Latest Stories3D Printing
    Building Fallout 4 T-60 Power Armor, Part 2

    Last time, I shared how we tackled the digital design planning for the Fallout 4 Power Armor build. We extracted the game models using NifSkope, prepared them for our build by increasing their detail in Blender, then finally cut them into sections that would fit on our 3D printers in NetFabb. With our first batch of models are ready to produce, it's time to send them to the machines to create and get them looking nice.

    I'll be using the helmet and the large shoulders to demonstrate the techniques I use to go from raw 3D print to finished master ready for molding. But same process is used whether I'm making something small like a detail piece or a weapon, or the big printed sections of armor. For this build, we'll be using the 3D printer for the interior "frame" pieces, the large shoulders, and the back armor as well as some of the smaller detail bits throughout the armor like the oversized bolts on the knees and the oil filters under the chest.

    I print exclusively in ABS plastic because of some interesting post processing methods available, specifically being able to use acetone to smooth your prints to reduce or eliminate the print "grain" visible at each layer in the printing process. This is not acetone vapor smoothing, which looks really pretty but softens up all of the hard edges we worked to preserve, but rather a solution mixed up and painted directly on to the part. I'll create a batch of "ABS juice" to paint the surface with a brush that both fills in the valleys of the print lines like a body filler, and also acts to soften up and smooth down the high points.

    Inside the Electronics of the 3D-Printed Ghost Trap

    Thanks to Dremel's support and use of their 3D Idea Builder printer and a host of great tools, we were able to build a working, 3D printed, Ghostbusters Ghost Trap. Last time, we took a look at the modeling and design of my 3D printed Ghost Trap, this time we're going to delve inside and see how it works. As we were developing the Ghost Trap project I proposed making a fully functional trap that could open and close with lights and sound. While I am handy with a soldering iron and can generally pick out components for a project, I am no electronics expert and have no experience programming microcontrollers. It's something that has been on my to-do list for a long time so originally I planned on learning the Arduino as part of the Trap build.

    The many parts of the Ghost Trap

    While designing the first iteration of the door mechanism, the amount of work I had to do started to sink in - fully model the trap and pedal, make sure it all fits together while making room for electronics, source hardware and obscure parts, design a door mechanism, figure out a system for smoke, sound, lights and get all the files ready for public release. Oh, and learn how to program the Arduino and make it run the whole thing. I was in over my head and simply did not have the time to do everything and it really bugged me. I like knowing how to do things and I wanted to learn how to program the Arduino, but I had to be realistic about it. Luckily, Jeremy Williams came to the rescue with his electronics and programming expertise--he's tackled zombies before, so ghosts were not a problem.

    The guts of the Ghost Trap.

    I compiled a wish list of functions for Jeremy consisting of a 'must-have' and 'dream' list. At the very least the trap had to open, lights come on, sound effects play. The ultimate dream-build was open and close, lights, sound, smoke and vibration - all controlled via the foot pedal. It took a while for me to communicate to Jeremy what I did and did not know, so he could figure out exactly how much he had to do. I knew I could physically wire everything up but I didn't know how it should be wired. Jeremy and I sat down with all the components, figured out where we needed resistors, how much power we needed, what should get hooked up where, etc. and then it was my turn to wire as much as possible. A habit I've picked up from 3D modeling is to label everything and organize it, so you can turn a scene over to someone else and they can navigate the project with relative ease. I kept this in mind when wiring the trap and made sure to label all the wires and dress them so I could deliver a tidy setup to Jeremy.

    Bits to Atoms: Designing the 3D-Printed Ghost Trap

    We got the tools, we got the talent - and now we have a working 3D printed Ghostbusters Ghost Trap! No - it doesn't really capture ghosts, but it still looks really cool. Thanks to Dremel for sponsoring this project--the Dremel 3D Idea Builder printer and tools they supplied helped to make the Ghost Trap a reality.

    Norm and I wanted to tackle a big project and finally decided on the classic Ghostbusters Ghost Trap used in the first two movies. The trap is introduced in the classic ballroom scene where the Ghostbusters capture Bill Murray's nemesis, Slimer. It's rolled out underneath the unsuspecting ghost and triggered via a remote pedal. The trap opens, bright light streams out, electricity zaps Slimer is sucked inside and the doors slam shut as a bargraph illuminates, indicating the trap is full.

    There are plenty of fans building Ghost Traps in many different ways - wood, plastic, foam and metal but since my specialty is 3D modeling my medium would be 3D printed plastic. There were a few things I knew right away - I wanted to make it fully 3D printable, I wanted lots of individual pieces and I wanted it to function. The first step was to round up reference material which was found in abundance on GBfans.com. Ghostbusters fans Sean Bishop and Stefan Otto had both put out detailed sets of plans for Ghost Traps and these were my starting point. I also did many screengrabs from the Blu-Rays to use as reference. Over the years, many of the knobs, lights and electronic doodads have been identified but are often hard to find, which is partly why I wanted to fully 3D print the trap.

