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Stuff and Things

3D printing a stress-free Xmas

By | Design, Stuff and Things | No Comments

No Christmas is complete without a mad dash for presents in the final few days. If you’re like me and have left shopping to the last minute, there’s really no alternative to an exhilarating, stressful day of retail shopping to guarantee you can deliver on the big day itself.

But this doesn’t have to be the story. In fact, why buy presents at all? If you have a 3D printer, why aren’t you making them? You don’t need to design your own presents. That’s far too much effort in the run-up to Christmas. Instead, you can download any number of free gifts from online libraries like MyMiniFactory or Thingiverse. You can even personalise the models you download with free software such as Microsoft’s 3D Builder to make your gift even more personal.

The gift you make doesn’t even have to be good. The fact that it’s been 3D printed will be enough to blow the recipient away. And isn’t it the thought that counts anyway?

If you own a 3D printer, let it help you de-stress your Christmas and save a packet in the process. 3D printing your own gifts is fun and extremely cost-effective. What kind of bracelet could you buy for 47p?

xmas-2016And if you don’t own a 3D printer, perhaps you should consider making one of your New Year’s resolutions to involve yourself in this exciting, liberating technology. Robox recently won 3D Hub’s award for best “Plug ‘N’ Play” 3D printer in the world for the 2nd year running. Anyone can become a maker, especially with Robox.

Tiny Timbot!

By | Design, Robox User Blog, Stuff and Things | No Comments

I wanted to post up some feedback from a Robox user and share some of the amazing work he has been doing to make robots imitate life.

Jason from Mechanimal emailed us this very watchable robot.

Not only is he walking, he’s using his arms to help balance, like he should, and he’s using his tiny little eyes to detect obstacles. That’s no wind up toy, that there is an autonomous robot, tiny baby version.

It has 8 independently controlled servo motors, an IR sensor for eyes, 2 microphones, a speaker, and all of the control circuits are in it’s wee little head. A total of 18 pieces in two colors, all from my Robox, and he stands but a few inches tall. Not bad for my first project using the Robox, super excited to make more complex parts with the new dual material head.

And a HUGE thanks once again, this is the machine I’ve been waiting 15+ years for.

 

Check out some of Jason’s other work, Tiny Timbot will lead you into a whole world of mechanical animals. You can even get involved by becoming a patron here.

Spiral Printing on Robox

By | Chris Elsworthy Design Blog, Design, Printables, Software Updates, Stuff and Things | 4 Comments

If you’ve downloaded the latest version of AutoMaker then you may have noticed that we’ve activated Spiral Printing for you to play with. Robox is particularly good at spiral printing as it offers the highest ranges of wall thickness without having to remove and replace the nozzle.

Below is a quick guide on how to best use this new feature.
There are a number of things that you should be aware of when trying this feature.

  1. Only place one object on the bed at any time.
    Because of the nature of spiral printing the flow of material from the nozzles does not stop and start. Placing more than one object on the bed means that the models would be impossible to print in one continuous extrusion.
  2. Ensure that your print has only one continuous island from bottom to top.
    This is for the same reason – multiple islands on any layer means that the flow of material has to stop and start. Spiral printing is designed to avoid this.
  3. Consider how thick you want the base to be
    This is one of the few controls Automaker has for spiral printing, the number of layers you choose and the layer thickness will equate to your base thickness before spiral printing starts. The first layer is always 0.3mm and as a guide I would ensure that this is the minimum filament width to ensure good adhesion to the bed. The sequence layers heights are controlled by, yes you’ve guessed it, ‘layer height’. So for example if you’ve chosen a layer height of 0.2mm and 5 base layers your spiral print with have a 1.1mm thick base. (0.3mm + (4 x 0.2mm))
  4. Think about what wall thickness you want
    After the base of your part is completed the system moves to the spiral printed section, continuously moving up as it orbits the perimeter of your design laying down a single line of filament. The wall thickness is controlled by the perimeter width and because its only going to be done in one pass you may want to increase it and use the larger 0.8mm nozzle to create wall thickness of up to 1.2mm. As a guide I’ve found that the ratio between layer height and wall thickness should be between 2:1 – 5:1, the thicker the wall and the smaller the layer height the more likely overhangs will be printed perfectly.
  5. The part must be solid, not hollowed out with a wall thickness
    Because we are using ‘Solid layers at Bottom’ and perimeter thickness to control the thickness of your part the part needs to be a solid to start with. If you want an inner and outer shell, and don’t mind a hollow centre you can use an idea I had when designing the is thermal mug: add a very thin cut down through the part to make each layer a single perimeter again. On the photo below, you can see that the sequence of printing is outside surface of the bowl -> half the handle -> inside surface of the bowl -> half the handle -> outside surface of the bowl… and so on…Thermal MugSpiral Mug Section Small
    6 . Your design is less than 99mm tall
    Robox has a 100mm Z-build height, but because of the way Cura adds the Z move to every move on the layer sometimes the sliced part will come out slightly above 100mm. The post processor will throw this out as impossible print, so to avoid this scale your part to ensure it is less than 99mm high.

