3D Printing at SXSW

I have been attending SXSW for many years now, and this was one of the best. Lots of great people, lots of events – also lots of 3D printing! 3D printers were just about everywhere this year, yet another sign that we are at the beginning of something about to really take off.

Git Hub Round UP!!

GitHub and 3D printing go together like peas and honey, here is a list of 3D printing projects I’m watching…


OctoPrint provides a responsive web interface for controlling a 3D printer (RepRap, Ultimaker, …)


Slic3r is a G-code generator for 3D printers. It’s compatible with RepRaps, Makerbots, Ultimakers and many more machines.


arstl lets you preview and interact with STL files in the real world before committing an object to plastic by printing it out. It uses the ArUco library to track markers and OpenGL shaders to display the object being viewed.


Week 3 Build Update

After assembling the basic frame of the printer, the next stage is to incorporate the mechanisms for each axis. The 3D printer has three axis: motors and rods move the print head along the Z and Y axis while the print bed itself is moved along the X axis.

Probably the trickiest part of the construction is attaching the linear bearings and motor gears. If you haven’t used set screws before it’s a little odd. I also found the hex nut housing for the screw in the gear to be poorly constructed. After some knocking about I found a method of using clamps to move them into place.

Linear bearings are another difficulty all in themselves.




How to use a Blow Dryer like a Boss

Linear bearings allow the smooth rods to move, or have mechanisms move on them, easily with little sway. The problem is snapping them into place with out cracking the plastic plates they sit in. It’s time to be a man and use your wife’s blow dryer.


If you’re anything like me, a man with very little hair, you probably don’t have a blow dryer and you have no idea how they work.

Prop the plate against something that will hold it in place. Hold the blow dryer 1-2 inches from the plate for a full minute. Turn off the dryer and immediately press the bearing into place with one good push. It may be hot to the touch. Let it cool before inserting the smooth rods.

I also had some trouble with bearings coming loose from the tubes. MakerFarm support, assured me that this was fine and could be avoided by beveling the edges and inserting them slowly. My Dremel is seeing more use than I thought it would.




3D Printer Roundup

Engadget has done a really good 3D Printer roundup as part of their post-CES coverage.  I think it says a lot about the way this DIY community is moving forward. It is interesting that we seem to be approaching a turning point in the price of out-of-the-box printers versus DIY style. I think in about a year’s time the out-of-the-box models will be cheaper than building one yourself, although the “hackability” may still lag in the commercial versions.




Build Gallery

This gallery contains 12 photos.

Here is the first gallery of images from the printer construction. This shows steps in building the frame. Next I will be posting images of the creation of the X,Y and Z axes and then the electronics.

Printing Living Tissue

Scientists print living tissue with a modified RepRap. One unexpected aspect that is probably quite interesting to any 3D printer enthusiast is their use of printing sugar as a dissolvable structure. This concept has been “floating around”  for a while and seems to be a real key to printing more-complex structures.



Build Update: Week 1 – “Freedom Meters”

Last week I received my 3D printer kit from the folks over at Makerfarm.com, and after spending the week gathering up all the necessary parts I began the build over the weekend. The V2 Linear Prusa Kit that they are selling there is an excellent choice especially for anyone in the US. I did some comparison using 3ders.org’s excellent resource for comparison table and found that the chief factor I hadn’t expected was the shipping price. In these posts I will attempt to pass on some tips that don’t appear in the standard visual instruction guides for a RepRap printer. Feel free to enter questions in the comments box and I will follow up as soon as I can… Continue reading