    I tried to get my hands on the real parts as a reference and sometimes I was able to find manufacturer blueprints to model from. I decided to use real nuts and bolts to assemble the trap since they would look better than anything I could 3D print and would make a strong structure, good for modding. That proved to be challenging as I needed to guesstimate what size screws were used. Even with many of the parts already identified by the fan community, it still took almost a week to track everything down and select all the fasteners. Keep in mind I was also sourcing parts for the hose and pedal that activates the trap. The pedal in particular was more challenging as there were many parts that couldn't be 3D printed such as tubing, ribbon cable, and the distinctive electronic relay on top.

    Solido3D 3D Printer Cures Resin with Smartphone Screens

    On Monday, March 21 keep an eye out for a new Kickstarter from Taiwan-based Solido3D who is releasing the first smartphone powered 3D printer. Yep. The OLO sits on top of your phone and uses the light from the screen to cure a small vat of resin. Lock yourself out of the house? No problem, 3D print a copy with your smartphone! As a refresher, resin 3D printers generally come in two flavors - laser and DLP. Laser-based printers like the Form 2 draw each layer with a laser which cures the liquid resin. DLP printers use projectors similar to what you may have in your home theater to flash each layer all at once. A DLP projector is much more powerful than your phone, so it appears that the OLO uses resin that cures with less intense light. There's not a lot of info out about the OLO but your phone sits under a small unit that has a tank for resin in the bottom with the upper portion containing the z-axis mechanism that raises and lowers the print platform. Your phone's screen flashes each layer of the print to cure the resin as the print platform raises. It's not clear as to how the phone communicates with the printer.

    It appears that the OLO will have at least 8 different resins with different colors and supposedly flexible and castable versions. Print resolution is supposed to be as fine as .042mm (as a comparison the Form 2 can do .1mm - .025mm) with a print size reported to be 128mm x 72mm x 52mm, so slightly bigger than 3 decks of cards stacked up.

    Looks like the OLO isn't vaporware as it won an Editor's Choice Award at the NYC World Maker Faire. I'm anxious to see this and early reports looks like it will go for $99 on Kickstarter, but I can't help think this will be a fun, gimmicky thing to show off at best. I foresee a few issues - do you tie up your phone for an hour or two as you use it as a printer? Do you use an old phone as a dedicated projector? Even then, running the screen for that long will require the phone to be plugged in. How is the OLO itself powered? Does it seal tightly so you don't spill resin while carrying around in your backpack? I have experienced the messiness of resin print first-hand, this seems like a good way to accidentally ruin a phone. Typically resin prints need to be cleaned up with alcohol, but OLO claims to use plain old water. Skepticism aside, I look forward to seeing the OLO in action and it's a good indicator of what lies ahead for 3D printing.

    The Solido3D OLO Kickstarter begins Monday, March 21 and is reportedly $99. Solido3D has a San Francisco office, so I'm sure we'll be seeing them at Maker Faire in a few months. Will report back as we learn more.

    Making a Working Ghostbusters Ghost Trap!

    We're super excited to reveal a project we've been working on for the past few months. Sean Charlesworth has designed and built a replica of the ghost trap prop from the original Ghostbusters films. This prop pulls the best features from the traps that appear in the films, using as many original found parts as possible and the rest 3D printed. It even has a working pedal to activate lights, sound, and smoke! (Thanks to Dremel for providing the 3D printer and tools for us to build this project! Learn more about the Dremel 3D Idea Builder here.)

    Finishing and Painting 3D-Printed Models

    For our final video with designer Jacky Wan, we chat about his process for taking 3D-printed models and painting and finishing them. Jacky shows us his custom airbrushing station made from an old CD spindle cover, along with his technique for printing masks to cover his models.

    In Brief: 3D-Printed SimCity 2000 Shadow Box

    3D modeler and designer Michael Curry (formerly of the MakerBot Design Studio) shares many of his 3D printing projects on his website, the most recent being a shadowbox diorama to showcase recently uncovered SimCity 2000 floppy disks. Curry, who previously turned SimCity's buildings into printed miniatures, needed to redesign his cityscape to fit into the shadowbox frame's 3-inch cavity. His solution was to skew and compress his model in Sketchup to give them a forced perspective. The illusion is pretty spectacular, and could lend itself well other minature models. You can see a short video of the shadow box's forced perspective illusion in the video below, and download the model to print for yourself here. (h/t Sean)

    Norman
    In Brief: Designing the Fallout 4 Mini Nuke Model

    Friend of Tested Jacky Wan, who we've been featuring in our series of 3D-printing design videos, just posted an in-depth recap of his design and printing of the cutaway Mini Nuke from Fallout 4. Jacky (aka Valcrow), who collaborates with Ultimaker, took on the challenge of modeling the curved egg-shell of the nuke to print in pieces to avoid overhangs and to make use of natural seams. Those considerations are a hallmark of his designs, which snap fit together without glue. The Mini Nuke with internals is available as a printed kit, but Jacky has also released the shell file as a free download!

