Tag Archives: Lulzbot

LED Bridge Lamp Superstructure

The superstructure of the LED Bridge Lamp is one of its most prominent features. I printed mine using Polymaker Polylite Translucent Blue filament.

I started off by printing the standard set of flat printing models from Janis’ universal segment version of the lamp here. I also printed a set of the aligner/clamping rings that aid in assembly.

Printing a single set of the original bridge superstructure along with the aligners/clamps
Printing a single set of the original bridge superstructure along with the aligners/clamps

When I started working on this project it was the middle of winter and I think a combination of room temp and small surface areas caused some issues with pieces warping and even popping off the heated bed plate.

Printing two straight sections of bridge superstructure
Printing two straight sections of bridge superstructure

To remedy this I started printing the superstructure sections with a brim. Around this time I also started to eliminate the printing of the original shade. In Cura I broke the model (which was a group of pieces) into its pieces and would delete the shade. This also allowed me to fit a few more pieces on the build plate. I decided to make my own lamp shade/diffuser which I will cover in another post.

Printing two sets of bridge superstructure with a brim and without the shade
Printing two sets of bridge superstructure with a brim and without the shade

I would clean up the prints with an X-acto knife and square mill file. Each section didn’t need much cleanup. Most of the work was spent testing the tabs on each section and making sure it fit securely onto another section. The focus usually was making sure the corners were flat and that the tabs squarely locked over the end of the next section by filing the underside of the tab. Next I would dry fit the pieces in the assembly rings.

Once dry fit I would slide the top of the superstructure out a bit, apply a drop or two of LocTite 401 to the assembly tabs and slide the piece back into place. I would then remove the lampshade, run a bead of glue down the retaining lip on each side the superstructure and then slide the shade back in so the glue could set. After a minute or so the alignment rings could be removed and you can move on to the next section. By the time the next piece was filed and ready the last one was dry so I only needed one set of the rings.

Completed bridge section drying in the clamps
Completed bridge section drying in the clamps

Below you can see me testing a dry fitted piece against a completed straight section of bridge.

Testing to make sure each section fits well into the next
Testing to make sure each section fits well into the next

The above sample pieces have a translucent blue light shade from the original model, but as you’ll see in the upcoming post on the shades I went with an remix that I think you may also like.

Accumulating bridge sections to assemble
Accumulating bridge sections to assemble

As things got up and running I had a little production line going — churning out bridge sections and and assembling as I could find the time.

I wanted to get a feel for how big the lamp would be, beyond the calculated dimensions so I assembled 2/3 of an arc — just the assembled bridge sections without the shades.

Test assembly of the bridge superstructure sections
Test assembly of the bridge superstructure
sections

It was fun to see the project coming together. The above assembly I put to the side in the spare bedroom where I have my 3D printer etc. It was near a window and a baseboard radiator. Given that the PLA is extruded at 210C and at most my sealed baseboard radiator is putting out 100C I wasn’t worried about melting. After a few weeks I thought one of my young kids got to it, but as it turned out the PLA was softened by the sun and/or radiator and 9 assembled sections of the bridge lamp were warped/bent beyond what I was willing to accept so that was a big set back. After another 40 hours or so of printing I eventually replaced all those pieces and was careful to keep the lamp sections away from even that modest source of heat.

I started to stockpile the assembled bridge superstructure sections as I worked on the shades which will be covered in another post.

You can navigate back to the Enhanced LED Bridge Lamp Summary here. 

Take care,
-Bill Rainford
@TinWhiskerzBlog
@TheRainford

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My Favorite Print Removal Tool

Removing a print from the bed of your 3D printer can sometimes be a harrowing experience. You wait for hours for the print to complete, maybe even dealing with a few failed attempts and then go on to break or mangle your print trying to get it off the printer bed.

