Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Making a MakerBot

The turnaround on getting a print done can be lengthy and expensive and I felt that having a way to test things at home would be great.  I used this as an excuse to buy a MakerBot. The MakerBot is a 3D printer aimed at the hobby enthusiast. Typically you buy it as a kit and put it together yourself.  It prints using ABS plastic filament that is forced through a heated nozzle and extruded in thin layers.

My wife, Kate, helped with soldering and construction. We almost got divorced the first day but the second day went really smoothly.  You have to fiddle with the MakerBot a fair amount to get prints to come out nice, but it's a lot of fun.

I had multiple failed attempts including this one:

 Funny enough, I don't have a picture of the one that turned out great.

In the end, the MakerBot didn't work for my Thesis. My parts are too complicated and it took too much fiddling. BUT it is an awesome machine, we're glad to have it, I learned a lot about the 3D printing process and we have printed many other fun things, such as Christmas ornaments.

OPUS V Sketches

What is the OPUS V?  Octo-pod Underwater Salvage Vehicle. Or Octo-pod Underwater Salvage #5. Take you pick. Thanks to my wife Kate for coming up with the name.

As I said before, I envision this as a toy set, with an articulated, mechanical octopus with poseable tentacles, opening cockpit, lots of detail and possibly some LED lighting.  It will sit on a display base that looks like a portion of ocean floor and will have a shipwreck or some type of salvage laying around.







Jet Car - My First 3D Print

When I started my degree I was primarily interested in animation and modeling.  I like animating and think I have a good eye for timing but also realize that I don't LOVE it.  I DO love building things both in the real and digital world, so I started concentrating more on modeling.

In my second year, at NYU CADA it took a a summer course on Rapid Prototyping for Toys and that's what made everything click for me.  It combined the digital 3D modeling and the real-world hands-on of machines and physical models.  We spent the semester building a toy on the computer which we then sent to a print lab and had an actual, physical model made.  I built the Jet Car from The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension.

For details of how this was done, please check out the write up I did for Popular Mechanics:

Jet Car build walk through

Thesis Statement

 I decided to start this blog to document the progress of my thesis. It's also an easy way for friends and family to keep up with what I'm doing.  For those of you not familiar with 3D printing, read on and it will start to make sense.

To start, this is directly from my thesis paper:


The goal of this project is to design, model and 3D print a highly-detailed, underwater vehicle patterned after an octopus.  The final presentation will be a fully articulated, 3D printed model, using various materials.


Deep beneath the waves, a barnacle-covered shipwreck sits on the ocean floor.  A spotlight cuts through the murk as a metal tentacle appears and pries off a rusted door. Another tentacle slithers through the opening; emerging with a corroded safe.  The treasure is pulled back toward the source of light; a giant octopus vehicle.  Crew members man the controls behind giant eye-like cockpit windows.  A claw emerges from underneath and pulls the safe up inside the vehicle and the ocotpod shoots toward the ocean surface.

The project will involve designing and modeling an underwater salvage vehicle based on an octopus.  The final presentation will be a physical model, including a display stand, produced on a 3D printer. 

Inspiration for the vehicle design comes from World War II and Cold War era design esthetic, as well as references such as the Nautilus submarine from the 1954 Disney movie, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.  The model will be very mechanical, with hoses, pipes, dials, rivets, cooling fins, etc.