3D Printing with Printrbot

July 23, 2012

Recently, my Dad backed the Printrbot Kickstarter. Our printer has arrived, and it is amazing to play with. I had seen a few 3D printers, and I knew them to be very cool, but I did not quite get it. This is ironic since I had actually made money from 3D printing with this Tesla Valve. Even though I benefited from a 3D printing service, I still did not understand the allure of having your own 3D printer. NOW I DO.

We’re at this point with 3D printers equivalent to the mini-computer kit period. There is something amazing to assembling your own machine and struggling with all of its idiosyncrasies. It is actually a disheartening and difficult experience, at the beginning. Breathing life into something is no easy task. However, when you hold your first part in your hand all memory of painful labor falls by the wayside. You become a maker.

A 3D printed Creeper from Minecraft, sitting on the Printrbot

This guy is from Minecraft. My cousin found him. Here’s the page, if you want to print him out. This is a good example of the cosmetic side of 3D printing. If you want to print out toys and familiar things, there are plenty of models out there. They don’t really do anything, but look neat.

A first pass at a clip to hold my safety belt buckle

A while ago, my belt buckle in my car broke. A piece of plastic, that prevented the buckle from sliding all the way down the belt, cracked and fell off. Now my buckle slides down beside my seat. And each time I drive, I have to reach down and get it. This is mighty annoying, but it has never been bothersome enough to go to a junkyard to try and find replacement plastic.

One of the first clips. Blobbling ruined this one. It was too thin.

3D printing changes the way your mind works, by altering the space of possibility. Now I knew I could make a better buckle clip. I could just print one out. I designed one up in my CAD program, and started printing out copies. The first one was not that great. It didn’t have enough clearance, and it suffered from some blobbiness on one end. I had to cull some plastic with a hobby knife. I knew I could do better.

A working clip. Thickened and with better tolerances.

I improved the clip and tried again. This time the results were excellent. It was my first practical model. It is a small thing to make, but not a small thing to improve one’s life.

3D printed clip successfully holding up buckle

I think 3D printing will have a bright future. In that regard, I’m thinking of starting a space in the South Bay where people can commune over 3D printing, as well as a shop to sell 3D printer parts and supplies. If anyone is interested, email me at primevector at gmail dot com. I can sure use the help.

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