My Lulzbot TAZ6 came with a nice little kit of tools but the print removal tool was basically a clam knife with a thick handle like a steak knife. I tried using that tool to remove my first print and it made the only gash I have in my PEI print bed. I then went on to buy a dedicated print removal spatula for about $8 on amazon. It was incrementally better — looks like a long frosting knife and was a little bit flexible, but was still thicker than I wanted and took some work to get a print off the bed. After looking at that tool I thought about some real nice palette knives I have in my woodworking tool kit that are flexible and machined down to the point that they are almost sharp.

Woodworking Palette Knife
Woodworking Palette Knife

I dashed out to the shop and grabbed one — the shape I least liked and least used for my woodworking was by far the best I’ve ever used for 3D print removals. (See photo above) That sharp corner and VERY thin edge is great for getting up under a print and quickly removing it.

Popping off another print.
Popping off another print.

Since I switched to using this tool with my printer I have not lost a single print due to issues getting if off of the bed. The knife tapers down to 0.008″ (twice the thickness of a human hair) at its thinnest and is about 1/16″ near the tang. This profile with a point off to one side (far right in photo below), along with the ability to easily flex the knife allows the user to easily pop printed items off of the bed. All I do is get the corner under the print and make a quick sweeping motion and the print comes right off the plate.

Palette Knife Kit From Lee Valley
Palette Knife Kit From Lee Valley

If you’d like to get a set of these useful palette knives you can find them at Lee Valley here. The set only costs $11.50 USD and should last a very long time. I also use them a lot for applying wood glue to my woodworking projects.

If you give them a try or have your own tips for consistently getting a print off the printer bed, please leave a note in the comments section below.

Take care,
-Bill
@TinWhiskerzBlog

Who you gonna call?

I grew up during the first wave of Ghostbusters movies and loved the franchise ever since. I had all the toys as a kid. Back then it was a lot harder to make your own custom toys. My first few weeks with my own 3D printer has been the usual stage of ‘print everything I can’ — trying to get as many things off of my long Thingiverse ‘Like’ list as I can.

Personally, I liked the university. They gave us money and facilities, we didn’t have to produce anything! You’ve never been out of college! You don’t know what it’s like out there! I’ve *worked* in the private sector. They expect *results*. — Ray Stanz (Ghostbusters 1984)

The week the new Ghostbusters movie came out in July, I printed out a version of the new Ecto-1 hood ornament in nGen silver metallic filament. It made a great hood ornament for the truck as we went to go see the movie at the drive-in.

 

This week with some red and white filament in hand I printed out the classic Ghostbusters logo — one for my maker workbench at home and one for my office at work. It’s not bad enough to print 1 of everything, lately I seem to be printing lots of stuff in duplicate.

“[as a ghost leaves on the subway] I guess he’s going to Queens – he’s going to be the third scariest thing on that train.” — Patty Tolan (Ghostbusters 2016)

If you want to print either of these models for yourself I posted my settings and tips up on Thingiverse here (for Ecto-1 Hood ornament) and here (for Ghostbusters Logo)

Take care,
-Bill
@TinWhiskerzBlog
@TheRainford

Tool Rack for Pliers

The workshop is my happy place — I go there to create. One of my favorite things to do out in my woodworking shop is to build cabinets, organizers and jigs to make it easier to work or accomplish a given task. I’ve been applying that to my recent work with 3D printing and electronics hardware hacking.

By training I am a software engineer and a preservation carpenter — yep the is an unusual mix to some — but to me I use the same part of my brain to envision a large software application and break it down into manageable pieces of code and then write them that I use to envision a chair and break it down into all the steps and pieces that start at a tree and result in a chair.

After getting some more work time at the Maker Workbench that I recently completed I realized that my hand tool storage was lacking.

I was storing my pliers, strippers, nippers and similar tools in the holes on the sides of the metal racks that support my workbench.

For tools that only get used infrequently the holes on the support posts of my maker workbench do a good job at keeping them off the desk, but are a pain to get in and out of for frequently used tools.
For tools that only get used infrequently the holes on the support posts of my maker workbench do a good job at keeping them off the desk, but are a pain to get in and out of for frequently used tools.

