Tag Archives: 3d Printing

Printing Luxo

So for the first two months of my DIY Catalyst stay at The Edge, I have been devouring everything related to 3D printing. Anyone curious enough to stop and chat has been bombarded by me waxing lyrically about how consumer 3D printing is going to radically change the manufacturing landscape. Consumer 3D fabrication will lower labour costs to a point where mass customisation will become a viable replacement for almost everything that is mass produced today.

The 3D fabrication revolution will mean that you will no longer need to battle the weekend crowds and dodgy meatballs of your local Scandinavian furniture store. Instead of traveling to a warehouse to purchase mass produced flat-pack furniture, you will browse an online catalog of furniture templates and select a design that is the closest match to what you are after. You will purchase and download the design in exactly the same way you currently purchase from online app, music and game stores. However, once the download is completed, then the real fun would begin. You would have the freedom to completely customise every aspect of the furniture’s design. Is the default too wide to fit in your room? No problems, just squeeze the digital design and make it fit! Did you actually want the legs to be the same as your grandmothers antique dressing table? No dramas, just take a picture, trace out a copy and replace the legs. All happy with your design? Now just hit print and assemble as you would with any other flat-pack furniture design.

So mid rant, a friend of mine suddenly went from a blank look to the wild eyes of a mad scientist that had just concieved the perfect way to end that pesky Mr Bond once and for all. He bursts in “I get it! That is totally cool, in fact I broke my fine scandinavian lamp just the other week. Do you think you could print a replacement part?”

I wasn’t sure, but was keen to have a try all the same. I sat down with a pair of digital calipers, measuring up all the different dimensions of the busted component. These measurements were converted into a digital design I created using the open source computer aided design tool FreeCAD. From here it went for a short hop through RepSnapper and was printed on a Mendel RepRap. The printed replacement worked perfectly, and my friend did not have to throw away a whole lamp because a small plastic component snapped.

Lamp part

When we realised that the lamp part was going to work, it got me thinking: Pixar managed to go from the 2 minute 3D “short” Luxo Jr to the 81 minute, full length feature film Toy Story… In just nine freaking years. A remarkable achievement, one that required a huge amount of technology to be invented, assembled and cordinated that revolutionised the animation industry. I think the same will apply for consumer 3D fabrication. In just a decade, we will witness a revolution in manufacturing and evolve past simple printed replacement parts, to a world where furniture is downloaded, remixed and customised on a scale that has never been achieved before. Art Nouveau for the new millenium? Hell yes!


Want to learn the skills to design and print your own replacement plastic parts? Check out our upcoming workshops at The Edge. Introduction to FreeCAD, Introduction to 3D printing and Print a 3D toy. You can also hear me babling incorrehently on twitter @clinton_freeman


Oh, and 3D printers

Catalyst blog








Starting at The Edge as a Catalyst has definitely been one of the better first weeks you could imagine. An awesome bunch of people, a relaxed work environment. Oh, and 3D printers.

Usually when you sit down at your desk at a new job you will typically find a computer, a few pens, a draw full of assorted paper clips and maybe a stapler… if you’re lucky. Sure my desk has these things, but it also has a Cupcake CNC from MakerBot Industries and a freaking RepRap! They need of some TLC and a little programming persuasion, but I am hoping to get these puppies up printing over the next few weeks.

So if you happen to know how to get a RepRap Gen6 Electronics driver singing in RelicatorG, or if you have ever wanted to learn more about this fangmangdangled 3D printing stuff drop my a line on the twitters @clinton_freeman

Tinkering with the RepRap

Catalyst blog

Ok, so for the last two days I have been tinkering around with a RepRap 3D printer powered by Generation 6 electronics. The following is a bunch of breadcrumbs for anyone following in similar footsteps:

  • Download RepSnapper OSX build – https://sites.google.com/site/davidbuzz/repsnapper-for-osx-binaries/RepSnapper-28-10-2010.dmg?attredirects=0&d=1
  • Download the older Arduino-v18 – http://arduino.googlecode.com/files/arduino-0018.dmg
  • This older verison was required because the Gen6 firmware doesn’t compile in the latest Ardunio.
  • Download Sanguino Hardware for Ardunio (it is a different processor) – http://sanguino.googlecode.com/files/Sanguino-0018r2_1_4.zip

Need to make Ardunio capable of creating software for the Sangunio (which is the slightly different controller that powers the RepRap):

  • Copy Sangunio folder into Ardunio app (show package contents, resources/java/hardware).
  • Start Ardunio. Yay, now supports Sangunio and the onboard ATmega 644p controller!
  • Select Sangunio from Tools -> Board menu.

Compile new firmware for Gen6 Electronics:

  • Download firmware from: http://reprap.org/mediawiki/images/5/58/GEN6_FW_20100824_FiveD_GCode_Interpreter.zip
  • Firmware is an ardunio sketch that tells the reprap how to move the print head when given a path (GCode).
  • Rename the parent folder FiveD_GCode_Interpreter
  • Start Ardunio-v18 Open FiveD_GCode_Interpreter.pde.
  • Edit/check configure.h and repeat untill rep rap is heading home correctly.
  • The changes I needed to make were:
  • Select Sketch -> Verify/Compile (cmd + R)
  • Hit upload. Wait for upload to complete.
  • Close Arduino software.
  • Hit the reset button on the Gen6 motherboard.

Open repsnapper:

  • Select the correct port from the dropdown and check that the speed match that in configure.h
  • Press connect to printer. Light should go Green and stay Green.
  • Switch to the ‘print’ tab
  • Connect to Printer should already be illuminated green.
  • Hit Power on.
  • Move down to the interactive control, number in mm. x, y, z
  • Home should move to the bottom left corner.
  • Be careful not to run off the edge – only got minium endstops.

Dummy print.

  • Open STL file and convert to GCode – creates the path that the print head will follow.
  • Had the extruder disconnected. (Careful – only disconnect the extruder if you don’t have anything powered up).
  • Don’t have the heater enabled.
  • Tell it to print!

First prints:

  • Plug the extruder back in (again only with the power unplugged).
  • Pre-heated the extruder.
  • Told it to print!
  • What a mess! – Not hot enough, moving too fast wouldn’t ‘stick’ to the build platform.
  • First five prints didn’t really even get off the second or third layer.