Feeds

How hard is 3D printing?

Modelling technology takes shape

Reducing security risks from open source software

Crash and burn?

When the script file is generated a number of parameters can be specified, one of which is Infill - The model is not solid - the software constructs braces within it to give it strength. The more infill you have the stronger the model but this requires more material and takes longer to print.

Greplicator software showing model parameter

Greplicator model parameters

Printing is a slow process, so rather than connecting the Makerbot to a computer and risking a crash or reboot, instead, we saved the script to an SD card and plugged it straight into the Makerbot. The Replicator’s plywood chassis contains three sets of stepper motors, two of which control the X and Y axis of the print heads, which in the world of 3D printing are called Extruders. The third raises and lowers the platform to give the model height.

The platform has to be level and setting it up is pretty low-tech. The platform needs to be covered with a film, (called Kapton) which needs to be applied bubble-free. The extruders are then moved to various points around the platform with a piece of paper held between the extruders and the film.

You slide the paper to make sure there is just a little grip. If there’s too much you turn a screw to lower that part of the platform, no grip at all and you raise it. Since this is a machine that chugs around and gets hot and cold it’s definitely not a set-and-forget process.

The hot and cold bit is extremely important. Melting plastic needs something very hot and there is a lot of metal to heat in the extruders and platform. The extruders run at around 220°C and the platform has a default temperature of 100°C. The “Burn, crush and Cut Hazard” warning labels on the front of the device aren’t just there for show. Heating to takes a little over 10 minutes – which should make you a little less impatient the next time you’re tapping your feet waiting half a minute for your shopping list to be spat out of the laser printer.

MakerBot The Replicator with model

A raft of possibilities

The first stage of the printing process is laying down a raft. This is a mesh which grips the Kapton and provides some plastic for the model to be built upon. It’s mostly necessary for models which don’t have a flat-ish bottom and might not have been necessary for our Vulture head.

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

Next page: Heated decisions

More from The Register

next story
Report: American tech firms charge Britons a thumping nationality tax
Without representation, too. Time for a Boston (Lincs) Macbook Party?
Child diagnosed as allergic to iPad
Apple's fondleslab is the tablet dermatitis sufferers won't want to take
Microsoft takes on Chromebook with low-cost Windows laptops
Redmond's chief salesman: We're taking 'hard' decisions
For Lenovo US, 8-inch Windows tablets are DEAD – long live 8-inch Windows tablets
Reports it's killing off smaller slabs are greatly exaggerated
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Seventh-gen SPARC silicon will accelerate Oracle databases
Uncle Larry's mutually-optimised stack to become clearer in August
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.