If there’s one thing we can probably all agree on, it’s that there’s been a lot of hype surrounding 3D printing. It seems like every day brings yet another new consumer 3D printer on Kickstarter of someplace else and it’s not clear what the new kid on the block can do that the old ones won’t. The consumer side of 3D printing is still very frothy. However, the industrial side has started to settle. Business, after all, is less concerned with doing what the Cool Kids are doing (well everyone but marketing is less concerned anyway) and more concerned with what pays the bills and creates profit. Companies like GE are successfully launching large scale manufacturing of components that are best made via 3D printing or Additive Manufacturing as the Business/Industrial world prefers to call it.
In fact, Gartner has elected to put Business use of Additive Manufacturing in a favorable spot on its famous “Hype Cycle:”
Gartner 2014 Hype Cycle…
Let’s briefly digress to talk about what the Gartner Hype Cycle is. Gartner is one of the more prestigious groups of industry analysts. They make their living selling research reports which help companies to understand the underlying trends in…
Are you bemoaning the fact that you don’t have a 3D Printer but you’d like to have one of your designs 3D printed? 3DHubs will take your STL file, help you locate a nearby 3D Printer that’s part of their community, and pretty soon you’ll be off to visit the printer and get your part made. That’s pretty cool. I have been thinking about prototyping some parts on the CNCCookbook Rostock 3D Printer and then sending them off to one of the services like Shapeways to get a higher quality print. This is another approach. If nothing else, if you live near enough different 3D printers, it would be fascinating to be able to compare print quality from a bunch of them before you take the plunge and buy a particular printer for yourself.
If you do own a 3D Printer, does it sit idle most of the time or even much of the time? Mine does. I mostly fire it up on the weekends when I have time away from writing software and articles for CNCCookbook. I tell myself it’s okay to do these kinds of projects during the week because it’s all for the greater CNCCookbook good, but…
Before there was metal, there was wood, at least in my shop. I didn’t get into CNC at that point in my life, many years ago, but I was way into custom cabinetry. I always admired the Japanese designs that required no fasteners–everything was held together through a cunning combination of tension and pegs. Someday I hope to get a CNC Router table going in the shop and return, at least a little bit, to doing some projects in wood. Meanwhile, I do enjoy seeing what others are up to with their CNC Routers. One of the things that intrigued me most about CNC was that it isn’t just a faster way to do most things, it’s a way to do things that just simply can’t be done any other way, at least not by mere mortals like me. CNC Router joinery is one such application that I’ve written about in the past.
This article is about a neat little standing desk that requires no fasteners. It is held together by tension, much like the Japanese designs I mention:
These neat little desks are 100% made in America of maple plywood using a process the makers call “Digital Manufacturing:”
I’ve said for a long time that a great use for 3D printing is personalization. The disadvantages of additive manufacturing versus subtractive (traditional machine tool) manufacturing are minimized when we’re talking about making a one-off. 3D printers have been known as great prototyping tools for a long time, but there are classes of product where each unit is a one-off due to personalization or customization needs. Custom 3D Printed Orthotics are one such market. Here is the SOLS Orthotic:
SOLS Orthotics are made from 3D Printed Nylon with an anti-microbial coating in the color of your choice…
The company offers the Orthotics with full customization for the shape of your foot as well as the colors of the materials used to make them. They’re not hard to the touch because they use a special open cell foam in contact with your foot.
How SOLS Works
The company is establishing partnerships with Foot Doctors who want to carry their product. Later, they plan to make it possible to order SOLS without having to visit the doctor. This is accomplished using a 3D scanning technology called photogrammetry. Basically, they stitch together photos taken with an iPad to create a 3D model of…
You’d like to collect something made via CNC, or perhaps you just need a one off project or a gift idea. What’s rugged, well suited to that odd modern adjective “Tactical”, made via CNC, and just the thing when firearms and knives are not your cup of tea. How about making your own very cool tactical flashlight design?
Yes folks, there is a hobby centered on making cool custom flashlights. There’s even a great big online community that’s chock full of ideas, techniques, and others who are enthusiasts. It’s called “Candlepower Forums,” but these babies are anything but simple candles. Be forewarned, a lot of these threads do not involve custom machine work. Most are focused on modifying existing commercial lights in some way or another to improve and customize. Like so many other hobbies, those who have the gear and the know how to CNC are in the minority, but that minority has the ability to really push the envelope when it comes to creating some cool projects. No matter, even commercially made lights can serve as inspirations for your own custom designs.
