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3d printing


While I was attending a material science conference, I learned the value of listening to something new. The paper I came to see was finished, and the next was about to start. It was titled, “Additive Manufacturing.”

I almost left!

What a dull phrase, right? Well, I was stuck in the middle of a row with four people on either side of me. So I decided, it was a good time to catch up on Reddit. What I didn’t realize is “additive manufacturing” is what almost everyone else in the world calls “3D Printing.” Plus, this presenter was talking about doing it with metal!

When you think about it, most extrusion-based 3D printers are laying down material one layer at a time. In other words, they are manufacturing an object by “adding” material. See the connection? Most people probably lump 3D-printing into rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing into a “real” production process.

One more story.

At SXSW one year, I attended an event held by Shapeways. Objects they made were all over the venue, and they looked incredible. Plus, some were for sale. My favorite? Super Mario Bros related stuff. Do a search for “Mario” in Shapeways marketplace for some neat things to add to your desk.



While I bought my 3D printer a couple of years ago, in March of this year, it only had 75 hours of use. Since March, my counter is over 300 hours. Why? After spending some time doing the right tweaks my printer is printing crazy good. Here are some of my 3D printer tips.

Maybe you’re in the market for a printer, use one at school, get access to one through a maker space, or (like me) used to use yours for a desk ornament, these 3D printer tips are likely to help.

Recently TechShop opened up one of their shops in Round Rock which is just a few minutes from Austin, where I live.  TechShop is an awesome membership based workshop with a huge variety of tools useful for making things.  On this holiday Friday I decided to spend some time with the MakerBot Replicator.

For some time I have been looking at a mini-tripod for my camera/iPhone so I could get pictures of projects while working on them.  While browsing Thingiverse, I came across design files for such a thing.

Since this was my first time using ReplicatorG and the first time I made a 3D print, I decided not to make any modifications.  As it turned out I used the latest version of ReplicatorG (0040) which appears to have a bug.  When I extruded using the Replicator’s left extruder  the MakerBot started off the platform (as if it was using the coordinates for the right extruder).  After down-reving to 0037, things worked fine.

It also appears my Patroit-branded 2GB memory card is not compatible with the MakerBot’s reader.  Bummer.


During the safety and basic use class we spent quite a bit of time on how to level the build platform.  It seemed like a simple enough procedure, so I didn’t fully understand why we spent so much time on it.  The first two pieces of the tripod I printed had a bit of a mess on the first layers above the raft.  After going through the leveling procedure a 2nd time, parts came out much (much) cleaner.

Left is Poor Leveling, Right is Better Leveling


This particular design took 6 prints of 5 pieces to be completed.  The total print time was around an hour to an hour and a half.  In order to attach to a camera a screw is necessary.  On the Thingivere project page, at least one individual has tried printing their own screw.  My TechShop is partnered with a Lowe’s, so i went for the pre-made screws.

Fully Assembled Mini-Tripod

Overall the tripod doesn’t really withstand much weight.  However, I think it will work for the couple of times went I want to use my camera to shoot some video or get a clear macro shot of a project.

Ready for Action!

After fighting bugs, bad connections, and burned out chips your project is working–or even done. The next step? Record a video, edit it, and upload it to YouTube.

Too many steps? Then maybe you just want to do a Periscope demo. Within seconds, you can be broadcasting your project to the world.

This past weekend I tried my first couple of scopes. The first Periscope “demo” was me soldering together a Three Fives from Evil Mad Scientist Labs. The others periscope demos were 3d printing related.

When it comes to a hardware project demo, I see some challenges. Check out these five things to watch out for and, if you’re interested, you can watch my soldering Periscope demo.