Recently my little brother, Alfred, built a 3D printer. When he first announced his plan to make one I thought it would end up like most of his other projects; half finished and not working or built enough to just about work, no where near what you would call tidy and completed. To my surprise, he built it and it looks pretty bloody impressive. He even took the time to route all the cabling through cable tidies!
Being a former design engineer, I was keen to draw something up to test the printer out with. I’ve been trying to think of something I need and today I figured out something that would be handy. I’ve got a quick release ball head for my camera slider but it would be useful to have the same size quick release plate for my glidecam and tripod head.
I took it apart to get the dimensions and drew it up in Solidworks.
Then I sent it to the printer and let it do it’s thang.
The result isn’t perfect, it needs a bit of fettling to get right but it’s not bad for a first attempt. The printer struggled to do the overhang. The part isn’t solid, I printed it at 20% density (which means it’s got a honeycomb patterned ribbed section in the centre) to save material which is why it looks so holey.
I added ribbing to the drawing, changed a few dimensions and reprinted it at 100% density. It looked much better than the first attempt.
After removing the ribs and tapping the hole.
I still wasn’t happy with the slot though. The mating part didn’t fit in properly, but I had an idea so I decided to give it one more shot.
I realised that printing it the other way up would eliminate the need for the machine to print the top part of the slot in mid-air. I also drew up the other part needed to clamp the plate and printed that off at the same time. You can see the slot looks much better defined in this print.
Unfortunately, while drilling the hole out so I could tap a thread into it, the slot broke off the plate!
By printing it standing on end, I’d also introduced a weakness to the part. I’m printing in PLA which is fairly brittle. I’m off to the World Unicycling Championships in two weeks, but when I get back I’m going to buy some nylon to print with. I’m confident the stronger material will be better suited to this sort of thing.
I’ll definitely coming back to this, so keep an eye on my blog if you’re interested to see how it turns out.