% straight. I found this out after crashing the z-stage into the build platform and warping some of the spindles.
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Cabinet Completed

Everything is fixed together with nuts and bolts and it took a lot of them to complete the cabinet! My arm was aching from all the Allen Key (hex key) twisting.
The MakerBot is powered by a 400W PC power supply. I had visions of using ducting the fan from the PS up around the back to blow on the hot plastic at the end of the build. This isn't really needed, but now that I have a Heated Build Platform that might help it cool down quicker.
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X and Y Stage complete

The X and Y stage are now complete!
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This is the Y-axis stage. I just finished putting the hot glue onto the bushes. Now to move on.
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Making the MakerBot

The Makerbot came as a laser cut kit. The instructions were in Wiki form on the Internet. Exciting stuff!
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