To do this kind of work, you’ll want a CNC lathe, and probably a mill too. …
One of the chief limitations of hobby scale 3D printing is its inability to print metal. Yes, there are commercial 3D printers that can print metal, even exotic metals like Inconel. But the cost of such 3D printers is prohibitive for all but the most high end applications.
What’s a poor 3D printing hobbyist to do about metal?
One great answer is to use their 3D Printer to create the models that are to be used to cast the part from metal using the lost wax casting technique (known more formally as investment casting). With lost wax, one makes a full size replica of the desired part. That replica is then embedded in a material capable of withstanding the high temperatures of the molten metal to be used for the part. That result is then placed in a kiln where the model (normally wax, but in this case 3D printed plastic) is “burned out” of the mold. It is literally burnt away leaving behind a void shaped exactly like the desired part. Next, molten metal is poured into this new mold to case the part. The material is chipped or washed away and Voila! A new part is born.
We’re close to the half way point on the year and as always, I like to pass along which blog posts and articles (articles being those pages outside the CNCCookbook blog proper) have been the most popular. We have several thousand CNC articles on the site, and there are a lot of undiscovered treasures. Hopefully these 20 leads will help you to find something new and interesting here.
Let’s start with the 10 most popular blog posts so far this year:
1. 10 Tips for CNC Router Aluminum Cutting Success
This one has been on the top for quite a while. Welcome to all the CNC Routers users who are looking to make cutting aluminum easier. It’s very doable, you just need to know a few of the tips.
2. 10 Things Beginning CNC Milling Machine Users Need to Succeed
Intro articles have always been a strong suite for CNCCookbook so I was pleased to see this article for CNC beginners did well.
3. Motion Control Boards Take Mach3 From Hobby Class to Industrial Grade
We cater to professionals as well as DIY CNC’ers. The latter tend to be from the more advanced end of the DIY spectrum,…
One Wheeled Scooters: they’re not as good as flying cars, but they are pretty cool!
I try to balance the editorial content here at CNCCookbook between learning the art of CNC Manufacturing (you never stop learning, experts and beginners alike) and showing off inspirational articles about CNC Projects you could build or that others have built. It can seem a bit eclectic, but the formula works as our readership has grown to circa 2 million visitors a year and continues to grow like gangbusters. Thanks to all of you readers for that!
And while I’m at it, let me put in a plug for our email newsletter. Click here to subscribe and we’ll add you to the list. In exchange, you’ll receive a digest once a week of the articles published in the last week. A lot of people like to save up several articles and not have to keep checking back. The email newsletter makes that easy.
Now what’s all this about One Wheeled Electric Scooters?
I have been impressed by the efforts to build electric bicycles I’ve seen and have written about them in the past. I aim to build one myself at some point, perhaps even a…
I really love the idea of Food- and Drink-Making CNC Projects, being an amateur chef who has been a guest chef a number of times at our local restaurants. This is the most complete project I’ve come across yet for building your own barbot–a robotic bartender that mixes drinks. It’s called “BarMixvah” and was created by Apple Engineer Yu Jiang Tham. Here is what the machine looks like:
BarMixvah: Your Robotic Bartender…
BarMixvah uses an Arduino (a very popular inexpensive single board computer for projects like these) to control four peristaltic pumps. This is similar to Bartendro, a Kickstarter barbot we’ve written about before. These little pumps are ideal for this application because they simply move rollers over plastic tubing. They’re easy to clean, easy to make food safe, and capable of metering ingredients precisely. Even better, they’re pretty cheap. BarMixvah’s pumps run on 12V DC and cost just $14 apiece on Amazon.
The project includes all the information needed to build your own BarMixvah including the stl files for 3D printing and the code for the software on github. Once complete, BarMixvah is run from a web server, which makes it easy to control from your iPad or other…
Remember those MIT students that had the crazy handheld “CNC” router? That was one of the all-time popular articles for CNCCookbook back in the day. Well, it seems they’ve started a company they call Tactia to build these routers and a lot more. It’s not quite full CNC, but much more than ordinary hand tools. Here it is in their own words:
CNC enables complex shapes to be economically produced and shared across the world. However, the process of using CNC is still complex, and somehow doesn’t feel human. That is where we come in. We have figured out how to blend the power of computer control with the flexibility, simplicity, and pleasure of using a hand tool. Whether you are a traditional craftsperson or a CNC guru, our tools will change the way you work.
Here are some projects done by a novice woodworker freehand using one of their routers:
I don’t know about you, but that looks to me like extremely nice work from a novice woodworker.
