Thursday, 16 May 2013

Will 3D Printing Help Us, Or Kill Us?

 So over the past couple weeks their have been a couple leaps in the 3D printing world. Both of these are excellent to show just how far 3D printing has come and how these machines are able to both help our world and can even cause issues among Law & Order.

So What happens when you have a very creative man with a 3D printer? Well you normally get innovation but this innovation can be both beneficial to the world or unwanted...

Cody Wilson of DefCad has 3D printer a fully working single shot firearm which can shoot a .22 calibre round from a gun made up of 15 3D printed parts and using a common wood nail as the firing pin. This weapons .stl files were then posted on Cody Wilson website for all to 3D print which has caused mixed emotions. Cody wanted to show that with the 3D printing technology improving anyone will be able to print a gun one day, many people believing it cant be done Cody set out to achieve a fully working 3D printer gun.
          Cody Wilsons first publicly announced weapon was the lower receiver of an AR-15 rifle. This was printed sing resin and was printed at a 40micron layer resolution. And with the lower receiver being a very precise part to the weapon could really only be printed with this type of printed even though FDM/FFF printers can achieve the layer height they would not be able to achieve the tensile strength of the resin. This was pretty huge but was not a problem as hardly anyone could afford the 3D printer used and the gun still required 75% of AR-15 parts to make a firing weapon. Thus making the idea impractical but showed allot of potential.
      So after many months Cody Wilson announced the Liberator 3D printed gun. This gun was entirely printed using FDM/FFF technology(extruded plastic from a heated nozzle) Which meant that the idea of a 3D printer gun became ALLOT more practical and when the .stl files were published it caused allot of interest from around the world,being covered by nearly all News teams...This advertised the gun abroad such as the UK where guns are not permitted, but 3D printers are...meaning anyone with access to a 3D printer has now got access to a gun essentially.

This is quite a big blow to the 3D printing community since it has really put a bad name to 3D printing and could potentially cause governments to regulate 3D printers and their manufacturers which could easily kill the technology just as its leaving the said my father.

So its really reassuring to see Richard Van As using a 3D printer to benefit himself and children with conditions where they have no use of their hands. Richard lost his fingers in a work related accident and being a labour worker he needed his fingers back to continue his job. He first created ROBOFINGER which works just like a finger which is actuated by his lower index finger. This was mainly metal parts... After seeing Richards work a couple got in touch with Richard because their son has a condition where he has no fingers on his right hand. Richard and an associate from Canada came up with ROBOHAND for this young boy. ROBOHAND is nearly all 3D printed using nuts and bolts to keep parts in-place and using a thermal plastic that wraps around the arm to hold the hand in place. The hand is clenched when the boy(Ryan) pivots his wrist. This gives him the ability to catch and throw balls,hold bats, ride bikes easier etc. Please watch the video below as Richard is now looking for Funding to help other children with similar circumstances.

I really think that this shows two ends of 3D printing... They are both massive leaps in innovation but the gun isnt quite what we were hoping to see where as ROBOHAND is truly great for people in those circumstances and it shows just how much 3D printing can benefit those with certain conditions.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Cyrus vs RigidBot 3D printers

After doing my normal 3D printer research that I do daily I went to Kickstarter where I have been watching the progress of a few 3D printers that have caught my attention. While it is clear that some are better than others for the most part all the printers that receive funding are typically the best apart from one which I can’t wrap my head around as to why it hasn’t met its campaign goal. So I am going to compare two printers that are both ending in a few days where one takes on a modular design and the other goes for the consumer look. These two printers will be the Cyrus 3D printer and the Rigidbot 3D printer.

The Cyrus 3D Printer

So the Cyrus 3D printer is a standard filament based 3D printer with a very generous build volume of 1300 cubic/inch which is very generous when compared to the Makerbot replicator 2 with its build volume of 410 cubic/inches.  So though it has a large build volume can it print ABS? Yes it can which is quite impressive given its bed size. Oh and it can print at 100microns which is becoming the ‘standard’ high res print. The Cyrus uses all the latest and greatest coming from the open source community using a Qu-Bd extruder and the ReprapCentral LCD display making it fully independent from a computer. So the Cyrus typically has everything going for it, It even has an attractive enclosure to hide all the mechanics which does add to a professional look and I don’t think anyone would be embarrassed to have one placed on their desk.
   So to sum it up the Cyrus has
·         A build volume of 1300 cubic/inches.
·         A heated build platform(ABS compatible)
·         Can print at 100 microns.
·         Uses the latest Open Source electronics.
·         Has an attractive enclosure.

So after the brief description of the Cyrus lets take a look at the Rigidbot

The RigidBot 3D printer
The RigidBot has a completely different appearance to the Cyrus, the RigidBot has more ‘simplistic’ look. Rigidbot is a very modular design meaning that once you have one if you can find the belts and rods required for the heads movement then you can technically make it whatever size you like. A point to make is that the RigidBot campaign is offering two version of the RigidBot...Standard RigidBot and the RigidBot BIG which has a larger build volume. For this blog post I am going to focus on the standard Rigidbot. The RigidBot has also got a generous build Volume of 1000 cubic/inches which though less than the Cyrus is still allot more than most low cost 3D printers. The RigidBot does not have a heated build platform making ABS prints difficult due to warping though RigidBot does tell you this, (Honest) so it is optimised for PLA. RigidBot does also have an optional LCD display so the RigidBot can also be independent requiring only an SD card with stl files and a socket to plug in the power, and of course the RigidBot can print at 100microns. The RigidBot team also designed their own custom made hot-end which is quite unique I think.
   So now to sum up the RigidBot
·         A 1000 cubic/inch build volume.
·         A modular design for customisation.
·         A 100 micron layer resolution.
·         Custom Hot-end.

