3D Printing: Soup to Nuts

A couple of weeks back I had a patron come in saying that she wanted to use the 3D Printer to make a visual aid for her bridge class. I said “okaaaay” because I had no idea what she meant by that. Luckily, she is of the verbose ilk and spared no expense explaining it to me. ‘Twas a futile effort. I may be tall but her explanation went over my head. But that’s not the point. The point is that she took the bull by the horns and did everythign herself.

First, I showed her tinkercad.com. I explained how she could drag and drop geometric shapes onto a representation of a 3D printer’s print pad. From there she can manipulate said object by making any of the objects 3 dimensions bigger or smaller. She can also stack objects on top of one another to make custom shapes. It’s not the fanciest CAD software and has limitations but the short learning curve more than makes up for that. She proved this by quickly obtaining  skill level on the app that far exceeds mine. It was marvelous to see!

Then I showed her how to import that object into the Cubify software. In that app, she can scale the object down, choose a color, and then convert the .stl file to a .cube3 file that the printer can understand. Once again she quickly learned the nuances of the app and showed me a trick I didn’t even think of.

The Cube 3 printer, though it prints layers 0.008″ think, ironically doesn’t do small surface details well. There were little clubs, spades, hearts, and diamonds on her object. But they were too small for the printer. At least until she changed the Fill Pattern to Lines.

Cubify Fill Pattern Menu Sequence

The default is diamonds which resulted in more blob than club. Ironically, it didn’t look to hot with diamonds, either.

After that, I showed her the simple part: putting glue on the print plate and going though the Cube’s touchscreen menus. A little under 2 hours later (our max time limit) she produced the object below!

3D Printed Visusal Aid for the Rules of Bridge

Top of the Visual Aid

Side of the Visual Aid for the rules of bridge

Side of the Visual Aid

You can see she specified two different colors on this object. She’s since designed and printed improved models. Since we’re limited to just the two colors the Cube can handle, she decided to print it all white and paint it the correct colors. I’m finding that painting an object is a common theme, Methinks I better stock up on white PLA!


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