It seemed like a great idea — I can see the tools, they are off the workbench and reasonably accessible, but for common operations I felt I was wasting too much time and energy getting them in and out of those holes — as sometimes they would catch a bit on the way out.

After thinking about some of the optimizations I made out in my woodworking shop and watching videos like some of Adam Savage’s shop tours, behind the scenes and shop projects builds from tested.com and this video in particular which made the case for not using drawers I wanted to come up with something efficient to organize the tools I used most often on the bench.

The idea bounced around in my subconscious for a few weeks until I finally came up with the following tool rack for my pliers and similar tools:

Angle view of completed tool rack
Angle view of completed tool rack

How I built the tool rack:

The rack is about 6″ tall, the base is about 6″ wide and the rods are about 12″ long. I bought a 36″ long piece of O1 Tool Steel Round Rod, Polished Finish, Precision Ground, Annealed, Metric 10mm from Amazon here. I cut the rod on my abrasive cutoff saw and ground off any burs and chamfered the cut ends a bit so I would be sure they’d seat nicely in the 3D printed ends.

Test prints of end caps for 10mm rod.
Test prints of end caps for 10mm rod. (Left is Dark blue nGen filament, right is clear blue PLA)

I then made what I felt was a reasonable sized 10mm end cap in SketchUp and printed it out. It was a tiny bit tight so I measured the rod and the print and adjusted things a bit and tried printing at 102, 105 and 108%. 105% was the sweet spot and gave me a nice tight fit. I also made a variant of the end cap to include a #4-40 machine screw to see if that would keep the cap on there even tighter but felt it was negligibly better in this case and recommend you print 1 or more of these caps to dial in your printer an get a real nice fit. If you still find the cap is loose you can epoxy it into place.

Printing each side of the tool rack. Printed with a brim to try and minimize any warping.
Printing each side of the tool rack. Printed with a brim to try and minimize any warping.

With the printer dialed in and the cap in hand it was time to print the sides. Rather than waste material and to increase the aesthetics of the rack I added a series of holes to the model to give it a more pleasing and modern look.

(Left) Side with brim still attached. (Right) Cleaned up piece ready to go.
(Left) Side with brim still attached. (Right) Cleaned up piece ready to go.

I printed the sides one at a time with a brim to try and minimize any warping.

View from the side of the completed rack.
View from the side of the completed rack.

The cleanup was easy with an X-acto knife and the assembly was simply inserting the rods into the printed end pieces and start using the rack.

3/4 view of completed rack loaded up with pliers and nippers
3/4 view of completed rack loaded up with pliers and nippers

The above described rod is a bit on the expensive side, costing about $15 but the ground and polished look is what I wanted and it adds a pretty good amount of weight to the tool rack and I’ve found it stays right where I leave it on the bench. It works well with all the small and medium size pliers shown below and can also accommodate some of my larger and specialty channel-locks and similar hand tools. If you are on a budget, simple mild steel rod from a hardware store or even a wooden dowel can be used.

Top bar is about 6" above the bench top and can accommodate most sizes of plier and similar tool you are likely to encounter on a maker workbench
Top bar is about 6″ above the bench top and can accommodate most sizes of plier and similar tool you are likely to encounter on a maker workbench

I’ve shared out the plans and SketchUp files for the end caps and rack sides (both solid sides and the sides with the circular holes) up on Thingiverse.com here.

If you make or remix this project, please share some pics or notes in the comments below.

Take care,
-Bill Rainford
@TinWhiskerzBlog
@TheRainford

 

Reverse Engineer

After creating my own model and printing it the next challenge I wanted to try out was printing in to colors of filament. I don’t have a flexy dual extruder yet (though I do want one) I wanted to take a shot at designing something that would work well being printed with two colors at different layers, meaning I could pause the print, swap filaments, purge and then resume the print.

