Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Starting Additive Manufacturing

I finally pulled the trigger and bought myself a 3D printer. My first project was to print a replacement pen body for my Levenger L-Tech. The original (which I believe is made of brass) is fairly heavy, but more importantly it's poorly balanced (at least for my hand).

It's basically just a threaded tube, but it was still a little tricky to design; the hardest part was the section-body threading. In fact I never quite got it right; in the end I got it "close enough" that I was able to brute-force the section into the threads.

The cap-body threads were a lot easier since I designed them both and didn't need to match existing threads. It's actually a four-start thread; it only takes one and a quarter turns to cap and uncap (it should probably be one and a half, but the cap doesn't quite screw all the way down before it seals on the section).

It was printed in red PLA because that's what came with the printer. Layer hight was set to 0.06mm, and infill was 100%. I did not use supports or a raft. The body and cap were sanded to smooth them a little, but I couldn't get rid of some of the blemishes (not without more work than I wanted to put in).

I consider this a prototype; it was certainly a learning experience... by which I mean that I learned 3D printing might not be as simple as I was originally hoping it would be. That's hoping, not expecting. But hey, at least I was able to create something of my own in just a few days, which is more than I managed with the (probably cursed) CNC machine.

While I'd like to make some improvements to this design, I might just jump to trying to make my own section instead. Before that I think I need to muck about with the software; the printer comes with a built-in slicer, which is cool, but the results I'm getting from it don't look as good as the already-sliced models that it was pre-loaded with, making me think that I might get better results with a better slicer or by mucking about with the print settings a little more.

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