Tuesday, April 16, 2013

INDN 252: Starting On Something Real

Now that I've achieved my final model in Solidworks, it's time to actually get some 3-D printing done. I'm pleased with how the form looks in Solidworks, but getting it to look good in the real world can usually mean something else entirely.

Fortunately for us students, we have access to some mini Up! printers, which we're allowed to use for free. These printers print in ABS plastic, with support material generated from the same material that the model is made of. This allows to effectively do a lot of rapid prototyping at minimal cost. It's a fantastic tool that we have access to, and a lot of people put it to amazing use.

So I did some test prints of my model, trying to establish how well the model turns out for use. I wanted to make sure that the size was okay and that the model would allow for use in the way that I intended.

Cleaning the support material off these was a bit of a mission, but I got there in the end. This part actually worked out quite nicely, as I had it oriented on its side, so the material printed really well on one side, but the other side has a lot of damage from the support material being taken off.

The second part suffered a bit more from the problem of it being a bit too thin to print well. But oh well. That's okay, It's just a little test print after all. The form is still there, and definitely still works as a whole.

Putting these together intact is impossible, as the way that I've designed this model is for it to be printed as an assembly. So, to put the two pieces together, I had to break part of the second piece to fit onto the other part. The Up! printers aren't capable of doing assemblies very well and with the precision I need them to, but that's okay.

The range of motion in this test model is equal to that of the digital model, which I designed to be that of the actual knee, which is pretty fantastic. It works well, and I'm glad that that the look and feel of the model isn't lost from the digital to the printed model.

Now, to look at some rendering!

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