Reverse Engineer 3D Printed Sign
Reverse Engineer 3D Printed Sign

I was inspired by some of the stickers and images I’ve seen online for Reverse Engineers and decided to make a fun little sign for my maker bench.

Reverse Engineer Sign (Up Close)
Reverse Engineer Sign (Up Close)

Model Details:
I designed this model in SketchUp and exported it as an *.stl file. It can easily scaled to a larger size. I wanted to minimize the amount of warping and among of filament used. If you want a thicker base just scale up in the Z axis.

Print Details: 
Printed on LulzBot Taz 6
Dark Gray and Orange nGen Filament
20% infill, Standard Resolution and Speed
Printed scaled 2.0 in X and Y axes, and at 3.0 in the Z axis.  This gives me something a little bigger than a business card.

The trick was sitting there watching the print and pausing at just the right time to swap the filament. This meant finding the first layer wherein the background is complete and we are about to start printing the text which is proud of that surface. I looked at the layer view in Cura and could figure out when I wanted to do that filament swap. Worked great on the first print.  At some point I want to look at hacking the GCode or similar means to automate the pause, but I wanted to do it as fast as possible so the print didn’t cool down too much as I didn’t want any unnecessary adhesion issues.

I’m very happy with how this print came out and look forward to trying this technique with other models.

This model is a great addition to any maker workbench. You can download the model from Thingiverse here: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1693100

If you make one, please leave a comment or link to your make photo.

Take care,
-Bill
@TinWhiskerz

Retro Rainford Sign

Back in May I ordered a Lulzbot Taz6 about a week or so after it came out — I had been waiting and saving for one for quite a while. I got to try one at the Red Hat Tower, the corporate HQ down in Raleigh NC and was quickly hooked. (I work for Red Hat, but at their engineering HQ which is is Westford MA.) Like many makers with a new 3D printer I spent a LOT of time printing random fun things from Thingiverse and similar sites.

After getting a bunch of prints under my belt the next part of my 3D printing journey was to start designing some of my own stuff to print. My first custom design was this retro looking sign of my last name — Rainford.

Original sign with separate floating dot over the 'i'
Original sign with separate floating dot over the ‘i’

I designed the model using SketchUp and extruded my name in the ‘Lobster 2’ font. I then added a base to tie all the letters together into a one piece print. I also extruded ever other letter a bit more than its neighbor so that I could preserve the serifs in 3D and create additional shadow lines.

Used SketchUp to make the model, exported to STL and sliced in Cura (Lulzbot Edition)
Used SketchUp to make the model, exported to STL and sliced in Cura (Lulzbot Edition)

After creating the model I used a SketchUp plugin to export the model into a *.stl file. I then loaded up Cura: Lulzbot edition to slice and print the sign.

Printer and Settings:
Lulzbot Taz 6
Dark Blue nGen Filament
Standard Resolution
No supports or brim
20% infill
Z-hop set to 0.75 instead of the default profile of 0.1 (I wanted the flat spaces to be smooth — worked out this value as I’d tweak it more each time I printed one. I would up printing 4 of these, one for home, one for the workshop, one for the maker bench and one for my office at work. Apparently I can’t get enough of my name or want to get my money’s worth out of the design time it took to create this model. 😉

Later prints I tweaked the model and attached the dot over the 'i'
Later prints I tweaked the model and attached the dot over the ‘i’

The lesson I learned from this was in creating some material to connect the dot over the ‘i’ to the rest of the word. The model looked great in SketchUp but that bridge didn’t show up in the print — didn’t like how some of that solid resolved internal faces I could not see in the solid view I was looking at. I eventually learned about the Cleanup^3 and Solid Inspector^2 plugins for SketchUp that helped fix that issue and I’d also inspect via View->X-Ray. So the second print had a properly connected dot. I also now look at the layers view in Cura to make sure the paths, and the brim and supports when needed show up the way I would expect.

You can find this model on the TinWhiskerz Thingiverse.com page here: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1693112

Take care,
Bill
@TinWhiskerzBlog