These routers work by letting the human hand guide the gross positioning while watching a screen and having the machine adjust the micro-position to be faithful to the design. That’s why…
With one more session of fiddling, the CNCCookbook Rostock MAX v2 was mechanically and electronically complete and it was time for the next stage: calibration followed by printing the first part. We got through the fiddling, calibration, and first part in one long afternoon–about 4 hours.
The calibration took the longest, and we encountered some problems. The main problem was with the “PID Autotune” process. The bed and hot end (extruder) have not only resistive heating but thermistors to measure the temperatures reached. Printing is a bit finicky about temps and wants them to be precise. The PID is sort of the equivalent of a servo for a mechanical CNC axis–it provides feedback that drives the temperature controls. The Rostock’s controller has an “autotune” process for getting the PID dialed in, but we couldn’t get it to work on the hot end. It would zoom the temp up too high and complain things had gotten too hot and then bail out. Eventually I found a reference suggesting I turn down the max PID value from 255 to 128. I did so and Autotune then worked. The claim was it would work properly once the PEEK fan was installed. This was…
Many believe that Apple’s incredible success is due to its Vertical Integration Strategy. The idea behind Vertical Integration is that by owning more of parts needed to create a complete solution its possible to make a much better solution. Apple makes the hardware, the operating system, and many of the critical productivity apps in its products. By contrast, Microsoft, Intel, PC Manufacturers, and Windows Software Makers all have to work together by loose (and sometimes factious) collaboration to produce an end result. The latter situation is where we find CNC today. It’s actually not a bad thing at all for industrial users. They’re power users who want to be able to mix and match a solution to fit their needs. Apple is not very strong in the equivalent PC Server market, despite having tried several times to gain penetration. Where Vertical Integration matters is where maximum ease of use is needed, not where maximum power is needed, and Desktop CNC is exactly where such a difference will matter.
We’ve seen an increasing number of machines appear on Kickstarter and elsewhere as the market struggles to crack open the Desktop CNC Market. There are some great solutions out there, with Tormach…
I was recently contacted by the West Coast Office of Datron Dynamics. It seems they were interested in getting G-Wizard Calculator into the hands of their customers. Their machines are, to use their word, Unconventional. For one thing, they all have very high speed spindles, which makes Feeds and Speeds problematic. Even if you’re an old hand running the usual VMC’s found in manufacturers, very few will have had experience above, say, 15000 rpm. This is the realm of High Speed Machining. Suffice it to say that G-Wizard worked great for their customer. They were able to get good results easily and with little to no training. Never being one to miss an opportunity, I stepped up and asked if I could come visit and see the Datron’s in action. Here I have a confession to make–I’ve been drooling over their videos of high speed machining for some time and was very excited to make the field trip and see them first hand.
Let’s get back to our Porsche analogy. If Porsche were to build machining centers, what would they be like? For starters, they’d be German Engineered, just like Datron. Natch. But I think they’d also adhere to Datron’s…
Start with Autodesk’s 123D Catch software that converts photos to 3D models. Add a CNC Router with high speed spindle that’s in a chamber chilled to -7 degrees C. Take a block of ice made from the finest pure spring water and slice a smaller blank from it. Place the ice onto the the CNC Router, cue the jazz music and make your ice cube:
When the cube is ready, put it in your finest crystal tumbler and add a splash of Suntory whiskey. Relax in your favorite chair and enjoy. They may not make the whiskey taste better, but they sure do look cool.
These ice cubes were made in many inspiring shapes. Here are just a few:
Maybe this is how the very wealthy enjoy their whiskey. It makes me think I’m going to need to add a special “Ice Cube Art” module to the Barbot when I finally get around to building it.…
Long time CNCCookbook readers will have come across my project-in-planning Astronomical Clock. It’s one of those projects I promise myself I will be devoted to when my life is a little less busy (does that time ever come?). Meanwhile, with a new 3D Printer on its way to CNCCookbook (just got the tracking notice yesterday, very excited!), I started wondering about making a clock with the 3D Printer. Who knows, maybe this would be a good way to prototype some of the gear trains for my Astro Clock? This also goes under the category of wanting to do something with CNC that my (nearly all) non-CNC friends would find interesting. I make a lot of tooling and parts for other projects (spares for some of my cars, for example), but it isn’t very often that I get to make something they really think is cool. The biggest hit to date had been a Turner’s Cube, but I digress.
This post is a survey of some 3D Printed Clockwork projects I found interesting.
Plotclock: An Open Source 3D Printed Clock that Writes the Time
This first one has little to do with clockwork and everything to do with clocks and just…