Tuesday, August 28, 2012

From screen to (3D) print...

What an amazing age we live in. 3D printing provides a means of translating imagined things into physical reality in next to no time. The example here is a set of components for an "air scrubber"; needed to minimise the fumes from the plastic printing process. It works by sucking air through a standard respiratory activated charcoal filter high static pressure fans. The right-hand picture shows the stack of components with the dark blue one of the fans, the yellow the filter cartridge, and the green and blue the components needed to join them to a tube.
This shows just the two components to be built, including internal strengthening components.

The printer works by extruding ABS filament in layers 0.2mm thick. ABS is the same stuff that LEGO is made of. So it's actually pretty tough.
The printer can lay down two different colours alternately if you wish to get fancy, or print in a variety of different extrusion materials.

This is one of the final components, shown with the filter catridge and tubing. The dimensional accuracy is phenomenal; physical prints are within 0.5mm of the design imput model. So you can make stuff and expect it to fit together with some confidence. The surface finish and toughness is also exceptional. 

Whether it is with an artistic or practical motive, this very affordable technology now lets you turn ideas into reality with remarkable ease. Su, for example, is planning to use it to make models for ornamentatal sprigs and other small items for her ceramics. Given you can translate photographs of any solid object into printable models, it also means you can leverage ornamentation from historic pieces we see on our travels. Another world of possibilities. Given our household has no lack of imagination so I suspect the printer will see some hard use.

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