OpenSCAD (Required for the Maker)

Today after finishing the prints for the parts I need for my 3D printer model, I realized I had made a huge mistake. I hadn’t checked the measurements for the holes / rods and since I had gone with the US alternatives to the metric measurements, some parts just wouldn’t work. DOH!

This led to my next realization. The open source community provides the files in easily configurable SCAD files not Autodesk files or STL (STL would have been alot more difficult to edit although it can be taken and printed immediately).

In case you didn’t know, the beauty of SCAD files is that they are essentially programs. OpenSCAD is pretty much the open source standard for creating 3D objects before exporting them into STL format. It is a functional description Red and Yellow Cubes SCADlanguage that dictates the characteristics of the object that allows for reusable variables and one configuration file with the power to change your whole print library! Here’s an example that creates these two rectangular blocks:

If you have been reading my blog posts, I had started using Autodesk Fusion 360 and I thought it was one of the best programs for 3D modeling. Little did I know that the open source community didn’t hand out files consumable in Autodesk and the power behind SCAD files in the open source community is how easily the objects can be customized especially since altering a bunch of STL files would take serious time in Autodesk Fusion 360.

Solving Problems with 3D Printing Models

I recently stumbled upon a bizarre issue. I had this 3D model I had created in Autodesk Fusion 360 and it looked great, albeit strange due to the supports I added around it.

Model

It rendered properly on MakerBot Desktop, and I figured that I could just print it without issue and come up with something similar to my design and then perfect it later. Here’s what I ended up with:

lightbox_actual

Woah where’s the cavity? Why is it filling it in? I took a look at the print preview and how the slicer was splitting up the layers only to find that it had filled in the box!

rendered

I couldn’t figure out why the rendering showed it with a cavity but the printer was receiving instructions to fill it in. I thought that it might be the combination of Autodesk Fusion 360 and Makerbot Desktop software that is the problem, so I called them to ask about it. It turns out that it happens across the board from time to time with different 3D modeling software. Prints don’t necessarily turn out the same way they’re rendered, especially with more complex designs. (That’s how I learned to always check the print preview on a 3D printer. No one wants to spend a couple of hours on a wasted print.)

The Solution:

I heard about a repair tool that might help called Netfabb, so I decided to try it out and see how well it would perform. I can’t speak for the full downloadable tools, but I found out that they have a cloud service (https://netfabb.azurewebsites.net/) which will allow you to upload your STL files, repair them, and then download the fixed version (free as long as it’s for non-commercial use). This fixes some of the issues you might be seeing with your prints. (Remember to double check them through the print preview though)

Impressive Hydrophobic Shirt (Silic)

Silic was the first Kickstarter I ever backed (check out what their kickstarter page was like here) and it took about a year for them to get the product shipped to me, but I am definitely impressed by it’s ability to repel liquids. Check out a video of me testing it out with honey, soy sauce, and water.

I tried hot coffee later too and while it did mostly bead off, it left some residue that I had to use water to get off after (supposedly this is due to it being a hot liquid).

The creator had some troubles with his distribution and production which is what led to it taking about a half year longer than expected, but kept updating the backers with detailed information on the process and this ultimately kept his reputation steady despite the delay.

Notes the product as it stands today:

  • Try not to spill hot liquids on it in huge quantities. (If you do, just through on some water and try and pat out the liquid. The water helps to dilute whatever might be kind of sticking to the shirt.)
  • It will soak up water if you submerge it in liquid, but will bead off again as it dries.
  • The stitching does not seem to be the same sort of material and could possibly retain colored liquids (some of the soy sauce I tested got into the stitching, but after I rinsed off the shirt with a lot of water I could not see any staining)
  • It does seem to be a little thing (the white would definitely show my skin if I didn’t have an undershirt)
  • The collar isn’t a normal stretchy color, so don’t pull on it too much.
  • Unfortunately, you can only pre-order for a Winter 2015 batch currently.

Thoughts on Kickstarter:

  • Whatever money you put into a Kickstarter, you should be okay with the possibility of not recouping anything from it (although this doesn’t happen often if you choose good projects)
  • They provide you with tips for considering a kickstarter like the founder’s reputation, history, how well their business model seems to be set up, etc.
  • It’s a great way to assess the market for the product you are creating.
  • Great way to build publicity for a product that you plan on creating.
  • Why take out loans or sell equity in your company to investors when you can take pre-orders? (which is essentially what most of the rewards are)

If you want to pre-order one of these shirts, go to the Silic Shirts site http://silicshirts.com/order/