Designing and 3D-Printing a Functional Part at Do Space
March 21st, 2017 | Robert McCown, Community Technologist
It’s not uncommon for us to get questions from people who ask what 3D printing is for. We often show our many examples of “trinkets” but there are practical applications for it as well. Recently, I’d gone to vacuum out our laser cutter and noticed we didn’t have any attachments for getting into the smaller places. That seemed like an excellent opportunity to quickly whip something up at Do Space.
Thankfully, we have everything I needed to create a part from concept to final product. Total material cost was about $5 using our professional Dimension 1200es 3D printer. For that printer, members can submit an stl file to us at the Tech Help Desk and we print it off for them. I could’ve easily reserved the hands-on Taz printer but wanted to keep it open for members.
Fusion 360 is a 3D CAD/CAM program that’s free for Startups, Hobbyists, and students so it had been a logical choice in the past for the robotics parts and costume props that I’ve made. Even better, it’s cloud based and we have access to it on most of our computers at Do Space. All you need is to sign up for an account on Autodesk’s website.
Designing it was pretty simple, I just had to decide how long I wanted the part to be and measure the outside diameter of the vacuum hose. I created a few sketches that would be a cross-section for the part; one for the opening of the attachment, a second slightly smaller one so that the final piece would fit snugly onto the hose, and then a rectangle or two for the working edge to give the part it’s shape. From there all I used the loft tool, which extrudes a shape by connecting the drawings. The last step was the shell command to make the part hollow. I picked a thickness that was about three times our printer’s nozzle diameter so that it at least had three walls of thickness which comes out to about 1.2 millimeters. The design took about half an hour due to some adjustments I’d made. The actual printing itself took another hour and thankfully, the part fit on the first try. One of the many useful features of Fusion is that I can go in and make adjustments to the dimensions of my drawings and the part’s shape will adjust accordingly, this is a basic example of parametric modelling.
The stl for the part can be found on Do Space’s Thingiverse account at https://www.thingiverse.com/DoSpace/designs.
We’ll likely add more designs in the future and you can see examples of other user’s files that we’ve printed.
Now that the fun part is over, I get to go vacuum out the laser cutter.