Have you noticed that there haven’t been any new posts on my blog for Jay’s jets? That’s because there hasn’t been a whole lot of jet building lately. It’s all my fault. I will completely take the blame for this one.
It started with the FPV kit that I bought him for Christmas. He started getting involved with electronics, programming quad boards, and figuring out how to make his current set up go even further.
To help him with this I bought a copy of Make magazine. This magazine is a bunch of DIY projects that encompass wood working, electronics, crafting, etc. The copy that I picked up had a large amount of articles in it regarding quadcopters, FPV flying, and their electronics. What I didn’t realize was that it also had enough in there about 3D Printers that it piqued Jay’s curiosity. He talked about getting a 3D printer and I told him to do the research and figure out which model he wanted (there are a bunch of them) and then we could discuss getting one.
Jay set right to work doing the research and decided that he wanted a Printrbot. I know nothing about 3D printers, so I just asked him the price range. He told me the price and then said, “But the best part is that we save $100 by buying the kit instead of getting it fully assembled. I get to put it together!!” Yes, that was one of the most exciting parts for Jay. I was informed that if he had purchased one that came assembled he would just disassemble it to see how it works anyway. *sigh* Boys…
I decided that this would be his birthday gift. His mom chipped in and helped with the cost so that he could get it even sooner. You can’t see it from this picture, but he has actually built a rack system above the printer to hold the spools of plastic filament so that they can more easily be pulled by the machine.
If you’ve never seen a 3D printer before, or even heard of it, I’ll try to give you an easy overview. Essentially you use a computer program to draw out parts that you want to print in plastic. The software tells the machine where to move, and thus it lays down a layer of plastic. The machine will extrude the melted plastic (very similar to how a hot glue gun works) layer by layer until it has completely built the part.
It will do the outline first, and then begin to fill in. It doesn’t sound very interesting, but it’s amazing how quickly you get sucked into watching it. You completely lose track of time. It’s quite hypnotizing.
It doesn’t use a lot of plastic, nor do the parts get heavy, because you tell the program how much filler you want. You can kind of see it here in this picture how it has created a honeycomb pattern in the middle. This is to create the support structure for the layers that go on top of it, without using up a lot of plastic.
Are you wondering just what could you possibly use a 3D printer for? Let me give you a little preview…
You can design and build your own quadcopter. The best thing about this is if you break an arm all you have to do is print another one. Or, Jay made a whole new plastic part for a friend’s landing gear. It worked like a charm and now the friend doesn’t have to replace expensive gear due to a tiny little plastic part that broke.
This one always looks like a white chocolate art piece… I have to remind myself not to try to bite into it.
If you’re utilitarian, like myself, then do something practical and print up a set of cookie cutters. After all, shouldn’t everybody have a cat cookie cutter? This set is VERY practical, too. The purple one glows in the dark so if the power goes out I can still cut out cat-shaped cookies!
3D printing is an art form and science all rolled up into one. Not every piece is going to be perfect. In fact, you will have some that don’t go very well at all for one reason or another. Here is the pile of ‘Oops’ that Jay has managed to create. They are all learning experiences, though, and luckily the cost of plastic isn’t too bad.
Something happened while trying to print the frog. Jay had walked away from the machine and came back to what looks like a melted frog. Frog legs anybody??
And if you would like to see what else can be created using a 3D printer please visit Thingiverse where you can get lost just looking at all of the different items out there that can be printed.