Getting Creative with 3D printing

It is amazing to be able to download a 3D model, print the part, and be able to use it, in a matter of a few hours, but creating something from scratch is more rewarding and enabling.

I downloaded and printed this red wire shield to prevent the wire bundle from rubbing up against the belts that run along the left side of the printer.  I actually “invented” the concept, but someone else came up with a much better variant, and I decided to use theirs:

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This is a stock Solidoodle extruder assembly (very pretty but very difficult to disassemble and reassemble):

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And this is an alternative design that can be disassembled more quickly and easily:

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This is a hollow snake which can be twisted into any shape you like.  You can use them to pass wires for a lamp, to squirt water (they are used in fish tanks) or to draw a vacuum (they are used to vacuum up saw dust on band saws).  Since you can scale anything you print, you can now create snakes like this in any length and any diameter!

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One morning, I decided to create a wind turbine.  I designed it in Sketchup and printed it. I then created a mirror image of the original and printed that, also.  This was the result, all in a few hours:

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When you invert one and mount them on an axle, you end up with this:

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The bottom one is shiny because I used an acetone vapor bath to enhance the surface finish.

I wanted to explore making smoke ring vortices using a computer to control the pulse shape, so I came up with this part, made by gluing four parts together:

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The fins on the inside were primarily to support the parts while they were printed.

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The idea is to mount a 10″ woofer on the bottom, and then push vortices out the hole at the top.

When one of my cheese graders broke, I was able to print up a replacement of my own design:

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And I made a star-shaped cookie cutter, just to see if I could do it:

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Note that this plastic is not food safe, so I’m not sure whether I will actually use the grader and cutter.

And when one reel of plastic filament arrived with a hub hole that was too small, rather than drilling the hub out, I simply printed a holder that was the right size for the reel.

Having a 3D printer is like having a drill or a screw driver or a table saw.  It is enabling. Sometimes the problems that you solve are close to trivial (lid for cat food can, rack to dry plastic zip lock bags), but sometimes the designs and prints are hugely useful.  And it is always rewarding!

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