    Norman
    Designing a 3D-Printed Model Airplane Kit

    We're joined by Jacky Wan this week as he shares his latest design: model airplane kit that's completely 3D-printed! Jacky chats with Sean about how he designed the kit pieces to snap together with strong joints, and how orienting the print pieces at specific angles streamline the look of the model.

    Designing a 3D-Printed Prosthetic Arm

    3D printing isn't just for prototyping or making toys--it can also be used to manufacture working prosthetic limbs. We're joined by designer Jacky Wan this week to learn about his work with the Enabling The Future, an organization developing a 3D-printable arm prosthetic. Jacky's design goes above and beyond the requirements of the project, and looks beautiful too!

    Tested: Form 2 SLA Desktop 3D Printer

    A few months ago, we previewed the new Formlabs Form 2 SLA resin 3D printer, which on paper looked to be an improvement on the Form 1+ printer in every way. Since then, Formlabs supplied us with a review unit to evaluate those improvements in long-term testing. The upshot is that the Form 2 lives up to its promises--it's an amazing 3D printer. But you should read our extended review before you go out and buy one.

    Photo credit: Formlabs

    Compared to original Formlabs Form 1 printer, the Form 2 has a bigger print volume, a more powerful laser, a new resin cartridge system and new peel mechanism, among many other updates. When we reviewed the Form 1+, I was mostly pleased with its prints, but there were a number of things that I felt needed addressed, including the tendency for several critical components to fail in my early test units. Formlabs has done so with the Form 2--we've not had a single mechanical failure. Our review was with a pre-production printer with original firmware and beta software. [NOTE: I'm not going into detail about how the SLA printing process works, as on a base level, it has not changed from the Form 1+. Take a look at that review for an in-depth explanation.]

    The Print Quality

    Impressive Detail!

    We were very pleased with the Form 2 prints, most were done at 50-100 microns. The resolved detail was very impressive even at 100 micron, especially when compared to prints off of industrial 3D printing machines not meant for home-use. For most prints I can't see needing to go much below 50 microns as the quality was great. Prints that completed had very few flaws, too. Occasionally, very small details in our prints broke off during printing (ie: GIR's antenna tip, Nautilus tip). On many of the Form 1+ prints the side that printed nearest the platform tended to have some 'mushy' details, and I did not notice this on the Form 2. Noticed on some prints, we address this in the video.

    Testing the Folger Tech 2020 i3 3D Printer

    This post was originally published on Overworld Designs and is republished here with permission. Follow Michelle on Facebook and find her work on Instagram.

    I had been in the market for another 3D printer for my fabrication fleet, and I had my eye on a few machines during Black Friday. I narrowly missed a great sale on a Wanhao Duplicator i3 for a cool $299, and instead I settled on a Folger Tech 2020 i3 kit on sale with an LCD panel (currently priced at $280). Here's how it's been performing for me, and what you can expect for a 3D printer of this price.

    I had done some reading on this particular kit so I knew to expect some hurdles during it's construction. The biggest complaint that the community has - and indeed I have too - is that the build manual has several mistakes and blatant inaccuracies that Folger Tech has yet to fix. There's some simple stuff like typos of bolt dimensions - using one bolt length in one sentence and another length in the next sentence, leaving you to figure out which one they really mean. These are easy to figure out. But then there's the problem where it tells you to mount the X-axis end stop on the wrong side, and if you don't understand why 3D printers are put together the way they are, you'll have a difficult time understanding why it's moving in the "wrong" direction and why it won't home properly. I highly recommend reading the manual fully before starting to make sure you know what to expect.

    There is an absolutely massive thread on the RepRap forums which contain a huge amount of information and fixes. As of this writing, the thread is at 88 pages long and I've only managed to work backwards through about half of it. If you're considering one of these kits I recommend at least skimming through the forum thread on your own, but I've tried to compile the biggest issues and fixes from my experience here.

    Designing a 3D-Printed Ducati Motorcycle

    3D printing expert Jacky Wan returns to our studio to share his amazing Ducati superbike print--a model consisting of over 40 3D-printed pieces using his Ultimaker. Jacky explains the process of converting a visual effects model into this print, how the pieces fit together, and how he painted and finished it. You can even download the model to print for yourself! (The rider was designed by Mike Balzer of slo 3D creators)

    Designing 3D-Printed Mechwarrior Mechs

    We're joined in the office by 3D modeler and designer Jacky Wan, who shares with us his 3D printed Mechwarrior online mechs. These figures were created on his Ultimaker by extracting in-game models and then modifying and adapting them for printing. Jacky chats with us about what it takes to turn game files into printable objects!

    Meet the Mcor Arke Full-Color Paper 3D Printer

    Traditional desktop 3D printers use melted plastic as their build material, but Mcor's printers layer sheets of paper on top of each other to create their models. We check out the new Mcor Arke, a printer that cuts from a large spool of paper, glues those sheets together, and then prints color on them to turn digital files into large paper models!