Robox_spiral_cup_iso

You can download the cup above from this link. robox_spiral_mug.stl

Robox_spiral_lee_hand

Or the Vase with Support engineer Lee’s face on it by clicking the image above. LeeVase_Mk2.stl

Back in stock!…..oh wait, no, sold out again…

By | Stuff and Things | 3 Comments

So we had a shipment delivered…but…they are all going out again over the next 2 days, none left at CEL-UK. You can still buy from our resellers http://www.cel-robox.com/where-to-buy/

wheretobuy160504pt

I think it might be the schools buying them all, maybe dentists, maybe both….oh no, maybe it is DENTAL SCHOOLS!

We are making more. If this keeps up we might need to cancel warehouse leave…or get the engineers to do some physical labour 😀

Why pay when free software can do the job?

By | Design, Robox User Blog, Stuff and Things | 4 Comments

A key driver of desktop 3D printing technology adoption over the last few years has been the proliferation of completely free 3D modelling tools that are, crucially, user-friendly and extremely high quality. Since these tools are such powerful enablers of 3D printing technology and, during meetings with customers, I often end up sharing my thoughts on the merits of various 3D modelling software tools anyway, I considered I should offer a short summary of tools I use personally and would recommend for use with any 3D printer.

Each tool listed here performs distinct tasks in the 3D modelling process so there’s no overlap of functions between them. The purpose of this list is purely to inform of the tools that I use personally, not to offer any kind of comparison. Some more advanced users may scoff at my 3D modelling arsenal, but I’d ask that they bear in mind my non-engineering background. Despite my novice experience and skills, I’ve found that the following tools work very well together to do pretty much anything I want to do – from designing high-precision mechanisms to personalising Xmas gifts. All of these software tools are free to use because, like most people, I don’t like spending money when I don’t have to.

1. 3D Builder

I use this tool from Microsoft all the time to edit 3D models as it has the cleanest, most user-friendly interface of any 3D modelling tool I’ve used. It looks and feels great, especially when I use it to demonstrate how easy it is to customise and personalise any one of the thousands of free 3D models available from online repositories such as Thingiverse or MyMiniFactory (the latter is integrated into Robox’s AutoMaker software). While 3D Builder is in its element when used to emboss text, logos and other images, it’s equally superb in other areas such as splitting and resizing large models into smaller parts.

3D Builder

2. 123D Design

This is another free tool that I use all the time, but for creating 3D models rather than editing them. 123D Design is made by Autodesk and, as a result, it’s clean, simple and easy to use with a range of features that satisfies virtually all of my modelling needs. While it lacks most of the advanced features found in 3D modelling software tools such as SolidWorks or Autodesk Inventor, it does boast a key feature not found in most expensive 3D modelling tools – the ability to save to the cloud.

I frequently recommend 123D Design since it’s completely free and offers versatile, powerful functionality with an interface suitable for novices and professionals alike. Its high quality is thanks to it being made by one of the best 3D software development companies in the world, which also happens to make the next 3D modelling tool on this list.

123D Design

3. Meshmixer

Meshmixer is my tool of choice for touching up 3D models. The thing I like most about Meshmixer is the way that models can be sculpted naturally by pulling and pushing on surfaces or cutting parts of a model away. Packed with a wide range of versatile, powerful features which perform extremely useful functions such as smoothing and distorting a surface or hollowing out a model, Autodesk’s Meshmixer is an essential tool in my box of freebies.

An important point to note is that Meshmixer is used to edit organic, rather than geometric, models. An organic model consists of natural, flowing curves and shapes whereas a geometric model is one that comprises perfect, uniform shapes that don’t often appear in nature. The model created in 123D Design above, for example, from geometric shapes such as rectangles, triangles and circles wouldn’t edit well in Meshmixer. However, models captured from 3D scans, such as the duck below, are perfect for editing with this tool, which brings me to yet another Autodesk product…

Meshmixer

4. 123D Catch

The final free 3D modelling tool on this list is, without a doubt, the most accessible 3D scanning tool out there. Again, it’s completely free but, unlike the other software listed here, it’s designed to be used on a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet computer. 123D Catch is an extremely cost-effective (free!) and convenient alternative to dedicated handheld 3D scanning equipment, which starts at around £300 and typically looks like something airport security would get out if you set off a metal detector. I’ve used the app to scan people, objects, buildings, you name it. The app is easy to use and can produce good quality scans, which can be improved further and touched up using Meshmixer. The only drawback to this app is the length of time it takes for photos to be uploaded to Autodesk and processed. It can be a little frustrating – especially if you have poor mobile phone signal! – but I understand frustration to be a feature of all current handheld 3D scanning technologies to a greater or lesser extent.

