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  • 04 Feb
    3D Printing for a Better Product

    3D Printing for a Better Product

    I recently completed my first project with a new client — Dana of Spectrum Acoustics. Folks like Dana are my ideal customers — passionate about the work they do and determined to use new technology to improve their product or invention. Dana approached me with a labor-intensive part that he’s been manufacturing with a table saw for his speaker systems, and hired me to design the part in CAD and manufacture it for him with 3D printing. By 3D printing just 6 parts, Dana saved 66 parts cut on the saw, 216 holes drilled in aluminum, 432 drilled and tapped holes, and 432 bolts!

    20140723_183427_resizedEach not-printed waveguide is a TON of manual work!

    Dana uses his patented speaker and waveguide design in line arrays and spiral arrays for everything from auditoriums to festivals and outdoor events. Line arrays carefully channel sound through aperture path length corrected gaps so that the constructive interference is maximized and the deconstructive interference minimized, thereby increasing throw and dispersion. In this case, our 3D printed waveguides used in conjunction with mechanical barriers, provide frequency ranges that simply cannot be achieved with normal line array construction methods. What this means for the audience or concert goer is that as they walk around one of Dana’s line array setups, they’ll hear fewer gaps in the sound across a greater range of listening angles. No matter where you are in the audience, you get good sound. As speakers improve and come down in cost, Dana is able to assemble line arrays with smaller speakers, minimizing cost and maximizing sound quality and sound stage.

    Dana knows all about sound and speakers, but not as much about CAD design and 3D printing. He thought about purchasing a printer, but wisely decided to hire me to design and produce his waveguides instead. By hiring me, Dana gets to focus on what he’s best at: producing great sound, and I focus on what I’m best at: designing and printing great parts.

    crossSectionIsoThe capabilities of 3D printing allowed me to improve performance by aligning the waveguide to the speaker surface.

    In addition to saving Dana a ton of manufacturing time and assembly, 3D printing improves his system performance and allows Dana to easily scale or reconfigure his design. Unlike a traditional plastic mold — we can reconfigure the speaker positions or scale the product for smaller speakers with minimal expense.

    2014-11-19 15.38.22The 3D printed waveguide can easily be re-configured for different speaker sizes and arrangements.

    I often hear folks lamenting the fact that we don’t have a Star Trek Replicator — that 3D printing isn’t good enough. They are still waiting for 3D printing to change the world, but what they don’t realize is that it’s up to us to make that happen. People like Dana are on the front lines; using 3D printing as a tool to improve their product and make their small business more competitive. You can do it, too — get in touch and join the ranks!

     

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    By David Perry 3D Prints Blog Client Projects
  • 30 Jun
    OpenFab At The White House Maker Faire

    OpenFab At The White House Maker Faire

    I recently had the honor of attending the first ever White House Maker Faire! Here’s the story I was there to tell:

    David Perry, a mechanical engineer living in Oregon, chose 2014 as the year to start his own business–thanks to easy access to affordable health care. David’s new venture, OpenFab PDX, strives to empower individuals with affordable “making” services, as well as to inspire existing makers and businesses with the advantages of 3D printing and open source projects. To demonstrate these advantages, David created the F-F-Fiddle, an open source electric violin made with FFF style 3D printers. With 3D printing on the rise, David has found himself as an able advocate for the technology, and helps to bring 3D printing and digital fabrication into new environments like libraries, small businesses, and children’s events.

    They nailed it! The F-F-Fiddle is the perfect project to engage people around digital design, 3D printing, and making your ideas into real things, and I’m thrilled to have the project and OpenFab’s message recognized at such a high level. It was an amazing experience to listen to President Obama deliver his address at the Maker Faire, and I want to highlight a few parts of his speech. If you haven’t yet, take the time to watch the speech, it’s fantastic.

    I found the President’s words both motivational and incredibly validating. President Obama starts by acknowledging the new tools and technologies (digital tools) that make it easier to get things made:

    And the good news is, is that new tools and technologies are making the building of things easier than ever.  There is a democratization of manufacturing that is potentially available because of technology.  Across our country, ordinary Americans are inventing incredible things, and then they’re able to bring them to these fairs like Makers Faires.  And you never know where this kind of enthusiasm and creativity and innovation could lead.

    Making things is fun! By encouraging people to play with technology, and to play by making, we’re opening the gates to innovation. More than democratizing manufacturing, we’re democratizing innovation. We all have different experiences, different passions, and different hobbies, and that makes each of us uniquely equipped to have our own great ideas.

    There are kids out there, there are adults out there right now who have a great idea.  And they don’t have access to the capital they need.  They don’t have the tools they need to put together a prototype.  They don’t know how to link up with folks who could help refine those ideas.  And what the Maker movement does, what technology does, what the information revolution does is it allows all those folks to suddenly be a part of this creative process.

