Then hit Print. ... 3D Print!
Second tool training lesson at Hack PGH. Just like after the first night there, I cannot sleep because I am too jazzed by the IDEA of all the things I can do now. I mean, sleeping is so overrated, when you have access to a 3D printer!
This time, Chad was my instructor. He patiently introduced me to the Kossel delta printer.
I used the software Fusion 360 by Autodesk. You can use it for free in a variety of ways: whether you are a start-up, a hobbyist, a student... (You can read more on that here). I am also happy to say that Fusion 360 works also on a Mac!
First, I modeled my object in 3D. I am fairly familiar with many of the Fusion 360 tools, as I use Autodesk Revit every day. This said, the shop's PC was a bit cranky and it was already late enough. I didn't want to spend too much time on the test print, so I made a simple hexagon inside of an hexagon and extruded it 2 mm. Please note: you 3D print, laser print, cnc cut, all pretty much in mm!
Once the design is ready, you save the .stl file. That is an abbreviation of "stereolithography" and is the format for the 3D printers. You can get to a .stl file in a variety of ways, including from Revit (with a plug-in) and from SketchUp, although Chad was really not recommending it, as the quality of curves is not very good (plus, you would need SketchUp Pro).
Finally, you turn on the 3D printer and set the temperature just like for an oven. You send the file to the printer's computer, and you "Splice It!" (which means you preview all the printer's movements). Below, a very poor shot of the screen, just before printing.
The 3D printer prints on a glass bed and I was told to spread some glue-stick on it, before printing. That would help the PLA cable in adhering better to the glass.
Once ready, you hit "Print" and wait. Below is a short video of the beginning and the end of the (very fast!) process:
Once the machine is ready, here is what you get: something stuck to the glass, and pretty hard to remove! For something this thin, we used a x-acto knife blade.
And here is the final product! Or at least, temporarily final, till I make them into earrings ;-)
The extra-thin line offset from the main object is just a way for the printer to kick-strat the process. It is not part of the design.
My next 3D gig? I found a website that creates .stl terrain and I created a small map of Lake Como, very close to my heart. Check this out ~ and stay posted for more 3D printing to come!