We've just put the second designing mechanical parts for 3D printing tutorial live. We would like to thank Dick Tiekink very much for his work and knowledge. If you would like to learn from this we recommend that you first have a look at part one of the Designing Mechanical parts tutorials.
The second tutorial walks you through some of the design decisions, considerations and issues that he encountered when making the Whoosh Machine. This is a gift for a departing colleague that has lots of mechanical parts such as a turning drum, coil springs and buttons.
This is not for everyone, it might be complex at times. We hope to give you guys real understanding of the process and technicalities behind designing for 3D printing. To the best of our knowledge this is the first time a anyone has undertaken such an effort to help people look under the hood in 3D printing and learn to understand the limitations of the process. We know that such an effort is atypical. We are supposed to just chant over and over that 3D printing will conquer the world and that anyone can do it. But, whereas anyone can use our Creator tools and most anyone with 3D modeling or CAD experience can make a design and have it printed out with Shapeways, there are precious few people that can really design for 3D printing. What I mean with that is, "people that understand the process to such a degree that the things that they make make optimal use of the technology." Most of those precious few are Shapeways community members. We hope that with these tutorials we can help 'make' more of these people and give a deeper understanding to those that already get it. Their creations will inspire more people and then we will conquer the world. On to the tutorial.
Richard Gain is not the only one making puzzles on Shapeways. We also are lucky to have Oskar van Deventer. He makes a lot of great puzzles in a lot of varieties and you can see them all in his Shop. My favorite puzzle by far is Plugged Dice. Basically it is a cube where you can insert the plugs to make up the points on the dice. Oskar says of it, "This is quite a puzzle as each plug can be inserted in many ways, but the whole fits only in one way." It sounds fiendishly difficult. Check out the video of the puzzle below.
We work in a rather interesting building. There are Judo lessons and table tennis tournaments(with judges and everything) here at night. A large brass band practices next to my office in the atrium on some evenings. The same space is used for autonomous robot soccer tournaments at times. So I was a bit surprised but not taken aback when I saw someone walk past my office with a scuba tank a while ago. In any other office such an event might be startling. But here, where I've gotten many an evening coffee while surrounded by people in judogi or tried to concentrate as the intro to the Lion King was played ten times in succession(they should lose that one trumpeter), it was not so surprising.
By chance I later came upon the man with his scuba tank and what I saw was a small group of people working on a lot of tubes, actuators and hardware. This group was TeamDARE. TeamDARE is a group of university friends that work in technical and engineering jobs. In their spare time they make robots that play musical instruments. They then enter these robots in the Artemis Orchestra Contest. This contest seeks to motivate teams to create musical robots so that at one point they can form a robot orchestra together. This orchestra could then play "multi-instrument" pieces of music, together. At that point TeamDARE was preparing their robots for the competition in Nice and I've just learned that they actually won the contest!
TeamDARE has two musical robots a guitar playing one and a drum set. The drum kit has a lot of actuators including my favorite one, the "high hat" clamp, shown above right.
When I took my pictures they were busy working on the conductor interface. This was a motion sensitive camera that had to relay the movement of the conductor to the instrumental robots. The robots get their music from midi files also but can respond to direction by the conductor. They engineered to be effective and inexpensive.
The other robot plays the guitar. The system works with compressed air because mechanical parts that operated via another method would produce too much noise. The air is supplied by the SCUBA tank I saw the gentleman walk past my office with.
The music that comes out of the robots is really good, comparable to a human player. I actually felt myself tap and sway along to the jazz at one point. Apparently musician is yet another profession that is not robot-proof. The most amazing thing about the entire enterprise though is that it was done by a few people in their spare time, for very little money. Compare this to Toyota and Honda's billion dollar projects to make humanoid robots, that can also play the violin. I know that the humanoid robot is a lot of people's dream and that Asimov's stories would be a lot less entertaining if it featured Roomba-like devices but I can't help but wonder if lots of small cheap task specific robots could not be more efficient. A $250,000 robot that can climb stares is really cool but why not just have cheaper ones that can not, for each floor?
In the coming weeks we will be putting a series of tutorials live on designing mechanical parts for 3D printing. We have been amazed will all the things our community has produced so far and in order to help you amaze us and your fellow community members more we will be giving you a lot of information.
The information will deal with our White, Strong & Flexible material. This flexible and strong material has a high accuracy and is well suited to making mechanical 3D printed parts. Today we have put live a tutorial giving you some background information on the process limitations and technical background that you will need.
This is not for everyone, it is kind of dry and might be complex at times. We do feel however that there are a lot of people out there that would benefit from experimenting with the data we give you. We want to arm the people that want to push the envelope of what 3D printing is and what is possible with it.
The first tutorial will give you the background information, later we will be giving you information by EOS the machine manufacturer of the SLS(Selective Laser Sintering) machines we use to make our White, Strong & Flexible parts. We will also have a tutorial showing you the results of our tests on the material itself. Furthermore we will give you some gears, axles and other mechanical parts that you can use along with formulas on how to make good gears and springs for 3D printing.
These tutorials came about based on extensive tests and work by Dick Tiekink, a Shapeways community member and talented mechanical engineer. Others are based on information and testing by EOS, the manufacturer. We hope you will join us in thanking both profusely for making this big step in 3D printing possible.