    This is my favorite part, because I am one of those “folks who [can] help refine those ideas.” Thanks, Mr. President! I’m thrilled to be a part of a worldwide movement dedicated to empowering people to make things. Perhaps the most important effects of Making can be felt in education. The President breaks it down:

    …what’s happening is, is that the young people now are able to learn by doing.  So math, science all gets incorporated into the task of actually making something, which the students tell me makes the subject matter that much more interesting.

    Making things is crucially important for the future of our country, our education, and our culture. The President emphasizes in his speech how important it is for everyone to be empowered to make their ideas into real things. The process of making things, of making your ideas real, leads to innovation, it leads to creative expression, and it’s a heck of a lot of fun!

    It’s time for all of us to take action. Whether that means beginning to prototype that idea you’ve been thinking about for years, implementing new programming at your school or community center, or preparing your product for mass-manufacturing — take that next step. Not sure what the step is, or how to do it? Don’t worry, just get in touch and together we’ll get it made!

    I want to leave you with this last excerpt from the President’s speech, as he quotes the teenage founders of Beatty robotics:

    …the Beattys say one of the main things they’ve learned over the last few years isn’t about power tools or engineering or electronics.  What they’ve learned is that, “If you can imagine it, then you can do it — whatever it is.”  And that’s a pretty good motto for America.

     

     

    By David Perry Blog
  • 31 Oct
    Have a 3D Printed Halloween

    Have a 3D Printed Halloween

    It smells like fall outside, and it smells like melting sugary plastic inside! Tonight, kids in all neighborhoods will make the rounds, collecting candy and showing off their costumes. It’s a golden opportunity to squeeze in a little STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics) excitement!

    For Halloween, we’ll be giving away 3D printed figurines with our candy, and the same models will emerge from the mists on the printer in our driveway laboratory. Holidays provide great opportunities to have fun with 3D printers. Here are some of my favorite Halloween printing projects:

    1. Print out giveaways for trick-or-treaters! The constant thud of Snickers in your pumpkin bucket can get boring–mix it up by handing out custom printed figures! We’re giving out TARDIS models, scary pumpkins, and spectres. To see these models and other good Halloween prints, check out my Halloween thingiverse collection. All of the objects I’m printing were downloaded from Thingiverse–no 3D modeling required!
    2. Jack-o-Lantern1Make your own costume props. I found a project from Tunell in Flagstaff, AZ, he says: “My son’s Harry Potter halloween costume came without Harry’s glasses. I couldn’t believe it! I designed some that will fit nicely on his face. They are small and designed to fit a 5 year old.” Perfect example! If you know how to make a quick 3D model, there are so many options. There are also a ton of props on Thingiverse, like Tunell’s Harry Potter glasses, so hop on and see what you can find.
    3. Make Halloween decrations with your printer. I 3D printed some coral candle fixtures from Ecken on Thingiverse. These will sit out next to the 3D printer with a battery operated tea tree light to provide the right spooky ambience. I’ll also have some dry ice and water nearby in the roundom vase I printed for Maker Faire. You can download Halloween cookie cutters, creepy spiders, skull LED lanterns, and more. For a great variety of holiday projects, be sure to check Make and Instructables.
    4. Create something new! Sometimes the weirdest and creepiest things come from your own ideas – or better yet, your kids. How about the combination of a cat and the ubiquitous 3D printed octopus? Free CAD tools like Blender allow direct modification of STL files (the file you download from Thingiverse) and new tools like Matter Remix make it really easy to customize existing STL files.

    We’ll upload pictures from Halloween, so check back to see how we used 3D printing to get kids excited about technology and creativity!

    If you want to talk over a project idea or you need help figuring out what CAD system to use, contact us for a free initial consultation. We can also bring the printing to you–how about a fresh take on birthday party entertainment?

    By admin Blog Uncategorized
  • 23 Sep
    Maker Faire: Get it Made!

    Maker Faire: Get it Made!

    We had so much fun at Portland’s Mini Maker Faire! We were thrilled to show a lot of people 3D printing for the first time and watching everyone figure out and understand the technology was great. Having a fiddle on hand while printing fiddle parts really helped to tie it all together, too.

    More than the F-F-Fiddle or the 3D printer, though, we all enjoyed seeing what you want to make on the ‘Get it Made’ board. The board was a huge hit and we’ve got several things to make! Here are the top five.

    LegoGuy

    Honorable mention: Legos      

    We had multiple sketches of legos and lego-related items, like this lego guy. Custom legos are definitely something that you can make on a 3D printer or a laser cutter. If you search Thingiverse, you’ll find a number of interesting items, like custom connectors so that you can use your legos with your k’nex! You can also make a 3D printer with legos.