123D Catch

I did consider adding a fifth 3D modelling tool to this list since 4 is an unusual number to end a list on, but since these four tools take up around 95% of my 3D modelling time I didn’t feel it was appropriate to add another. Tinkercad would most likely have been the fifth free tool , which you can see in action below:

The combined value of this small collection of tools is considerably more than the sum of its parts. When used together, these apps can transform any 3D printer from a novelty to magic. Although I’m currently experimenting with more heavy duty 3D modelling software such as SpaceClaim (I’ve received a free trial) and may end up adding more software to this list, for now I think I’ll be sticking with the free stuff.

Please note: CEL has no commercial ties with Autodesk. They just so happen to make a great suite of free 3D modelling tools.

Congratulations to Aurora – ESERO UK CanSat Team 2016

By | Competitions, Design, Education, Robox User Blog, Stuff and Things | No Comments

Congratulations to the Aurora team for 2nd place with a very ambitious (and successful) design which went way beyond the requirements set for the challenge. The team, consisting of 4 students aged 17 (S6), used a huge range of skills to design and develop their competition entry with prototypes and the final design printed on their Robox 3D printer.

cansat

Some details about the team from their excellent website www.aurorasat.space

Who are we?
We are a CanSat 2016 team from Glasgow, Scotland. The team consists of four pupils from Hutchesons’ Grammar School. Our supervising teacher is Dr Walker, and our sponsors are Pulsion Technology and CEL Robox.

What is CanSat?
A CanSat is a simulation of a real satellite, integrated within the volume and shape of a soft drink can. The challenge for the students is to fit all the major subsystems found in a satellite, such as power, sensors and a communication system, into this minimal volume. The CanSat is then launched to an altitude of a few hundred metres by a rocket or dropped from a platform or captive balloon and its mission begins: to carry out a scientific experiment and achieve a safe landing.

Why do it?
CanSats offer a unique opportunity for students to have a first practical experience of a real space project. They are responsible for all aspects: selecting the mission objectives, designing the CanSat, integrating the components, testing, preparing for launch and then analysing the data.

Team

Rishabh Manjunatha
Team Leader
Electronics Engineer

Cheryl Docherty
Mechanical Engineer
Design Engineer

Jack Leslie
Software Engineer
Online Administrator

Wan-Ian Tran
Mechanical Engineer
Aeronautical Engineer

Guidance from
Dr Walker
Mr Walker
Mr McCormick

Primary Mission

Measure air pressure and temperature. Minimum 1 result per second transmitted to ground control/computer.

Secondary Mission

• Our can will split into two parts, and will land in two different areas on the ground.

• The can will split horizontally; the top part will land using a parafoil to glide to the ground, and the bottom part will land using a quadcopter-like motor/propeller system to navigate to the ground.

• The aim of the mission is to successfully demonstrate the splitting of the can, demonstrate two different landing systems and demonstrate the prospect of comparing two separate sites on one mission.

Optional – Targeted landing to both sites using high accuracy GPS and autonomous movement.
Optional – Rover on ground to pick up two capsules and return them to team base.
Optional – Implement camera to capture splitting of cans.

Challenges overcome:

Small space to fit 2 satellites. Designing a modular system to access parts easily and still retain a strong structure was challenging.
New pyboard with very little online guidance or information, we had to program and wire everything based on our own knowledge.
Brushless motors and ESC’s are fiddly to set up and get going.
Designing and constructing a stable Para-foil.
Programming in a new language and programming electronics and understanding how they function together.
Learning how to use inventor and rendering the simulations of the satellite.
Using a 3D printer, learning how different plastics behave and how best to print small scale intricate models.

CAD software used:

Autodesk Inventor Professional 2016
AutoCAD 2016

Other software / programming tools used:

Python IDE
Arduino IDE
Command Line Tools

Robox made the following possible:

Printing of our satellite using ABS and PLA plastic. The Robox support team helped us to with recommendations and settings to ensure each part was accurately printed.

Other resources used:

Technology department supplied the majority of the equipment used, including soldering irons, hobby drills, glue guns, desktops.
Our other sponsor Pulsion supplied us with the £500 budget we had to stick to.
Physics department supplied digital callipers and high accuracy balances.

The Robox 3D printer we have was purchased by 3 of our Arkwright Scholars and is kept in the Technology department for students to use on request.
The Scalextrics club, which is aimed at younger years, design and build model rc cars. They have already printed one model.
The Formula 1 club also uses the 3D printer.

The printer will be used for further competitions. (possibly the Google science fair or other independent projects)

A link to the competition website:

https://www.stem.org.uk/esero/cansat
http://www.aurorasat.space/

A note from the team leader:

I would like to thank you once again for not only sponsoring us and helping us when we had problems using the 3D printer but also for your kind words throughout. You have motivated us and kept us going when certain aspects of our project didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to. Your quick and informative responses have aided us greatly. – Rishabh