So to sum it up I personally believe that both these printers are rather equal in terms f what the designers are offering . Whereas I believe the Cyrus has a more consumer level look over the RigidBot and the RigidBot being more of a platform for customisation they both have relatively similar things going for them. Which would I go for? Personally I would go for the Cyrus simply because its more ABS friendly with its heated build platform though I do really like the fact that the Rigidbot can be heavily customised.
Why hasn’t Cyrus received its funding?
So with all of the above being said it brings me to why hasn’t the Cyrus being funded? It is a perfectly good looking machine and has a couple benefits over the RigidBot...I would have at least expected the Cyrus to have gained its funding yet the RigidBot has so far received over $750,000 in funding while the Cyrus has only just passed the 60% mark in its campaign. If you have any ideas as to why then leave a comment below .
 < Cyrus Yoda print.

<RigidBot Yoda print.

Please visit both the RigidBot and the Cyrus Kickstarter pages through the links below.

I would like to wish both the RigidBot team and the Cyrus team the best of luck with delivering 3D printers,future developments and the overall success in their contribution to the 3D printing community.

Monday, 6 May 2013

My Printer Project - Z Axis Redesign

So today a spent a few hours redesigning my Z axis since the old design would have potentially caused some binding issues as the screw was behind the linear guides which would have possibly caused the bed to want to angle down when raising the bed and cause the bed to angle upwards when the bed is being lowered.
         Knowing that when I build this printer I will do all the testing without the enclosure since I will have easy access to all the mechanics and electronics I had to also add a bracket to the top of the Z- stage to which I can mount the stepper motor. Before the stepper motor was designed to mount to the enclosure which was a poor design since removing the enclosure would have meant detaching the coupler and removing the Z axis stepper motor. So now the Z stage is simply two smooth linear rods with a screw in the middle which attach├ęs to the stepper motor at the top. At the top the stepper motor mount to a plastic(3D printed) block which is also where the ends of the smooth linear rods are press fitted into position...and this is similar to the mounting system at the bottom where the three rods meet the base pan where again 3 plastic blocks will be screwed to the base pan which has press fit mounts for the rods. 

Sunday, 5 May 2013

My first experience with 3D printing

So my first experience with 3D printing was in December 2011 when I was in a machining workshop and noticed a fridge freezer type thing in the corner where an employee was putting something into it so I asked the guy who was touring me around the different machines what it was and he said it was a 3D printer...I wasnt very shocked since I knew they existed after watching several YouTube videos on them. The 3D printer was a Dimension SST printer and because I was curious I walked over to it and noticed it was spitting out its first layer after the employee reloaded the filament. I thought it was cool and thought of the potential uses for it in my hobby which is R/C airplanes with live cameras mounted known as FPV.
       After getting home I looked up the Dimension printer just be disappointed when I saw its price tag. Thinking that their has to be cheaper ones out there I began several months worth of research to find that their are allot of 3D printers out there to choose from with the main contenders in the low priced 3D printers being Ultimaker and Makerbot. At the time They both had very similar looking designs but the Ultimaker(At this point it was April 2012) looked to be the overall better design. I then went onto my original plan which was to design a quadcopter and mainly forgot about 3D printers until I could afford one as even their low price point were still out of my reach. 
         Once I began the design of my quadcopter I started brainstorming how a 3D printer could make the production of airframe kits more efficient and came to the conclusion that a 3D printer could have huge potential in my design mainly in the motor mount where the motors attach to the frame.
 Where normally on these designs the motor mounted directly to the aluminium arms this caused problems if the quadcopter was to crash as it would bend the aluminium where the bolts held down the motors...So utilising a 3D printer I came up with this design which was brilliant since the motor was not directly mounted to the aluminium. The motor was mounted to a motor mount plate which has bolt holes going through 3D printed parts which when tightened kept the whole assembly rigid in it position and the prototype worked very well(not the extended leg which acts as landing gear) This was my very first experience with 3D printing and I was instantly hooked on its potential. However the parts were printed at the machine place on the Dimension and not on my own printer. So I began designing my own!


Hey Guys. Since 3D printing is becoming more and more popular I thought Id make a blog to keep all my research in one place. This research being what I find online that I think it going to be a big hit in the 3D printing community as well as following the latest developments.
        3D printing is growing at a huge rate at the present, This is of course due to the drop in prices that has happened over the past few years.This is becuase of many reasons though persoanlly I believe is because of the open source community. When Makerbot released the Cupcake CNC it was the first of its kind..was it the first 3D printer? No,but it was a 3D printer that an average man or woman could afford though due to the fact is was a kit not as many people were interested because although allot of people may know how to make an stl. file not everyone knows how to make a PCB with tiny surface mounted parts. But it was the first step in getting the average person into 3D printing and getting away from the frustratingly expensive Million dollar machines.

I intend to watch the 3D printing industry closely and see what happens :)