    LaserFight

    Honorable mention: Laser Fight!

    The laser fight against a three-clawed monster is totally epic. Whoever sketched this up really put effort into the detail. Shoot, one of the fighters even has some sort of logo or badge on their shirt! So, what could we make from this sketch—how about a crazy looking three-clawed monster, army men, and laser guns?

    RowansFlute

    Number 5, Rowan’s Flute

    Great idea, Rowan! Flutes are nice and portable and easy to make yourself. I had a math teacher in high school that hand-made his Irish flutes and they sounded great. Check out some of the projects on Instructables and Thingiverse.

    FlyingPig

    Number 4, Flying Pig

    This flying pig has retractable wings. That must be to help him handle the forces involved when he passes the sound barrier! How would you make a flying pig? That’s a tall order.

    SpiceRack

    Number 3, Bicycle Spice Rack

    OK, we will be making this one. I LOVE bikes and cooking, so I’m biased, but this is genius! And, yes, the wheels can spin, but we’ll have to incorporate that in a way that doesn’t jostle your spices. Stay tuned, this one will be happening.

    Tardis

    Number 2, Doctor Who TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space)

    While I love freely revealing designs and ideas, I unfortunately cannot share my TARDIS design with you. It’s just too powerful a technology to release into the wild. You can print a TARDIS model, though, and there are several on Thingiverse. This amazing Transformer TARDIS caught my eye.

    ExtensionCord

    Number 1, Retractable Extension Cord

    This is a great idea! I know exactly where I would put it in my garage… I bet we could make a prototype, but it would be pretty bulky. This would be a good submission for a crowd-sourced design firm called Quirky. Next time we’ll have everyone put down names and emails on your ideas so that proper credit can be given when due. If this is your idea, get in touch with us!

    Thanks to everyone who wrote down and voted on ideas. I hope you all had fun! There were a bunch of good ones up on the board. Many of them have versions of some sort up on Thingiverse or on Instructables, so check out those websites to see if there’s something you want to make. If you need any parts or assistance during the process of making something, let us know!

    By David Perry Blog Uncategorized
  • 05 Sep
    Design for 3D Printing

    Design for 3D Printing

    There is no faster way to go from solid CAD model to physical part than 3D printing. 3D printing also allows the designer (thats you!) to break many of the rules that apply to subtractive manufacturing techniques like CNC machining. With these powers combined…3D printing is awesome!

    That said, 3d printers, like any manufacturing technique, have limitations. Inexpensive machines (<$3000) are generally all Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) types, so that’s what we’ll focus on for now. These machines construct 3-dimensional parts by building them layer-by-layer with extruded plastic. Generally these printers print one layer at a time on a fixed X-Y plane. After one layer is complete, the build platform moves down by one layer thickness (or the print head moves up), and another layer is deposited.

    Here are the design ‘rules’ that I use when I design in CAD for FFF printing. Keep in mind, rules are only guidelines; please stretch and break these as much as you can to learn about your machine and its capabilities.

        1. Design your part to have a flat surface. While it’s not critical, it’s very helpful to have a nice flat surface to select as your first layer. You can have your slicer fake it with support material, but support material is a pain to clean off and can mess up your beautiful layered surface finish.
        2. Keep under-hanging angles at or below 45°. If you keep your underhangs at or below 45°, you won’t need support material! They’ll all come out looking very nice and you’re more likely to have successful prints on the first try.
        3. Keep bridges to about 10mm. Bridging–the act of trailing filament between two supports (forming a bridge)–is fun. As long as you keep them short, it’s easy, too. If you’re planning a bridge on a large part, try to test it out first to make sure your part won’t fail. Nothing’s worse than having a print fail towards the end of a large part!  EDIT: I just bridged 60mm. It took a couple layers to firm up but I was blown away that it worked as well as it did. It just goes to show…BEND THE RULES!
        4. Design your own support material. You can minimize the supports needed and the effort required to remove them by designing them yourself. Obey rules 2 and 3 and keep the supports small enough to easily trim with a pair of snips.
        5. Use the X-Y gantry for complex geometry. The X-Y gantry moves with very good resolution. The Z: not so much. I think the topographic look formed by the layers of material is really cool, but if you have complex geometry that you want to come out just right, try to use the X-Y gantry as much as possible. Common examples include holes, text, and logos.
        6. Load along the layers. If you are designing a part that sees some load, design it in such a way that the loading does not try to pull apart the layers. Any applied forces and bending should be along the layers. Think about it like this: if you only printed half of your part, do you still have the necessary geometry to support your loading scheme?

    Now get out there and make stuff. Keep these rules in mind, but be sure to stretch them!

    By David Perry Blog